- July 10, 2022

It is quite common in 12 step settings to hear “no romantic relationships for the first year.”  They’re lots of reasons that this may be a good practice, which I will discuss.  However, this admonition is nowhere to be found in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  For myself I allow the Big Book to have the last say on controversial issues.  

The best thing that comes out of a first-year failed relationship is that it may propel the person to work the steps.  The emotional pain that comes from a failed relationship may become quite devasting.  One may have pictured the both of you riding off in the sunlight to live happily ever after.  When this expectation did not happen, you were very hurt.  All kinds of complicated feeling may arise, most of them negative.  The person may seek solace in a drink, pill or fix.  Hopefully they will not relapse, but they have placed themselves in a position to do so.

Feelings of betrayal, lies, loss and devastation may plague the person.  This is truly a miserable place to be.  The hope is that once again the person will find a sponsor to guide them through the steps.  These feelings may be processed while doing step work.  Hopefully the person has learned their lesson and put first things first, the steps, on their to-do list.  There is no right or wrong intended here.  We are just trying to sort out our lives so that we may get sober and remain sober.  Sometimes we may need this extra dose of emotional pain to motivate us to be more serious in our step work.  If that be the case, then this emotional excursion may have been necessary.  For myself, I choose to not gamble with my sobriety.

However, the Big Book on page 69 states that “we do not want to be the arbiter of anyone’s sex conduct.”  There are guidelines on this page and page 70 that give us suggestions in how to conduct ourselves in the sexual area.  The Big Book also states on page 68 “now about sex; most of us needed an overhauling there.”  If we get in a relationship and become besotted of the other, we may not have time or motivation to work on our steps.  This is the reason we are admonished to stay out of relations for the first year.  This suggests that the taking of the steps may fill up our time for our first year.  We are learning new ways to live and new principles to guide us.  And it is critical that these new things are applied in our new sober life.  

There are exceptions to most things.  There are couples who have been married for thirty plus years or so who met in their first year.  They have been happily married for all this time.   So, you see there is a possibility that a relationship may work for you.  If you have opportunity talk it over with a closed-mouth friend and, then make your decision whether or not to go forward with the relationship.  It comes down to a decision that you need to make guided by your Higher Power.  Just be careful that you don’t find yourself sitting on a bar stool feeling sorry for yourself.

Written by Phillip