Respecting personal boundaries in recovery

I am aware of members entering into complicated emotional entanglements with other forum members that can later have negative impacts on one or both parties. Whilst those of us who are 18+ are adults who are free to make our own decisions, I feel that it is worth raising and discussing.

Some individuals have spoken to me about wanting to post something about their own experiences as a cautionary tale to others, but have struggled because of embarrassment and shame, and sometimes fear and anxiety. Sometimes the individual with whom they have connected intimately continues to be an active member of the forum. Sometimes individuals decide to take distance or leave the forum in order to give themselves space. I wanted to shine some light on this issue so that members who have struggled with a similar experience do not need to bear the burden alone.

To be clear, this is not about naming and shaming and it is not to suggest there are predators. Vigilantism will not be tolerated. Breaches of Talking Sober Guideline 7: “This is not a dating site - refrain from asking about dates or hookups in public or private message.” *(Talking Sober Rules and Guidelines) can and will be dealt with by the team of moderators, if they are made aware by flagging or by PM. This is about those vague, consensual interactions between two people, where one or both are in a particular emotionally vulnerable place due to their phase of recovery and where mutual support turns more intimate.

Seeking friendship and mutual support in recovery is positive and encouraged - it is what this forum is all about. But sometimes these relationships, either through private message or off-forum communications can go down a road of a more intimate connection. Although there is regular advice given about people not dating/seeking relationships in early sobriety, sometimes those that are already in real life relationships or those that do not necessarily see online romantic chatting as “dating” seem to not make the connection that virtual intimate connections can be problematic to their own (or indeed the other person’s) recovery.

I would like to ask people to be mindful and respectful that many people here have a degree of vulnerability and that damage can be caused when boundaries are crossed. Sometimes a person’s actions of seeking out an emotional or romantic connection with another can become an unhealthy distraction and have a negative impact on both parties’ recovery process, sobriety and emotional well being. I hope we can all be mindful of intentions and be cautious about shifting private conversations to a flirtatious or romantic direction - even if apparently welcome at one time, it can later have a negative impact on one or both individuals.

As always, if anyone feels as though someone crosses a boundary or makes them feel uncomfortable, please feel free to contact a moderator or simply flag the PM.

And please be aware that anyone finding themselves in this situation does not need to bear the burden alone. My inbox is always open to anyone seeking support or resources.


Here’s my personal take. I entered a relationship when I was 6 months sober (red flag #1) with a person who had over 20 years sober (red flag #2). It was a long distance relationship (red flag #3). We started dating pretty much immediately (red flag #4). This person had some very complicated mental health issues, coupled with past trauma, of which I was aware (red flag #5). Despite some very solid advice from members of this forum I persisted with the relationship. Nothing bad happened. But it did have to end, and though it was relatively amicable, it caused a huge amount of distress for the other person, resulting in me having to block her number. I don’t know exactly what happened to her after we broke up, but guessing from her past relationships it probably caused her a great deal of harm. Point is, neither of us should have been in a relationship and we did it anyway. It caused more harm than it should have. Had we both taken an honest look at our situations it would have been pretty clear that we should not have been getting in to said relationship. Please heed this warning and take it seriously.


I had been exchanging direct messages with a fellow member of this forum some months back in a purely supportive capacity until this person started to suggest we meet up and I felt that it was heading in a direction I wasn’t comfortable for it to go to so I cut off contact. Anybody trying to get in to or maintain early sobriety is too vulnerable to get in to a relationship with and I’d hate to derail somebody’s recovery.
It happens to us males this inappropriate messaging aswell as the other way around. :+1::slightly_smiling_face:


I think it can be another way to avoid doing our work. When we take the focus off our self and turn our focus outward toward the other…this conveniently (and unconsciously) allows us to avoid working on our own stuff. So our process can be halted while we are engaging with another in this way. Not a good road to go down in early recovery.

Additionally, we are very vulnerable in early recovery and our emotions are all over the place. And face it, we are not particularly healthy. Our boundaries are often weak if not absent altogether and we can be easily sidetracked from the process of healing thru sobriety.

Being cognizant of these issues hopefully allows us to make better choices.


It is hard when you want to help. I think all of it is hard. Whether it is being in sobriety early or have been in it for a while. Especially hard when you have been an addict and with someone who continues to be an addict. Sobriety is always first in my book. Kind if like a wake up all that no one is going to take the drug of choice away from me or save me. I have to save myself. Implementing strong desires for space and boundaries is healthy and needed for all humans.


I took my real profile photo down for that reason. Some people just don’t know what boundaries are. I was on a different platform/app and there were so many trolls on there, many men that harass women and women that do the same thing to men, ask for money, etc. it’s just sad. Sad that “some” people are just bad. I had to tell someone to leave me alone on this forum that direct messaged me and was VERY pushy. No means no! I’m here because I’m serious about my sobriety, if you want to meet someone go on Tinder. :roll_eyes: Honestly now that I’m sober I don’t think I’ll ever really need another human by my side, I’m perfectly content and other people bring drama, I don’t need anything pushing me into relapse. Making friends is what I’m after at LEAST for the first year of my sobriety. Not dealing with that nonsense.


Glad your boundaries are strong!! As always, don’t be afraid to reach out to us moderators if someone crosses the line and/or won’t respect your no.


I think that it happens a lot less here than it does elsewhere but it still saddens me to know that it does happen here. We are all to some degree sick individuals and all vulnerable in our own way. If anyone continues to act in this manner towards you then please notify the powers that be.
I can’t for the life of me understand why somebody would want to chat up somebody who is on the other side of the world but perhaps that’s because I’m not like that. I’m glad that they have put you off from using this life saving resource. :+1::slightly_smiling_face:
Funnily enough the first post I ever made on here was on a thread regarding things like this. :slightly_smiling_face::slightly_smiling_face:


It shouldn’t get to the point where someone has to set a boundary or say no, some people just baffle my tiny brain. :+1::slightly_smiling_face:


That was a great thread!

1 Like

That was a live stream of a cautionary tale


Yeah, I’ve been on here for 16 days and it only happened once, but on other platforms it was more often, it got to me and I left which led me to relapse as I was too scared to go to AA for support. I like it here. Good people are here.


Oh heeeey! I did t know you were a moderator. :slight_smile: Good to know! Thank you so much!


I am! Always happy to assist if I can! :grin::purple_heart::yellow_heart::green_heart::heart:



I have to say I’ve haven’t experienced much of that on here, I did get a message of someone once but no sooner had a read it it was deleted. I wasn’t sure if our mods had seen it and removed it or he did himself (not sure if mods can do that with PM messages? It was just odd how it dissapered so quickly… either that or he read it back to himself after he sent it, realised how creepy it sounded so got rid of it in the hopes I didn’t see :laughing:)

It’s true you have to be very careful with stuff like that, way back when I got attached to someone in a similar way (not on here but via the internet) and it ended badly (as the vast majority do). Id hate to have deal with something like that whilst also tackling sobriety… I’m not sure I could do both…
Be mindful folks, of yourselves and others.


Exactly! :slight_smile: :heart:


This is how crazy early sobriety made me. I think I started this thread around 5 months sober, running right up until 2 years. I created a sequel, but honestly my life is fairly stable these days so I don’t often update it.

Continuing the discussion from The Real Red Derek Diaries of Syracuse:


Always a good idea to give this thread a bump.


Bump bump :boxing_glove:


This is yet another reminder that this is a forum for recovery, not for soliciting dates, photos or sexual content.

Talking Sober Rules and Guidelines

Anyone who is on the receiving end of inappropriate messages is asked to screenshot them and send them to @moderators

It is important that this is a safe place for those in recovery. Sexual harassment, pestering or soliciting dates is not acceptable behaviour.