How should one date healthfully? The attached document tries to address this question in two parts. The first part is a worksheet that helps the reader work through their individual needs. The second part is an example plan on how the reader could go about the logistics and emotional realities of exploring life with a significant other. There also is a good bibliography in the beginning. Everything below this line is not me, but something anonymous and copy-pasted.


What is healthy dating?

Suggested books to consult prior to dating
If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on the Spiritual Path, by Charlotte Sophia Kasl
Easy Does it Dating Guide for People in Recovery, by Mary Faulkner
Calling in “The One,” by Katherine Woodward Thomas

Suggested Books on Healthy Relationships
How to be an Adult in Relationships, David Richo
Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendricks
The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman
Couple Skills, Matthew McKay
Sexual Anorexia, Overcoming Sexual Self-Hatred, Patrick Carnes


Bad Me

Activities that I either must do, or be sure to avoid, in order to stay out of my addictive pattern. Non-negotiable boundaries I set for my own behaviors to achieve and maintain my serenity

Good Me

Activities that enhance my self esteem – i.e., make time for friendships, cultivate hobbies, further my career, giving service to my recovery community, these actions and behaviors enhance my financial, physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual health and well-being.

Addictive Cycle or Pattern

Repeated behaviors that recur from one relationship to the next that create disharmony, keep me trapped, stuck, unhappy or unhealthy. Usually there are hints or red flags that I am in an addictive pattern. For example: Thinking that every person I date has the same defects. Thinking that every date is a potential spouse. Rushing relationships to keep them exciting. Acting outside my values to keep a relationship going. Needing to be in a relationship all the time, rain-checking, setting up a new relationship without closure on the one I am currently in, etc.

Discovering Your Addictive Patterns

Examples of addictive patterns can include:
· Always choosing unavailable partners
· Confusing lust with love
· Being sexual very early on in relationships
· Having fantasy relationships with people who show you kindness · Dating people who remind you of your mother or father
· Ending relationships when they become too intimate
· Objectifying people as mere sex objects

How do you usually begin a new relationship? Make a list of your past several relationships and how you got involved.

Define what I mean by “available.”
Define what being sexual is to me.
What are the signs things are not going well?
What red flags do you tend to ignore or rationalize?
What makes you stay in an unhappy relationship?
What were the perks and payoffs in previous relationships?

How have your last several relationships ended? Is your life balanced?

Ask yourself what percentage of time do you devote to the following areas of life:

Health and wellness Relationships
Personal Development/Education

What interests me?

What do I enjoy doing in my free time?

What is my vision for my life for the next year? Two years? Five years?


Getting clear about characteristics I choose in a partner:

List what I want in a date/partner (i.e., someone who is kind, compassionate, humble, funny, intelligent, creative, social, flexible, available, loving, etc.).

What was I originally attracted to in previous partners?
What totally turned me off?
Is this person respectful to you?
Is this person in recovery programs for problems that make their lives unmanageable?

Do you want to have a family/children? Does this person want to have a family/children? Is this person good with children?

Dating Stages / Plan/ Guidelines

for example: [what is written below is indicative, not nomnitative]

Stage 1  Attraction – emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual (ongoing)

(may last up to 4-6 dates…or 8-10 dates)
Meetings should be in public for the first 4-6-8-10 dates

How many times a week would I see this person?

No apartments

Physical contact – kissing?

Who will pay for dates? Dinner?

What do I feel comfortable with?

How many calls in one week can I place to him?

How many calls can I initiate?

How many emails/text messages can I initiate? (Are emails/text messages too triggering?)

Calls should be kept to _____________ in length.

Minimum notice of at least ____ days before a date.

No French kissing on the first ____ dates.

French kissing ok after the ____ date.

First ____ dates he/she does not come to my house.

Date must start and stop on time.

No phone calls longer than ____ minutes in length.

No more than ____ phone calls a week.

No phone calls/chats that interfere with ___________________________________.

No breaking a prior commitment to accept a date.

No light petting for ____ weeks/months.

No heavy petting for ____ weeks/months.

No revealing past history until the ____ date.

No more than ____ dates a week for the first ____ weeks/months.

Never sex within the first ____ weeks/months.

Any red flags?

Stage 2 – Getting to know one another
(6 – 10 dates on…around 2 months or more)

Private realm okay

See this person no more than ____ times per week.

Is this person predictable in their availability to me?

Do we communicate well?

Do we respect one another?

Do we enhance one another’s lives?

Am I consistently maintaining my network of support outside of the relationship?

Any red flags?

Stage 3 – Becoming mutually exclusive


  • Life goals and visions
  • Mutual attraction/compatibility:
    • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Intellectual
  • Financial

Am I consistently maintaining my network of support outside of the relationship?

Any red flags?

Stage 4 – Exchanging intimacy (“into me you see”)

Never sex without:
AIDS test ____

Commitment of exclusivity, monogamy ____
Discussion about STDs ____

Pregnancy protection ____

Sex after ____ months

Appropriate time to meet one another’s family/parents: (i.e., After six months…)

Vacations together: how soon?

Am I consistently maintaining my network of support outside of the relationship?

Stage 5 – Preparing for the future, one day at a time

Moving in together

Am I consistently maintaining my network of support outside of the relationship?

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