There are “suggestions,” things that people in program tell a newcomer or oldtimer to do or not do. These vary from place to place. They aren’t written down in official AA literature, and following them or not following them falls to the individual.
The word “suggestion” is, I think designed to soothe and attract hard headed, skittish new people. A list of demands or “musts” would turn many people away. “Suggestion” comes from the Big Book, where the steps are “suggested” as a program of recovery. Even when referring to the very basis of the program, the founders knew they’d lose people who need help but who will not respond to a demand presented as such.
“No relationships during the first year” is a suggestion I’ve heard often and in varied places. Someone who comes in and begins unattached should not get romantically involved for the first year. Relationships are often the hardest thing in life, and often the thing people drink over.
It’s also called the “thirteenth step” when someone in AA gets romantically or physically involved with a newcomer. “Twelfth Stepping” is when someone within the program tells someone who isn’t about it, and brings that person in (as it states in Step Twelve, to carry this message to alcoholics). It’s cynically called the thirteenth step when the people get sexually involved.
I’m happy to say that in my experience, this doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. It was brought to my attention twice within the past 24 hours, once on the phone, and once online. In my opinion, it is just wrong. The AAs involved in these two situations both have around 20 years sober. In the one situation, which has resolved, the newcomer did drink and go out. That is such a waste. Waiting a year is not all that long. I do realize as I write this that I’m being judgmental toward the people involved, I just can’t imagine that anyone would think this is a good idea. It seems like too big a risk.