I’ve dated individuals at various stages of therapy—spanning from one person who told me, after we’d been together for about six months, that he felt he needed to go into therapy to a guy who, after we’d been dating a year and a half, confessed he’d secretly been in therapy the whole time. Neither revelations felt amazing. With the first guy, naturally, I couldn’t help but wonder is this my fault? Do I not make you happy enough? Is this going to change things between us? And with the latter individual, I just felt lied to. That was a pretty massive piece of information to hide from me for over a year. I understand that therapy is private, and nobody needs to reveal that they’re in therapy to someone they’ve only been out with a few times. But over a year? That’s a bit different. If your partner has told you he’s going into therapy, or already has been in it for a while, you may be wondering: can you date someone in therapy? It’s not a yes or no answer.
First, you shouldn’t be the cause of the therapy
First be sure to clarify that your relationship—or, more specifically, you—aren’t the impotence for this therapy. If you’ve only been dating someone for under two years, and they need to go to therapy because of this relationship then, it’s probably just not the right relationship.
Understand his therapy is private
Even though you may want to know everything your partner talks about in therapy, you have to understand that it is private. In fact, the way he can get the most out of his therapy is by knowing that what he shares in there stays in there.
But you should know the major details
This is, however, a partnership so your partner should hopefully fill you in on major details. If, for example, there is some person he can no longer see, place he can no longer go, or trigger he can’t be around, you should probably know about that so you can help.
And sometimes, he’ll want so share more
Sometimes your partner will want to share a lot about what happened in therapy. When he does, it’s very important that you stop what you’re doing and listen. He’s making himself vulnerable and probably sharing information he thinks you need.
It won’t work if he says hurtful things
If your partner’s issues cause him to lash out at you and say hurtful things, then he is in a place with his recovery where he really can’t be in a relationship. Sometimes, though it’s painful, you’ll have to be the one to identify that.
It won’t work if you can’t rely on him
This also won’t work if your partner is in a place with his healing where all of his attention needs to be on himself, and he cannot be counted on. While you understand this person’s need to self-care, that doesn’t mean you should be with someone you cannot rely on.
Consider how long he’s been in therapy
People can be addicted to anything, including therapy. Be wary of someone who has been in therapy for their whole life, or most of their life. They tend to use therapy as a crutch and an excuse not to make real changes in their life.
He must be following the therapist’s orders
If your partner isn’t following his therapist’s orders, then this just can’t work. Whatever those orders are—like journaling, meditating, reading certain books, avoiding certain places etc.
You have to respect those
You also have to respect the therapist’s orders. If she, for example, states that your partner won’t be ready to move in with you for at least over a year, you need to abide by that. If abiding by the therapist’s orders doesn’t work for you, then this is probably the wrong relationship for you.
How long have you been together?
The truth is that, sometimes, going through effective therapy can change someone drastically. If you have a foundation, and have been together for a very long time, you should be able to survive these changes. But if you’ve only been dating someone for barely a year, you may not survive these changes.
Some trauma should be resolved alone
Instances of sexual assault often need to be resolved alone. These are very serious, and very traumatizing. It isn’t impossible for someone who is resolving sexual assault trauma to date, but it is very difficult.
You can’t be the one to fix this person
If your partner is in therapy, that isn’t your cue to also be a therapist. Not only is it not your job to fix your partner, but your partner also shouldn’t rely on you to fix him. Your relationship should be a balanced one of give and take—let his therapist provide the therapy.
Is this person emotionally accessible?
Sometimes, people go to therapy because they are already incredibly emotionally blocked. Being in therapy can help with this, but be careful not to try to get into a new relationship with someone who cannot open up emotionally. That’s something that can take years to fix.
Are your needs being met?
Ultimately what really matters is that your needs are being met. You’ll have to be very honest with yourself in answering the questions “Am I happy?” and “Am I getting what I need from this relationship?”
Consider seeing a therapist, too
If you’ve been with your partner for a very long time and he’s starting therapy, you may want to consider seeing a therapist too—out of solidarity. He is bettering himself, so perhaps you can equally respect the relationship, and seek to better yourself. Being in therapy will also help you better understand what your partner experiences when he goes to counseling.