Dating books say that dating shouldn’t be used as therapy. In other words, you shouldn’t use your guy to be your sounding board and work through issues as you would with a therapist. In fact, even if he is a therapist — especially if he is a therapist — you shouldn’t expect him to act like he is your therapist.
That said, I’ve found dating can be good therapy. Some experiences have prompted me to look inward into why I did — or didn’t — do something, or why I was drawn to a guy.
As fate would have it, I dated a psychiatrist for a while. After the initial few dates, I found him to be controlling and verbally abusive. I stuck with him longer than normal because I saw that his behavior paralleled a relative’s. He was equally as incongruent, sometimes being loving, then moments later saying something to put me down. But I found it cathartic to say to him what I could never say to my relative, “You can’t talk to me that way” and “You need to leave now because treating me that way is unacceptable.” I’d tried for years role playing with various therapists saying things like this to my relative, and nothing ever shifted. But saying them to the crazy psychiatrist was liberating and healing.
I was not acting like he was my therapist, as his being a psychiatrist was inconsequential. In fact, when he encouraged me to work out with him the issues that he triggered, he got defensive and was a horrible listener.
Other times I’d look at why something bothered me. I was especially attracted to Dreamboat and he expressed equal attraction to me. Based on our discussions during our few dates, I thought we had a chance at something long term. But he rarely called, although when we did talk he said he wanted to see me. I felt neglected during the week — or more — in between calls. He said I was welcomed to call him if I wanted to talk. I did a few times, but it felt like I was chasing him when he didn’t reciprocate initiating calls.
This spawned a look at why daily calls are important to me with a romantic partner. I realized that when my ex left and said, “I don’t think about you when you’re not in the room” it seared a wound in my heart. I decided I deserved a man who thought about me when I wasn’t in his presence. How would I know he did? He’d call and/or email at least once a day.
When I saw that Dreamboat wasn’t filling my need, even when I told him about it, I understood that he and I weren’t in a relationship, and apparently he had no desire to be in one with me. I could have loosened the daily contact requirement to every other day if it was a hardship for him, but even that didn’t happen. So my gift from him was the trigger to go inside and figure out what was important to me and why. And to communicate it early with someone who seems a prospective long-term beau.
So you can use dating as a way to go deeper inside and to work through some issues. Best to do this with a trained therapist unless you feel comfortable doing the work with yourself.