Friday, October 9, 2009

Dating is Not Therapy

Dating is not a way to solve your mood disorder, or make you happy, nor is it a substitute for having a life.

Of the men I had as patients when I was working as a therapist, many terminated therapy when they got back together with their girlfriend/wife or started dating someone new. And sometimes that was a good time to move on from therapy, and sometimes they left because that affirmation from a woman momentarily elevated their mood and submerged their problems under the surface. Certainly dating can brighten the day of a depressed person. For a day. Or a week. Even a month. But the depression doesn’t go away. I’ve talked about this before when discussing Myth #4, “My Life Will be Perfect When I’m with Someone.” Don’t use a woman as a crutch for your emotional neediness. If you had psychological problems before you started dating, you will still have them even if they have temporarily gone underground.

You have a boring life if your job and your girlfriend are all there is. A relationship should not be like a heroin addiction. You should still get out of the house once in a while. You should still attend lectures, go to art galleries and be politically active even if the women you are dating aren’t into those things. What are you going to talk about with your girlfriend if all you’ve got in your life is a job and her?

When you are finally dating, look over the last month of your life: are there events you didn’t attend, activities you didn’t do, people you didn’t see that, if you weren’t dating, you would have gone to, done and seen? If you let your relationship become like a drug, you have become someone whose defining characteristic is “boyfriend of X.” And once that heroin gets taken away--and 99 out of 100 times, relationships do end--now you’re just “ex-boyfriend of X.” No one wants to date or hang out with someone who has no life. There’s nothing to talk about.

And no one wants to hear about your ex-girlfriend.

Up next Friday: Dating is Not about Sexual Gratification

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