A friend of mine was telling us about the current guy she’s dating. “Oh, and he goes to therapy — which at this rate if you don’t go to therapy, we’re not dating.” My friends and I laughed, but it also made me think: that’s probably a thought for a lot of people now. And I wasn’t wrong. In 2022, the popular dating app Hinge found that 91% of Hinge users prefer to date someone who goes to therapy.
In the past if a potential partner said, “I’m 6 feet, have a steady high-paying job, and a high credit score,” women might have swooned. Now if a potential partner says, “I’ve worked through my childhood trauma and my attachment style, and I believe in honest, open communciation,” women will swoon. I’m serious.
American anthropologist and chief science adviser for Match.com, Helen Fisher, looked at the behavior and attitudes of single people in the United States. In 2022, she asked participants to rank the top traits they look for in a prospective partner. And usually people say: sexual attractiveness, humor, etc. But guess what new trait made the top five list? Emotional maturity.
And people know this. People post on dating apps that they are going to therapy, especially men. They can see it gets them more women. Selling yourself is part of dating. Hinge even lets users use dating app prompts on their profile like “Therapy recently taught me__,” “A boundary of mine is__” and “My therapist would say I__.”
For many people, therapy is hot. It’s in. It’s part of being a promising mate. So is having a dealbreaker that someone needs to be in therapy good for dating today? Well like most things, the answer is a little more grey.
The Good Of Therapy Deal-Breakers
So there are some clear benefits to having a deal-breaker that your partner needs to go to therapy. For one, therapy ideally means someone is focused on improving their mental health, which is an important aspect that affects your relationship with them. It also would ideally mean they are self-aware and, at best, trying to become “their best self.” Again, that could be quite attractive.
Relationships also thrive on emotional connection and intimacy— and people in therapy have the opportunity to discuss their emotions, hopefully becoming more in tune with them. The more emotionally available someone is, the more comfortable they are with vulnerability, and vulnerability is a key ingredient in feeling truly bonded with someone. Vulnerability is the antidote to loneliness, and who wants to feel lonely in their relationships?
Therapy also would hopefully allow someone to process their past, and work through their pain points and triggers, which is great because then your potential partner won’t be bleeding their childhood traumas onto you in a destructive way. Until we emotionally address any past painful trauma (especially for anyone who does not have positive relationships with their caregivers), those pain points will still affect us in the present.
So, therapy will ideally teach someone very attractive traits for a relationship like communciation, emotional honesty, vulnerability, compassion, empathy, etc. Those soft skills help cultivate a more healthy relationship (and of course, decrease the chance you’re dating a toxic partner who would not be a fun person to date in the long run).
The Bad Of Therapy Deal-Breakers
Therapy is helpful and works for some, but not for all. There are multiple ways to get support that could provide the same level of emotional awareness. Talking to a wise grandparent, getting brunch with a sage best friend, joining a spiritual group, reading self-help books, and doing self-guided work online. For some, therapy is the best avenue for personal development, but not for all.
Now that is also on the basis that someone needs therapy as the avenue to get help. Some people actually feel well-supported already. They have positive relationships with their parents, friends, etc, and a therapist actually isn’t going to provide them with much of anything because they already have the traits people go to therapy for.
Not to mention, therapy is costly. This might not be an outlet people can spend their money on. For some people, therapy might not be worth the costs because there are so many free resources online for help (e.g., podcasts, YouTube, Medium articles, etc).
And also like I said, people know that therapy can be seen as attractive and they want to sell themselves as attractive. Hence, “therapy baiting” is also a concern to look out for. This is where people use their experience of therapy to appear sensitive and warm, therefore gaining more interest in their partner. Essentially they (usually men) weaponize therapy to get more dates.
Considering Therapy Deal-Breakers
I think that’s why it’s important to consider why someone has a therapy deal-breaker. Is the goal to date someone with emotional maturity? Then discover that directly. There have been plenty of people in therapy for years who still aren’t emotionally mature because they don’t actually “do the work” (the personal development work) to become mature. And there are plenty of people not in therapy who are emotionally mature. If anything, if someone is in therapy that is telling you they are actually actively trying to be emotionally mature — not necessarily that they are.
Being in therapy more tells you they could value wanting to improve — but therapy is not the only signal someone values personal growth and emotional maturity. The best signal is their actions. Do they actually openly communicate, are consistent, present, emotionally available, kind, respectful, etc? For me, I trust how they treat me more than what they actually go to.
I think it’s amazing more people are focusing on their mental and emotional health. Emotional maturity is hot. And of course, it makes the world a better place to live in. But I believe therapy is not always the best avenue for everyone for discovering emotional maturity. It works for some! But not for all.
What do you think?
Want to buy me a coffee? https://ko-fi.com/purposeistolove (I’d be very, very thankful!)
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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