Can I be in therapy and date at the same time?

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Dear Meredith,

In short, I tend to overcomplicate things. I don't have a problem meeting people and going on dates. I think dating is fun. But I've been taking a break from it for a few months after a run of budding relationships went south. Within that time, I began seeking therapy for depression. My therapist thinks I choose people who are somehow slightly unavailable as a self-preservation method so they can't get too close. I think I developed this pattern after I found out an ex was cheating on me two years ago. I have had some great breakthroughs with this therapist's help.

Back in March, I met a great guy, "Jake." Jake is very sweet, family-oriented, attractive, smart, respectful, funny, and makes a lot of effort. At the time, I had just started seeing another guy (another Mr. Unavailable), and although I didn't think the new fling was going anywhere, I couldn't get him out of my head. I went on three dates with Jake and then made every excuse not to like him, from his shoes to average height, all because Mr. Unavailable was consuming my every thought. I texted Jake that I didn't see us going anywhere, and he replied that he was a bit surprised but appreciated my honesty.

The relationship with Mr. Unavailable inevitably crashed and burned over the summer. A coworker convinced me to text Jake a few weeks ago, and we have been on a few dates since. I feel like my vision is so much clearer now. So much so that his bad choice in clothing and slight dad-bod condition doesn't affect my attraction to him. I am slightly concerned about the fact that he jumped back in so easily. We text here and there and it's usually just to make plans. I was honest with him about the past (that I was seeing someone else), and he said he's really happy that I reached out again. I like him for all the right reasons (for once) and want to see where it goes.

Do you think I can continue to make the same progress with myself in therapy AND foster a potential new relationship at the same time?

– Over-complicating


"Do you think I can continue to make the same progress with myself in therapy AND foster a potential new relationship at the same time?"

Absolutely. I mean, ask your therapist, but in my opinion, it is very possible to multi-task. For you – and many others – therapy is an ongoing process that can help you figure out how to maintain a healthy relationship while you're in one. You don’t have to achieve some perfect state of self-awareness before allowing yourself to date. I'm not sure that state exists for any of us.

With that in mind, I'd also like to make it clear that Jake is also learning. You might feel like he's the one who knows what he wants and can pursue it without fear, but that's just not true. Please understand that he's bound to make mistakes and experience confusion about the relationship. He might be asking a lot of the same questions right now, and that's OK.

Please don't be concerned that Jake was quick to jump back in. Sometimes the timing is wrong, but then it gets a lot better. I'm glad he understands and is open to second chances.

– Meredith

Readers? Therapy and dating at the same time?