Men Discussing Therapy On The First Date Can Be A Red Flag. Here's Why

Let's be honest: dating cis-men is like an unpaid internship. The patriarchy doesn't encourage cis-men to be in touch with their emotions, seek intimacy, or embrace vulnerability. As such, the women, men, and non-gender-binary people they choose to date end up doing a lot of emotional labor. Therapist O'Brien Wimbish told Vox, "A lot of men are still operating under an unhealthy belief that addressing their feelings isn't masculine." Many people now insist they won't date a man who isn't in therapy. The dating app Hinge held a study that revealed a whopping 91% of Hinge users would prefer to date someone who goes to therapy. Honestly, we'll date you as long as you're willing to try, fellas! 


Although we would like to know why it is, as one Twitter user put it, men who need therapy are often our greatest Achilles heel too (Whyyyyy?) While everyone should be in therapy, there is a new phenomenon sweeping the dating world: Some cis-men weaponize therapy, aka therapy-baiting, during dates. Some people say it's a red flag, so we're here to unpack it. 

Men are saying they're in therapy when they're not

Since women have been decrying the lengths men will go to avoid therapy, cis-men have learned quickly that being in therapy makes them more attractive. Of course, some cis-men have been using this knowledge to up their pick-up game (ugh) — whether or not they're actually seeing a therapist. As Vice described it, men tell women in the early stages of dating that they're in therapy, but once they've locked in the relationship, it becomes readily apparent that a.) no they're not, and b.) they essentially lured the women into liking them under false pretenses. 


If this sounds like the incels have adapted their pick-up-artist game to virtue signal, you're not alone. The outlet spoke with clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula, who said these therapy-charlatans' behavior is especially egregious when they say, "'Look how evolved I am, look how I take on my issues.' And even worse, when it's being used like cologne to mask the smell of manipulative behavior; when how they communicate is uncomfortable or antagonistic."

Therapy-baiting doesn't just involve lying about being in therapy. Also, it's about weaponizing therapy-speak, culling terms from their sessions to manipulate and neg their dates.

Look out for dates who try to diagnose you

On Twitter, writer Anna Akana noted in 2020, "A relatively new phenomenon I've witnessed is people weaponizing therapy language to justify behavior that's non-compassionate, to legitimize their victimhood, or to avoid real self-reflection about their harmful behaviors." Vice spoke to a woman who had to flee her first date when a man in therapy began to criticize her estrangement from her toxic grandfather by using therapy-speak — despite not being a therapist, nor understanding the situation's nuance. (Talk about being non-compassionate!)


Clinical psychologist Dr. Arianna Brandolini told Refinery29 that misusing clinical terms and judging others is a huge red flag, stating, "People can take these words and concepts out of context and use them to justify bad behavior. It can also feed unhealthy self-centeredness." Even online dating platform eHarmony decried dates attempting to be their romantic partner's make-shift therapist — cautioning those who do that their partner's sexual attraction and devotion to them could plummet.

The big takeaway here is: Don't say you're in therapy if you're not. Equally important, don't try to weaponize your knowledge of therapy. The dating scene is difficult enough!