What Happened When My Therapist Tried To Be My Matchmaker

No one told him therapist and matchmaker are vastly different occupations.

Last updated on Aug 09, 2023

therapist sitting on couch Ground Picture / Shutterstock

I’d been in a coed therapy group for a year and a half when the leader, an experienced licensed clinical social worker, tried to set me up on a blind date.

The group had spent over an hour discussing our wishes to find fulfilling life partnerships. Out of the five of us, in our thirties and forties, only one person had a significant other.

When the group session ended, our therapist, Kevin, asked if I’d stay behind. I thought perhaps he wanted to discuss something about insurance or billing, a private matter, but when he shut the door, his lips parted into a wide and nervous grin.


My therapist decided he wanted to try being my matchmaker.

My heart began to pound. He told me he knew a man, someone in his mid-forties, a writer and history teacher with values, interests, and relationship goals similar to mine.

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Kevin was initially vague about how he knew my potential date; I thought he was Kevin's friend. Later, Kevin would reveal the man was his client, and he wanted to set me up with this man.

In order to not break therapist-client confidentiality, Kevin said he wouldn’t disclose names or contact information. But, it seemed to me he was already bending the rules too far.


Kevin laid out his plan for this man and I to meet. An author was giving a reading at a bookstore both his other client and I were familiar with. Kevin said he would supply us with the knowledge of a particular physical characteristic of one another so that we could identify each other.

“What do you think?” he asked, grinning. I studied Kevin’s gray-speckled brown hair, the way it formed a widow’s peak that aligned his forehead perfectly with the bridge of his nose. His eyes were glittery behind his rectangular wire glasses.

I was 42 years old and had never been in a serious long-term relationship, though I’d always hoped for marriage and kids.


I thought I’d missed my window for finding love. I blamed myself. I’d spent my twenties abstaining from romance, despite wanting a boyfriend while yearning to share my life with a man. At the same time, I avoided facing an unresolved issue: The sexual abuse I’d suffered as a girl.

It wasn’t until I was 28, debilitated by anxiety and depression, that I finally sought professional help. At 29, I was diagnosed with complex PTSD.

In my thirties, while my friends were getting married and starting families, I spent my days in individual and group therapy coming to terms with my past and working to overcome the obstacles the abuse had placed on development in my life.

I healed. But, I was still perpetually single. I met men through online dating, speed dating, religious groups, hiking groups, adult education classes, meet-up groups, and singles cocktail hours. Yet, I never found a man with whom I felt a deep and lasting connection.


I’d seen Kevin as a positive male role model, one of the few in my life. I’d trusted him.

I thought his offer came from a place of kindness, yet part of me couldn’t help but draw a parallel between his proposition and the one I’d received as a child from my abuser: If I wanted love, I had to go along with the man in power who rationalized breaking rules were not breaking rules if he was behind closed doors.

“Would you want to do this?” Kevin asked. Part of me was drawn to the idea as if it were a drug, a cure-all. I felt thrilled, and sick, as I said yes. I went home.

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Feeling unsettled, I asked my friends to weigh in. Most thought it was a strange thing for a group therapist to do, but they also said it was his problem, not mine. Then they added: If it means finally finding Mr. Right, then why not do it?

A very close friend expressed suspicion: “What if the guy he wants you to meet is really him?”

“He’s married,” I said about Kevin.

“So?” my friend said. He had tapped into something I hadn’t shared: although what Kevin did hadn’t been a making a pass at me, it had felt like one.

I called it off. I wanted to find someone compatible, but my therapist's idea was problematic.

For one thing, how would I feel if I dated this man and he told Kevin about our sex life?


At the next group meeting, in front of Kevin, I told my fellow members about his secret overture. Everybody agreed he’d been inappropriate, except for one who thought I should remain open-minded and go on the date.

Another member expressed resentment: where was her match? She thought Kevin was playing favorites.

“I think Kevin is mortified,” a male member interjected. “Or else, maybe I’m projecting. I just don’t want the group to fall apart.”

But, it already had. Kevin had broken my trust. I met with him several times outside the group setting, with my individual therapist as moderator, to discuss the situation.

Kevin admitted what he’d done had been “in the gray area,” which was not much of an admission of guilt. He explained he’d contemplated the idea for a couple of months before acting on it. He’d thought about the existence of dual relationships by therapists who practice in rural Midwestern towns.


I couldn’t discern if he was justifying placing himself in the role of matchmaker, or labeling it as merely questionable.

He confessed he had not consulted with his supervisor before approaching me, because he knew his supervisor would tell him he shouldn’t do it, as it would cross a fundamental boundary. But, he cared and he wanted to help so much that he wasn’t able to stop himself from doing it. Kevin said he wanted to earn back my trust. He believed he could.

If I was in a relationship, and my partner had broken my trust, what would I do? I’d talk it through.

So, I worked on it with Kevin. But he kept making excuses for his behavior, dodging my questions with vague answers, and responding with increasing frustration at me being upset and my persisting distrust of him.


After a month, I concluded the problem ran much deeper than what Kevin was capable of handling due to his lack of self-criticism and accountability. His mistake had forced the end of our relationship.

I said goodbye. I left the group. I felt sad for a while as if I’d gone through a breakup. I’d grown attached to the group and Kevin, and now they weren’t part of my life anymore.

Admittedly, I was also disappointed I had lost a chance for a date with a man who might have been a potential life partner. I wondered what would’ve happened if I’d agreed to the set-up.


Had I taken an overly high moral stance on dating? Had I self sabotaged a chance of finally meeting “the one”?

Looking back, I can confidently say the answer is no.

When Kevin first presented his proposition, I’d asked how my “match” had reacted to the idea. Kevin said, “he’s all for it.”

The guy hadn’t seen anything problematic with the situation. Without even meeting him, I’d learned we weren’t a match for each other on a core level.

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Tracy Strauss is a writer who focuses on mental health, relationships, and self-care.