DEAR ABBY: I am conflicted about boundaries being crossed between my family therapist and me. My 7-year-old son and I have been seeing someone we both bonded with and felt comfortable with. That is, until the therapist and I found each other on an online dating site.
We matched a few months ago. Once I realized it was him, I felt embarrassed and blocked him on the site. He sent me an email within three minutes acknowledging that he knew it was me. He said he thought I was "awesome" and that I look better in person than in my pics. I was so embarrassed I didn't respond.
A couple of months went by and neither of us brought it up. My son invited him to his birthday party and he did attend. It wasn't until later that I realized therapists are not supposed to attend social events with patients. We also text often, during late-night hours.
A couple of weeks after my son's birthday party he tried matching with me again on the dating site. I was surprised and sent him a text asking him what he was doing. He responded by asking me if I was enjoying it, but did not answer my question. I do have a slight crush on him, but I'm not sure what his intentions are. I am aware that it's unethical. -- UNETHICAL CRUSH
DEAR UNETHICAL: You are correct that what the therapist has been doing is a breach of professional ethics. There is a reason for it. Patients are extremely vulnerable to manipulation.
When the online flirtation first started, you should have changed therapists. Heaven only knows how many other patients he has done this with. My advice is to draw the line, establish a working relationship with another therapist, and decide whether you want to report him to the association that licensed him to practice. You may have a crush on him, but what he is doing is predatory.