I am seeing a psychiatrist and she is treating me well. In the morning she cuts me slices of panettone, pours me cups of espressos. Never am I left wanting.
I am seeing a psychiatrist and she is treating me well. After breakfast she leaves wearing high-waisted skirts and black tights. Her long legs hidden, they seem like stilts. Later, she will be my beautiful octopus.
I am seeing a psychiatrist and she is treating me well. All day long while she is away, I write at our kitchen table. Light comes through a first floor window and I can see her crossing her legs in a sturdy oak chair. A leather black couch as she chews on brown-rimmed glasses. I hear her soft voice as she is looking out her window and imagining me imagining her. Forever and ever like that, we are back and forth.
I am seeing a psychiatrist and she is treating me well. She tells me I am the best, and I believe her. When she comes home I breathe in the remains of her perfume mixed with just the faintest curl of smoke from the candle she burns for her patients. I bend to my knees. I kiss the hem of her blouse. I kiss the coarse fabric of her dress.
I am seeing a psychiatrist and she is treating me well. Her parents were born in Italy. She tells them I am meaty and honest and they know it is different with us. It is different, she could tell, as when she told them she found herself calculating her life with someone she did not yet know but did not want to live without.
I am seeing a psychiatrist and she is treating me well. She has not lived with another, as I have not lived with another. But we know it is right. I do not worry when I think of how quickly we have moved. Her religion is kindness. Her eyes are chocolate chip cookies. Her breasts are small and perfect.
I am seeing a psychiatrist and she is treating me well. I met her while walking down the aisle. Outdoors on the grass under southern trees near a swampy lake with wavy reeds going out to the water and a long dock where the bride and groom took off in a boat. We talked there as the sun set, and I knew I wanted to be with her by how she laughed, by how her dress fit differently than the others. Like she had grown up reading the European issues of Vogue.
I am seeing a psychiatrist and she is treating me well. She does not belong to a writing group or a writing collective. She does not use social media. She works each day solving problems for actual people. She is my wife and I am her husband. We live in a Park Slope brownstown and her only patients are the sons and daughters of playwrights. Sometimes, because it so good, it does not seem real.
I am lying on this couch seeing a psychiatrist who says I need to start seeing people once again.
But I am seeing a psychiatrist, who else could I see?
1. You are highly attracted to dresses that you absolutely know on some level are whack/ugly but can’t help loving.
2. Whenever you see the really beautiful, perfect girl, both of you just retreat into a state of bitter-as-hell tittering amongst yourselves.
3. Your feet are way too big and wonky for the cute shoes that you want.
4. Every time you try to take a “going out” selfie, one of you looks completely busted and you have to redo it again.
5. You go to karaoke together and sing your heart out in perfect (if completely off-key) unison.
6. Unlike the “cheerleader effect” of a bunch of hot girls making each other look hotter, you magically make one another less approachable.
7. Nothing sends you into a rage quite like some girl from high school/college getting engaged and posting about it on Facebook.
8. You make fun of Pinterest as much as some people love Pinterest.
9. Even though you would never admit it, you absolutely relish in certain breakups and have to physically restrain yourself from not saying “I told you so.”
10. You both often have crushes on the same guy, and it turns into the relationship version of The Hunger Games.
11. You never get hit on when you go out together because you’re in the corner making fun of every guy in the bar.
12. (Then, when they finally do talk to you, you offend them by cackling over some weird inside joke with your friend, and are still mildly surprised/sad when they walk away.)
13. There is a certain joy that the two of you share when the mean people from school have ended up getting married at 22 and posting statuses about watching The Biggest Loser and/or being #blessed.
14. You are constantly GChatting/Facebook chatting about people’s misguided baby bump photoshoots.
15. You frequently say “she’s not even that hot” about girls who are completely, objectively, sizzlingly hot.
16. Manicure and primping dates are a frequent outing for the two of you, which often devolve into gossip dates.
17. Stealing one another’s clothes is completely normal, and returning them is completely optional. (And any time one of your items goes missing, you know exactly where it is.)
18. You identify with Carrie Bradshaw.
19. In order to make yourself feel better about lovely girls getting the perfect guy, you tell each other that it’s because she has “no personality.” (Umm, she does have a personality, it’s just not evil enough for your tastes.)
20. Your voice has a distinctly cackly quality to it when you’re saying something not-nice.
21. You are constantly helping one another over-analyze the perfect, soul-bearing text to send to a crush, even though you both know that they’re just going to reply with “lol yea.”
The Wild One
Maybe you lock eyes at a bar, maybe you meet through a friend. Maybe she’s in the military, an aspiring writer, or a nursing student. The setting and the characters will be different, but the story will always be the same. You are two people on different but briefly intersecting trajectories. Like a tropical storm, these women will breeze into your life and leave the landscape of your heart forever scarred and altered.
This is the type of woman I fall for time and time again. These women are beautiful (although not always in a conventional way), worldly, and captivating. They’re starting to settle down after years of partying or dating assholes exclusively, and their fickle eye will land on you, because you’re sweet and safe but just malleable enough be fun. You quickly realize that you have little in common, and your friends will think you’re crazy—but you won’t care, because you’re already smitten.
Just by being around them, these girls will drag you out of your comfort zone—sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. You’ll drink more. You’ll spend more money. You’ll go to places or hang out with people you wouldn’t normally, because being around this woman makes you feel like someone switched on a 10,000-watt light bulb inside your heart. But you’ll never be able to shake the feeling that she’s out of your league, somehow. And with mounting panic, you’ll watch her lose interest and eventually slip away. Eventually, you’ll realize that you were a romantic palate cleanser: someone who managed to straddle the divide between her past and her future lives just long enough to make a connection before she continued on her inevitable path.
Although they’ll drift far, far away from you, these women will seldom cut the cord completely—which may eventually lead to a place of mutually understood friendship, years down the road. Until then, however, that cord will be a lifeline of longing for you. Sure, maybe you’ll be friends, one day… but not before you’ve spent many a sleepless night listening to sad bastard music and looking at her Facebook, her OkCupid profile, or even her Instagram, wondering if she thinks of you at all—and knowing deep down that she doesn’t.
The Nice One
If you want to tell if a romance is doomed, just listen for these two deadly words: “She’s nice.”
But she will be, though—so nice, and so sweet… and so wrong for you, ultimately. You’ll want to fall in love with this girl, but you won’t be able to, not fully—and you’ll hate yourself for it.
For me, this type was even more firmly defined than the first: almost always a few years older than me, pretty but not gorgeous, nice but not captivating. Most of these women will have been through some heartache in the past, and they’re usually looking for that “nice guy” to settle down with. They’ll hope it’s you, but it won’t be. There’s a certain brittleness there, a certain insecurity borne of past wounds that will make you uncomfortable. While they’ll be drawn to your charm and your adventurous streak (which you no doubt inherited from The Wild One), you’ll eventually realize that you’ll never feel comfortable in the sedate life they’ve crafted for themselves. You’ve been conditioned to crave something else.
These relationships always end badly. You’ll do some damage here and you’ll feel terrible about it. She’ll cry, you’ll cry, and you’ll spend weeks wondering if you did the right thing or not. But it doesn’t matter: this girl is gone for good. These are the ones who will block you on Facebook, delete your number, whatever it takes for them to forget you. Months, even years later, you’ll still feel a wave of regret whenever you think about her, and you’ll stare off into the distance, wondering and hoping that she’s forgiven you… but knowing deep down that she never will.
You’ll never date this girl and chances are you never seriously wanted to, but this relationship will be just as defining as the ones that end in heartache. Maybe you went out once and things never clicked… or maybe you never got that far because you’re not her type or she’s not yours, but without knowing it, your closest female friends will become the benchmark for all of your other relationships. Maybe she’s the most beautiful person you know, or maybe she’s the funniest, or maybe she’s just all-around awesome, but this girl will become your friend, your confidante, and your gold standard. You’ll commiserate over countless late-night beers about relationships that went wrong, you’ll try (usually unsuccessfully) to wingman for each other, and you’ll do enough single-people activities together that people will start to wonder if you’re dating.
Until you find your future spouse, this may be one of the most meaningful, permanent relationships you have—after all, if she sees all of your bullshit and foibles week in and week out and still wants to be your friend, that’s saying something. Just remember, she probably knows you better than anybody, so if she finally does tell you that you’ve found a keeper, you damn well better listen.