Chances are, if you’re a modern gal in today’s modern world, you’re going to have a few different relationships in your life. You might date people who inspire you creatively, push you to pursue your dreams, or drive you absolutely freaking nuts. Hey, it’s all a part of growing up and learning what you want, and more power to you for taking the time to figure it all out. I speak from personal experience. I’ve dated a lot of different types of guys: the artist, the accountant, the unemployed, the teacher and now, most recently, the therapist. A lot of women ask me what it’s like to date a shrink. Does he analyze me? If I am laying down on a couch, does he come over and sit next to me with a little notebook and a monocle? The answer is sometimes, but I will explain a bit further and clear up some of the more common questions.
Dating a therapist is sort of like dating a doctor, only he can’t perform any major surgery or tell if I have tonsillitis. What my therapist boyfriend (let’s call him Brady – he’s a real life therapist, so we have to be confidential here!) can do is listen really well. Duh, listening is his job, but I mean, he actually hears what I am saying. And then he hears a little bit more (let’s be real, how often do you actually say what you mean the first time around?). When I say, “We need to talk”, his “okay” is not the “here we go again” that most guys react with. He’s actually like, Yay! More talking! This can lead to the dreaded over-analyzation tunnel, where two hours later both people are like, “Hrm, did we just talk ourselves in a circle?” But usually, we get through it okay. I’m a list-maker and problem solver by nature, so I think that helps. Pro-tip: Don’t date a therapist if you want someone to fix your life for you. You have to do that yourself most of the time!
Brady is pretty hands-off as far as trying to get in my head. I’ve never really thought he was diagnosing me until the time he called me a hysteric neurotic. “How long have you thought this about ME?!!” I shrieked. Caitlin: 1. Brady: 0. He never tried to put a title on my bold, confident personality after that. He just told me that if I wanted to talk to someone about it, he could refer me. Classic therapist move.
Let’s be real, nobody wants to do his or her job 24/7, and I want to Brady’s girlfriend, not his patient. And being the girlfriend of a therapist is pretty fun! He gets dressed up in little J. Crew, elbow-patchy outfits every morning. We get to go to universities in the city and talk to academics and eat tiny beef wellingtons. He shares fun prison slang that he learned while he worked in a jail and regales my friends with practical, not-too-fatherly advice. He wants to get a therapy dog! How cute would that be?
But at the end of the day, being a therapist is just like any other job. It leaves him tired, grouchy and burnt out. I think that is what other women really want to know when I tell them about my therapist boyfriend. After listening to other people’s problems all day, does he still have the energy to listen to mine? My answer: of course! It’s like his favorite thing to do!
That’s the thing about any one you date, you can be super proud of all their accomplishments and find their desert boots and bowties sexy, but just remember, you deserve to be with someone who hangs out, really listens to you and knows when to put the relationship first.
And that advice comes with a therapist’s seal of approval.