When Your Date Needs Therapy More Than He Needs You


I texted my friend late one evening.

“Christy! I just realized that this man who keeps messaging me on Match knows you. I haven’t responded, but he’s persistent. Here’s his picture, what’s he like?

“Oh, Jack! Right. Nice guy, but his wife just left him for another man. His Facebook posts make him look like he’s lost his mind. I don’t think he’s ready to date.”

Great. Sounds like my type already: emotionally unavailable.

“But he’s been sending me messages for six months. I kinda want to meet him.”

“Then do it! But just know, his wife was perfect. They were perfect. Their life was a fairy tale. Good luck.”

Good to know. And thank-you. That was just the text I needed to push me over the edge.

“Hey, Jack! Sure, I’d love to meet you for a drink. Let’s do it.”

Are you insinuating that I can’t live up to someone’s fairy tale wife? Game on, bitch. Nobody is that perfect, especially if they cheated and left after 20 years. I mean, people change and relationships end. But starting one relationship while you’re still in another is a shitty way to operate.

So Jack and I met. We got together one night at a Chilis in our neighborhood (we live two miles apart, small world), and we chatted it up over margaritas. Well, he chatted.

I listened.

“She just moved in with him. The guy she was cheating on me with–they just moved in together. She hardly ever sees the boys, and when she does, it’s uncomfortable. At least, they’re not comfortable, I don’t know how she feels and I don’t care.”

“When I found out she was cheating, I was like, ‘Okay–if you’re going to do that, move out. You need to get out. So I called her mom and told her that she was moving in with her. I couldn’t have her in my house any longer.”

“Eventually she’s going to wake up and realize what she had and what she’s lost and it’s going to be too late. It’s just going to be too fucking late.”

I got an earful for an hour. About his perfect wife and their perfect life and their fairy tale world. My heart broke for him. He was clearly still in the throes of grieving . . . but I felt more like his therapist than a potential love interest, and that takes the sex right out of sexy from the get-go.

By the end of our date, the best I could hope for was, “Would you be mine, could you be mine, won’t you be my neighbor?” A Mr. Rogers type of platonic. It felt too much like I was on a date with a married man who had not yet realized he was no longer married.

I texted him later to say that I was glad we met and I was sorry for what he’s gone through and that I’d be open to hanging out again as friends, especially if he needed to vent or blow off some steam. “I’m a great listener,” I told him.

I’m just not so great at being a rebound girl. Or a fuck buddy without emotional attachment. Or a stand-in replacement while he’s secretly hoping the woman he’s still in love with comes back. In my experience, dating a man who’s not fully unattached typically leads to one of these undesirable scenarios. And not to sound arrogant, but I’m better than that. Than any of those options.

I recently had a man tell me that I’ve been “cosmically unlucky” in dating these past few years. Yeah, maybe.

But I’d prefer to think of it as “challenged.” Challenged to grow in ways I may not have otherwise. Challenged to love myself more and tolerate bullshit less. Challenged to be more understanding and less judgmental.

But, mostly, challenged to never settle.

I mean, I don’t need a fairy tale. But I do need a prince who’s not still walking around with a single glass slipper. That and a good bottle of Pinot to help me deal with the ones who are.




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