I’ve met someone. The One. And now I’m in love. It’s a lunatic love, driven by insatiable lust. She’s funny. Smart. Sexy. I’d say she was perfect for me but there’s one major problem — she has another man in her life and refuses to give him up.
Let’s call him The Other Man (TOM). She sees him five times a week and tells him all her secrets. I only get to see her once a week and she tells me she loves this man because he listens to her. She is in my bed and he is in her head — by which I mean TOM is her therapist.
The One talks about TOM when we’re in bed, and he talks about me during her therapy. I talk about him — and her — to my therapist. My life at the moment isn’t imitating art; it’s imitating bad Woody Allen.
She tells me that she’s torn between her therapist and her lover (me). So what can I do to win her away from this man? Nothing. You can steal a woman away from her husband and you can steal a woman away from her lover, but you can’t steal a woman away from her therapist.
I complain to her that I’m being cockblocked on an industrial scale by this man.
“Funny,” she says, “That’s what he says about you!”
I hope she’s joking.
I know what you’re thinking: Romantic Rule Number One is “never fall in love with someone who sees a therapist five times a week!” Of course you’re right. But it’s too late for rules or reason. I’m hooked. As my first wife once said, “Love is a sexually transmitted disease.”
The thing about a woman’s therapist is that they know how to listen, or at least how to give the impression of listening. During their sessions together TOM does that old Freudian trick of staying silent, which is a form of foreplay for the subconscious. A former Freudian analyst once confessed to me that during the silent bits of his sessions with clients he was usually thinking: will this narcissistic neurotic ever stop whining?
I’ve discovered that TOM is not one of those sexy celebrity analysts, the kind with Byronic hair and brooding eyes who writes for the New York Review of Books and has published books of his essays that someone like Zadie Smith always describes as “elegant and insightful.”
The One tells me that TOM is short. Bald. He has fat fingers and tiny feet. She says that he is “ugly.” This should make me happy. But no, TOM is “sexy ugly” and has a “brilliant mind.” You can look like the Elephant Man, but if your mind is brilliant, you’re irresistible to a certain type of woman like The One.
“What about my mind?” I asked.
“You don’t have a brilliant mind,” she tells me, “but you have a brilliant penis!”
“Thanks a lot,” I say. “Talk about objectification! If I talked about a woman that way, I’d be straight on the #MeToo hit list.”
“Poor baby,” she says.
Still, when she isn’t with TOM, we do have great sex — a fact I’m sure no one wants to read about. There’s nothing worse for people than hearing some old boomer bang on about all the mind-boggling sex he’s having.
When news broke that spy novelist John Le Carré’s mistress was publishing a memoir of how the priapic old goat was amazing in bed — even at the age of seventy — people were horrified. But why? What do you want from us oldies? To be dotty old blokes pottering around in our slippers and sipping cocoa?
Talk about your miserable prostate problems and people will nod along sympathetically. Talk about your happy sex life and they’re gagging and crying, “Too much information! Gross! Yuck!” Well, sorry Gen Z and all you envious millennials. I know you hate us because we had the good years of capitalism — well, now we’ve got the great sex too. And here’s the bad news: we’re gonna keep shagging ’til we drop dead.
I should point out that this is not the first time that a therapist has ruined a relationship for me. Therapy killed my second marriage. When my wife went into therapy, love walked out of the room. When she was training to become a therapist, I warned her that it would end in tears, and it did: my tears.
Still, finding therapy and losing me was the best thing that ever happened to her. We had dinner the other day. I hadn’t seen her in a while. Where was the fat, frumpy, bitter old hag I was hoping to find? She looked twenty years younger and so glamorous. She was funny and charming — and she picked up the bill. She has built up a successful practice, written a novel and now has a new book about to come out. It’s called What Women Want. Notice that absence of a question mark. It’s going to be a huge success. But why didn’t she tell me what women want when we were married? “I did,” she says, “but you weren’t listening.”
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s February 2023 World edition.