Meghan Daum

Your therapist must be viewed not as someone to whom you blab out every little thing but as another person who might want to marry you. This being the case, play hard to get, leave him wanting more, show up late to sessions or don’t show up at all. Refuse to pay for these missed sessions (remember, Rules girls never pay). Make sure he’s dying to see you every week, dressing extra nice on your day, stalling at the end of the session so he can have more time with you. Don’t say anything that will make you seem pathetic or desperate. Don’t reveal too much personal information or whine about things that happened in your childhood. This will only make him think you are a negative person, which in the opposite of what Rules girls should be.

Always be happy and cheerful and make sure that you are dressed sexily without looking like a hooker. A particularly alluring look for therapy is a brightly colored, v-neck top and a miniskirt that you can hitch up as you lie on the couch. Make sure you wear sheer black stockings without any runs. Shoes are important, since you are lying down and he will be able to see them, so don’t cut corners. Try not to wear the same outfit more than once every eight weeks if you go once a week or once every month if you go twice a week. Remember that the therapist, unlike other men you may have been interested in, has no way of seeing your apartment and therefore has no clues to your personal style other than your clothes and hair (which should be long). So dress with care! When you write checks to him, be sure that your handwriting is neat and feminine, not jagged and sloppy. If this means setting aside extra time to write checks calmly and with your best pen, give yourself that time. Remember that this is the penmanship that will be used to answer invitations to social engagements and write notes to your children’s teachers when you are married, so it counts! No man wants a wife who scrawls like a doctor. Anyway, he’s the doctor. You might also consider ordering special checks that have flowers or an attractive border, which will show that you have a certain flair.

If your therapist suggests that you start coming more often, give yourself a little pat on the back. The Rules are working! Still, you must play it cool. Tell him that you can’t come more often because you’ve “got a million things to do.” Make him woo you into coming more often. Only after he has begged and pleaded with you to come twice a week should you accept (remembering to be late as often as possible). If he ever tries to reschedule, make sure he gives you at least four days notice, otherwise you’re certainly not available. You, however, should reschedule all the time. See how much he’ll juggle his calendar to accommodate you. You have a life, make sure he knows it. You’re busy going to the gym and to parties. When you have time on your hands you do not sit around thinking about your therapist. You do some sit–ups or read a magazine to brush up on the latest fashion tips. You get a manicure so your nails will be perfect the next time you go to therapy. Use your hands (in moderation) when you talk so he will notice your left ring finger and imagine what it would look like with a huge diamond on it.

Let your therapist do most of the talking, remembering to interject things like “that’s so interesting” and “I’ll bet you’re wonderful at your job” at appropriate moments. Often therapists will pry and try to get you to reveal things about yourself that you would rather not go into until you’ve reached a serious commitment. Be strong and do not allow this. The idea is to be mysterious and unknowable. Never talk about previous relationships. If you once had a drinking problem, don’t say anything about it. If your mother locked you in a closet when you were eight, keep it to yourself. In fact, don’t say anything critical about your mother. You do, after all want him to consider her an appealing candidate for a future mother-in-law. If he specifically asks you about her and you have nothing good to say, tell him that she has a lovely garden and keep it at that. In general, it’s best to deflect the conversation away from yourself. Find out what his hobbies are and get him to talk about them (this may require some extra research on you part but don’t let him know that). For example, if he was away for the month of August you can casually ask him what he was doing (and we mean casually, Rules girls are never too interested). If he says he was at a psychoanalytic conference in Denver, you can ask him how the weather was in Denver. Don’t pretend to be an expert in his field.

Soon enough, your therapist will start calling you at home “just to talk.” Only when he has called you five times should you call him back and talk for no longer than ten minutes. As always, you should be the one to end the call. A good line to use is “I’m afraid our time is up.” Even if your therapist is the man of your dreams and you find it painful and difficult to do The Rules where he’s concerned, you must keep doing The Rules. If the years go by and you feel you are getting nowhere, you might have to terminate therapy. Of course, you’re not really leaving him. As a Rules girl, you know exactly what you’re doing. He will be so devastated that he’ll do anything to get you back, showering you with jewelry, even dropping his other patients if necessary. At that point, you can resume your treatment with the understanding that you now have a serious commitment. You will no doubt find that in time, usually within two to ten years, your therapist will fall madly in love with you and propose.


Meghan Daum is the author of the essay collection My Misspent Youth and the novel The Quality of Life Report, which was a New York Times notable book last year and is just out in paperback from Penguin. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, GQ, and Vogue, among many other publications.


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