Notes on Being the Crazy Girl Guys Like To Date

I’ve had three serious boyfriends.  All of these three for-the-most-part wonderful guys have had to contend with my Issues, which mostly boil down to my mother, who is certifiably insane and has her own legion of neuroses, which she passed on to and inflicted on me.  (Sorry, dudes, and thanks!  Time for me to repay you by writing about you on the internet!)

I feel bad for Serious Boyfriend #1.  I was relatively normal for the first year we dated.  But between sophomore and junior years of high school (also known as IVth and Vth forms at our boarding school), I decided it was time to buckle down, really be serious about my life.  This translated to embarking on a strict diet of a sleeve of LifeSavers a day on top of mandatory athletics and taking so many classes I had no free periods.  Our school’s schedule was designed so that you needed one or two free periods a day to realistically finish your work.  I had none, so I stopped sleeping.  But I made straight A’s and lost a ton of weight, so it was totes worth it.  (And I did all of this without Adderall, Ritalin or coke!  I know, that’s the real crazy part.)

High on the wonderful adrenaline that comes with not sleeping and not eating, I remember this year as—no joke—one of the happiest of my life.

He probably doesn’t.

I was a total bitch to him, yelling at him or avoiding him, except at those carefully delineated times during the week (after Tuesday Chapel and Saturday nights) when we hooked up, because I knew that at least I was good at that stuff!

In the winter, the school caught on to the fact that something was wrong with me and, fearing a lawsuit if I got really physically fucked up, decided to try to police me.  As in any private school, they’re allowed to kick you out for being nuts.  That was his fear for me.

Every week, it seemed, there was some sort of crisis.  The school counselor had called my parents and told them I needed to go home immediately.  I had to go to weekly weigh-ins.  I had to see a nutritionist.  I had to get my blood tested because they thought I was throwing up (not yet!).  I had to go to the hospital again.  I was only averaging a B- in Pre-Calc and my mother was threatening to pull me out of school because I was clearly a fucking moron.  Etc.

He begged me to eat so I could stay at school for him.  He told me I was smart, that my mother was crazy.  That I was beautiful, that he loved me.

None of it penetrated.

Oh, sure, I’d stand there listening to him and cry.  I was crying because I didn’t want to disappoint him.  When you’re a Crazy Girl, you’re always (subconsciously or consciously) testing the people who love you because you don’t believe you’re deserving of love, and because you’re so insecure that you need to be proven right.  If you really fuck up, like for real this time, and people get fed up with you, than you were right about them and about yourself.

Eventually, his pleading and endless solicitousness grew tiresome.  It felt insulting that this person who claimed to love me so much was convinced I was this little broken bird who needed his protection.  Fuck that and fuck him.  I didn’t break up with him then, but I retaliated by refusing to alter my behavior.

He was the first guy I dated who loved the Crazy Girl thing.  He loved my neediness and my broken-doll aesthetic because it gave him a job to do.  He was responsible for my emotional health and physical safety, holding me when I was devastated over something my mom had said or done and trying to force-feed me before my weigh-ins.

Seven years later, despite the fact that he has a long-term girlfriend he plans to marry, he still calls me, texts me, Facebooks me, and his best friends say he’s still in love with me.  I have endless amounts of affection for him for being so great for me for the three years we went out, but I barely thought about him after I broke up with him.

Guys who date Crazy Girls do so because they have their own neurotic need to be needed.  They may know all your flaws, but they put you on a pedestal just the same.  Beware.  Once they give you your allegiance, you have it for life.  This is a blessing and a burden.


Serious Boyfriend #2 I’ll call—affectionately, I swear—Fry.

By the time Fry and I started going out, the summer between VIth form and freshman year of college—a time when no one makes good decisions—my Issues had crystallized and were expressed in a few certain behaviors.  Namely, bulimia and being addicted to exercise.  Between that and the Smirnoff Ices and Mike’s Hards that are staples of a 17-year-old’s social life, I had definitely gained weight (helpful hint: don’t do it, bulimia makes you chubby!), but these behaviors were an outlet for me.  If I didn’t binge, purge and then work out for an hour, I would really go crazy!

Fry and I dated through freshman year of college, very long distance.  As in, he was on the West Coast and I was in NYC.  I was lonely, and I wasn’t making many friends at college because I spent all my time on the phone with him and with my best friend from high school, because I was on a varsity team and had no time to go out, but mostly because I spent a good chunk of my day in the bathroom.  He would be trying to sleep and I’d call him at dawn, East Coast-time, crying and slurring I-love-yous.

I remember an hours-long conversation we had one night where we both cried and he begged me stop hurting myself.  I said I was trying but that I couldn’t.  I’m not sure how the conversation ended.

I cheated on him with the guy I would date next.  I scared him by calling him at all hours, wasted and crying, and by refusing to stop my life-threatening behaviors.  In March, I broke up with him over AIM.  I would later learn that he’d been in the process of putting together a care package for me.

Why did he put up with it?  Unlike SB#1, he didn’t even get a biweekly hook-up to make up for it.  So—what was in it for him?

He loved me, and I loved him.  I really did, as much as I could.  But when you’re a Crazy Girl, you hurt people instinctively and thoughtlessly because you’re endlessly consumed with hurting yourself.  If you like suffering, if that’s all you know, why should anyone else be any different?  If something isn’t painful, it must not be worth it.

This one I’m having trouble writing because it’s kinda still going on, so I’ll just skip to the armchair analysis.

Serious Boyfriend #3 I went out with for an indeterminate amount of time.  Our timeline is punctuated by regularly spaced break-ups, all but the last initiated by me.  But it’s almost six years since we first met and we are still making a poor choice by remaining in each other’s life, so clearly even the last break-up didn’t really take.

If I were to begin describing the shit I pulled with him this would be War and Peace-length, so you can use your imagination.

Here’s why he’s important: He fixed me in college.  He got me to stop doing as much stupid shit to myself.  He picked me up from a Chinatown hospital at dawn after the NYPD sent me there in an ambulance.  He was there when my mother moved out and when she moved back in.

But that’s the paradigm with us.  I’m crazy, he’s sane.  I’m wrong, he’s right.  He knows best, always.  Even when I’m actually right about something, I’m not.

That’s addicting for him.  That’d be addicting for anyone.  But if you’re the one who’s wrong, it wears on you.  And yeah, some part of you is seeking that out.  Some large part of you has always been convinced of this, so you hang onto the person who validates your own low opinion of yourself, thus making you…right about something!  For once!  Guess I can’t leave this person, he’s the only one who has me all figured out!

There’s a pattern.


So, in short.  Being the Crazy Girl (or, to be fair and gender-neutral, the Crazy Person) in the relationship is tough.  Not only are you dealing with layers of your own shit, which is hard enough, you also have the burden of always staying in your place.  If you by some miracle figure yourself out, even a little, your partner probably won’t want to acknowledge it because then he’ll lose his role as protector and wise sage.  (If there are people who can overcome this endless feedback loop, I’ve yet to meet them.)

Dating a Crazy Person provides all kind of benefits. They’re very eager to please in the bedroom.  Mostly, they’re skinny and smart in an unhinged way.  (I’m not bragging.  I’m only book-smart.) They’ll make you feel like God.

Some advice, should you find yourself in a relationship with a Crazy Person: don’t believe his/her hype.  You’re not God.  Because then you’re just perpetuating the cycle and you’ll find yourself being the person who only dates crazy people.  And honestly, if that happens—it’s you, not them. TC mark

image – Girl, Interrupted


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  • merav

    dark side of manic pixie

  • Lola

    “I was crying because I didn’t want to disappoint him.  When you’re a Crazy Girl, you’re always (subconsciously or consciously) testing the people who love you because you don’t believe you’re deserving of love, and because you’re so insecure that you need to be proven right.  If you really fuck up, like for real this time, and people get fed up with you, than you were right about them and about yourself.”


  • hunter ray

    I am a crazy boy, it's gr8

  • Amanda

    Beautifully written.

  • Coraanu

    Being the protector and wise sage is addicting in its own right. Maybe this is why I keep dating the Crazy Girl.  Yes, I'm guilty of perpetuating this cycle.

  • Grace

    Never read anything that so accurately described me. Made me realize a few things about myself, but maybe I still like being Crazy Girl. Oops.

  • coffeeandinternets

    “Dating a Crazy Person provides all kind of benefits. They’re very eager
    to please in the bedroom.  Mostly, they’re skinny and smart in an
    unhinged way.  (I’m not bragging.  I’m only book-smart.) They’ll make
    you feel like God.”

    Ohhh god damn it. I've suspected my insanity for some time now, and then you had to go and get all eerily close to perfectly describing me.

    TGIF though

  • Maa' Hes

    jesus christ! you ARE fucking crazy…

    and i want you so bad after reading this :

  • Julene

    Cheeky. I like it.

  • Rachel

    Good article. And I love your bio, katie. Me, three years ago. PS: less dark take on Crazy Girl Syndrome:

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    Oh wow. Spot on.
    Though I really think that if you're so self-aware, you might as well get help. That's the dilemma I have anyways.

    • brandypass

      We don't know if she has or not.

  • Jen

    You forgot the guilt. The gut-wrenching guilt in being the crazy girlfriend. Especially when they won't seem to let you go after all these years!

  • Thundercat

    wow, you're crazy, you should probably take a break from dating people for a while and get your shit figured out on your own, before you keep screwing guys up

    • brandypass

      Yes, because the guys have no part in this whatsoever.

  • Brian McElmurry

    codepedence and borderline behavior. love can't make someone not mentally ill. very bravely written though.

    • brandypass

      Ok…. I'm gonna chime in here 'cause I'm a psychologist and I can. This is beautifully written and I am super stoked that you wrote it. This is going to sounds stupid and cliche but I know for a fact that things get better and better and you can change and other peoples' love WILL facilitate change.  This is from a true cynic (check my articles here for proof). Also, DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) works really well for all your described behaviors (if they're bothering YOU.) Lastly, everyone is crazy. Happiness is finding others whose crazy is compatible with yours.

  • mopey P

    I bet your first boyfriend's current wife-to-be would loove to read this. Especially if she's nuts like you!

  • j.

    oof.  im about halfway through your cycle.  keeping my fingers crossed for all of us crazy girls that maybe one day we'll become Normal Girls

  • Stan

    this is the story of my life. including being in boarding school—between my lower and upper years I went certifiably insane.

    • S.

      Story of my life as well

      A/e? Upper year drives everyone insane.

  • jacob walse

    oh man i think i'm the crazy person what do i fucking do? #seriously

  • Eunice Chung

    i love the cynical melancholy behind this. mostly i love melancholy but somehow the forced detachment from the cynicism makes it more real. an honesty of a different kind. i loved the writing.

  • Erica Statton

    very to the point (especially for tc), very good article :)

  • Joe

    This reminds me of the recent article about the burned of being beautiful. Both are an interesting look into the lives of two very misunderstood and harshly judged group of people… Thanks for this!

    • Joe

      *Burden, not burned.

  • guest

    What's really fun is having a crazy boyfriend and having the stress of always having to protect him drive you crazy and then finding out he's not capable of protecting you back. right.

  • lotti

    it sounds like my life between 15 and 25. then i thought i had get over myself and be 'normal'. well, haven't been in a 'real' (though perverse) relationship since and haven't had sex in 5 months. maybe i should stop pretending to be a strong independent woman, embrace my crazygirlness and find a boyfriend/guru/therapist to indulge in each other's insecurities and be happy with. it's just so much easier

    • brandypass

      I think getting to that place is first and then you just care so much less if anybody gives you what you “need” to “prove” that you're worthy. Period.

    • Lilit

      Been there.. done that.. doesnt work. you gotta figure out your craziness by yourself, cuz seriously it does not work, even when you figure it out sliding back to the “strong independent woman” is way too easy! Moreover when u meet someone, and then u like that someone, and then u open up to that someone u'll get the “ohh look at you now, you are not the strong independent I-dont-need-anyone woman u try to make everyone think you are..” and suddenly you are clingy and too emotional just cuz at some point you said “well yeah i care for you.. wouldnt be with u otherwise..”.
      You gotta figure it out alone.. I recommend “the Power of now” – no selfhelp crap but is really good and it does help.
      Good luck.. I accept am a crazy person..

  • anonymous

    Hopefully I'm not the only one who thinks you need to stop thinking about yourself. Sounds like you've done some good analysis, but the fact of the matter is that this is just another avenue to receive feedback and attention and confirmation. 

    Seriously, the world has so many bigger problems and personal insecurities and dependency issues…while unfortunate, are not among the list of things society should be most concerned with. 

    I think 90% of what you've written indicates selfishness.

    • genna mae

      Crazy people are inherently selfish.
      Those of us with mental disorders do anything that we think will make us feel good, mostly without regard to the longevity of the effects or how our actions affect other people. Some of us engage in unhealthy or unbalanced relationships–with both crazies and non-crazies–because even though they're not good relationships, we get what we want (attention, someone who tells us we're hot, takes us out for dinner, sex, etc.). We generally don't have a ton of self-respect or mental clarity, so we'll put up with the bullshit if we're able to glean at least some of what we're looking for from a relationship.The people we get with either don't put up with it and leave, or, as Kate described, help to perpetuate co-dependency, because they have their own “need” in the relationship (and also eventually leave, but not as soon as one would hope). 

      I never realized all this until I dated a fellow crazy, one who was much more self-aware than I. He told me all of these things about how crazy = selfish, and at first I thought it was bollocks (“no, you're totally not selfish!”), but now I know he was right. 
      We don't really want to be so self-serving, but it just kind of ends up that way, you know?

      • brandypass

        I think every single person in the world is inherently selfish.

  • Perfect Circles

    It's hard to have sympathy for the men who decide they want this kind of person in their lives.  It's also hard to have sympathy for you because of the tone of this article.

    • keyshock

      I don't think she's looking for sympathy. She's just trying to say that while she may be fucked up, the people around her, even those seemingly normal and even helpful, are in their own way kind of fucked up too.

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