The Crazy Ex

A story about dating someone who scares you

Human Parts
Published in
10 min readJan 9, 2018


A photo of a man walking on the beach. The sky is dark with red clouds.
Photo: EdgarJa via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0


He told you he was crazy.

He told you from the beginning. He said it in a funny singsong voice: “I don’t mean crazy in the way that men say their ex was ‘crazy,’ baby I mean car-razy!”

Actually, he didn’t have to tell you. Admit it. You thought it to yourself, didn’t you, when you met him? He looked it: He had a strange, jaunty energy about him that you had never seen before. At least — you had seen it on animals at the zoo. The big cats. Even when they were motionless, looking like puddles of silk in the shadowy corner of the cage, you sensed their restlessness. He was like that, he made other people nervous. Not that you minded.

“Are you scared of me?”


It’s the truth.

You ask precisely what he has, with a little laugh. “Isn’t everybody crazy these days?” You think of the line from Alice in Wonderland: “We are all mad here.”

“Not like that.”

He says it’s bipolar disorder, and “some other stuff.”

“You ever dated anybody who had that?”


It’s a lie. You did date a guy who had bipolar disorder. At least, you went on two dates with him before ignoring his messages. Here’s the thing — you were young, and gorgeous, and careless. You were just beginning to feel the full potential of life, and this boy scared you when he wrenched out his top drawer to show you his medications. He was honest about it, heartbreakingly so, but you weren’t ready. You couldn’t handle his weird messages, his quicksilver moods, and so you let him go. You have always been ashamed of how shallow you were then, how unwilling to overlook things people couldn’t help.

You’re older now, sitting across from the second guy who tells you he’s crazy. The thought strikes you that this isn’t a coincidence.

Your mind is only half-thinking about the crazy thing, though. You’re noticing other things about him. Like his burnished body: the place where his collarbones rise out of his T-shirt. He has hips you could eat off. You feel a deep want, the kind of want that women…