Ed. note: This post is by Will Meyerhofer, a former Sullivan & Cromwell attorney turned psychotherapist. He holds degrees from Harvard, NYU Law, and The Hunter College School of Social Work, and he blogs at The People’s Therapist. His new book, Way Worse Than Being A Dentist, is available on Amazon, as is his previous book, Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy (affiliate links).
If it’s happened to you, keep reading. If it hasn’t, keep reading anyway. It happens a lot.
It begins with the standard set-up. You feel trapped. Hate your life. Nerves shot. Self-esteem shredded. You know the drill: biglaw.
That’s when the dæmon lover appears. It doesn’t end well.
There’s biglaw hanky-panky and biglaw sexual harassment. There’s also biglaw romantic infatuation. It’s the one you talk about least because you least feel like talking about it. Once you reemerge on the other side and wish it never happened, you never feel like talking about it again.
It’s no coincidence life-crushing, soul-annihilating infatuations collide on a regular basis with the lives of young associates – any more than cars colliding with deer on an expressway is a coincidence if you locate the expressway in the path of the herd’s migration. Life-crushing, soul-annihilating infatuation is the logical outcome of life-crushing, soul-annihilating law firm existence.
The firm swallows your life, denies you sleep and vacation, works you into the ground, and subjects you to an endless stream of criticism. You got there in the first place because you’re a pleaser – the kid who earned “A’s” to please teacher. Now you can’t please anyone.
Enter the dæmon lover. He gets you when you don’t love yourself — when you hate yourself. That’s infatuation — not falling in love, but hating yourself so much you try to escape your own identity by merging into someone else.
For some reason, he’s British. I’m not saying he has to be British, but three of my clients — by some stroke of fate — ended up obsessed with British guys at their firms. Oh, and I did, too. So we’ll make him British.