Ask Dr. Tracy

For Women: Men to Avoid, Part 1

My most unsuitable man was a member of a rock 'n' roll band. He had long hair, some interesting tattoos, used every kind of drug imaginable and was great in bed. His life of clubs, touring, all-night recording sessions and endless partying was fun to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

I was addicted to him sexually, which made him hard to leave -- but, of course, he was no one I could ever spend the rest of my life with. I could hardly introduce him to my friends, let alone marry him. Whenever one of my group met him, they'd roll their eyes and swear I'd lost my mind.

Not all unsuitable men are so obvious. A women can fall for one and become emotionally dependent before she realizes that the man is unsuitable or unavailable.

If you're twenty and can't resist a fling with one of the Rogue's Gallery listed below, that's one thing. But if you're looking for a marriage partner, don't waste your time with one of these. They may appear eligible at first, and they may ultimately live with you and even love you (in their fashion), but they won't marry you. While the characters in our Rogue's Gallery are a bit exaggerated, the relationship problems they pose are very real. If you're looking for long-term commitment and are involved with one of these guys, dump him immediately.

Men Who Just Don't Respond To You

If you date a man and he doesn't respond in normal ways, drop him. He could be gay. He could be neurotic. He could simply not be turned on by you. It really doesn't matter too much why he doesn't respond.

If he doesn't call after a reasonable amount of time, don't wait around. If he isn't reasonably affectionate and interested in sex, drop him. If he doesn't spend romantic time with you, it's because he doesn't want to, and it doesn't matter why.

Men Who Want To Be Stars

Men driven to be stars of some kind are lousy prospects for marriage. They're like workaholics, only worse. Their dreams of stardom totally eclipse any interest in a normal life and a normal marriage.

Worst of all, hidden within those dreams lurks a cruel reality for the woman who helps such a man in his quest: The prize for his success includes women -- young, beautiful, available women in endless supply.

It has always been so. Whether a man is a showbiz celebrity, a charismatic politician, a military dictator, an investment banking star or just a behind-the-scenes wielder of great wealth and power, women are part of the payoff. Each one of these successful men has a line of ambitious women and "star-fuckers" that stretches around the block. While the sexual escapades of the rich and powerful are frequent sources of gossip, sex is never explicitly acknowledged as a reward for success. Yet every man who has his sights on the top understands the deal very clearly.

Most women seem to be oblivious to this reality. I'm always amazed at the number of phone calls I get from women who are sure that some celebrity is just the one for them -- not just as a fantasy roll in the hay, but as a husband!

Married Men

This category of time waster seems almost too obvious to discuss, but women keep coming to me for counseling because they're hung up on a married man. It can happen to anyone. I'm sure I would have been married sooner if I'd simply avoided all married men. But like many women, I had to learn the hard way.

I dated two married men seriously. One was separated when met him. After a year of dating me, he got his wife (with whom he swore he wasn't sleeping) pregnant. The other one didn't tell me he was married until we had been dating for several weeks. I was too much in love and too stupid to stop seeing him right away. Both gave me presents, wined and dined me, but neither, of course, had the slightest potential as a husband.

Married men have lots of lines. They'll try you out by saying they're "just a little bit married." If that doesn't work, they'll switch to acting sincere and convince you that their wives "don't understand them" or they "haven't had sex with their wives for years," or they and their wives "have an understanding," or they're "just waiting until the kids leave home and they'll get a divorce."

Don't believe any of it. Like my second married man, some will even lie and claim they're single. If they do, how can you tell? There are lots of signals that a man is unavailable. He doesn't give you his home phone number. He doesn't see you on weekends or holidays. He breaks dates with feeble excuses at the last minute. He rarely spends the night.

The Convalescent

He might as well be married, because he's still deeply attached to his former wife or girlfriend. Just divorced, he's an emotional basket case. He lives in a singles' complex with a "ready-renter's" package of plastic plates, tin silverware, and Army surplus cups.

His heart is still broken; he's still thinking about getting her back and is frantic about her sleeping with some other guy. He feels guilty about the kids, and frets about what her lawyer's taking away from him, the house he already lost, and how he's going to make those alimony and child- support payments. He's not ready to love again and won't be for some time.

He'll date you as often as you want, but you won't have much fun with his ex along. No matter where you go or what you do or say, your every action will be colored by his ongoing involvement with his past.

Yet the Convalescents always seem to find an "interim" woman who's willing to fill the space between his breakup and his getting well. The interim woman usually winds up as a patsy, putting up with the Convalescent's condition in the hope that she'll win him in the end, but she rarely does.

The convalescent usually recovers, but when he does, he moves on to a flurry of dating, and ultimately, to another woman -- a new, exciting woman, one who doesn't remind him of his painful convalescence. Never play the part of the interim woman. If you decide you're interested in a convalescent, let him have his interim relationship with someone else, watch from a distance and then step in later.

Midlife Crisis Case

Typically, this is a postconvalescent divorcee. Now that his wounds are healed, he's making up for lost time. He buys a little sports car, fusses over every gray hair, shops for toupees and throws himself into a hyperactive social life. He's on every train.

The only predictable pattern followed by the Midlife Crisis Case is that he won't date anyone less than twenty years younger than he is. If you spot the middle-aged man you're attracted to with a younger woman on his arm, you'll know he's a true Midlife Crisis Case if: (1) the woman is not his daughter, (2) it's a different young woman every time you see him, (3) his own friends are worried about him making a fool of himself, and (4) he's not listening to them.

If you're still attracted to him, just remember that some cases of midlife crisis last twenty years.

The Total Flake

The total flake doesn't pay his bills, can't be depended on and will always disappoint you when it comes to marriage. His life is such a disaster that there's no way he can meld it with someone else's life.

The problem with total flakes is that we sometimes think we can fix them and then they'll be perfect husbands. No way. They always regress -- to drinking, taking drugs, gambling or just making endless promises they never keep, including the one to marry you.

Perpetual Bachelors

The perpetual bachelor seems super eligible at first. He comes with almost everything -- dishes, silver, pictures on the wall, a housekeeper and maybe even a dog. Not a thing out of place. The perfect nest, lacking only you to make it a perfect little family. You begin to imagine moving into his life.

Forget it. His house and belongings may be perfect, but he's not. He may be fun to date, but as husband material, he's a mirage. The perpetual bachelor shudders at the thought of a woman in his life on a full-time basis. He might have to share the bathroom! Or -- horror of horrors - - redecorate the living room!

You can tell a perpetual bachelor from an ordinary nice guy with a nice house in several ways. The perpetual bachelor protects his autonomy fiercely, hates to have his routine interrupted, barely tolerates children, never promises exclusivity and is over forty-five and has never lived with a woman. Perpetual bachelors hardly ever change. You don't have time to wait for a miracle to happen.

What To Do With/about The Time Wasters

So what do you do if you find yourself already involved with one of these proven time wasters?

  1. Forget every fantasy you might have of changing him.

  2. If he's a cute flake, a charming bachelor, or a gorgeous star, enjoy him as an acquaintance and, when needed, an escort to a party. Make an arrangement that leaves you both free to flirt with others.

  3. Even though he's totally unsuitable, he may know someone who's just right for you. Ask him to introduce you to his friends. Go ahead -- he'll probably be relieved to know the pressure's off him.

With time wasters, you're at least safe from winding up in a desperately unhappy marriage. These are the guys who won't marry you. Then there the guys YOU don't want to marry. These guys are more dangerous. Some of them will love you, love you, love you -- and rush you right into a disastrous relationship. Read the next installment -- "For Women: Men To Avoid, Part 2".

Related Keywords: Your Requirements, Qualifying Someone, Bad Prospects

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