Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

1/6/2002

Best Friends
In Love with a Younger Man
Crazy Love



Best Friends

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have seriously dated one man, loved one man, and been made happy by one man - and it is this one man that is now dating my best friend.

I am a 21-year old college junior who studied abroad this fall and came home to find that my best friend from high school and my ex-boyfriend/still very close friend were "talking."

After expressing my hurt to both of them, they broke it off, only to get back together when I left town for a couple of weeks. I came home to find out that they are dating and in fact, she thinks she might be in love with him.

Now, my ex-boyfriend, who I considered to be one of my closest friends, won't talk to me. And has lied to me about why he cannot make time for me before we leave our hometown to go back to school. I am so angry and hurt, I don't know what to do. Am I wrong? We broke up almost 2 years ago but have continued to hook up since. In fact, he and I were very close to sleeping together just before I left for the fall semester.

She does not think that she has done anything wrong and does not think that her relationship with my ex should have an effect on our friendship- but I am broken-hearted and want to hate her for what she has caused. She is the first one that my ex has seen since we brokeup- and while I know that we are not meant to be together, I feel like I'm losing him all over again. Please, please tell me what to do - I have lost two of my best friends and am desperate to know if I'm right to feel wronged.

Heartbroken and alone

Dear Heartbroken,

When you have had a relationship with a man and that relationship ends, he is a free agent, no matter how much he has meant to you. Your ex-boyfriend is no longer obligated to answer to you about who he dates. He doesn't owe you any explanation at all.

Now, as for your best friend, she probably should have asked you if you minded if she went out with your ex. That would have been the nicer thing to do. But again, since he is a free agent and you and he are no longer an item, she is free to date him and to even be in love with him.

Your ex-boyfriend doesn't want to talk to you because he probably senses your attitude - that you feel wronged, and will probably hassle him. Also, he doesn't want to make time for you because his time is taken up with his new relationship and he doesn't want to risk that relationship by hanging out with his ex-girlfriend.

Don't hate your former best friend. Hatred like that only hurts the person who's doing the hating, and that's you. The person who's hated goes on with their life while the person who's doing the hating is eaten up inside by anger and bitterness. Hating your friend won't solve your feelings of being alone.

I can understand why you are feeling hurt and alone, but it's time for you to be the magnanimous and generous person that you must be. It's time for you to get your best friend and your ex back in your life by telling them you wish them all the happiness in the world and you want to be friends with both of them.

If you want your friends back, that's what you must do. You must get over feeling hurt and wronged, and let bygones be bygones. You can't keep every man you love as only yours forever. It feels bad when someone you once loved finds someone new, but that's the way it is.

You will move on to another love and most likely so will he. Your best girlfriend will be there after this relationship is over. You are both young, and if you're smart, you'll realize that a best friend can be a best friend through thick and thin and through loves found and loves lost.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



In Love with a Younger Man

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I hope you can help me. I have been in a relationship with a younger man for the past three years. He's 28 and I'm 41. We discussed what I wanted from a relationship in the beginning and he assured me that he was fully aware that I am looking for a stable, secure and long-term relationship and wanted the same thing.

There have been problems in the relationship due to our differences in ages and also in nature. I'm very assertive and outgoing where he doesn't like confrontation, social gatherings, and lets me guide him through life, etc. He was in terrible shape when I met him, irresponsible, with bad credit and together we have built up decent credit and have recently purchased a beautiful home together. After spending many years as an intern with a company (that still looked upon him as an intern) he finally found a job making a lot more money, in a position of supervision. I was extremely supportive of this move and encouraged him every step of the way. We knew that this job would entail travel and working offshore etc but felt our relationship was strong and didn't think there would be a problem.

He's been away for three months now and has gradually stopped getting in contact, although he has opportunity to come home on weekends etc. I simply can't understand why he doesn't think to call me when he's in the hotel etc and when I confronted him he advised me that he loves me but is really enjoying his job and the experience he is gaining etc and is worried that he's wasting my time. He also stated that he has 'found himself' now and I guess his maturity doesn't dictate that a person can have both a good job and a good home life with effort being made on both parts. I have come to the realization that if he really and truly loved me (in the way I deserve) then he wouldn't be reluctant to contact me or have to be told to miss me!!. Our sex life had been almost non-existent the past year due to one excuse or another (stress, weight gain - you name it) and I think I've probably just mothered him too much to allow him to be a man. Now he's found his manhood in his work and I guess he feels that he can't be that way at home. I'm very hurt about this but I have to be practical and although I'm angry, I thought he might eventually leave me when he found his courage.

The big problem. He has made a commitment to me by purchasing the house - he's been paying the mortgage while I've paid the expenses. I have made the suggestion that he continue to pay the mortgage and we can exist as roommates. He'll be on-site (offshore) most of the time and I simply can't afford the house on my own. I love this place and have put my heart and soul into it.

Do you think that ex lovers can remain friends and be roommates? We've always been the best of buddies and companions above all and perhaps losing his friendship would be the hardest thing to cope with.

Dear Assertive,

Your problem is bigger than being in love with a younger man. You have two big problems, one is that you like being the boss, and the other is that you have changed this man.

You most likely chose this passive man who doesn't like confrontation and was willing to let you guide him through life, because that way you could be in charge. You chose a man who was in need of fixing so that you could fix him and mold his life. That's an inherently dangerous situation and you're just beginning to see why.

Choosing someone needy so that you can fill their needs is usually an attempt to bind a person to you -- "If I do everything for him, he will have to love me." Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. You don't become totally indispensable in a man's life by doing everything for him or by changing him and building him up. Instead, what happens is that he changes, and then he resents you because he doesn't want to remember the man he used to be. He no longer needs you to do everything for him and he doesn't like the fact that he once needed you so much.

So now you've changed him from weak and compliant to stronger and not so compliant. You are in a situation where he no longer needs you and no longer wants to be in the relationship under the old rules where you were in charge and made all the decisions.

You also may have made a legal mistake by having him purchase the house and pay the mortgage. In some states, the person who makes the down payment and the mortgage payment is considered the owner, and you could have a hard time proving your part ownership without a written agreement and records of all the expenses you've paid. I suggest you see a lawyer and get this situation straightened out immediately, and I can only hope the house is in both your names. Putting your heart and soul into a house is not the same as paying the mortgage.

Yes, it's possible for two ex-lovers to remain friends and even live together, but it's tricky. How will you feel when he wants to bring home another woman? How will he feel when you want to bring home another man?

If you are to remain friends and roommates, you will have lots to work out and should start by setting new rules for living and for the relationship. Write down a contract between the two of you for living together - who owns what, who is responsible for what, and how you will separate if that becomes necessary.

Your problem is not all just because he is younger than you. It goes beyond that to the dynamics of the relationship. In the future, make sure you choose someone who's not needy and weak and you won't have this problem again.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Crazy Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hi, maybe you can help. I'm 26, Scottish and have never been married even though I've had a long term 6 year relationship til a couple of years ago which ended amicably when I moved from Scotland to London.

I'm currently seeing a girl, for almost 5 months now and things are becoming difficuly. It's always been stormy and passionate - we met unepectadly in a Spanish tapas bar with friends and got intimate very quickly. A week or so in to the relationship things were going very well and I said to my new girl "this is too good to be true, you must be married or something". To my suprise she said she was, but separated although when i asked her if he lived in the same town she said yes, further saying she still lived with him but was seperated.

Now call me crazy but I was taken aback and thought "is this thie right thing?" and I told her that I wasn't sure if we should go further. However after being assured that she finished the relationship after an infidelity and her explaining she couldn't move out as she wanted to be friends and resolve their long-term apartment lease I accepted her story, albeit reluctantly.

Things were going well again for a while until when meeting my friends out one night she stormed off without warning to my and my friends bewilderment. I went after her and she said nothing was wrong. This was the first sign of things to come. The next time she got mad and accused me of being with my female friends and sleeping with them - I have two close female friends but I find neither of them attractive in an emotional sense and enjoy their company, advice and friendship. I found this to be a regular occurence and about every two weeks I would be shouted at for doing something wrong or not being the right kind of person. A lot of these comments came after I found my girlfriend had been not sleeping in a seperate room as she said but in the same studio, and for the first 3 weeks until I protested, the same bed.

Maybe this is when I should have left but I didnt. The issue of her husband being in the same room continues to be a problem - I have met him briefly but when I finally got to see her apartment after 3 months, there were still photos of wedding and embrace scene.

For the past two weeks, things seemed great, I was more in love, the husband leaving at the end of the month but last night an irrational argument happened again. My girlfriend asked to see my ex-dates photos who were on the web as both were media people. Reluctantly I agreed and when seeing one of the girls who I kissed (one one occasion only) she went crazy demanding I leave. The girl was a bikini model and quite famous but my girlfriend said she couldnt believe I was with a girl like that and didnt ever want to see me again. Now I told her that the girl was not my type and it was just a drunken kiss, a year before I met this current girlfriend. Now this is about the 6th time I've been told this and I've always been faithful and very loving to this girl but I think that I should not take her back, even though she usually calls a few days later.

What's your advice?

Dear Crazy,

You are involved in a typical case of crazy love. You are never going to have peace or consistency in this relationship - that should be obvious by now. You can go back to her as much as you like, but you will only wind up having another accusation and another shouting scene and another breakup.

Someone who is newly separated is always a questionable prospect for a stable releationship, but a woman who is still living with her husband is not even really separated. You should have listened to your inner voice telling you this was not "the right thing." A woman who's sleeping in the same room or bed as her ex husband is not free to have a relationship with you. If you're smart, you'll have a man-to-man talk with her husband and find out what's really going on.

Even smarter would be to walk away. Nobody should stay in a relationship that erupts every two weeks. A good relationship is reasonably peaceful, with love that is steadfast. Stormy and passionate will wear you out emotionally and never be really satisfying. Don't get trapped in an on-again, off-again, I love you, I hate you, relationship.

Don't take her back, even if she calls and insists she will be different. She won't be.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy




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(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
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