Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss


Three Strikes, You're Out!
Relationship Insurance
A Pet, Not a Partner

Three Strikes, You're Out!

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hereís a clear question for you and if you can answer it, I think my problems on the romantic front will be solved for good. Iím 34, have a Ph.D. and a M.S. in technical fields and have worked for the government as a scientist. (Iím bright). I have no financial woes, crazy ex-wives, debt problems, criminal record, alien abduction stories, outstanding tax liabilities, horrible family problems, religious hang-ups, or health worries. (Iím responsible, reasonably lucky, sane, and blessed.) Iím completing my law degree in three months while working part-time and will re-enter the work force full-time with the potential for a very financially and spiritually fulfilling job. (Iím ambitious.) I have many friends, a reasonably good sense of humor, and a close family. (Iím not a creep.) I like snow-shoeing, running, soccer, reading, cooking, hiking, writing, my two big huskies Meatball and Kozy, and lots of other pursuits. (Iím in shape and not boring.) Iíve never cheated on anybody and Iím a long-time Cubs fan. (Iím loyal, sometimes stupidly so.) Iíve even learned how to dress well without pegging the gay-o-meter.

However, I have two hitherto insurmountable strikes against me: (1) I canít stand children and do not want to father any; and (2) Iím short and unattractive. While itís hard to put numbers to social factors like attraction, itís been my prolonged experience that each of these two factors, by themselves, narrow the window of opportunity for me by over 90%. That is, over 90% of the otherwise eligible women I meet have kids or want them. So less then 1 out of 10 accept me on that level. Of those, roughly 9 out of 10 are either not attracted to me or vice versa. That leaves a mighty narrow windowóin the neighborhood of 1% or so. In fact, not one of the few women who have leaped the ďlooksĒ hurdle has ever expressed any serious interest in me after being greeted by the subsequent ďno kidsĒ hurdleóthe two in concert have seemingly cursed me into being alone forever.

I have a good life and Iíd like to share it, but the years are going by and such platitudes as ďIt only takes oneĒ and ďThereís somebody for everyone!Ē are beginning to wear mighty thin. Iíve dated, am not afraid of asking women out, and let rejection roll off me easily. However, most women arenít interested in me because of my looks/height and of those that accept that, none have gotten by the no-kids thing. I'm optimistic that I could get by with just one of these infirmities. Unfortunately, I can do nothing about either of these two things. I look the way I do. And I know in my heart Iíd be a terrible father or step-father. (Trust meóI know.)

How can I get around these two obstacles? Where should I look? Your otherwise-splendid library doesnít cover this.

Signed, Dr. Emptiness

Dear Dr. Emptiness,

You think you have two strikes against you: "canít stand children" and "short and unattractive." But as smart as you are, you're missing the third, and that's why you're striking out.

Your list of good qualities is sadly lacking in human qualities such as being affectionate, nurturing, supportive, giving, and flexible. It's obvious that modesty is not keeping you from listing these, so you evidently don't think they're important. That's the third big strike against you, because these are the things that smart, mature women look for.

There's only one strike you're stuck with -- "short and unattractive." The other strikes are self-inflicted. Many short, unattractive guys overcome that handicap with a little charm. If you haven't developed that human, winning side of your personality -- nor learned a little humility -- you're a hard sell indeed.

The biggest problem I see is the kids thing. Women in your age range want kids, no question about it. If you refuse to have children, or to do parenting in any way, or to involve yourself with children, you are probably doomed to being alone, unless you are lucky enough to find that one in a million.

It's really not fair that you wait until a woman gets past your looks and height to tell her you don't want kids. If you're totally inflexible about kids, you should put that out front. That way, only women who really want no kids and nothing to do with kids will come your way.

A far better approach would be to work on overcoming your inflexibility. You say you want a relationship, but all relationships require compromise. Successful relationships require the ability to care about and accommodate the feelings and needs of another person. You need to get over yourself and stop being so selfish. In order to get what you want, a loving life partner, you will have to make compromises -- especially about your inability to deal with children.

The world is full of children. You can't really avoid them without seeming to be a terribly cold person. Even if you manage to find a woman who will agree with your no kids rule, she could change her mind after you're married, and then you are in big trouble. Women are notorious for changing their minds on that issue.

Even if you don't wind up with children of your own or someone else's to take care of, you're going to run into children. Your friends will have them. Your future partner's siblings will have them. If you get into a family structure, you will run into kids. Avoiding them will make you very unpopular.

People change. You could change. But if you won't, you'll have to widen your search. Start searching the world. Look on the Internet. Get help from a matchmaker. Put the truth out there up front. Show them your picture. Put your real height down. Then start searching the world. Look for women who are also short and unattractive and maybe they'll be grateful enough for your love to give up having children in their lives. You could look for women who are unable to have children, but of course they could always change their mind and want to adopt.

The question you really need to answer is how badly do you want a life partner and what changes and compromises are you willing to make. If the answer is you don't want someone badly enough to make any compromises, then learn to enjoy living alone. You can't have a marriage and have everything your way.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Relationship Insurance

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 31 year old engaged woman. It will be my fiance's second marriage. He is 41 and has one 17 year old daughter living with him, and we get a long very well.

We are planning a wedding this summer, and he has been offered a terrific job opportunity accross the country that would start in a few months. He would be making enough to support all three of us, no problem, although I do plan to find work in my field. He is interested in taking the job but isn't pushing for it. I want him to explore this opportunity both because it is close to his dream job plus the money is excellent.

Currently I have horrible health insurance - basically a huge deductible. Plus, I would be giving up my work and my life here to go with him. My question is, do you think it would make sense for us to elope before we move there? That way I would be covered immediately on his health insurance (the plan starts the day of employment) and would feel more secure in giving up my work to move. Is that smart or does it sound untrusting?

Deposits have already been paid and a dress bought for the wedding in July. If we elope, do we tell people and then call the event in July a reception? Or do we keep it quiet? We don't want to deceive anyone.

thanks, debating elopement

Dear Debating Elopement,

You're smart to think twice about this elopement idea. It's not just that eloping for health insurance reasons sounds a little strange, it's how it will look to your fiance if you press for this.

Even if it makes sense to him -- even if he goes along with the idea -- he'll always wonder if you rushed him into marriage because you didn't trust him to keep his commitment to get married as planned. I'm no expert on insurance, but I know there are COBRA laws which extend health insurance coverage for a period of time after you leave your employment. So your insurance concerns may sound like a phony issue.

Telling him you want to get married before you move, whether it's a secret elopement or not, definitely sounds untrusting. When you are planning to marry someone, you have to show trust in them. Even if you have no COBRA coverage, and health insurance is a valid concern, it still sounds like you may be looking for insurance of a different kind -- a ring on your finger right away.

I could understand eloping if you didn't want to have sex until you were married and both of you just couldn't wait. Eloping because you feel insecure isn't a good reason. Suck up your insecurity and act as if you trust that the two of you can solve the insurance problem. Keep your plans for the formal wedding on track.

It sounds like you're just having pre-wedding, pre-marital jitters, but that's no reason to elope. Besides, it would take some of the spark away from your real wedding if you've already said "I do."

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

A Pet, Not a Partner

Dear Dr. Tracy,

For about 5 months now I have been going out with this guy, we'll call him John. When I met John he was just starting his student teaching. Although he is 25 years old (sort of late to still be in school) I thought he was totally cool and he kept telling me how he was going to get a job as soon as his student teaching was done. Since then a month has gone by and he has absolutely no prospects. Now, I don't expect that he would have a full time job immediately, but maybe a part time job somewhere temporary since right now he has no car and absolutely no savings (meaning that I drive everywhere and pay for everything).

So, the other day, he gives me the glorious news that he is done looking for a job because he is going to go back to school so he can be certified to teach something else. I was upset by the news since it means he will be moving away and if I want to continue to see him, I will have to drive to wherever school he attends. I work full time and so it also means that I could only see him on the weekends. I told John that I didn't know how well our relationship was going to work out if he was so far away and that I had really been hoping he would get a job of some sort so that our relationship could be a little more balanced. To this, he became irate with me and would not talk. Our conversation ended badly and I have not heard from him since.

So my question is, what does this mean for our relationship? Is it over? Can it be mended after a fight of this magnitude? Obviously John was very insulted by what I said, so have I bruised his ego too badly? Lastly, is there anything I could do that might convince him to actually being looking for a job?

Sincerely, Employed but going broke

Dear Going Broke From Supporting Him,

You're hoping he'll get a job, but you could be hoping for a long time with this one. He doesn't want a job. He wants exactly what he had - a Mom with privileges!

Women who get involved with men who have no jobs, no car, no house and no immediate prospects can't really expect the man to provide for them, can they? Now that he's shown you he doesn't intend to get a job, you should face the truth about John. He's good for a pet, but not for a partner.

If you want a pet man, that means you have to support him just as you would a beloved pet. You have to feed him, clothe him, pay for his medical expenses, clean up after him, and generally be totally responsible for him. In return he gives you affection. If that's not what you want, then John isn't for you.

John's a pet, not a partner. You can't talk to him about problems. You can't get any help from him with solutions. And worse, he gets angry with you for being concerned about it.

The best thng you can do for John is to stop enabling his helplessness. The best thing you could do for yourself is to find another boyfriend - one with a car, a job and a home.

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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