Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss


Afraid of Losing Him
Who Pays For What, Who Owns What?
When To Say "I Love You"

Afraid of Losing Him

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 19 y/o girl who has been "seeing" a 21 y/o man for the past 6 months. I use quoatations because our relationship is long distance. We met over the internet, and at first I didn't want anything more than a pen pal. But, he kept pursuing me with such passion, and zeal that I eventually fell for him in everyway possible. We live at opposite ends of the country, me in CA, him in NY. Then, somewhere along the fourth month the tables were turned, and I became the person always chasing, always trying to do everything in my power to make him happy. I read your love advice column on "overgiving, one-sided love, and suffocating", and those warning signs you give are heart breakingly similar to my own. If I wanted, I could write my own "What I did for love" story, because I have done a lot. I paid for his trip to visit me, bought him countless gifts, and I've loaned him money because he was stuck in a rut for awhile. All in all I've spent over $2,000 on him, and I'm not rich. Just a working girl, paying my way through college.

Well, I decided that it was time to have a chat with him. So, I called him up, and I told him how I felt. But, the problem is I told him TOO MUCH. I basically told him very straight forward that he has the upperhand in our relationship, and that I would be devastated if we were to break up. I also told him that I would never break it off with him because I love him too much. By the end of the conversation, I was hearing what I wanted to hear from him. That he "loves me", "cares for me", doesn't understand why I'm so afraid of losing him, because hes not going anywhere, yaddie, yadda yadda.... But, I still felt like a loser, because I had just officially placed myself in the needy lover postion. We both knew he had the upperhand before, but it was never spoke of. But, now in a sense I've just signed my own death warrant. I've tried to play hard to get, but doing so could mean the end of our relationship because it is long distance. Not calling could mean disaster. By the way he calls but hardly ever anymore, because he has bills up the a-hole. He tells me that he would call if he had more money, but he can't just afford to. So, guess whos the one left calling ALL the time, looking like a fool? I feel dumb for telling him how I felt, but communication the key to any relationship right? What do you think is the best strategy I should use to win back his respect for me, and respect for myself? I'm totally coming off as a needy, love-crazed psycho. How do I reverse my own actions without losing him? How can I get him to be the one pursuing me, and not vice versa?

Thanks, Blue

Dear Blue,

No wonder you're blue because blue you blew it. You gave way too much and you know it. But even after you knew it, you didn't stop. You just kept giving and giving and now you're still giving, even when he doesn't call or return your interest the way you deserve.

The message you're giving him is that no matter what he does, no matter how badly he treats you, now matter how much he ignores you, you'll keep giving and giving. So why should he treat you any differently? You've all but told him that no matter what he does, you'll still be there. You've totally set yourself up to be the underdog in this relationship -- and now you want to get back on top?

Well, in order to get back on top, you'll have to take a chance on losing the relationship and figure that if you do lose this guy, well, it's a life lesson and one that you won't repeat. In order to get the upper hand again, you'll have to totally stop giving, and stop calling and telling him you love him all the time. Instead of calling all the time, call infrequently and intermittently, not consistently. If you want him to want to hear from you, you'll have to give him a chance to miss you. If you're constantly in touch, then he'll never get a chance to miss you or wonder where you are.

The only way now for you to stop coming off as a totally needy, love-crazed person is to totally stop pursuing him. Act as if he is pursuing you, even if he's not. Date someone else and stop sitting home mooning over him and being a fool. Next time you get into a relationship, vow not to make this mistake again.

Your problem is that as soon as you felt you loved him and he would give you pleasure, you wanted to control the source of your pleasure, your internet boyfriend. You've only known him for 6 months and you can't behave yourself. What's going to happen when you've known someone for a year? He'll be in real danger. You're becoming the kind of woman that men fear. One that sticks like glue and takes the least words of encouragement as commitment. Stop trying so hard if you want him to want you.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Who Pays For What, Who Owns What?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been living with my fiance for two years and we plan to be married soon. We have been living in a rented house for the past two years where we shared all the expenses 50/50 even though he earns three times my salary. Recently he decided that he would like us to have our own place, and we found one we liked. He was on leave at the time, and he told me that he was able to raise the loan amount for the house on his salary alone. I have a credit rating problem as I have an unscrupulous ex-husband who caused me to be blacklisted. My finance's parents also put a large lump sum in to help with repayments as well. They are very supportive of our relationship. Both of us have been previously divorced and we both walked out with very little, thinking it would make the process easier. On questioning him, he told me that the house was registered in his name only.

I feel that even though I am not financially able to match the bond repayments 50/50 I still contribute in other ways, like paying for all the groceries, electricity, maid etc. Am I wrong to feel suspicious of his motives? He says that since we are not married yet, its a good business decision to put the house in his name only.

I realise he does have a point about us not being married yet, but he is definitely not planning on changing this when we do get married. I feel that he is paying his money into an investment that is his alone, and I am paying towards something which guarantees me no financial security should things go wrong between us. I would really appreciate an objective opinion. Please help before I make a mistake !!!!!

Cautious Kate

Dear Cautious,

It makes sense for you to be cautious because you have been burned emotionally and financially by your ex-husband. However, you've lived with this man for two years and should have developed some sense of trust for him.

If your fiance and his parents are making the down payment on the house and the house payments, then the house should be in his name. However, you're right: if you are paying for all the groceries, electric, maid, etc., then in effect you're helping him to make the house payments. When you pay for all of the expenses other than the house payment, common sense says that some part of that should be considered your investment in the house.

What you have to do is reach a clear understanding of how you and he intend to treat your financial obligations when you are married. Also, you should keep absolutely perfect records of everything you spend. That way, if a problem does arrive, you can show your contribution.

Consider seeing an attorney and setting up a pre-marital agreement about who owns what and what each of your contributions will be. Perhaps you could work out a system where after you've been married for a certain amount of time, an interest in the property will become yours. If your fiance wants to own the house totally in his name, then he should put up half the other expenses.

You should know the laws in your State and how you'll be affected by them when you marry. In some states, all property becomes community property when you marry.

Mostly though, successful couples agree to share their assets, which shows they love and trust one another. However, in cases where the man has considerably more assets than the woman (or vice-versa) before they marry, pre-nuptual agreements are becoming more and more common. Talking about money is one of the hardest things couples have to do, but it is necessary. Let your fiance know about your concerns and see an attorney.

Don't cancel the wedding plans over this. You can work it out.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

When To Say "I Love You"

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 52 year old man, and I have been dating a 38 year old woman from Eastern Europe for about 10 months and am very confused about the nature of our relationship. We have an enormous amount of fun together -- more than I have ever had with a woman. She is simply delightful, and I have recently begun to really believe I'm in love with her, although I haven't told her so. She says she is happy in our relationship, and neither of us has dated anyone else since we met. Our relationship can best be characterized as a wonderful friendship without romantic involvement yet, and that is where my confusion and frustration begins. The few meager attempts I have made to become more romantic with her have been unsuccessful, although I often tell her how wonderful I think she is, and she returns the sentiment. She told me when we first met that she wants to remarry, and I have told her that I want to marry, and her son and I get along very well.

My great fear is that I am falling in love with her, but that she considers us just friends. I have considered asking her to characterize her feelings for me, but I felt that would be wrong. I am rather afraid to tell her I am in love with her, because if she says "let's just be friends", I will be devastated, and I will not be able to continue seeing her, since I can't be in a relationship where I'm in love with her, but she considers me merely a casual friend, regardless of the fun we have together. The last thing I want is to be without her, but not knowing her feelings is killing me.

Question 1. Would the words "I love you" trigger a romantic relationship leading toward marriage? I would never say them unless I felt it in my heart, but I really believe I can now say them honestly. Question 2. Am I correct that if she really is happy with me and she wants to marry, that she wouldn't spend all her time with me unless she sees me as a potential husband? Main question: Where do I go from here? Should I continue seeing her as I have been for a while longer or just tell her I'm in love with her and hope for the best?

Sincerely, Confused and Frustrated

Dear Confused and Frustrated,

I am afraid you will remain confused and frustrated. Dating a much younger woman from Eastern Europe for ten months and having lots of fun, but no signs of love or intimacy, is a disaster waiting to happen.

If she were interested in you in that way, she would have let you know it by now. It's obvious that she has a different agenda than yours. Your attempts at romance have been rebuffed and I think you really know why - she's not sexually turned on by you. She likes you as a friend but not as a lover. The fact that you're afraid to tell her how you feel about her for fear she'll say, "Let's just be friends," is an indication that you really know how she feels, you just don't want to hear her say it.

Saying "I love you" will definitely not trigger a romantic relationship leading toward marriage. Romantic relationships start with intimacy, small romantic encounters leading to larger ones. You touch, you kiss, you spend intimate hours together. You make love and then you say "I love you."

You want to say "I love you" when there is no sign that she loves you back. That's a big mistake. It's also a mistake to see yourself as a potential husband to someone who shows no physical attraction for you whatsoever. Saying "I love you" or even marrying won't make her sexually turned on to you.

It's always possible that she would marry you for other reasons, like security or companionship or fun, but I don't think that's what you would want. You are correct that she might be spending all her time with you because she sees you as a potential husband, but not because she feels affectionate towards you. Perhaps she sees you as a potential father for her child, someone to take care of her, or even a fun companion, but without romantic involvement, you should pass.

If you think you're unhappy now, imagine how you'd feel if you were married and still not getting any.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Submitting a Question to this column

Dr. Tracy regrets that it is simply impossible for her to answer all of the hundreds of questions submitted to this column each week. However, she does read every question, and tries to select the three which are of the most general interest to the visitors here.

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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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