Burned Out Fast
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am 34 and was married once when i was 23. We divorced at one year and haven't spoken since.
Last month I met a woman - Janet. I immediately felt an attraction for her and (unusual for me) I felt confident enough to ask her out. Because I have had girlfriends before but never actually dated anyone before starting a relationship, i felt it to be something I needed to do this time. Well, I kept it simple for the first date. We went out for breakfast. We talked and laughed together for a almost 2 hours. We had a great time and hit it off so well I went home with the biggest smile on my face. The next day I called her and asked out to a movie. Again, things went really well...and as the lights came up at the end we were hand-in-hand.
Over the next few weeks she began coming to my house. We watched movies together and talked. We kept going out together...for dinner, a few more dinners and shopping. I tried my best to subdue that tendancy of mine to move things along quickly. Anyway, to mark our first month together I gave her some flowers, an innocent little poem and a key to my house. By that time we had started doing some translation work together as well. I thought it would be good for us to work together on my translation projects seeing as we both have great language abilities. After giving her the key, I remember one day I knew she'd come over when I was away at work, so I wrote her a little note and left it on the desk for her. When I came home she was grinning ear to ear, standing outside talking about how wonderful it was with my neighbor.
Well, the past week or so, I've had the feeling that something has changed. She still comes over and we still try to get out together once a week or so. She's stayed over many nights and seemed like we started getting really serious especially when I noticed how our conversations began drifting to "the future". All of this in mind, I had been feeling like she is trying to push away. In the beginning we had talked about her 'need' for space and her fear that it would rub me the wrong way. I tend to be a loner myself (except in this case I've found I really love her being around...and look forward to her being with me) so I told her then "There is no pressure. You take whatever time you need. Of course I won't feel hurt."
Today, she came over for a bit. We sat and talked...I was stroking her hair the way I do and then she said she needed to go home. Just something about the way she said made that alarm go off again, so I asked her about my concern...After some digging she says a couple positive things about our relationship but ends with "...but maybe its all just going too fast."
My question to you is...when you realize that you've gone too fast in the beginning, how can you slow it down enough? Is it possible and what kind of things could I do to keep her interested but belay this fear that we're jumping ahead of ourselves?
Just really want it to work out...
Yes, you've gone way too fast. Who gives someone a key to their place after only a month? Certainly not a man or woman who understands courting or relationships.
It's likely that she thought you were wonderful at first, but on second thought, you looked a little too needy and desperate. Naturally she became uncomfortable and backed away.
So why did you do such a thing? Probably because you thought you could skip the steps of getting into a relationship. Relationships have to develop, they don't just spring forth full grown. You have to get to know someone over a period of time, not right away. And the poem, the flowers, the key, and talking about the future are all way too much way too soon. You knew it when you did it and you did it anyway. You thought you could lock her into the relationship without doing the work of getting to know her.
Because you liked having her around, you let her be around too much and you've burned her out. You should have taken her cue when she said she needs space. That's always the kiss of death in a relationship. It's also a glaring signal to back off -- immediately.
Unfortunately, for most people, that's not a natural reaction. When someone says they want to slow the relationship down, your instinct is to grab on and try to keep her interest and calm her fears. Which is exactly the wrong thing to do.
There's nothing you can do now except a total reversal. Stop seeing her for awhile. Give her a chance to miss you and wonder where you are instead of being uncomfortable because you're there too much. When you've given too much, you have to give way less.
Think of a tree that starts growing crooked. You can't straighten it up by holding it straight. You have to bend it back the other way to straighten it out. That's what this relationship is: a crooked tree that needs to be bent way back.
So take her cue and agree. Tell her you also think you've gone too fast too and that you should stop seeing each other for a few weeks. Then don't call at all for at least a month. You must step back even further than she has. Let her come to you, and even then, go slowly.
Hopefully you haven't totally killed your chances, and she will come back to you.
Wants Them Both
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am a single 26 year old woman. My ex-boyfriend and I dated for six years, and have been broken up for about a year now, but we still continue to talk to each other and have a pretty good friendship.
Now that we are not a couple we are the best of friends, he is always there when I need him, and I extend the same courtesies to him.
The bond that we share now is greater than it ever was when we were together! We even continue to tell each other "G'night, I love you" before we end our phone conversations.
Now here is where the problem comes in:
I am intimately involved with a male who was once a co-worker. I know that I'm not in love with him yet, but I do love him. We confess our love to each other all of the time though we have not made a commitment to each other.
He knows all about my previous relationship with my ex-boyfriend and our newly found friendship. My new beau hates the fact that I still talk to my ex on a regular basis and claims that he will not tolerate it any longer.
The new love in my life now wants a commitment but he wants me to cut all ties with my ex. I am neither ready for a serious relationship or throwing away my friendship with my ex.
Am I wrong for wanting a relationship with both of these men? Is it possible to maintain relationships with both males?
Caught in the Middle
Dear In the Middle,
You can have two men as long as you are cool about it. Flaunting your relationship with your ex, and letting your new guy know everything about how close you still are to your ex, was definitely not cool. I don't know why you volunteered all that information. There's nothing dishonest about keeping some information private when you start dating a new man.
When you have relationships with more than one man, it's also unwise to tell them both that you love them. Eventually you'll have to make a choice, but I'm seriously wondering if either of these men is the one for you.
You were with your ex for six years and still weren't able to make a lifetime commitment or take the next steps. Now you've got another guy, but still want to hold onto the ex.
If you were to agree to a commitment with the new man, it would only be fair to give up your ex, or at least to agree to a new, different kind of relationship with him -- one where you only talk once in a while and not every night and one where you don't do the "I love you's." But since you're not into making a commitment to the new man, then you really don't have to do anything differently with your ex.
Of course, eventually, any new man is going to want you to give up your ex when you get serious. If you're really not that interested in commitment, you're doing exactly the right thing to do - date them all.
Sometimes though, hanging on to an old love is a way to stay in a safety zone. You really don't have to put yourself out there and trust someone new. You always have the old guy there for you.
When you find someone you really want to make a life with, you'll have to drop your ex. Maintaining a relationship with more than one man means you either have to be really cool and very discreet from the outset, or have an agreement from both that it's okay. It sounds like neither of those options is open, so you may lose guy number two.
Baby Hunger Runs Amuck
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I'm a 40 year old woman. I have never married, nor has
it ever been a pressing issue for me. I have been in
happy, satisfying relationships, most of which ended
because I did not want to have children - not because
I don't like them, I do, very much. I just never felt
that maternal pull. I have no regrets about any of my
decisions to date.
Last year I took an extended trip (6 months) to the
Middle East. While there I dated a man whose company I
thoroughly enjoyed. Near the end of my stay he got
married - the process had been set in motion long
before I arrived on the scene. I then limited our
contact together, because he was, after all, married.
He did not argue with this.
What he did do was ask me to marry him. He is allowed
to have more than one wife. I told him no, for a
variety of reasons, the most important being that
although I adore him, I do not think he and I could
happily sustain a long-term relationship; obvious
Now for my problem. Suddenly, at the age of 40, having
never wanted children, I have an incredibly powerful
desire to have his child. His specifically, not anyone
else's. And it's not just the cuddly baby-stage I'm
dreaming about; I can see this child growing up, and
have been examining all sorts of aspects of its
I have come to dread my period each month. Not because
of the standard reasons some women dread their
peroids, but because I know that shortly after mine
ends, I will begin to ovulate. For most of any given
month the idea of his baby is merely a pleasant one,
but for a week or so of each month the idea dominates
my life. I then experience an intense, almost
overwhelming, urge to jump on a plane and fly to his
country where I would allow him to impregnate me.
I do not know where this comes from. I have been in
love with men before, certainly more so than with this
man whose child I'm fantasizing about, but never
before have I wanted to have a baby. I'm not a fool,
Dr. Tracy, I'm a thoughtful, mature woman with a full
My question isn't how can I make this work, or should
I even try; I'm capable of deciding that complex issue
on my own. My question is this: When this feeling
goes away, will I regret not having done it? The idea
of having a child is so new, and this specificity as
to its father is so bizarre. Is this just my body's
way of preparing me for the fact that my child-bearing
years will be ending? Please help!
Dear Wanna Be Mom,,
You want to know if you should try to make it work with this already-married Middle Eastern man because you want to have his child? The answer is no. Wanting to have a man's child is no reason to have a relationship with him, let alone marry him.
Unless you could manage to impregnate yourself with his child and then safely return home, your situation would be nightmarish. Dealing with other cultures and other values is daunting, and your life would be filled with his first wife, his other children, who knows how many other wives, and the rest of his family. A man with more than one wife has a much more complicated life than you want to get involved in.
You say you want this particular man's child, but I believe this man just happens to be the one who was around when your hormones kicked into high gear and gave you an acute case of baby hunger. Now, once it has kicked in, your baby hunger won't go away. Your desire for a child will only get worse, and as you close in on no longer having a choice of whether to have one or not (and you may already be there, who knows), the urge becomes more urgent.
I really think you should pass on having this man as your impregnator. That said, it doesn't mean you shouldn't go ahead with fulfilling your wish to have a child. If you want a child, do it. Don't put it off another day, because it will only get harder. Doing it with this particular man will be more difficult than a local spermbank, but you have to do what you have to do. It's better to look back and say, "I wish I hadn't done that," than to look back and say, "I wish I had."
Having a child isn't something to take lightly, but ending your child-bearing years without having one isn't a picnic either. Having children means you have a connection with the future, an opportunity to love and be loved unconditionally, and a chance to fulfill your biological imperative.
Only you know if you can live without motherhood, and it won't be long before the decision is out of your hands.
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