"Ask Dr. Tracy"

2/2/97 Advice Column


Romance in Cyberspace,
He Blew It,
Sign Language




Dear Dr. Tracy,

After reading the post from this guy named "steve" (last week's Column) I'm not so sure I have a legitimate claim to write you with my scrawny little problem :/

(But, being the self-centered person I am, I am writing anyway!!!)

Okay..some background information about me. I am a 30-ish woman with 2 children (15 and 11). I am a single mom who has had to claw and scratch for any good thing that I have gotten in life. After a crummy divorce, a subsequent remarriage and a widowhood, I decided to give up on relationships for a long time. I have dated but nothing serious. Currently, I am enrolled in college and about to finish up my final semester and am looking at graduate schools in my field.

I have been communicating with a man, (who I will call Jerry) that I met online, for almost a year. He and I met on a chat channel (that we are both regulars on) about 2 years ago, and it has evolved into a deeper friendship and now we speak via the telephone every day. We have exchanged photos and talked about just about everything under the sun--and STILL we like to talk to each other.

I am finishing up my degree this spring and am contemplating moving to the coast where Jerry lives. I have other friends (whom I know from Real Life) out there, who i would also be near -- probably in the same city which they live. My parents are greatly concerned that I would be moving from my hometown (and them) and drag my children across the country to be "near some man I have never met in Real Life."

Now, I have every intention of going to graduate school, and Jerry has indicated that he wants me to finish up my degree work and do whatever else i want/need to do for myself. Jerry has been very supportive of me in regard to just about every detail of my existance in the last 9 months. He gives me practical advice, helps me research out answers to tough questions and recently did something monetary for one of my children with out being asked to and asking nothing in return. He's not getting anything out of this except a person on the other end of the phone talking to him (me). I have no money to give him and he certainly is not getting any sex (since we have never met in real life).

My friends tell me that I am crazy for even considering a move out there because this guy could be some weirdo who lives in a trailer and slashes women in his spare time. They also say that I could find a graduate school closer to my hometown at which to do my doctorate.

My question...(several parts...actually)

Do you think that someone would be able and willing to carry on such a charade for over 9 months? (in other words..do you think maybe he is too good to be true??)

I am trying to be realistic about this whole situation..and while I know that there can be no predicted outcome (well, none with any certainty) I am feeling very much taken by this person. I am not envisioning marriage and kids, but i am hoping to find out if this person might be someone with whom i could get even closer.

Am i being naive??? Am i stupid???

Concerned in Cyberspace

Dear Concerned,

You've had a tough life and you deserve some happiness. Your problem isn't scrawny or little (problems aren't competitive, anyway). You're at a stage in your life where you don't want to make a major mistake. So don't go grabbing at what may be an electronic mirage.

People have carried on charades for whole lifetimes. Of course he could carry one on for nine months.

You must meet this man before you make this move. He must meet your children and they him. Why can't he come to see you or you to see him? Surely that would be a good first move before you drag your life across the country to the Coast. Life on the West Coast is very different from the rest of the country, and it's good that you have other friends in the area. Just remember that people may look close on the map and still be three hours away by car.

If you are going to graduate school, you'd have to find a school on the Coast, and be sure to finish your education. Being totally dependent on any man isn't a good idea, and you don't really know a guy until you've lived together, dated, and seen how he reacts under stress.

Don't feel that you're being naive or stupid -- many couples have met on the internet and wound up in happy real-life relationships. You could too. However, you must be careful. You must find out what you're getting into before you rush off. If he's unwilling or unable to visit you, I'd be extra suspicious, to the point of hiring a private investigator to check him out. That would cost a lot less than a trip, and could save you great heartache. You've had enough of that already. For starters, please read "Qualifying Someone" in my Library.




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I think I really blew it. I met this girl at the library (she was teaching a computer class) and we got to be good friends. She is a Mormon so she didn't want to do sex, which was okay with me. She is really a great person -- she used to watch my dog (I'm an airline pilot) and take care of my house. I basically spent every evening with her. She even spent a weekend in intensive care with me when I got sick after a flight.

She runs a church group for singles in her house, and I met someone there. It was a new convert who had been pretty wild. To make a long story short, I slept with her, not too long, just a couple of weeks. She really came on to me, then she dumped me for a guy she got lined up with. Naturally, I didn't tell my friend. And of course, she found out.

She is outraged and has put a block on her phone so I can't call her. She says our friendship is dead, she feels like I betrayed her and her church, she brought a "wolf" into the fold, etc., etc. I've apologized over and over, but to tell you the truth, I'm still kind of reeling over being dumped by the other one.

We've been friends a long time and I never lead her on, even though she told me a few months ago that she was "in love" with me. Sex wasn't why I got involved with the other girl, but she thinks it was. I think we could be friends, now that it's clear what I've been telling her all along, that I wasn't interested.

How do I get her to talk to me about this?

Dear Blew It,

You really were out of line. She has every right to be angry. I'd suggest you join another group and start over.

Once she told you she was in love with you and you kept up your relationship with her, you assumed some obligation to adhere to the values you supposedly shared -- or at least to not "dis" her by jumping into bed with someone you met in her house. I'm sure the whole group knows about it.

Let this be a lesson to you. Never, ever, betray a woman and expect her to still love you. You didn't just betray your relationship with her, you betrayed the values you both shared.

You could try abject repentence, appealing to her sense of forgiveness, but I'm afraid it's going to be tough to redeem yourself with her and this group. Since everyone knows what you did by now, she could hardly be friends with you without having her group think she's befriended the enemy. Some damage is just not repairable.




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 20 years old and I am studying at the university in England. I have not got a girlfriend before in my life. I also am profoudly deaf and use British sign language to communicate with other Deaf People and Hearing People who know sign language. I usually involve in Deaf World all my life and were very afraid to involve the hearing world because I don't know how and my speech is not very good and it is not enough for people to understand what I am saying.

Recently, I try my best to improve my confidence and think positive all the time. And in the library, an asian girl who come to say "Hi" all the time and I do say that too. But yesterday, she come to say something to me but I do not understand her. She started to write something to introduce her name and she is second year in the law course and I am first year law student. Then she say that she have to go because of the lecture and she asked me if I will be here today. I say "Yes" then she went off. It is first time for me. I am very good to see other people's body language but I am not very good to see if a girl like me or not. What can I do? It is difficult for me because we are not in same language to communicate. If she want to talk to me, I don't know what to say to her. I cannot think what to say. I think she is nice girl but I don't know her very well.

I am afraid to do something because I usually did soemthing wrong and start to go back number one again. Should I take her out? We are in the university life and I don't know what to do? What do you think?

Dear Ravi,

Dear Future Lawyer,

You seem to communicate just fine by e-mail, and you give a real sense of the nice guy you are. Why don't you e-mail this girl or write to her? Since she's willing to write notes to you, she'd be receptive to one from you.

Of course it's tricky dealing with the hearing world, and yet it's good to practice. Why not practice with this nice Asian girl who already seems attracted to you?

Bring cookies or candy to the library and offer to share them. Bring a silly toy and make her laugh. Laughter and eating together are universally accepted ways of communicating.

Try just being friends first, go slowly, and remember, the sexiest thing a man can do is give a woman his full attention. Don't ask her out until you feel more comfortable communicating with her. Perhaps you could go together to a University lecture, function, football game or sports event. It's a good way to start dating without making a big deal out of it.

Go for it!





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