Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

1/25/2004

Love and Butterflies
Her Ex Is Dead, ButÖ
Not Ready To Marry



Love and Butterflies

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I met a wonderful man about 2 months ago. He is absolutely everthing I was looking for except there is one thing missing...the magically feeling you get when you are falling in love.

I want to make it clear that we are compatible both mentally and physically, but I just don't get the butterfly feeling. I also want to mention, that I have met many men who gave me that feeling, but not one of those relationships ever worked out.

He is kind, caring, considerate, and attentive to both me and my 10 yr old daughter. In addition, he is responsible, balanced, stable, respectful to my family and friends and especially his own parents. He doesn't drink or gamble. He owns his own home, has completed a 4 yr degree, and has been in the same job since he graduated 8 yrs ago.

I am 35 yrs old and know exactly what I want in a man and he fits every requirement, which is why I am so torn. I also am very aware of the poor quality of men that I have encountered in the 8 years that I have been divorced.

What do you think?

Dear Torn,

I can understand your missing the butterflies in your stomach feeling Ė itís easy to confuse that with love. But itís not. However, if youíve always had butterflies when you thought you were in love, then that was your only experience of love and itís normal for you to miss it when itís not there.

About the butterflies Ė theyíre often caused by anxiety Ė "will he or wonít he call," or "will he or wonít he be faithful," or "does he really love me or just want sex" -- all those kinds of anxieties.

Just because you donít have anxiety and donít feel the butterflies doesnít mean you donít have a perfectly fine relationship Ė maybe even better than one with butterflies. Men who give you regular butterflies are often the men who donít have regular jobs, homes or normal lives. They are unpredictable, and yes, sometimes exciting. But donít confuse that excitement with love.

Now that youíve got a nice, normal guy who is responsible, kind and without major problems, you are wondering where the butterflies are. You can have love without the butterflies. Thereís nothing wrong with falling in love with a nice guy who doesnít drive you crazy.

If you can have everything else you want in a relationship, try doing without the butterflies. You might find that your stomach feels better.

As for the magically feeling you get when you are falling in love, that only lasts a short time and is way over-rated. Thereís also a fine line between the magically feeling and crazy love.

If youíve had the magically feeling and the butterflies and they havenít worked out for you, try something new.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Her Ex Is Dead, ButÖ

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My name is randy, I'm 26 and currently dating someone,never married. My situation has me a bit confused and I hope you can help me. I have been dating this girl (27) for 5 months now. She was dating this guy for 7 years and then married him...she stayed married for a year and ended it because he had a drug problem.

He moved to a different state but called a few times to talk...she said they are just friends and he calls her when stuff is bothering him...I have no problem with that, I trust her. But !!! he just recently died because of a drug overdose..she seems to be taking it hard, getting flowers from his funeral service to make an arrangement with...wearing his serinity bracelet...Is this normal??? Should I be concerned?? How can she love me fully but then be all depressed about this?? Did she really love me?? What should I do? Thank you for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it

Dear Confused,

Hmm, letís see, she dated this guy for seven years and was married to him for a year. Thatís eight years together, almost a third of her life, and most of her adult life. Is it any wonder she is upset by his death? I donít think so.

You, on the other hand, have only been a part of her life for five months, a very short time in comparison. Be smart Ė this is the time to be sympathetic and compassionate, not jealous. After all, heís dead. You can only lose out to a dead man if you defeat yourself.

You put up with him calling a few times to talk and had no problem with their being friends when he was alive, so why would you get all upset about her mourning rituals now that heís dead? Instead, be cool and you can indeed be the "last man standing."

Yes, itís normal for her to be upset. Instead of being concerned, you should take this as an opportunity to show her that you can be generous and understanding. As for whether she loves you fully, I doubt it after only five months. Give her time to get over her depression. Handle yourself with grace and empathy now and maybe sheíll wind up loving you as much as she loved him.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Not Ready To Marry

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My girlfriend and I have been dating for four years. We are complete opposites...which has brought both enrichment and frustration to each others' lives. We have different religions, cultural backgrounds, personality types, and professions. The few things we share are an undeniable chemistry for one another and a desire to make this world a better place. At least once a year we've questioned and doubted our compatibility. This has led to arguments, resentment, but often times deeper understanding (albeit with scars).

We've both come to the realization that we need to love each other for who we are, and not expect one another to change (easier said than done). But we have found some issues we can actively work on. For her, she's trying to curb her anger, and to think more before she explodes all over me. In addition, she's beginning to understand that I need space and alone-time on a regular basis--for my work, not because I don't care about her. As for me, I'm trying to be more inclusive, making efforts to have her meet and hang with all of my family and friends, because I have a tendency to compartmentalize my relationships.

But the clock is ticking, according to her. She wants to marry. And after four years, she's says I should be ready for marriage. But our timelines are off. I don't feel ready. I'm open to moving-in together first, but she says her parents wouldn't allow that. I love her, but I have doubts still. I don't know if our love is long-lasting, healthy, or if our differences will defeat and pull us apart. I can envision a future together, but I see two paths: one is full of love and shared experience, and the other is full of heart-ache, regret, and fighting. I want us to have fulfilling lives, but I'm afraid we'll compromise too much for each other. I feel confused and scared, and that's not the way I want to feel about my loved one. I don't want to be pressured into marriage. When I express this, she wonders what's wrong with her or why she isn't good enough, or she brings up my parent's divorce.

Do I have a fear of commitment? Is our relationship healthy? Why is love such hard work? How do you know if your love is for life? I want to feel uplifted by the thought of spending the rest of my life with her, instead I feel closed in and worried.

Any advice is most appreciated.

Sincerely, Not Ready

Dear Confused and Scared,

Four years is a long time. Your girlfriend wants to marry and start a family. She is absolutely right to insist that you either marry her or free her to find someone who will. Itís important that you understand her ticking clock is not negotiable. If it runs out while sheís waiting for you to make up your mind, sheís going to resent you big time.

Do the right thing. If youíre not ready to marry and you are this scared and confused, either go for counseling (with your girlfriend) and try to work toward overcoming the problems that stand between you and marriage, or break up and let her move on.

Very few intelligent people marry without any doubts. No one but the very young and naÔve would marry without realizing there are risks.

Yes, you have a fear of commitment. But four years with a woman is plenty of time to decide if you want to spend your life with her. Your differences are only a problem if you canít live with them. Many couples have differences and still marry and live together their entire lives. You canít go around looking for someone just like you to marry Ė that would be pretty boring.

Healthy relationships have issues to work out all the time. The measure of your relationshipís health isnít whether you have issues, itís whether you can find solutions to these problem and still stay together. Love isnít that hard. Being alone is much harder.

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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