Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

4/23/09

Head Over Heels
Mother Madness
Jealousy



Head Over Heels

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm almost 41, divorced 16 years, no children. I've been reading your columns for years and am happy to say that you've helped me tremendously. I've let go of some really bad relationships and gained self-esteem, and I can honestly say I'm a better person today because I listened to you.

I'm in a bit of a unique situation now - at least unique to me. I recently met a man on a matchmaking website - I think it's been about 2 months or so since we started talking. He's a bit younger - 35. He and I are in similar situations with work, bills, and commitments of that sort, and we seem to share common ideals, and we have similar views on what's important in life. He lives quite a long way from me, but his family is near me and he visits often. Our first date and weekend together were amazing for me. We now talk every day and I am fairly convinced we are VERY well-suited for each other. We've both "joked" about how we need to quit our jobs and move to where the other is for a life of bliss.

We are planning to arrange as much time together as possible in spite of the distance. He works in a travel-related field and tells me he will be on a plane as often as possible to see me. He has also said I have an open invitation to go see him whenever I can work it out. It's so nice to hear those words... This is all VERY exciting, believe me! After a completely broken heart and about 5 years of being alone and not really connecting deeply with anyone, I feel like I am on the verge of being head-over-heels.

And also...I've never been very good at the dating game, and the two times in the past that I felt this way about someone, I wound up so hurt... and frankly I'm not sure if I could take another complete heartbreak again. Plus, I'm not into wasting time waiting on a guy to decide if I fit into his plans. I'm scared, but I want to be brave enough to take the leap with him if he's willing. Since our weekend together, I have to really control my minute by minute urges to call him and tell him I'm crazy about him. I have to control my urges to buy plane tickets or hop in the car on Friday afternoon for a 9-hour drive! I've kept control so far, but man... it's hard!

There's so much advice out there on catching the guy, but I am "of a certain age" and it seems most of it doesn't apply to me.... seems most of the advice for 40+ daters centers around blending families and even how to handle grandkids, or it centers around girls in their 20's who don't have a clue. I feel like a square peg that most advice-givers can't relate to, so I'm contacting you.

I guess my main question is... when there is a distance like this, how much of myself do I give? It's easy to be somewhat mysterious since we aren't physically together, but I want to make sure he stays interested and doesn't forget me in between visits. I would love for this man to become completely obsessed with me in a very good way. Right now I can tell he's interested, but it's early, and I know that this will fade pretty quick if I'm not careful or give too much.

How does a middle-aged "single girl" get the guy? Do we really need to still be playing dating games like a 25 year old? Is head-over-heels a good thing or a bad thing? How do I stay cool? How do I make the most of the time I have with him without giving too much too soon? I know other people who have made long-distance relationships eventually work, but I'm kinda stumped on how to handle it.

I really really really would love some feedback from you. You've always been the voice of reason when I've lost my reason, and mine is slipping! Thanks in advance....

Dear "Certain Age" Lover,

Don't despair. Love comes to all and you're really not that old. Forty-one is a great age. You're at your prime sexually, intellectually and emotionally. So don't think that just because you're over 30, you can't have love and romance. You can.

As for the "younger man," he's not that much younger. Men don't live as long as women, so a man 6 years younger isn't such a bad idea at all. You and your guy have lots of similar values and seem well suited for each other. Although you haven't been together long enough and haven't had nearly enough time together to make a lifetime commitment, it's okay to think about it.

However, you're at the early in-love stage, so don't rush in. Take your time. You've waited this long, so don't do anything rash. Give him a chance to miss you. It's okay if you don't talk every single day. Let him come to you and don't jump on a plane or make a nine-hour drive just yet. It's way too soon.

A relationship needs a good six months to fully develop. You're only part way there.

As for the distance, it can work to your advantage. It gives him lots of time to fantasize about you -- a necessity when it comes to being in love. It also lets him yearn to be with you, something that wouldn't happen if he were there all the time.

A good way to tell how much to give is to always give a little less than he's giving. That way you're not in danger of giving too much too soon. When you're together, make the time you have fabulous and memorable. Nurture him with home cooking and show what a great mate you would be. Don't get into deep discussions about where the relationship is going or when he'll make a commitment. Again, it's just too soon. Don't make phone calls telling him that you're crazy about him. Just be really happy when you do talk to him and he'll be drawn to you.

Don't worry about him forgetting you between visits and rest assured, if the sex was good, he'll be back. Men always come back for more of a good thing.

Yes, you still have to play dating games. Don't hand him your heart on a silver platter, he'll just gobble it up and get too full. Head over heels is fine; enjoy the ride; just don't act out on those feelings or you'll blow the whole thing sky high. Act just a little indifferent sometimes. Be less than totally available once in a while. Stay mysterious and don't let him think he's the only man in your life and that he's totally got you.

Long distance relationships thrive on yearning and fantasy. Send him a nice picture of yourself. Or maybe take pictures of the two of you together having a great time and see that he gets a copy of the best one. Show you care, be affectionate, sexy, wonderful and don't do anything extreme. If you have the urge to do something and you're not sure whether you should or not, don't. It's better to do too little than too much.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Mother Madness

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My girlfriend (my partner) of 3 years, is wonderful, we get along great and have a great relationship… with the exception of ONE THING! HER mother!!

Her mother has made herself be involved in our relationship since day one. She is obsessive, obnoxious, and always in our business. She has my girlfriend trained to answer at her beck and call. When we are out on dates, she deliberatly calls, while eating dinner,if we have company, as soon as we walk in from work she is calling, and will call at least 2 to 6 times a day!! She has even inturrupted sex on many occassions…..or a surprise that I may have prepared. She will want to talk for 30mins or more each time, she is so obsessed with what we do, that that is her CONSTANT question, "where were you, what were you doing? "what were you doing that you couldn’t answer my call?"

I don’t want her knowing everything we do every moment anymore! We have been dating for 3 years almost and I don’t think I may have gone but 3 days without her mother calling and being annoying. If my girlfried doesn’t answer, she will call back to back constantly, then after so many hours she will have other family members calling her, then..one of two things, the police may show up at the door or she may drive 2 hours and pop up on the doorstep, and be like "what are you doing, why didn’t you answer the phone". When we get to go on vacation, she calls every few hours wanting to know what we are doing now? And has even called saying it is too late, we need to go in our hotel room (at 9pm).

There is no more us, everything involves her. She knows what we eat every night, watch on TV, when we are exercising, if we have company, if we are just watching a movie, what we do every weekend-- who is there, it is like we have no privacy! She is constantly putting my girlfriend down, saying she is fat, (she weighs like 140 and her mom weighs like 250 so she can't talk!!) and telling her that she should be the most important person in her life, and that she should always be doing stuff with her, and she is her happiness, she has never allowed her to have other friends and is even jealous of her being with her brother, aunt, or anyone. It is not a healthy relationship, and it is driving me to the breaking point.

My girlfriend says she is annoyed, but she doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, but I think she is more scared of her mother. I think I have been patient in this but help... I'm starting to give up!

Dear Driven to the Breaking Point,

This is indeed a future mother-in-law who will torture you and your girlfriend until her last breath. She will never leave you alone as long as she gets what she wants -- attention.

If you don't want to spend the rest of your life with your girlfriend's mother in your life, your girlfriend will have to take a stand. She will have to stop answering the phone and stop allowing her mother to rule her life. As long as mom gets to interrupt you, she will. Only your girlfriend can put a stop to it.

If she won't, there's nothing you can do except live with her meddling mother or leave. If you love your girlfriend and don't want to leave, the best thing you could do for her is to get her into therapy so that she can muster the emotional strength to say "no" to mom.

Your girlfriend's mother has a lot of problems and they will become yours. I can't believe you have put up with this behavior for three years. That's partly what's made the situation so bad, because her mother now feels entitled to it. You've allowed her to be in your life and it's going to be difficult if not impossible to get her out.

So either resign yourself to life with mom, or send your girlfriend to therapy. Maybe you should go too. You both need to learn to say no.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Jealousy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I don't know if you'd still help me, but I think it's important to let you know beforehand that I'm currently in a homosexual relationship.

I've recently found out that there's another guy in school that likes my boyfriend too, and that guy, let's call him 'alex' for now, has already confessed to my boyfriend, and my boyfriend did reject him. However as the conversation went on, they started talking about very personal stuff like masturbation and my boyfriend even told 'alex' that he was bisexual.

My boyfriend has never ever said or mentioned such things to me before, and yet he tells this to another guy, I don't know if I feel cheated or jealous, and I don't know how to deal with this cause I don't want to appear like I don't trust my boyfriend either.

Does it really mean anything when a guy shares such stuff with another guy instead of his own partner? Am I just worrying too much? Is it just because 'alex' and my boyfriend are of the same age that's why he feels comfortable talking to him about it than to me? Please help me!

- Jealousified

Dear Cheated,

There is more than one way to cheat. Having sex with someone else isn't the only betrayal in a relationship. Confiding in someone more than you do your partner is also a betrayal. It's emotional cheating and of course it makes you feel threatened and jealous.

However, jealousy is caused by insecurity. Gay relationships are so hard to get and maintain that it's easy to feel insecure if your partner can't be trusted absolutely. So because you don't trust your partner and because you are insecure, you feel jealous.

The best way to handle jealousy is to realize that it's normal. Everyone feels it. Just don't let it change your behavior and don't let your partner know that you are jealous.

Acting out of jealousy ruins more relationships than almost anything else. So focus on the positive: your boyfriend is with you, not this other guy. He was most likely flattered by the attention and that's why he confided in Alex. Don't make an issue of it or it will become a bigger problem. Of course it matters, but what matters most is that the two of you are together.

Of course it's disappointing to you that he shared those personal things with someone else before you, but what's done is done. Making an issue of it or letting it ruin your happiness won't make it go away. Look at it this way: now you know what your boyfriend told Alex, and you probably know a lot about your boyfriend that Alex doesn't know. So put the Alex incident behind you, make sure your boyfriend knows he can confide in you, and move on. Remember, your boyfriend chose you.

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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