Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Ex-husband Paranoia
Why Stay?
Online Love

Ex-husband Paranoia

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm 28 years old. I have always been a romantic guy and have always wanted true love. I have been dating a women for 5 months now, she has told me that she is for the first time in her life in love and I'm the one she is in love with. The problem I'm having is she was married and is now devorced with a child. She has said she cared for her ex but really only married him bc of the child. He cheated on her so she filed for divorce, she has since forgiven him and now has a friendship with him, he has told her on numerous occasions that he wants her back, but she assures me that I'm the one she wants and that if I where to ask her to marry me she would.

My question is that if she means what she says then why is it when he calls she seems to jump, if he needs to talk or there is an event of his that she wants to go, I am for the most part invited to go unless its dinner at his parents (where he is living since the divorce) or if he needs to talk to her. Sometimes it seems she puts his feeling before mine but doesn't seem to notice she is doing so without her friend explaining it to her. Am I fighting a losing battle or in love with someone who is still in love with someone else. Am I wasting my time or am I being selfish and paranoid?

Dear Paranoid,

It's hard not to worry about her ex when they're still friends. On the other hand, it speaks well for both of them that they can still be friends even though they're divorced. And it's important that she invites you to come along with them when they're together. That means she's not hiding anything or sneaking around behind your back.

She has a child with this man and will always have to be in touch with him because of that. She will want her child to know him, and there will be parental decisions they should make together. However, that doesn't mean that she doesn't love you or that you are not number one in her life. If she really "seems to jump" when he calls, let her know that bothers you -- that you feel she seems more responsive to him than to you. If you discuss it with her calmly and lovingly, I'm quite sure you two can work it out.

It sounds to me like she really loves you, so don't worry about her ex. If she wanted him, she has had lots of chances to have him. Just reassure yourself that you're the chosen one and that she cares for you more than she cares about him. There are so many divorced people that almost everyone has an ex or two around. Consider him part of your extended family and don't let your jealousy ruin your love.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Why Stay?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 44 year old woman with two small children. Two years ago, I left my husband because I learned he cheated on me repeatedly. I had tried to give him a chance because i loved him and our family very very much but I had found out about his affair far too late. By the time I found out, he was two years into the affair and was madly in love with the new woman. It was the most painful experience I have lived through as we had been married for 17 years and I have known him and his family for 21 years.

Fast forward three years and a friend of mine introduced me to a man, a highly successful doctor who I am very physically attracted to. We have been dating for the past few months but it has been the most miserable relationship I have ever had. Why? Because he is so committed to his work, he calls only periodically and always at the last minute. When things get crazy in his practice, he does not return phone calls or respond to emails. Twice before, during his absences, I have let him go and tried to move on, but he always calls after a few weeks and wants to see me to resume things where we left off.

I am beginning to wonder what is wrong with me that I seem unable to let him go. My mind says he's not for me. The fact that he does not call to explain his absences shows a lack of respect. I know this. Has my self esteem become so battered after what my exhusband did that I am doomed to suffer through one dysfunctional relationships after another? I am beginning to wonder.

I would very much like to get out of this cycle. If you have any suggestions, I sure would like to hear them. My head knows what to do, but my heart and my actions don't seem to follow.

Thank you in advance for reading.

Dear Miserable,

Why do you stay in a painful, miserable relationship? Because you are so insecure you think you won't find another one. He's not the last man on earth. If you go online at match.com or eharmony.com you'd find more men than you could imagine, men who are really available and who want a real relationship leading to marriage and lifelong commitment.

The man is a doctor. What did you expect? His practice is more important to him than you are. He's successful because of his dedication and hard work, and he isn't going to let a relationship interfere with that. Which isn't unusual for doctors; doctor's wives usually find other things to fill their lives and keep themselves busy. But your doc may be worse than usual because it sounds he's totally insensitive to your feelings. Don't expect him to change; if you stay, it will continue to be more of the same.

So it's time to put what happened with your ex-husband behind you and stop letting the past determine the present and the future. Don't let your insecurities paralyze you into inaction or make you stay in this relationship as if it's the only game in town.

The key to breaking this cycle is to quit cold turkey. Tell the doc that the relationship is over, and mean it. No further chances. No sweet-talking. Don't even take his calls. If you feel horny, get a good vibrator. Start dating immediately, and only go out with men who actually have time for you. Don't settle for less of a relationship because of your past hurts. Instead, demand more from the new relationship to make up for what happened in the past.

You need to change your attitude, stop letting your insecurities rule your life, and give yourself a chance to find real love.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Online Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a divorced mother of 1 (teen age daughter) and I recently started chatting with a guy I met online and we really hit it off, we have so much in common. I want to tell him that I like him but i'm afraid of rejection. He has 5 kids (2 live with him). My daughter thinks he is a sweet guy and thinks dating again is a good idea. He has asked me a few questions subtly about what things do I like, and when we started chatting I said just chat but now i'm starting to like him more each day. what should I do? Risk rejection or wait for him to make the first move?

single and looking again

Dear Single and Looking again,

Online love can just be a one-way street to nowhere. It leads to fantasies that are often so far from reality that it's a joke. You never know a person just from writing to him on line. You need to meet. You need to be together in person, not online. You need to see if there is chemistry, to kiss, and even have sex in order to see whether you really click with someone.

Don't waste your time writing and fantasizing about whether he's the one. Take a chance. Ask him out. Meet him in person. Risk rejection and get it over with. There are so many men out there that you don't want to spend too much time on one if it's not going to go anywhere. Liking him more each day is great, but only if you know he likes you back and you're compatible in person.

Ask him to meet you for coffee or lunch or a walk in the park. Some men just like to talk on line and will never meet. Often they make up what they look like or who they really are. It's up to you to find out if he's real or not.

Your daughter is right. Dating is a good idea. Shake this man's world. If he's not the one, you won't be too hurt if you do it sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the harder it gets, and the more it hurts if he rejects you. Getting rejected by someone early on is always easier than getting rejected after you've known him for months or even years.

Some women get so hung up on their online relationship fantasy that they never get to a real one. It can be a way to avoid the problems of a real relationship for a pretend one, but it's never really satisfying in the long run.

You're both grownups. Take the risk. You have little to lose and everything to gain.

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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