"Ask Dr. Tracy"

2/11/96 Advice Column

Mr. Unavailable, Curing commitment phobia, Police wife's blues

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hi! I'm a 30 year-old single woman who has never had a good relationship with a man. I have always found myself with Mr. Unavailable until I "woke up" one day and realized that I deserve much better. After closing the doors on a young man going nowhere, when I least expected it, I met someone about a month ago. He is everything I've been looking for in a man - intelligence, honesty, makes me laugh, loves children, and has goals. We have been talking on the phone and have tried (unsuccessfully) to get together for lunch. He had to move back home for financial reasons and is going to college full-time while looking for a job, so I realize he is busy. He did say he wanted to pursue a one-on-one with me but he's not sure how much he can give at this time. I said I could be patient. He was in a bad relationship about a year ago (she cheated on him).

We tried to get together for lunch once but he had a job interview that day and called to tell me. He said he would call me that night or the next day to let me know how the interview went. I have yet to hear from him. I keep myself busy and I'm trying hard not to think about (analyze) what he is feeling or thinking. My friends tell me that he will call me and I believe it (most of the time) but there are times when my inner doubts surface and I start to question it all. Our conversations have been great and pretty hot and heavy, so of course, this has me wanting to go full speed ahead. He is more of a man than any other man I have met in my life and I know, just by our conversations, that I could spend the rest of my life with him.

Any suggestions? I don't want to screw this up, so I'm trying hard to be patient and let him make the next move. Thanks!


Dear Robin,

Talk about finding yourself with "Mr. Unavailable"! You've done it again. This guy moved back home for financial reasons, is going to school full time, doesn't call when he says he will, isn't sure he can really give, and doesn't have a job. Even if he were available (i.e. had time for a relationship), he's not commitable. Like most men, he won't make a commitment when his work and financial life is a wreck.

Lots of guys give great phone. Words are cheap. Actions have meaning. Men who make commitments have homes of their own, pets, plants, jobs and lives.

Don't call him. Don't tell him you're patient and will wait forever. You'll just sound like a chump.

Find someone else. Someone with a job who is sure he is able to give and commit, not next year, not at some vague future date, but right now. Then you'll have a chance for a real relationship. I suggest you read "Summary Guide for Finding Someone" in my Library, and follow the keyword links in order to get off on the right foot next time.

What really concerns me is that after talking to this guy for only a month on the phone, you think you could spend the rest of your life with him. It takes a lot more than some hot conversations to be able to live with someone. Get off the fantasy track and onto a real one -- that is, if you really want a good relationship.

Are you sure you're ready? Or could you be picking these uncommitable men because they're safe? The Library can help you, but only if you're ready to be helped. And read the following Q&A...

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a passionate, romantic, fun, intelligent, playful, happy guy. I am commited to my work (own a seminar company) but I can't commit to a woman. I'm 29, never married and almost engaged once. The longest I ever dated someone was 10 months, but besides that the longest is 3 months. I'm not dating anyone right now, but I know once I do, I'll make a decision early and cut it short. Is there a cure for lack of commitment? It seems only to be in my love life. What are the usual causes of this problem? I reason with myself and say I just haven't found the right woman, but could that be it? I can't even see myself with someone forever, but I'm getting this need to know someone will be with me forever. I'd appreciate any advice you have.


Dear Thomas,

Lots of men (women, too) are commitment phobic, and it often has nothing to do with the woman in their lives. Perhaps your parents had a terrible relationship and you don't want one like theirs. Or perhaps they had a wonderful relationship and you're afraid you can't live up to their standards. Or perhaps you're afraid you're going to miss something. There are men I call wafflers who can never make a decision because they're always afraid there's something better down the road and they might miss out. Try the exercise in "Are You Looking or Waiting?" to see if you just have a mental block.

If you really want to cure your lack of commitment, practice. Make a small commitment to see how it feels. Try starting with a pet. If you can commit for life to a dog or a cat, perhaps you could work your way up to a woman. Or you could commit for a short period, say three months, and then recommit at the end of that time, as in serial commitment.

I suggest you make a list of all the terrible things you think could happen if you were to commit. Then get a more rational friend to go over the list with you. You may find that your list is mostly off the wall.

Also, try enjoying a relationship in the here and now, instead of focusing on those frightening words, "for the rest of my life."

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been married to my husband for almost 6 years now. We have three beautiful children ages 3 months to 4 years. I work part time and am quite happy with my life. My problem is my husbands job. He is a police officer and recently went back to working the streets, at night, all night. When he worked the streets before, we were just married and had no children. Now I stay awake at night worrying about him, about us, I know it is silly and I just need to adjust to this but I don't want to be a single parent and I detest all the responsibility of running the family and home on my shoulders.

I tried to explain how I have been feeling to my husband but he thinks I am just over reacting and that I need to get a grip. I do need to get a grip and get past this because I find myself resentful of him for leaving me all alone and I have been short tempered with the kids which in turn makes me even more misrible.

Dear Miserable,

I'm sorry you've got the police wife's blues. Unfortunately, men love work and women love men. He's not going to give up his career for you, and if he did, he'd be miserable.

Of course you're resentful. He's got a career he obviously loves, and you're stuck home with the kids. The only solution is to find something that gives you pleasure and takes your mind off worrying about him.

Some battles are just not worth fighting because you can't win. This is one.

Questions may be submitted to Dr. Tracy's column by e- mail. Questions of general interest may be answered in this column, however Dr. Cabot regrets that she cannot answer all questions submitted.

(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
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