"Ask Dr. Tracy"

2/1/98 Advice Column


Dear Dr. Tracy,

Recently read you book LETTING GO and after reading through most of your library decided to take the plunge and write you in hopes of getting an answer. I am a 42 year old woman who recently split with my 34 year old year with which I had been involved for 14 months. We met at work and at the time I was her supervisor. The relationship was maintained very discreetly due to the circumstances but she let the cat out of the bag to a couple of co-workers and rumors began to fly. That was her need to feel special. She and I come from very different backgrounds. She is a native of Tenn. and I from L.A. I have a college degree, she does not. I have travelled quit extenively, she has not. I was married and have a child, she has been lesbian from age 20. She always felt very inferior and that along with her very low self-esteem created barriors.

Cummunication or lack of was a real problem. She just couldn't talk to me. She couldn't share her thoughts, feelings, ideas or just every day stuff. But the biggest problem faced was infidelity. 2 days before my B-day we had a big snow storm and she invited her ex to spend the night. She claims nothing happened other than feet touching when two people sleep in the same bed. This relationship was turbulant. On again off again was a normal occurance. She had this need to always be available to her friends. And everytime we were in one of our off again times, finding someone new was no problem for her. In fact she would be with her ex in a matter of hours. Yet she claimed to love me.

As I write these words I can almost advice myself, but my question to you is, why do lesbian relationships have such a stronger hold. Although I was quite young when I divorced my husband, I was able to stand my ground much firmer. Now that I have matured, experienced life and should be much more capable of rational behavior, the pain and confusion are so much greater. Besides the obvious hurting, there is anger. I broke it off (everytime actually) and yet I feel that I have done her an injustice. We had some good times together. If we could just have fun and not deal with real life, things were fine. Taking the step to move in together collapsed the roof in on us. I went into a very deep depression that landed me in a hospital and finaly moved out after 3 months. We had just began counselling when I just flung my arms into the air and said that's it once again. It's been alittle over a month and she already has a new love interest. If you feel that my problem has any merit, I would love to get your advice. For now, I will continue to read your books and colume.

Dear Confused,

Straight or gay, this relationship was doomed from the start. People should get together with people who are their sociological equal and psychological opposite. That means find someone your own age with your own background and education. Also, avoid co-workers, especially those who work for you. And avoid lovers with very low self-esteem. They'll never feel worthy of love, and they'll never get enough.

Beyond all that, you two couldn't communicate and she was unfaithful, and you want to know why the relationship was so turbulent?

You were involved in the worst kind of crazy love, and I have found that lesbian lovers do tend to go crazier than others. Perhaps that's because it's so hard to find a good woman and you hate to go out looking again. So you put up with a lot of stuff you wouldn't take in a straight relationship. After all, when you're straight it's easier to find another love. Or perhaps it's the feeling of being you and me alone against the world.

By the way, nobody ever ever gets to just have fun and not have to deal with real life. Perhaps it's your mistaken belief system that is getting you in trouble. Real life can't be escaped, at least not for very long.

Next time find someone more like you. Look on the internet, or advertise in the newspaper. You will find there are lots of nice women out there who are able to deal with real life and communicate too.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been divorced for 6 years now, and have two children. Since that time I have maintained visitation with my children every weekend, all weekend long. At first, I dated frequently, but was not meeting the quality of woman that I hoped for. For the last 3 years, I have pretty much given up dating and have concentrated on raising my young children. All of my friends are now married, so I spend my week nights alone, living for the weekends with the kids. This makes for a very lonely life.

Over the last year, I have been spending time on the weekends with my kids and a family friend and her kids. A few years ago, her husband died leaving her in a situation similar to mine. Our children all enjoy playing together, so we periodically plan activities together. Recently, this woman asked me to go to the movies with her, and we had dinner and went to the show. When I tried to pay for dinner, she insisted that she pay for herself stating that was what friends do.

My question is this: Should I pursue this relationship on a romantic level? I donít want to ruin our friendship by making her feel uncomfortable. Another factor is that though this woman is a family friend, I donít really know her that well and wonder if Iím just attracted to her because I havenít had any female companionship for a while. But even if that is the case, so what? Iím not saying I want to marry her. Why canít we just date and get to know each other better? The other factor is that if she is interested, and we get to know each other better, what if I decide that a long term relationship would not work out with her? I definitely do not want to take advantage of or hurt her. Her husband was the only man she ever dated and she has not dated since his loss. Donít get me wrong, I would love to get into a long term relationship, but I just want to make sure it is the right one.

Can you please give me some advice on how to balance these factors? Thanks,

Lonely and confused

P.S. Could you please send me a reply as to whether or not you will answer this on your advice column? And, if so, on what date? I will continue you to check, but I don't want to miss your response. Thanks again.

Dear Lonely Guy,

You may be letting your hopes and your loneliness push you into misreading this situation. It's always best to take someone at their word. It's true that she suggested the movies. However, when you tried to buy her dinner and she insisted on paying, telling you that's what friends do, it sounds like she was saying that she just wants to be friends.

It's possible that she just wants to take it a step at a time, but my advice is not to pursue this one on a romantic basis, at least not now. She said the key words: let's just be friends. If she suggests getting together again for dinner and movies, that's the time to say, "Sounds like kind of a date. That would be fun, but I don't want to misinterpret. Are we going on a little date here, or what?"

But don't wait for her. If you want a romantic relationship, join Parents Without Partners and find someone who's giving out definite signals that say yes, let's go.

Good Luck,

Dr. Tracy

P.S. The only way to tell when your question will be answered is to keep reading the column. I try to read everyone's question eventually, but there are so many hundreds and hundreds...

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. Here goes..My boyfriend (36) was once married and had a child who is now 11 and lives in another state with his mother who is now remarried. The problem is that my boyfriend's ex-wife is still obviously interested in him. It is driving me crazy and I dont know what to do about it. We have been together for 4 years and she has never stopped doing little nasty things like on the cards she sends that are apparently from the child, she always puts "love always" and adds her name as well and "I miss you". Last year she sent him some really sexy underwear for Christmas (again apparently from the child...HA!) She knows that we have a pretty trusting relationship and that I get to see all cards, e-mails, letters etc that she sends. My boyfriend just says to ignore it and really does not think what she is doing is a problem. Well I do! I think it is very disrespectful to me for one thing and it makes me very angry. A few nights ago I read an e-mail response he wrote back to her and he ended it with "miss you too" although he always acts like he cant stand her....That really bothered me too. Yes, I am a jealous person, always have been.

Here's the problem Dr. Tracy...I have kept my mouth shut about this for four years and I dont know if I can do it any longer. The reason I have not let her know how I feel is I dont want to cause my boyfriend any problems with regards to his son. When she gets angry at him she tends to use her son as a pawn. I really really want to send her an e-mail and just tell her to knock it off or whatever... What kind of role model is she being for the child? How can she disrespect my boyfriend and I like that. This is not high school. We are all in our early 30's. What should I do? I just feel like I am being walked all over and not standing up for myself.

Anxiously awaiting your answer.

Dear Jealous,

Give this one a rest before it harms your relationship. Laugh it off. Ridicule her. Make her a joke. But don't take it seriously and start a fight over anything she does. You don't want to come between your boyfriend and his child, and after all, his ex is living in another state and married to someone else.

Instead of worrying so much about what she does, concentrate on making your guy love you so much it won't matter how many sexy undies she sends or how she signs her cards. You really can't win here, you can only lose.

Hold your head high. Don't stoop to being jealous of her pathetic efforts, and don't let her succeed by upsetting you and coming between you and your boyfriend.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Submitting a Question to this column

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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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