Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

2/8/2004

Valentine’s Day Hell
Falling Out Of Love
Blowing it Big Time



Valentine’s Day Hell

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Lately, I've been depressed. Mainly because Valetines Day is on it's way and everyone I know has someone to spend that time with. I've had my eye on this guy who is so sweet and cute and is just right for me. But I never really felt that way about him before, until now. I'm not really sure this is true love or if it's just a "craving" to have a boyfriend because of V-day! How can I make sure it's true love? Please Help

Dear Depressed,

Really, unless you’re in love, Valentine’s Day is annoying and even painful. Being without a lover or mate on Valentine’s Day simply sucks. So buy your own candy and flowers, splurge on a goodie for yourself, and be your own best Valentine.

Even if you’re madly in love, Valentine’s Day rarely lives up to the expectations we’ve all gotten from the hype that comes from every direction.

Hallmark says we’re supposed to get the perfect card that makes our heart sing. The restaurants say we’re supposed to have the perfect romantic dinner. The jewelry stores make us think that unless we get something sparkly we’re not loved. The florists, the candy stores, the stores selling the perfect Valentine’s gift, even the grocery store with big strawberries yearning to be dipped in chocolate and finger fed to an attentive lover all conspire to make sure Valentine’s Day is a big success – financially at least.

Let’s say you’re in an “old” relationship where you’re lucky to get a card and a “Happy Valentine’s Day” kiss, let alone breakfast in bed with a heart shaped pancake. You can still feel loved without the chocolate, diamonds, flowers or big night out.

If you’re in a relationship and don’t get “it all” for Valentine’s Day, remember, there are people out there who are facing Valentine’s Day alone, which is much worse than being with someone and not getting the right bauble.

If you’re alone, remember, there are people who are in relationships having a lousy Valentine’s Day too.

Don’t tackle the nearest guy who looks cute just because it’s Valentine’s Day. Of course you’re not in love with him – you don’t even know him.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Dr. Tracy



Falling Out Of Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm hoping you can help me, because I have a broken heart. I'm 31, never-married, professional with a great job. My boss and I have been working together for 2 years, and have become extremely close friends. I also spend time with his wife and kids, and it was not until approximately 1 year or so into the friendship that I realized how strong my feelings were for him. I fell in love. So did he. 5 months ago we started an affair.

It's a complete secret of course, and very recently (days ago), he ended it. I feel devastated. He's a wonderful person, and has been kind and supportive throughout, but I can tell that he's relieved and glad to be free of me. He is trying to focus on his marriage. We still spend time together, and I still spend time with his family. It's incredibly difficult. I'm going through so many difficult emotions, including feeling rejected and like a complete idiot, but I have to put up a brave front.

I don't know what to do. Since I really can't tell anyone about this - I tried to tell my best friend about it, but even the hint of it brought about a huge tirade from her - I'm dealing with this alone. He's not available the way I would need him to be, and also, he's been extremely cheery since it ended.

I have to work (it's a really busy and critical time at work) through it, and try to focus on my job, but I can't. I feel like curling up into a little ball and crying. That's oversimplified. I feel utterly devastated.

I got a new haircut, it looks great, I look great, but I feel like the ugliest person alive, and I don't know how to stop missing him. I don't know how to fall out of love.

Please help, Devastated

Dear Devastated,

Sometimes it seems so easy to fall in love and yet so hard to fall out of love. It even seems to take longer to fall out of love than it did to fall in love.

Yet you knew when you started that there would be no happy ending for this relationship. He’s your boss. He’s married. You're friends with him and his wife. It couldn’t be much worse. You let yourself get carried away with emotion and probably sex and forgot to consider the realities.

Falling in love, especially a secret love, can be so delicious and involving that you tend to block out everything else – that is until one of you comes to your senses and realizes the risk to your lifestyle as well as the possible pain you could cause. Apparently that’s what happened here.

Of course your boss is relieved. He no longer has to live a double life of lies and sneaking around. He’s gotten off scot free. He had his love affair with you and survived with his business and family intact. You’re the one who has lost out here and will continue to lose unless you take action.

To get over a broken heart, certain events must take place. Sometimes these events take a long time to happen. That’s why I recommend my long-selling book, “Letting Go, A 6-week, Action Plan to Overcome a Broken Heart.” In the book’s program, the events that need to take place are explained and you make them happen instead of waiting for them to happen in their own (slow) due course.

One of the most important things you have to do is get out of this man’s life and get a life of your own. Find a new job. His business will survive, and if he’s a little uncomfortable without your help for a while, that’s a small price for him to pay for getting away with infidelity.

Right now, you're rubbing salt into your wound. Stop. Stop seeing him, talking to him, being best friends, going to his house, etc. Move away if need be.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Blowing it Big Time

Dear Dr. Tracy,

A year ago my sweetheart (age 50 -- I am 51) of several months had quadruple bypass surgery. I became exhausted, felt a myriad of emotions: frightened, trapped, abandoned, angry at God and then the hospital for semi-negligent care, and so on. After I had not slept for several days and worried every time I entered the hospital that he had died while I was gone, I had an emotional breakdown, and he became very angry with me. After he was home (at his mother's), for reasons I don't quite understand, I became distant and not very kind -- even though I wanted to be -- at the very least -- a good friend.

Over this past year, his recovery was prolongued by reactions to the drugs he was taking, which caused severe muscle spasms all over his body -- and he had some displaced ribs that were painful, too. We did not see each other very often, and to be truthful, talking with him was boring -- it was all about his condition and just about nothing else. He became pretty depressed, and I did continue to hang in there with him throughout this period.

In October he moved to another state where his teenage son lives. I supported this decision although I did not want him to go. He wanted to continue a long-distance relationship with me, but I felt unsure about it . . . kept a "wait and see" attitude. At Christmas I drove to see him, and things were a little stilted between us so I went home sooner than I had intended.

I did not feel at peace with myself and embarked on a program of sorts to reach some kind of peace -- with myself -- and then hopefully with him. As I have undergone this "process," I have really felt that I committed a great wrong--as does he. He asked me to put myself in his shoes, and the thought comes to me in doing this that I don't think I would have held as great of expectations of him if the tables were turned, given that we had known each other less than a year when this all happened.

I understand that my emotional breakdown at this time had something to do with exhaustion and anxiety and also something to do with a long-ago event when I lost my mother. This man had mothered me in some way that I had never experienced with anyone else.

During this "process" I've undertaken, I've come to understand a great deal more about love than I ever have before. And I also realize that I have been running away from love for most of my life. I don't even quite know what my question is -- maybe I am wondering if I have done the unforgiveable, if there is any way to be forgiven, and if it's possible that his expectations for me were indeed more than maybe they ought to have been. He says that he does not trust me -- that he fears I will not be there for him if ever he needs me. I have been considering going to live near him. Maybe I am asking what ought to be done, if there's anything I can do or should do. Any comments would be appreciated.

Dear Unforgiven,

At a certain time of your life, often in your fifties, you begin to wonder what your old age will be like and who will be there for you if you are in need. Obviously, you hope the person you’re seeing will rise to the occasion and be nurturing, sympathetic, even helpful. That's what he was hoping. Instead, you panicked, thinking more about yourself than about your sweetheart.

Anybody can be a good time sweetheart – it’s when the chips are down and luck seems to be against you that you need a sweetheart who will stick with you through thick and thin. You were there when he was healthy, but the minute he became sick, you showed your true colors.

You failed a key relationship test -- will you be there for me? You not only failed the loving partner test, you even failed the good friend test. Did he have the right to expect more from you? Absolutely. After all, you say he mothered you. I’m sure he expected the same treatment from you. When you didn’t provide that, he went back to his mother.

There’s nothing you can do with him except apologize. Can you be forgiven? Probably. Will he give you a second chance to be his life partner? I doubt it. He's told you he doesn’t trust you. He’s seen his own mortality, and it’s doubtful that he wants to commit to someone who will likely break down when he needs her most.

Should you move near him? I don't know why -- you admit that you’re bored with his illness. What you really need to do is get some therapy to find out why you are still acting out and blaming a long-ago event like the death of your mother for your actions.

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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