Wanting Him Back
Dear Dr. Tracy,I'm a 28 year old successful athlete and professional woman. I've been in a really difficult situation with my ex-boyfriend, also a great athlete and professional, one who I'm still very much in love with. We have everything in common and dated happily for a year and a half. Unfortunately, the company he started with his family came to eat up more and more of his time, and his attention toward me. I became third priority behind the business, and his brother. It was so good, and I know it still could be, but we broke up after we became bitter at each other, myself, because I wanted more of him in our relationship, and he, because he couldn't deal with my demands. I wouldn't say I'm a needy person, or high maintenance, but I did want to feel like I was in a relationship.
On top of that, we live 3 hours from each other, and our main communication was over the telephone, something he's not great at- so if we'd get in a fight, we'd have to wait until the weekends to fix things. On top of that, he is 2 years younger than me and lives with and depends on his parents because of their start-up business. But things were always great when we were together though, we really were a good couple.
The situation is this: we've never really taken the time to 'get over' each other, and we still talk almost every day and spend every other weekend together with our friends. We are each other's favorite outdoor sport buddy and remain best friends and each other's biggest fans. We continue to choose to make plans together before we include anyone else. All our friends say its like we've never broken up, and when we spend time together it feels that way for me too (aside from the lacking physical affection). And I still do absolutely everything I can for him, from buying him gifts to taking care of his chores, just because I know how much it means to him and I love to take care of him.
When we broke up, I was the one who asked for time, but he said we should just break it off, so I suppose he finalized it. And now I want to work it out, know we could, but he remains stubborn against the idea, even though every time we're together, its like we were never apart. We pray together and for each other, sometimes sleep together, (just because its comfortable), no sex, and we talk almost daily on the phone. And we are getting along better now that we've agreed not to bring up the past or dwell on our shortcomings as a boyfriend/girlfriend.
Each time we talk or spend time together, my love for him is replenished, and although I'm almost positive it's the same for him, he refuses to even suggest it might be worth it to try it out again. All he's said is 'it just didn't work'. The last thing I want to do is ask him why he wouldn't entertain the idea, but I'm almost positive it's the pressure of his work and his family and the influence everyone else's perceptions of our relationship have on him. On a final note, this past weekend we messed around a little bit though there was no sex, no kissing, and no evidence of it between us the next day. It happened twice.
I want to be with him again. Do I wait it out, and risk the chances of getting crushed when he starts talking to me about other girls? Or do I break my own heart, and his, and our tight knit group of best friends, by distancing myself from him and his support and love?
Please, give me anything you can!
Dear Not Over Him,
The way you're handling this, you will never be over him. You are addicted to him. You have been getting all your love, all your attention, all your friendship from him for so long you don't know how to stop.
It's as if you're a drug addict who wants to quit yet keeps using the drug. If you were fat, you'd know that you have to stop eating to be thin. If you were unsuccessful, you'd know you have to work to get success. If you want this relationship to change, you'll have to change your behavior.
You say you're not needy, but you are. You need to be in a relationship with him so badly that you're willing to devote your life to him without really getting what you want.
The sad truth is that as long as you keep buying him gifts, doing his errands and being his unpaid assistant and devoted servant, he'll take advantage of you and let you continue. Why wouldn't he? He's getting everything he wants and not having to give you anything you want.
The best thing you could do is break up with him cold turkey. Give yourself a chance to get over him and give him a chance to miss you and see what life without you would be like. Let him experience doing his own chores and taking care of himself. Let him feel what it's like not to talk to you every day and have you as his constant companion. Only then will he get a chance to miss you and perhaps decide that he really wants you in his life enough to make the kind of commitment you want.
As long as you are seeing him all the time without getting kisses, affection or sex, you are going to be destroying your own self-esteem and making yourself feel bad. By doing everything for him, you think you can control him, but you can't. You are only digging yourself deeper and deeper into an unfulfilling relationship.
Distance yourself. It's already too hard to keep this relationship going. Relationships are like business deals, they either get better or they get worse. And once they get in that downward spiral, it's almost impossible to turn them around without taking drastic action. It's time to take the drastic action. You're tried everything else and it hasn't worked. Only by doing something totally different will you have a chance of success.
In Love with an Uneducated Man
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am a 26 year-old female and I have been dating/living with my 33 year-old boyfriend for the past 5 years. I love him tremendously and in many ways we are very compatible. He is affectionate both verbally and physically, has always been faithful to me, and has never put me down in any way making me feel unattractive or stupid. However we come from very different places. I grew up in a predominantly white middle-class suburban town. My parents read to me as a kid, encouraged all my interests, and expected me to further my education no questions asked. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was raised in a poor area of NYC by a teen single mother and grandparents, who gave him little encouragement and never expected him to go to college. Despite this, he is a kind, open-minded, and intelligent individual who reads, follows the news, and has many interests. However, he lacks motivation and works a blue collar job, that in my opinion takes little brain power. He admires driven people but for himself, I think he sees no hope given his age and financial situation.
I am constantly surrounded by accomplished goal-oriented people and truthfully, I am embarrassed telling many of them what he does for a living. I feel pressured by society and also by my mother and it's especially frustrating because men can get away with marrying a housewife while women are expected to marry successful men. Many of my friends sympathize with me but a couple of them think I am being a snob and tell me that I should love him for who he is and not what he does. I am completely torn and often find myself in anguish imagining my life without him. Am I supposed to suck it up, break up with him and hope that I one day meet the "accomplished" man with all of my boyfriend's other qualities or do I suck it up, and start loving him for who he is and not what he does? Please help.
You are worrying too much about what other people think. Love is not a popularity contest where you take a poll of everyone's opinion about whether the man in your life is worthy or not and then decide if you love him. You already know you love him and that he makes you happy. He doesn't have to make the rest of the world happy. Your friends aren't with the two of you when you're alone, unless you invite them into your life which is what you are doing.
Stop comparing him to the rest of the world and start comparing him to the other men you've had in your life. Have they been as affectionate, as faithful and as supportive? I doubt it. You've been with this man for a long time and he hasn't wavered in his devotion to you. He makes you happy. He is kind, open-minded and intelligent and always makes you feel loved. What more do you want?
Sure you could find an executive with a big corporation, but he probably wouldn't be a kind or affectionate and he wouldn't be there for you the way this man is. It's a trade-off you can happily make, having a man who is there for you in exchange for his not having the perfect job. Besides, you could find someone with the perfect job and he could get fired. Then you'd have an unemployed executive who may not have all the qualities you have found in your boyfriend.
I agree with your friends who tell you to love him for what he is and who he is and not what he does. We are not made up of our jobs, we are made of those other qualities. Jobs come and go. Integrity, kindness, loyalty and love are not things to take lightly and always more important than a job.
Don't let society or your mother talk you out of the man you love. Don't break up with him because you hope to meet an accomplished man with all his qualities -- that man most likely doesn't exist. Instead love him for what he gives you, not what he does.
A Pet Name of her Own
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I just had a big blow out with my boyfriend of two years. The problem is he calls me honey - which is fine if he only called me honey....but he also calls his sister and his two daughters honey. When he calls me honey I don't feel any intimate connection with the name...I just feel it's just a generic nickname that he calls the "woman" in his family.
He is so mad and told me for now on he will just call me by my name and nothing else. I tried to explain if he is going call me by a "pet name" I feel it should be something that is just between me and him and that I understand Honey is the name he calls the women he loves but when he does in the bedroom I just think of him also calling his sister and his girls this. Am I wrong to feel this way?
If this is the worst thing your boyfriend of two years does, you are a lucky woman. So many men are nasty, abusive, angry and violent. There are men who cheat and men who spend all day and night looking at pornography on their computers. Yours just calls you "honey."
Don't make such a big stink over such a little thing. This is not worth having a huge fight over and maybe breaking up. If he calls the women he loves honey, and he calls you honey too, so what. It's not a big deal. It would be a big deal if he called all women honey, but he doesn't.
My advice, get over it. Be honey and be happy.
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