Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Changing Friendship to Love
Engaged and Worried
Feeling Used

Changing Friendship to Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 27 year old man, never married, and have not been in a serious relationship in about 4 years. I have a very good female friend who I have known since we were 17. She is the coolest person and absolutely beautiful. We constantly get together to go out weather it be the two of us or with other friends. I've never been a big believer in romantic love but I think its pretty clear that I think the world of this special young lady.

The problem is the following. She dated an old friend of mine on and off for over 8 years. I no longer have contact with this guy but we cross paths at functions such as mutual friends' birthdays and stags and we maintain a good relationship when we see eachother.

The girl in question has confessed to me in intimate conversations that she is never going back to him again and that this time it's over for good, and I believe her. She also tells me about how sick she is of being taken advantage of that she is at a point where she is looking for marriage material because she is tired of wasting time.

I have always had very strong morals and am a firm believer in not disrespecting anyone who has not disrespected me, or not doing things that I wouldnt want done to me. I also consider this girl to be one of my closest friends (she feels the same of me) and would be really upset if I lose that friendship in an attempt to become more.

I am confused and have no control over the situation. I always believed that someone's mate should be their friend first, lover second, but I have no idea how to handle the situation. Is it worth risking her friendship by telling her how I feel about her? Would this be a slap in the face to my old friend even though we hardly see eachother anymore?

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and I desperately hope you can shine some light on this situation for me.

Dear Good Friend,

There's nothing wrong with friendship blossoming into love. In fact, the best love relationships often start out as good friendships. The important thing is to not act weird or uncool about the whole thing, especially since she's a very cool and beautiful woman. As for the old friend, he had his chance and it didn't work out.

It's obvious she cares for you as a friend, but the worst thing you could do is blurt out how you feel about her. Not because it would be a slap in the face to your old friend, but because it would be so nerdy and awkward. What you want to do is feel out the possibility for romantic love without upsetting your friendship. See if it can just happen -- with a little help.

That means setting up a romantic situation and gently testing whether she cares for you as more than a friend. A walk on the beach in the moonlight, a romantic movie date, or a candlelight dinner would be good starts. Let her see you in a more romantic light. Then take her hand or put your arm around her, or give her a hug that's a little more than a friendly one. See how she reacts.

It's very possible that she isn't sexually attracted to you. If she pulls away or doesn't hug you or want to be physically close, you will know that she's not turned on to you. And you will still have your friendship intact because you haven't said anything about how you feel.

If she doesn't respond, then get a girlfriend. It's very possible that when she sees another woman interested in you, she will change her mind. And if she doesn't, you'll have moved forward in your quest for love.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Engaged and Worried

Dear Dr. Tracy,

It finally happened! My wonderful boyfriend proposed a month ago with the most beautiful ring. I am very happy and very much in love with him. But of course now that I have the ring I have started thinking more seriously about our future life together. There is one thing that bothers me, my fiance enjoys going to bars (actually he has his favorite bar).

When we first met I told him that it was a problem for me as I have family members with alcohol addiction and he promised me to start going less, which he did. I also went with him to his bar to see what it was like. I actually was surprised he knew most of the people there and they were very nice and almost like a second family. I have to make a note here that my fiance is a only kid and his parents are divorced. Also we do not live together yet. So he told me that he made up his own family, he goes there when he feels lonely, to be social, play pool and see people he's known for years.

I know most people there and they are very likable people but now that we are engaged, I am afraid of being married and being home alone while he is at the bar. I have talked to him about it and he assured me that he wouldn't marry me if he wasn't ready to go less but I'll have to understand that it has been part of his life for so long.

I know that nobody is perfect, my fiance is very close to perfection to me. Other than this problem he is a very affectionate man, generous, very dependable and extremely sweet. I know that beside this he will be a wonderful husband and father. I am not afraid of him being an obnoxious drunk, he never is, I am just afraid of being home alone. I come from a family where both parents were always home after work. Am I making this a bigger problem than it is or is this more serious than I think? Is one flaw enough to destroy everything?

Please take time to answer this question thank you so much.

Dear Bothered by the Bar,

You should consider yourself fortunate to be engaged to a wonderful man who loves you and wants to spend his life with you. His going to the bar all the time is a problem, but not an insurmountable one. First of all, the chances are good that once he is married and no longer lonely, he won't want to spend so much time at the bar.

Since you can't count on that, though, you need a solution which only depends on you. The simplest would be for you to go to the bar with him and make his "made up" family of friends your friends too. That way you wouldn't be taking him away from his bar family, but becoming a part of it. When you marry someone, you always have to adopt their friends as yours to some extent, and since you've already met them and they seem nice, why not?

Still, you have to consider that you may not want to spend as much time as he does at the bar. And you're afraid of being home alone. Well, you don't have to be. Part of the problem here is that it sounds like you don't have your own separate interests to pursue. Get a cat or a dog or some friends of your own. Find something that you love to do and don't be afraid to spend time apart.

If he was a drunk or abuser or had a serious problem, I'd tell you not to marry him. But he seems to be a really nice guy and this sounds like a problem that can be managed.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Feeling Used

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 22 years old and married. I am having major problems right now and I feel that I am being used. I would like your opinion on my situation. Please help me.

I married a man from another country. He has so much baggage that I just can't deal with anymore. He puts his family before me, and it hurts me to the heart. He has 2 brothers that are in their 30's. When we first got married he wanted me to stay in a 2 bedroom apartment with his 2 brothers. I immediately said no to that. Just so I wouldn't have to stay with them, we moved in with my mom for 400 a month.

When he finishes work, he goes to their house and stays there till late. Every ounce of time he has he wants to be with them. When we go out, they must come with us too. They speak their language and I get left out like I don't even exist. I found paid bills, and grocery receipts. I asked him if he pays their bills, he said yes and no. I am sure he does. For one hurricane evacuation, he was going to leave me behind. I was so mad at him. His excuse was they have no one to help them. During that time, he treated them like they were his wife.

I've found many money gram receipts for money he sent to his country to his family. I found a strange woman's name on one. I confronted him and he told me that it is his brother's wife? I don't believe that. I tried to call the money gram people to find out who she is but they won't tell me. I also found a picture of a child hidden in his wallet that he never even showed me. I am wondering if he has a family out there, which I am almost sure. He sends hundreds and thousands to them. He gives me just gives me 100 at a time just to shut up.

Recently I begged him to spend more time with me. He came late to bring me out because he was at their house. The mall was almost ready to close and there was no time to even shop. Then he dragged me to their house! And he had been with them all day!

For Christmas, he talked about what he is going to buy for his family. I pretty much had to ask for a present. The Christmas before that, he got me a present late.

He wants me to sponsor him to stay in America. He also wants me to sponsor his mom, which I am not going to do. He tried to get me to get an apartment for his brothers under my name. I said no. They are illegal. I don't want to get in trouble.

I have put him first. I do everything for him. I always think about him. When I try to talk to him, he defends his brothers, he doesn't even listen to me sometimes.

I am at the point of filing for divorce. Should I speak with a counselor?

Dear Feeling Used,

Yes, you are being used by this man. He shows no love at all for you, and your situation has so much wrong with it that there doesn't seem to be any reason for you to stay in this relationship.

He is taking you for a ride and will continue to use you if you let him. He has ignored you and spent time and money on his brothers and his family with no concern about whether it's okay with you or not.

When a couple is married, they are supposed to make decisions together about how they spend their money and how they spend their time and who they spend that time with. You have let him make all the decisions for you and do whatever he wants with no repercussions. Since he's been able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, that's the way he thinks life should be.

One problem is that when you marry, you marry into a family. The woman always has to try to fit in with the man's relatives, but if they make it impossible by speaking a language you don't understand, fitting in will never happen.

You have no idea how he will use you next. He is probably planning to have you bring his whole family to this country, sponsor them and help them become legal. That's his goal and it has nothing to do with loving you the way a husband should.

You suspect he has another family beyond the one you know about. He may have a child as well. He doesn't care about you and has his own agenda about what he wants. He will use you as long as you let him. Get out while you can. You are young and can start over.

Marrying someone from another country or culture is always difficult. You have different values and goals. Don't let him ruin your life. Get a divorce and move on.

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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