"Ask Dr. Tracy"

5/2/99 Advice Column


In Love With a Married Man
Men Who Can't (Or Won't) Say "I Love You"
Just For Sex




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a brand-new reader of your column and I know it's very possible that you have already addressed this question, but I truly need help.

I am a mature, well-read, not unintelligent woman of 28 who is involved with a loving, warm, caring, incredible man who has never lied to me, physically hurt me or done anything to betray me. He is 50, and unfortunately, married.

This relationship evolved from friendship and close contact through our mutual interests and volunteer work. It was not something we sought out, but rather something that literally took us by surprise. We fought our attraction and the feelings we came to have for each other, but to no avail.

We became involved when I was 25. Initially, we were involved for just over a year; then I broke it off due to several things. Not in the least was the fact that the relationship was going nowhere. We were apart for 18 months then resumed our relationship and have been back together for 7 months. If anything, the feelings we have for each other are stronger than ever. The time apart only seemed to cement what we feel for each other, and to make us both realize that the love we share is real and strong and despite many things going against it, that somehow it is "meant to be."

Due to my friendship with my lover before we got together, I am aware of the relationship between him and his wife. It has been on the rocks for about 10 years, and although he wants to leave her, she is somewhat mentally unstable.

Several years ago, she attempted to commit suicide by taking an overdose of pills and has several times told him that if he was to leave her--whether it was for himself or because someone else was involved--she'd do it again, and this time it would be successful. He and I have talked about this and what is holding him back it that he doesn't know if he could live with that on his conscience, and he worries that his children (both grown) would hold her death against him.

He is miserable in his marriage and I don't know how to help him other than to be there for him. Logically, he knows that he is not responsible for her actions were he to leave her, as I have pointed out to him, but logic isn't playing a part in it. Just because he hasn't loved her for many years, doesn't mean he wants her to kill herself, and his fears over his children's feelings make sense (although his daughter, who is my age and is a friend of mine--she doesn't know about the relationship between me and her father though--has voiced to me and to him, and to several other people, that she doesn't know why he has put up with her for as long as he has).

I guess what I want to know is this--do you think we stand a chance? I don't want her to kill herself either, and not just because it is an irrational act, but because I know how my love would feel and getting him through it would be difficult, if not impossible. He is miserable with her and feels he has no future there, and this is not just due to his relationship with me. They have gone for counseling, both together and individually, and nothing has worked. She still abuses him verbally, won't do anything around the house, and has told him for the last six years (long before I came into the picture) that she didn't want to have sex anymore. He knows he doesn't have much of a marriage, and the only thing that is keeping him around is the fear that she will do herself harm. He had never had an extra-marital affair until me, although he's had reason to in the past.

I want to believe this will work out. He is my best friend and I love him with all my heart. I have never been involved with anyone who I have been so compatible with, emotionally, physically, interest-wise, everything. I don't want to lose him again, but I also realize that the potential is very much there that our relationship will one day end if he doesn't leave her. I am not getting any younger, and while having children doesn't interest me, being together with someone in an open, loving, emotionally honest relationship does. I want marriage, not misery.

Please give me some honest advice. I have no one I can really talk to about this.

Sign me,

Hoping....Hopeless?

Dear Hoping… Hopeless…

There are so many signs that this relationship is hopeless that I hardly know where to start. But the two biggest reasons are that he's married and he has all kinds of reasons why he can't leave his wife.

She'll commit suicide. His children will never forgive him. Etc., etc., etc. All married men who fool around say the same thing. They've never had an extra-marital affair before, they don't have sex at home, they're suffering terribly in the relationship, they need time and understanding. It's almost always baloney, but even if it's true in this case, it doesn't change the hopelessness of your situation.

Don't be a fool. Leave this married man once and for all. Tell him you'll see him when his divorce is final and not before. Don't let him con you into continuing to be his lover. I've seen affairs like this go on for ten or fifteen years. You'll be middle-aged and he'll be old and still married.

It's easy for you to say you're not interested in having children now, at 28. But if you stay in this relationship for years and years and then you've lost the option of having children of your own and you're still with Mr. Married, you'll be sorry. You'll resent him for your lost opportunities to have a real marriage and children of your own. You'll be lonely on holidays and weekends when he has to be home with his family.

Like many women, I had great love affairs with men who were hopeless as husband candidates, so I tucked another fond memory into my treasure chest and moved on. It's time for you to be realistic and do the same. Be good to yourself. Get out of this relationship and start looking for what you deserve. You won't be sorry.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 30-something divorced male who, after several years of playing the dating game, has finally entered into another committed, monagamous, steady relationship, my first since my divorce. I have been with the new woman in my life for 7 months, and she makes me very happy in every way. I feel very lucky to have found this person, and I credit your love library with helping give me some of the tools needed to have cultivated our relationship to this point. However, I have one nagging personal dilemma that I have been unable to resolve in my own mind.

I very much love, and am IN love, with this woman, yet I have been unable to actually say the words "I love you" to her. While I have very much wanted to say it for some time, I have some anxiety over knowing exactly when and how to say those precious words. This probably sounds silly, I know. It's not like I have never said this to anyone before. I was married once, after all. But it has been well over a decade since I have said it to someone for the FIRST time. So I guess I'm out of practice.

The other thing lending to my anxiety is that she has never exactly said it to me yet either, although she did say several months ago that she felt she was "falling in love" with me. I feel that she shows me love in her actions every day, but I'm unsure whether she is actually ready to hear it from me. I am not an "overgiver" but I do not want to become an "undergiver" either. I do love her, but I don't know when in a relationship is considered "too soon" to say those words for the first time. I wouldn't want to scare her away. On the other hand, I don't want to lose her by taking to long to tell her, either.

When does a woman feel comfortable with truly knowing that you are in love with her? And, how should I tell her? Please help ... soon.

Sincerely,

Lost For Words

Dear Tongue-tied,

When you've been with a woman for more than six months and she's indicated to you that she has loving feelings for you, it's perfectly appropriate for you to tell her you love her too - especially if you do.

It's true that saying "I love you" takes your relationship to the next level, but not saying it leaves you in limbo. Most women will never be happy with a man who doesn't say "I love you," no matter what else he says.

Plan a romantic getaway, perhaps for a weekend. If everything goes as well as it should, wait for a romantic moment and just tell her. It could be while you're walking on the beach in the moonlight. It could be while you're making love, although "I love you's" said in the moment of passion (or while drunk) are not as credible as those said while stone sober and out of bed.

So if you want to make a real statement, say it when you're sober and not making love. Hold her hand. Look her in the eyes, and say the magic words. The first time is very important and you want it to be memorable. Then you can continue saying it when you're making love and any other time. A man can never say "I love you" enough. So don't worry, you can't overdo.

Of course, if she never says "I love you too," then you should stop saying it until she does. Good luck,

Dr. Tracy




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 36 year old single woman with one grown child and one at home. I have meet a single man who is 26 years old, who pursued me until I went out with him. We continued to meet everyday for a week somewhere. I really enjoy his company and we have had good times, then I slept with him. I hardly ever see him places now, he just shows up at my house after he has been out, just for the sex. He says he has an old girlfriend he may get back with but he doesn't know. Do I wait and continue to let him do his night visits or tell him to look me up after he figures out what he wants?

Dear Waiting,

Some guys will pursue you relentlessly until they get what they want, sex, and then they'll move on. This guy pursued you until he got what he wanted and then went back to looking for someone else. Until he finds good sex with someone else, he'll keep coming back to you for sex in the night.

Now you have a problem. You want what he's not giving you - companionship. Either accept him for what he can give you - sex in the night - or throw him out. There's nothing wrong with having a guy who delivers sex like Pizza Hut delivers pizza, but you have to be willing to accept the terms.

It's obvious he doesn't want you for a girlfriend. It's also obvious that you enjoy the sex, or you wouldn't keep letting him in at night. If you tell him to look you up after he figures out what he wants, you may never see him again.

My advice is to keep your young stud for sex in the night and find someone more mature to take you out to dinner and dancing.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy





Submitting a Question to this column

Dr. Tracy regrets that it is simply impossible for her to answer all of the hundreds of questions submitted to this column each week. However, she does read every question, and tries to select the three which are of the most general interest to the visitors here.

Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"

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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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