"Ask Dr. Tracy"

2/13/2000 Advice Column

Her Best Friend's Wedding
Coping With A Cross-Dresser
Won't Hold Her Hand

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My best friend (age 51) dated a man for 7 years. They broke up and she started dating a friend of hers that she spoke with on the phone quite a bit. They have dated only 3 weeks and she is marrying him next month! She is madly in love and sees everything that happens between them as a sign from heaven that he is the one. What do you say to a normally sensible woman about this? Could it be true or is she rushing into fantasyland?

Dear Best Friend,

When a woman's in love and planning to marry, there's nothing you or anyone else can say to change her mind. She's committed and she's going to marry this man, no matter what you think.

Of course, it's possible that she's marrying him on the rebound, or just to show her ex of seven years that there are other guys who will snatch her up if he doesn't. Or she could have realized that this good friend is what she's been looking for all along and suddenly come to appreciate him.

Basically, you're right -- planning a wedding after dating only three weeks is certainly rushing things. But at 51, your friend may be thinking "It's now or never," and I don't entirely blame her. After waiting through seven years for a relationship that didn't work out, she probably has a low opinion of waiting.

Instead of saying anything negative about her plans, which she wouldn't listen to anyway, be a good and supportive friend. Do whatever you can to help her dreams come true. After all, at 51, she deserves to grab whatever happiness she can, even if she's jumping the gun a little.

If you are negative about this marriage, she'll be angry and upset with you whether it works out or not. If it does turn out to be marital bliss, you'll look foolish and feel uncomfortable around them. If it doesn't work out, she won't want to hear you say "I told you so," or even wonder if you're thinking it. So just keep quiet and let her live her life the way she sees fit. Good friends don't pop their friend's balloons.

She'll find out soon enough if she's rushing off to fantasyland without your helping her back to reality.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

It doesn't feel quite right putting this into a computer but anyway there is no-one else to ask.

I am nineteen and have been with my boyfriend for 3 and a half months. He's 29 We have had a very fast paced relationship up till now but however are very much in love.

I found out about his secret about three weeks ago. I had been finding things by accident two weeks previous on and off and while he was away on a business trip I found a catalogue for, lets say very specialist equiptment. I am not ashamed to say that after that I went through everything and found womens clothes which I had found before and had put down to being his ex wife's, make-up and underwear. Slowly things came into place in my mind. Things he had said about personal fantasies and his hobby of ballet all started to add up. It was difficult to decide what to do as he was away I didn't really want to confront him on the telephone. So when I spoke to him on the phone I asked him to come home because something serious was wrong. Having a very sick relative and numerous family complications this was of no surprise to him. That I needed him. It turned out he couldn't come home for business reasons but badgered me on the phone for what was wrong. I told him I couldn't tell him and left it at that. He sent me a text message on my phone five minutes later asking me if I would tell him over text. I knew he knew what was wrong. However I felt it needed to come from him. I sent a message to him saying truly in your heart you will know! Eventually he replied with Is it the Girly things. I sent back saying how comfortable are you talking about your girly things.

He phoned me and told me everything. That he had been doing it since he was fourteen, it had been responsible partly for the break up of his previous marriage, He had been to counselling, he had been taking hormone tablets and that a year of his life he had spent wanting to be a woman. Really I cannot believe how well I took it all. We talked for four hours that night and he came home the next day. I was very nervous and desperate to see him because I felt like it was a different person but I had missed him tremedously. Again we talked for hours and hugged alot.

Since then I have seen him as Anita and even did his make-up for him. It took alot of courage but it was a real relief to see that he didn't look like some monster he looked really nice and very feminine we even managed a hug. I am very curious most of the time and ask alot of questions and anything I wan't to know he tells me. Our sex life has always been great and still is.

But and it's a big but. I don't know if the past month with family problems and a death in my life means I am brushing it all under the carpet because I can't be without him when he is him. I am worried that when I am in a better state of mind that I might think I don't really need someone like this in my life and want to end it. I don't think it would be fair on him. He has changed so much for the better since he came out because he thinks he's so lucky that I am so understanding and he's relieved that there are no more screts.

I know these are things that only time will decide for me but a few things that you might be able to help me with are. He started making a change in his life by taking the hormone tablets. He tells me now that he thought he wanted to be a woman because he couldn't accept that he was doing it for a sexual kick. Is it possible that ten years down the line he could say he was wrong and he was denighing his true feelings and does want to change?

From what I've spoken about is this the normal extent to which ts's go to to get a sexual kick out of or is there more he is not telling me? I have asked him. but whenever I think about it I think how would I know I've got nothing to compare it to. I think the bottom line is because I love this man so much it has changed opinions on this issue that I have had all my life and I don't know whether I am just telling him what he wants to hear.

Dear In Love With Anita/Al,

You're right to worry that this problem will continue, and to realize you may be in over your head. Your boyfriend is much older than you, and you're too young to get involved in a relationship with a cross-dresser. You should run for your life.

He's not going to change. He's going to want to be Anita more and more of the time, and yes, he eventually may decide he wants to live as a woman. Are you prepared to love him if he becomes Anita permanently? Probably not. Even if the sex is great with him, imagine what would happen if you married and had children. What would your children think when Dad becomes Mom? How would you feel?

I suggest that you talk to his ex-wife about the problem. I'm sure she'll tell you it's not a sometime thing with your guy, but a fulltime life preoccupation. A man who takes female hormones to change himself into a woman is not taking them for a sexual kick. Nor is he dressing as a woman for sex.

He's doing it because he wants to be a woman, because he wants to wear woman's clothing and act as feminine as possible. There's a very strong chance that he would take steps to get a complete sex change somewhere down the line, and then your wonderful sex life would be with a woman instead of a man.

I don't think you're really prepared for this. You are simply hanging on because he's there and you're letting your own neediness get you into a situation you probably can't handle. Now it is true that there are cross-dressers who are in heterosexual marriages with women who tolerate this particular obsession. I doubt that you're truly prepared to make a decision to live that kind of life. There's a big difference between a cross-dresser, a man who only wants to dress up like a woman, and a transsexual, a man who wants to become a woman physically. Your man sounds like he's crossed the line from cross dresser to wanna-be transsexual.

It's hard enough to find a good love relationship without adding that kind of problem into the equation.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I hope to get your objective perspective on this problem which I suspect, has a psychological basis. I've been dating my boyfriend for 2 years. We had problems before (including his falling for his girlfriend who knew we were dating and came between us) and had broken up, but as I love him, my feelings for him were rekindled and we got back together. This has happened three times.

I've always known him to be a quiet guy and rather shy, so had never tried to push him or expect him to doing things like calling me (he likes to email) or getting intimate. I thought that with time, he may become more comfortable with me and such things may come naturally to him. I have always been relatively more touchy towards him, like when we share a joke or when crossing the roads, I would push him gently to avoid traffic.

To may dismay, after 2 years of dating, he still refuses to hold my hand (even though he had held the other gal's hands soon after they dated) and has never touched me even if it was just holding my arm to cross the road or those unconcious touching that happens to most of us quite naturally without thinking. He is not very expressive when it comes to his feelings although he'd said he loved me and he does show care and concern for me through his actions and not going out with anyone else. He's not affectionate either, this despite us having gone for holidays together and snuggled (on my initiative). I have brought this matter up to him a few times and nothing positive has come about.

Needless to say, I am very bothered about his being uncommunicative with me, and the lacking in affection. Do you think there is some psychological problem with him or is it me? I had told him that if things don't improve, I cannot carry on with him on a "friends only" basis as it's very hard for me when I love him so much and feel that there is no progress or future in this relationship. I finally told him I cannot continue seeing him like this and his response indicated that he didn't understand what seemed to be the problem, and he thinks that his not going out with other gals is commitment enough to the relationship.

I would like to add that he doesn't have a close relationship with his parents and seemed to despise them a little for their insufficient care given to him as a child. Please help me understand this hopeless situation. Many thanks.

Dear Dismayed,

No wonder you're dismayed by your boyfriend's behavior. It's totally unreasonable to be dating for two years and not be touched at all. Your boyfriend has severe problems with intimacy, perhaps because he didn't grow up in a loving family.

He's wrong. It's not enough for a man to just not see other women. Being committed to a relationship requires giving emotionally, not just being there. If he hasn't held your hand or touched you in two years, chances are that he's not going to change. He won't start being affectionate or telling you he loves you or any of the other normal things that happen in a relationship. He's a cold fish who doesn't know how to love.

Time won't change him. He needs years of therapy before he can learn to be intimate and affectionate, and maybe even therapy won't help.

You did the right thing by breaking up with him. He's damaged goods. He won't make a good mate or a good father. You'd wind up with kids just like him because he'd be as cold to them as he is to you.

Now you're wondering if there's something wrong with you. Stop blaming yourself. Don't let your self-esteem suffer over this man. No woman can be happy with a man who won't touch her, won't be affectionate and won't communicate his feelings.

What worries me is that you've broken up with him several times before and taken him back each time. Unfortunately, that has given him the message that it's okay to treat you coldly, because you love him so much you'll take whatever he dishes out. Next time he shows up again, don't take him back. Meanwhile, get busy dating other guys. You may think you love your cold fish, but that feeling will quickly become an odd memory once you start getting real love from a normal man.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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