Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

3/3/2002

Swinging vs. Open Relationship
The Relationship Kiss of Death
Her Daughter's Last Chance



Swinging vs. Open Relationship

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 38 and have been with Jon for 9 years. he has his place I have mine. This past Sept. I met someone. we have seen each other a couple of times. He lives in Oregon I live Ohio. The man in Oregon said if I would move out there, we would live together,but never get married. He wants us to have a open relationships where we both have sex with other people. I have been in swinging with Jon. we did it together and came home together.

I have strong feelings for this guy and I have been divorced for 12 yrs. He has never been married, but does have a daughter. I feel if stay in Ohio I will always wandered what could have happen. If I move to Oregon I do not know where it may lead out there. Jon is 65 the one in Ohio, and Oregon man is 49. I do plan to go Oregon in April for a visit. For the first time in my life I do not know what to do. Help me please.

Confused In Ohio

Dear Confused,

You might have "been with" Jon in the biblical sense and as his swinging partner, but you still have separate places, you aren't married, and it doesn't sound like the relationship is going anywhere.

It's time for you to find someone who is willing to give you a whole relationship - living together, commitment, and marriage. Your problem is that you let the man call all the shots. Who says you have to agree to the parameters of a relationship where you live together and never get married and have an open relationship? Have you ever heard of negotiating? Or even asking (or demanding) what you want?

Your self-esteem is not very high if you feel you have to take whatever arrangement a man offers without getting any of the perks of commitment. Low self-esteem makes you agree to almost anything, since you don't feel that you deserve more.

There is such a thing as "open marriage," where a couple is married and committed and still have other relationships. There is also swinging, which you have already experienced. But an open relationship, where you live together, is simply convenient for the man, and you get nothing.

There's a big difference between an "open relationship" and swinging. In an open relationship, your partner is free to go beyond sex with another woman - that is, he can fall in love and give the emotional intimacy you want to someone else. In swinging, it's just sex, not love. You should ask yourself whether you'd be comfortable in an "open relationship" before you go off to Oregon.

The man in Oregon is a more appropriate age for you. And there's nothing wrong with visiting him. However, if you're smart, you'll make it clear at the beginning that you would be willing to consider an "open marriage," but not an open relationship -- which is like having a roommate you have sex with when he's not having sex with someone else.

You'd be a fool to move to Oregon on this man's non-promise that gives you nothing except a place to live. You'd also be foolish to spend another year with Jon. It's time for you to find someone who is available and willing to make a real commitment.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



The Relationship Kiss of Death

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I've read some of your advice colums back a couple years but haven't seen anything that helps me. 8 months ago I got together with a friend of a friend, we dated for about two weeks before decideing to be commited to each other. We fell madly in love! I stayed over at her house so offten that we decided to just live together after only 1 month. It was like a fairy tale. She had dreamed of attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, and i supported her. I wanted her to go because I know it would make her happy. I also knew that our love could make it through anything. Well after only three weeks of living in New York( I live in Maryland ) she tells me that she is confused and needs some space. That Manhatten is more overwelming than she ever thought.

She said that she wasn't sure why she was feeling this way and that she didn't want to feel this way. She also said this might be because she stopped taking the pill. When I asked her if we were still together, she said we were dateing. I also asked her if she wanted to see other people and she said no she wanted to figure things out by her self.

She has since called me a couple of times and we have talked about what went on with our weekends, or to tell me something exciting that happened to her. She told me she might be coming down this weekend and she will call to let me know.

What I have been doing is giving her, her space. Not bringing up how much this hurts me or telling her how much I love her. How long should I hold on? I would do anything to get her back, but I refuse to wait around forever. When can I expect to be able to ask her if she is ready to talk and make a desision? I cant imagine life with out her. But am capeable of being happily independent. I know if I put pressure on her it will just push her away. What should I do?

Clinging to hope.

Dear Clinging to Hope,

You rushed into a relationship and really didn't know the woman well enough to make a commitment. Falling madly in love in two weeks is asking for trouble. You should always take at least three to six months to let yourself fall madly in love -- or at least to act on it, by becoming committed and moving in together. That's because the first six weeks of a relationship are easy, like Cloud Nine, with both parties on their best behaviour. It's not until more time goes by and reality sets in that you can judge whether or not you have a relationship with any staying power.

A young woman just getting involved in the fashion industry in New York is bound to be overwhelmed -- by glamour, by schoolwork, and by men. If it only took three weeks for her to discover she "needed space," then what she really has discovered is a new life in which there's no space for you.

When someone says "I need space," that's The Relationship Kiss of Death. It almost always means "I want out but I don't want to say that."

You're doing the right thing by giving her space, since you really have no choice. However, you'd be a fool to wait around for her. There's no way your relationship will hold up when you're in Maryland and she's in the New York fashion scene. You don't have enough history together to overcome the new history she's making in her new life.

It won't make any difference when you ask her, the answer will be the same - "I don't know," and "I need space." The smartest thing you can do is break up with her, let her go and find her life in New York, and find someone whose dreams include living with you in Maryland and not living in Manhatten and attending the Fashion Institute.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Her Daughter's Last Chance

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am so worried about my beautiful daughter, age 19. She is a gorgeous, size seven, Salma Hayak look-alike. The trouble is she is unable to get into or maintain a relationship with men. She likes men, but none seem interested in her, or the ones she gets end up as duds. It breaks my heart to see her alone and I fear she will end up alone. I am afraid that her witnessing her father's verbal and emotional abuse of me for 20 years, as well as his many infidelities, has scarred her emotionally. What can I do?

She says she is fine and is not worried about it, but she locked herself in her room at college on Valentines Day because she didn't want to listen to all the other girls bragging about their Valentine gifts. She has stopped dating. She was told by one boy that she is "intimidating as hell" She is very self confident and intelligent as well as beautiful. She is also a virgin. But all the boys seem to be pairing up with girls not nearly as pretty. Why do you think this is? Could counseling help her? And if so, what kind?

I don't want her to end up alone and unhappy. She is majoring in pre med and if she doesn't get into med school this will be her last chance to find a suitable husband. So far, she's batting zero! Please, help!

Concerned mom

Dear Concerned Mom,

Of course your husband's abuse and cheating may have affected your daughter's relationships with men, but you are not innocent here. You were the one who stayed married to an abusive man who wouldn't be faithful. Perhaps your daughter is just being careful and doesn't want to make the same mistake you did.

She's only nineteen, hardly old enough to be thinking of getting married, especially with your family history. Give her a break. Stay out of her business. Be supportive, but don't push her to marry early and make the same mistake you did. She is self-confident, beautiful and intelligent. You may be the only one who's disturbed about her social life. She seems to be doing just fine.

When boys her age pair up with girls, it's probably because they are getting sex. Since your daughter isn't ready to have a sexual relationship, a disappointed boy is capable of calling her anything -- "intimidating" is actually pretty mild. She should take it as a compliment.

Your daughter would be better off alone than in a marriage like yours. Perhaps she knows that. The "duds" she finds are teaching her what to look for in a man and what isn't so great. She's learning how to choose a man who will approach a relationship with consideration, love and fidelity. This is not her last chance to find a husband. She could marry ten or fifteen years from now and still be young enough to start a family.

Batting zero at nineteen doesn't mean a thing except that your daughter is smart enough to know she's not ready to choose a husband.

The best thing you can do is shut up about your daughter's marriage prospects. Don't ask her when she's going to get married, or even suggest that this is her last chance to get a husband. Try not to do any more damage to her than you and your husband have already done. And as far as therapy goes, it sounds to me like you're the one who could benefit from counseling; you've been through a lot.

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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