Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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His Relationship With God
On the Rebound
Why Does He Keep Doing This To Me?

His Relationship With God

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My name is Cathy, I am a single mother of a 7 year old. Her father left when I was pregnant. I am 28 years old and live in Maryland. I have never been married.

My boyfriend "Tom" and I have been dating on and off for 3 years now. In June of 2003, after a 2 year relationship he decided to leave me and cited the main reason as he needed to grow closer to God and he felt he didn't want to be in a relationship any longer while pursuing this goal. I was absolutely devastated. I too was growing fairly heavily in the Church and couldn't understand his decision to leave.

I was absolutely devastated. I had loved and cherished this man for two years and had been completely faithful. Out of pure devastation, I turned to my daughter's father's brother, "Mike" (my daughter's uncle). He had grown to be a good friend of mine and he would listen to me in all my trying times. A month after my boyfriend left and still completely destroyed, I became intimate with "Mike". At the time, I was willing to do anything to feel complete.

After a week with "Mike", he and I realized this just wasn't the answer to the problems I was facing and we again became just friends.

Four months later, my boyfriend, "Tom" came back around wanting to reconcile. I wanted to take things very slow. However, I wanted to be completely up front of what I had done in the last 4 months. I confessed to what I had did with "Mike" and he immediately grew angry. He told me that I could never have a friendship with "Mike" and that I needed to only talk on the phone to schedule a time for him to pick up my daughter to visit with her, but that I was not to be "buddy, buddy" with him again.

After our decision to stop being intimate, in the next four months, Mike and I continued to be great friends. Therefore I wasn't prepared nor did I desire to cut ties with him.

Tom asked me to give him two months to come to terms with this and then I could perhaps start being friends with Mike again.

Well two months later is now. Last night I had arranged to drop off a gift with my daughter at Mike's home or arrange to meet in a central location, but Tom threatened to leave me again. I showed Tom the door and told him to leave.

Am I wrong for feeling this way? I made a mistake about being intimate with Mike, but I had nobody at the time to turn to. I did nothing wrong to Tom. I mean he left me! I totally regret what I did, but this was a direct result of Tom leaving me. In the 5 months that Tom was gone, I found out of several women he too had become intimate with and his reason turned out to be wanting to just find another woman, not his faith in God.

I love Tom, but I think he is being unreasonable. I think what happened in the time we were apart is water under the bridge now. I dont expect to have that level of friendship with Mike again. However, I dont believe that Tom has any right to tell me what I can or can't do, since he completely left without warning causing me to heal on my own.

What do you think? I could really use some advice right now.

Dear Devastated,

Of course you're right and Tom's wrong. But what worries me is that it sounds like you just want to get this disagreement resolved so you can get back with Tom. I'm afraid you're missing the big picture.

Tom is not a prospect for a serious relationship. First of all, the whole episode shows him to be a jerk, a liar, and a religious hypocrite. Why on earth would you want to be in a relationship with him anyway? And what do you love about him Ė you havenít said anything that makes me think heís worthy of your love. In your entire letter, you donít say one nice thing about him.

He lied to you about leaving because of his religious beliefs when he really only wanted to be with other women. Itís bad enough that he left you abruptly and without warning after two years, but using God as an excuse makes it even worse.

Worst of all, though, is how he handles disagreements. Threatening to leave you if you donít do exactly what he wants is a sure sign of someone who is not capable of a loving relationship. Couples who canít work out problems are doomed to destroy their relationship. Leaving should be the absolute last resort after youíve tried talking, negotiating, therapy, and anything else you can think of.

You canít possibly have a successful relationship with someone who thinks leaving is the way to settle problems. If you were to allow Tom to manipulate you with threats of leaving, your life would never be your own. Youíd be jumping through hoops and doing whatever he wanted you to do just to stop him from leaving. What a terrible way to live!

Actually, it's fortunate that you had this chance to see Tom's true colors. You absolutely did the right thing by showing him the door. Donít make the mistake of taking him back, even if he wants to try again. Youíll save yourself a lot of heartache.

Some men are just not worth the energy. Leave Tom behind you and look around. I promise you: there is someone who will love you and be there for you without being your boss or threatening to leave if he doesnít get his way.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

On the Rebound

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I would appreciate your advice with my dilemma. I am a 32 year old single woman who has been looking for love since I ended a destructive five year relationship two years ago. I have had a few short relationships and many dates. I have been looking for a loving and supportive partner while undergoing a lot of healing.

My dilemma is that an old friend recently ended a three year relationship with his fiance. He contacted me and we have met a few times and discussed our exes. He is relived his relationship is over as it wasnít right but does want to meet somebody and have a family. Although I took longer we seem to be at the same stage of healing, want the same things and can communicate openly. As he ended his relationship only three weeks ago I am frightened of being the short term rebound girl. I think we have both been trying to play it down and have mentioned wanting to meet other people.

Although I donít feel physically attracted to him he has everything I want on other levels. He is intelligent, caring, supportive and encouraging. We have similar interests and enjoy spending time together. I know he liked me about eight years ago but I wasnít interested. On a few occasions I noticed him watching me, even when he was in a relationship. We have not been physical but I sense there is an underlying assumption that it may happen. Is it possible for him to heal so quickly and actually make a long term commitment to somebody else in such a short time frame? Could the physical attraction grow over time? He is also quite wealthy and I am embarrassed by the state of my finances. How should I approach this subject?

Thank you, Confused

Dear Confused,

First, is it possible for him to heal within three weeks and make a long-term commitment to you? The answer is no, and youíre being smart to take things slow and easy with this relationship. Give this man time to get over his broken engagement and recover. Often men want to get into another relationship immediately, just to prove theyíre still viable. But that doesnít mean they really care for the person, just that they donít want to be alone.

Take time to find out if you and he really care about each other. Let him date if he wants to. Instead of pushing to be the ďgirlfriend,Ē start by being a friend and see where things go. You want to find out what heís up to and if he really ended his old relationship for good -- three weeks is a very short time; they could get back together.

Continue to play down the romance aspect of your relationship and simply enjoy spending time together. Let the attraction grow on all levels.

Since youíre currently not physically attracted to him, itís possible that you will never be, but physical attraction can grow as you get to know someone. Often someone who doesnít attract you in the beginning can become more attractive as you begin to appreciate the inner person. After all, the part of a person you see is a very small part of who that person really is.

If, in time, you find that you become physically attracted to him, thatís great. Then you will be able to move naturally into a relationship beyond friendship.

As for his wealth and youíre finances, donít mention them unless he brings it up. Men with big money are very sensitive and always wonder if someone likes them for their money.

Also, if heís that wealthy and your finances are that much of a mess, be careful that itís really him and not his money that is attracting you. Sometimes a manís surroundings can make him so much more attractive than a guy with no money that itís easy to overlook his lousy qualities. Also, just because a guyís rich, doesnít mean he wants to share his wealth.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Why Does He Keep Doing This To Me?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My name is Kaori, a 29 year old female, never married, living in Japan. My bf, Richard, is a 23 years old American serving in the US navy here. We have been dating for almost 8 months since we happened to meet at Starbucks one day.

He says he loves me and I even met his wonderful family back home in the Fall but there are a few things that bother me a lot.

One of them is that my bf often ditches me at the last minute. For example, we were talking about meeting up on Friday and Saturday earlier this week. But when I called him Friday evening he said, "I got more things to do but I'll call you when I finish work". He didn't call me last night.

This morning I woke up to find that he left a message on my cell phone at 6:30am saying "I just got off work and am going to have some sleep. Call me when you get this message. "

So I called him. He answered on the second call and said "You just woke me up. I am going back to sleep but I will wake up and call you at around 3 or 4pm".

You know what time he called? 8pm! I was away from my cell phone then but called him back an hour later and found that he was on a train with his friends. They are on the way to Velfarre (a huge club in Tokyo) to celebrate one of his friend's birthday which "he forgot to tell me about", and my bf said, "I let you do your things, so if you won't let me go to my friend's birthday party, it's not fair". Obviously, his friends were listening what my bf was saying and thought, "His gf must be a control freak". Now THAT is not fair.

...so I was ditched at the last minute two days in a row. He has done this to me many times and it makes me think that he has no respect for me even though he says he loves me. Or maybe he is just immature...or maybe he is cheating on me.

I am very upset and stressed out right now (just like when it happed in the past). How would I deal with someone who treats me this way??

I know you get hundreds of emails daily but I would be most grateful if you could give me some input...

Dear Ditched Two Days In A Row,

Youíve got a boyfriend who says he loves you and whose wonderful family youíve already met. And he keeps ditching you at the last minute or not calling you when he says he will. Letís see, how does this happen, over and over again?

Because you let him.

Think of your boyfriend as a puppy, a cute adorable puppy you just love to pieces. You bring your puppy home and he makes a big mess in the middle of your living room floor. What do you do? You holler at him. You smack the floor with a rolled newspaper and you rub his nose in the mess. You create repercussions so that he wonít do it again. And if he does it again, you go through the whole routine of hollering, smacking the floor, rubbing his nose in it, putting him out, whatever you can do.

You do that consistently, and soon your puppy learns that itís not a good idea to mess in the middle of your living room. Surely your boyfriend is as smart as a little puppy. However, youíre not training him right. You let him get away with ditching you the first time and so he learned that he could do it with no punishment or repercussions. Then he did it again, and again you took him back and gave him love, not punishment.

The way to get your boyfriend to stop doing what heís doing is to stop letting him get away with it. Devise punishments, starting with simply being very angry and letting him know it, and escalate the punishments. If he is late, donít be there when he shows up. If he stands you up, refuse to see him or talk to him for a week.

The trick is to punish consistently. If you fail to punish him, just one time, he will think he can get away with it and will do something else just to test you. By letting this happen over and over again, you are asking for even more trouble. Heíll soon start thinking, ďGee, I got away with that, I wonder what else sheíll put up with?Ē And his behavior will get progressively worse.

You are upset because you feel helpless to control your situation. But youíre not, you just have to be willing to take action to stop his behavior. You also have to have enough self-respect to decide there are certain behaviors that are not worth putting up with, even if you have to leave the relationship.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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