Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss


Reading His Emails
A Clash with his Culture
Lovesick Over Teacher

Reading His Emails

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 20 year old female dating a 20 year old male. We have been dating for over a year now and things seemed like they were going great.

However, a few months ago I found out that he had been talking to one of his ex's on the internet. I confronted him about the issue. He said he just wanted to talk to her and see what was going on in her life. In her emails, it was evident that she was still in love with him, and I was worried she would trick him into falling back in love. He told me I had nothing to worry about, he didn't say I love you back to her in any of the e-mails, he just wanted to talk to her. He then told me that he was disappointed in me for going through his e-mail.

After our talk, things seemed to be going great again. Then, a few weeks ago they started talking again. This time the e-mail he wrote to her stated that he loved her and missed her. He also stated that he would love more than anything to have a second shot with her, but did not want to hurt me. He also mentioned he was in love with both of us.

I don't know whether to confront him about this or not. I love him very much, and I do not want to lose him. I am afraid he will be even more disappointed in me that I continued reading his e-mails.

Dear Snoopy,

Sometimes a woman just has to read her fella's emails, especially if she suspects he's been writing to another woman online. A woman has a way of knowing these things, doesn't she? The problem is that men hate it when they get caught, and he's liable to try to switch the blame to you. In other words, try to make you feel guilty for reading the emails, when the truth is he's the one who is wrong.

So you have two choices here. One choice is to keep reading the emails and never let him know you're doing it. Knowlege is power. You'd be able to monitor everything that's happening and there would be no secrets from you. You'd know where you stand and you'd know if he's lying to you or not.

Your other choice is to let him know you know what's going on. You did that once and it didn't help. But this time, you've caught him in an outright lie.

Of course, in order to confront him about this, you have to let him know you've been reading the emails again. This time, though, you don't have to accept his moral superiority. Don't let him get away with being "disappointed" that you read his emails. If he wasn't having inappropriate correspondences with an ex, you wouldn't have to. Professing love to another woman, even in an email, is a form of infidelity. It's not actually "having sex with that woman," as President Clinton once famously said, but it's not innocent either.

Now that he has told this other woman that he loves her and wants to try to get back together with her, a part of you must want to pull the plug on this romance. But you really don't want to, do you? If you do confront him, here's how.

Say three nice things first -- how much you love him, how great a guy he is, and how much you want to be with him. Then let him have it right between the eyes. Tell him you've read the emails between him and Ms. Ex and that they have to stop. Don't accuse him of being a bad guy, but do tell him how hurt you are that he is doing this. Then if you both can come to an understanding that he won't keep it up, maybe, just maybe, you have a chance to continue as a couple and get past this problem.

You might even make a note of Ms. Ex's email address just in case you want to send her a personal note letting her know that this man is taken. If you love him as much as you say you do, remember, possession is nine-tenths of the law and he's yours right now. Don't be afraid to fight for him.

If it were my relationship, I'd be very tempted to just let him carry on with me as a secret email spy. After all, he had his chance with her and they obviously didn't work out or he wouldn't have been with you all this time. It could just be an ego trip for him to see if he can still have her. It might and not progress beyond emails.

Only you know if you are emotionally able to continue snooping and keep your cool. If not, confront, but be prepared for a scene. Men always make a big scene when they're caught. And if you confront him and he won't stop, then you have to be prepared to walk.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

A Clash with his Culture

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have fallen in love with the man of dreams; there's just one small problem. He is from a foreign country and 10 years my senior. Apparently in his culture he is supposed to marry a girl from his country, and to make it worse his parents pick the woman for him. We have been seeing each other for over 8 months and things only get better, but he has a trip planned to his home very soon. When he comes back he will probably be married. I am devastated. He knew this all along and didn't bother to tell me until a week ago. I try to talk to him about it and he only makes jokes, but assures me if he does get married he doesn't want to live without me.

How can I make him see that won't work so well? He claims we were meant to meet each other, we have a very special relationship. Seems to me if he thinks this way he would decline the marriage; people in his culture are allowed to decline the marriages. I have searched and searched for advice on my situation but to no avail. I need some guidance to help do the right thing. I want to be with him but I don't know if he genuinely cares for me as he is from a different culture where the customs on marriage and dating are like nothing I've ever heard before. Should I just tell him if he comes back married I won't be here for him anymore? Even if I believe he could be my soulmate?

Thank you

Dear In Love,

Sometimes you can be in love with someone and it doesn't work out the way you want it to. Just being in love isn't enough. You need to have similar values and compatible belief systems. Sure, you want him to decline the marriage and be the man of your dreams and marry you instead. But he's letting you know that he's going to marry and that he expects you to continue to be there for him afterwards.

His belief system is obvious -- he thinks he can have a wife in another country and you too. He's playing you. Don't let him take advantage of the fact that you're in love with him. Be smart. This man is not your soulmate. If you have any self-respect and want to keep your self-esteem, don't wait for him to come back from his country married. Instead, tell him it's over. Do it now. Don't wait. You'll be sad, but don't drag it on and let it ruin years of your life.

Relationships are hard enough when all these problems don't exist. You're fighting an uphill battle to make this one work out and I can only see heartbreak at the end. The fact that he makes jokes about your concerns and doesn't really want to talk to you about this is a big red flag. You can't have a good relationship with someone who won't compromise or even seriously discuss a problem.

Find someone who isn't planning a marriage in another country and who will be more responsive to your concerns. You'll be happier afterwards, and some day you'll look back on this and be so relieved you got out.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Lovesick Over Teacher

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 24 year old woman, never married, and have been practicing the martial arts for the last seven years. It is very important to me and i have excelled. I have been training under a teacher for the past four years, and in the past year and a half, have become his top student. It is likely at this point that someday I will either take over his school, or move on to teach his style as his protegee. He is 12 years my senior, and is married and has children. Since I have begun more intensive training under his direction, we have grown much closer, and he has shared with me indications that his marriage is strained. However, I know his wife too and find her to be wonderful. The problem is that I have grown deeply attracted to him. I hesitate to say it, but i think I am in love with him. I suspect he might feel the same way, but everything between us has been strictly pro, aside from sometimes confiding in one-another about personal matters [it's difficult not to when you share so much trust and mutual respect.]

I know anything between us would only lead to catastrophic consequences, but at this point i am unwilling to remove myself from this situation and abandon his teaching -- learning this art means everything to me. How should I deal with this? I've never felt this way about anyone before. For the time, I console myself with the possibility that if it's meant to be, somewhere down the road, when we are beyond the student-teacher relationship, things might work out, but I sense that this is also an unhealthy mindset.

Please tell me what to do, it is a very painful place to be.

Thank you, Lovesick in Boston

Dear Lovesick,

You're absolutely right: no matter what you do, any relationship other than teacher and student will lead to catastrophic consequences. You will be risking your good existing relationship, your training and the art you love to practice, as well as his marriage. You will be hurting his wife and children if you pursue this romantic desire, and ultimately you will be hurting the man you care so much about.

It's normal to look up to and admire your teacher, especially when you are involved in such an intensive training regimen. But your teacher will always be just what he is, a married man with children, no matter what you want him to be. Don't let your fantasies of what might be take over your life.

He should have known it was inappropriate to share his personal problems or the strains in his marriage with you, but that doesn't mean he is going to leave his wife and be available to you. Don't let his confidences become the basis for you thinking that you may take his wife's place sometime in the future.

Deal with this problem by trying hard to keep the relationship more businesslike. Practice the martial arts, but forget about the martial arts master other than as a teacher.

Instead, concentrate on learning what you can and becoming a teacher on your own. Focus on your dream: having your own school in the future and being a teacher yourself. Think about sharing the knowledge and becoming the best you can be instead of sharing the teacher and taking his life.

You could also branch out and incorporate other martial arts or some other passion into your life. When you get all your pleasure and all your excitement from one source, you become addicted to that one thing. It becomes bigger and more important in your life than it realistically should be. Broaden yourself a little and find at least one other source of pleasure so you won't obsess about a future with this married man.

Wear a rubber band around your wrist and when you find yourself thinking about him all the time, flick yourself with the rubber band. This negative self-behavior modification will help remind you that these thoughts are not so pleasurable and will help you stop obsessing.

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!"

If you can't find your answer in the Library and you feel you MUST have an answer, you can get a personal answer from Dr. Tracy within two business days by availing yourself of her inexpensive private counseling.

You may submit your question to Dr.Tracy's column by e-mail here. (Tips: to increase your chances of having your question chosen, state your age and your marital history, and remember to use paragraph breaks so that your question isn't just one big, hard-to-read clump of words. Also, questions in all caps won't be answered.)

(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
Return to "Ask Dr. Tracy" Home Page

© copyright 1995-2011 Tracy Cabot