Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

3/21/2004

Money and Dating
Sunk Emotions
Feeling Unloved



Money and Dating

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have a beautiful 23 year old daughter who is dating a man 12 years older than her. That's not the problem, he asked me if he could ensue a relationship with her before he did and I didn't mind. In fact, I thought the inquiry was quite thoughtful and mature on his part. I was happy she was finally dating soemone who had the ability to help her out when she needed it, I am about tapped out. The problem is that my daughter, an underemployed waitress without a formal education, thinks she should not insist on his assistance for her needs. She asks me or my boyfriend to borrow money for her perscriptions.

They have been dating now for about a year. She recently had her tires slashed, while visiting with him at his house. Rather than him providing her new tires she used $50 of her final earnings from the restaurant she was just fired from to buy ratty used tires. I told her that was absurd and he should have had tires put on, no questions asked. He certainly isn't hurting for cash. She told me that if he did offer to help her she would not accept his help because it would cheapen her. She tells me modern relationships entail a 50/50 financial obligation situation, if she accepts more she is hooking. How can I convince her that accepting, or even demanding, help from a partner, especially when he clearly has much greater resources, is not par to be a hooker? Where did she get this idea? Am I totally out of the realm of modern dating already??

Thanks for yrou advice,

flustered mom

Dear Flustered Mom,

I'm afraid all three of you are wrong.

If your daughter's boyfriend is making good money, he should have paid for the tires. If she refused, he should have insisted, on the grounds that it's his responsibility to provide secure parking for his guests. That would have been the generous thing for him to do, but it can't necessarily be expected.

You're wrong because you expected it of him. It might be expected if your daughter was in a committed relationship with her boyfriend, but sheís not engaged or even living with him. They're just dating. He's not her "partner." Unfortunately, your original approval of him was based in part on your hope that he would "help her out when she needed it." That probably set up this expectation in your mind, which is a little out of touch with modern dating.

Your daughter's wrong in claiming that everything has to be 50/50... Does that mean that if an investment banker is dating a social worker, they should never go out to a nice dinner just because the social worker can't afford to pay "her half"? Of if they do have a nice dinner, that suddenly makes the social worker a hooker? What silliness. Your daughter has a lot to learn about flexibility, common sense, and how to be gracious when a friend wants to be generous.

If being independent is so important to her, she should take some night school classes instead of visiting her older man, get a better job, and quit borrowing from you. Actually, mom, you've been enabling her to be an underachiever and be unemployed or underemployed by doling out money when she asks. Tell her the bank is closed.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Sunk Emotions

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Have been in this relationship for 6 years. I am 56 he is 52. We became involved after my husband of 10 years left me to move 1000 miles away , home to mother ( yes really) and he decided that after 26 yrs of marriage, it was finally over. It took 3 years for his divorce because he rode the fence, so finally his wife filed and got the divorce.

He has two children both live in the same state as we do, a boy 25 recently married and just became a father, daughter 21 who sometimes lives with him but mostly lives with her boyfriend of 3 years. I have two children a little older and both live away from home.

My ex is totally out of the picture and I haven;t seen him in 6 years. His ex had moved several states away when the divorce was final and in the last 6 months has moved 3 hours away. With her moving close enough to drive, she has made monthly visits where she stays at his house and he sometimes stays there as well. I have argued that I don;t like that arrangement and so he sometimes stays with me when she visits. But he always tells me that I have to be more understanding.

We have had on going arguements about his ex and how she still controls his actions. Because of her, she has convinced their children that I caused the break up of their marriage and their family. He had been unfaithful to her several times during thier marriage but the final straw was our realtionship. His two children have been friendly to me, however I rarely see them. I was excluded from the son's wedding this fall ( because the ex didn;t want me to attend he agreed) and with the birth of the new grandchild was again excluded ( the call came to my house advising of the birth , and within 10 mins she called and told him not to let me come to the hospital.) I try to stay out of his children;s life, and only ask that I be around them occassionally so that they can learn I am not the evil person their mother claims me to be.

He has now told me that I am making him choose between his children and me. He told me last night that his children will never accept me, even though they have told him they want him to be happy. The ex has poisioned the two children against me this per him.

I have told him that they need to get back together , because she will poision his children against anyone he is involved with. He says he doesn;t want to get back with her nor does she want to get back with him. He says he loves me but the stress of the children and the ex is more than he can take. As long as he and I are together , he feels he can not allow me to share in any activities that involve his children, holidays, weddings, births, even dinner because when the ex finds out that I was around their children she nags and yells at her children telling them they should have not been around me. We lived together for the first 5 years of the relationship in my house and then last summer behind my back he bought a condo, he claims to offer his daughter a place to live other than with her boyfriend. The daughter lived with him for a few weeks and moved back to her boyfriends. The purchase of the condo nearly caused our breakup but we weathered it, I guess. Now that the ex is 3 hours away and he has his condo, the ex can come and go at will. I am only rarely allowed to stay at his condo..the ex doesn;t like it.

I feel that I have invested 6 years of my life and don;t want another "divorce". I feel we can have a good relationship, if he will only keep the ex out of our lives and not allow his adult children to also tell him what to do, based on what their mother tells them to do. His children have always treated me nice at least to my face and I feel and hope that they will accept me as person, but unless I am given the chance,, Both the son;s wife and the daughter's boyfriend accept me and like me. Both of them feel the ex is too controlling.

What do I do...I need advise quickly...should I just let him go ..or is there hope .what should I do ??

Thank you for your help..

Dear Excluded,

This is no way to have a relationship. Either youíre his committed significant other and he treats you as such, or you should leave.

Youíre hanging in because youíve got "sunk emotions" in this relationship. Youíve invested six years with him and donít want to walk away from that. I can understand how you feel, but frankly, your manís behavior is totally unacceptable. In successful relationships, your mate must come before all others in your life.

When a man takes a mate, he has to make it clear, to his ex-wife and children from his previous marriage, that they have to accept the new woman in his life or else they will lose him.

You canít live the rest of your life with someone who totally excludes you from his family events, holidays, dinners, who wonít even let you stay at his house because it will upset his ex Ė and thatís after he lived at your house for five years. Give me a break! This guy is putting his ex and his children way ahead of you and doesnít care how unhappy you are about it.

Tell him his behavior is no longer acceptable and that if he wonít change immediately, youíre going to leave the relationship. Then, if heís unwilling to confront his kids and ex and tell them heíll not allow you to be treated like a second class citizen, leave. Donít call him, donít talk to him, donít have anything to do with him.

Let him rely on those people who he says are so important to him for all the love and affection and companionship that you have previously given him. Heíll soon realize that heíd rather put you first. If he doesnít, then you havenít lost anything except a lot of pain for the rest of your life.

Imagine him sick in a hospital and the children and ex-wife wonít let you visit. Imagine all those holidays youíd be spending alone. Imagine the hurt youíd feel. Itís not worth it. Either he changes or you have to leave.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Feeling Unloved

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 19 year old student who has been 'dating' a 22 year old guy for about a year and a half. He is the first person I've basically had any degree of a relationship with, but the problem is that throughout the entire time we've been together we've never officially been girlfriend and boyfriend.

At first, we were just sort of taking things as they came but all this time later and nothing has changed. I feel like all that I am good for is sex and that comes at the price of compromising who I am. I don't want to be anyone's convenient sex toy. I don't want to have sex with him and basically be shunned out of the house once we're done. I admit that I make the choice to go over, and that I do know that we will eventually have sex, but it just makes me feel empty when he wants to have sex from the second I walk into the door to the second I leave. I know I may sound like a 'stereotypical female' but I do want to talk too.

Now, I realise that the most logical thing to do, well to have done a long time ago, would have been to cut ties with him. I am usually so good with helping other people with reality checks, but even though his actions say one thing, his words say a completely different. I realise that actions speak louder than words, but my usual good judge of character is leading me astray with him. I may be naive, but I do genuinely think he is good natured, he is from a different culture to mine, as he is a native African and only a temporary citizen, but I can just tell that he is a good guy and I do understand that nothing long term could really ever eventuate from 'us'. But like, he says that he cares about me and that he 'loves me as a friend', yet in the entire time we've been together we basically haven't left the house when we see each other. Ultimately, our 'relationship' is on a casual sort of basis, regardless to how hard to try to convince myself it isn't. The idea of a casual relationship, makes me feel like I'm nothing.

Now, even though I realise that 'casual' is the best way to describe us, I can't work out how after a year and a half, he doesn't love me? Now, I don't love him but I almost want him to love me. I've had a huge problem with letting myself love anyone throughout my life, even my family, and although I could be subconsciously hoping that someone else will fill that void and lack of love from my mother, I just can't allow myself to put my guard down for long enough to really let someone in. I just think that if someone loved me that I would be able to love them back.

Do you think that I have created this situation for myself? By having this constant guard and allowing him to treat me like a sex toy, i've let things turn out the way they are?

I feel so unwanted.

Please help me.

Dear Sex Toy,

What you are involved in is a sex-only relationship. Lots of people have those.

You are using each other for your own desires. He gets to have sex with you whenever he wants and you get to have a relationship without having to actually love someone or be loved by them. You actually have exactly what you want Ė a relationship without having to take emotional risks.

I can understand that you yearn for more of a full relationship, but a normal relationship is just not in the cards for you two. First of all, there's no future in it because he's only in this country temporarily. Secondly, you donít love him and can't love him. In these circumstances, it's obviously unfair of you to want him to love you, so you should shift your attention to the much larger issue: this big problem you have with letting yourself love anyone.

Itís time to realize that nobody can fill the void of love you didnít get from your mother, and itís not fair to ask that of someone. Before you start a new relationship -- one which hopefully will have long-term potential -- you must get some counseling or therapy to help you get over those unresolved problems with your mother.

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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