Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

3/30/2003

Prisoner of Love
A Princess is a Pain
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun



Prisoner of Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 33 year old single mom, I don't know what else to do, cause I'm desperate to forget my ex-boyfriend. He has pretty much given me every inclination he does not want to be with me anymore, but I keep coming back for more, more rejection and heartache.

I send him emails, I call him, etc., but he just won't give our relationship another try. It's been about six months since we've broken up and I'm still not over him, I keep thinking there is a chance we will get back together, but deep in my heart I don't think its going to happen.

How do I free myself of someone who doesn't want me anymore and move on with my life? I feel like a prisoner, I have been obsessed with him for the longest time, I want to stop this right away, how do I do this?

I'm Desperate to free myself from these chains!

Dear Desperate,

Your problem is simple. You’re trapped by hope. Because you constantly hope that you will get him back, you keep trying. You’re stuck in a hope trap. Since you think you could possibly get him back, you keep writing him, begging, hoping. But you only succeed in hurting yourself over and over again.

You still think that “if only” you did something or said just the right thing, everything would be okay and you’d have your old boyfriend back. You're addicted to him like a drug, and you have to break your addiction the same way an addict does.

The only way that works is cold turkey. Stop writing him. Stop calling him. Stop thinking about him.

Put away all the old pictures and trinkets around the house that remind you of him. When you start thinking about him, remind yourself of all the times you’ve been hurt by him. Write a last love letter to him where you tell him everything you think you need to say. Then don’t send it. Make a list of all the hurtful things he’s ever done to you and remind yourself of why he’s no good for you.

I recommend my book, “Letting Go, A 12-Week Program to Overcome a Broken Heart,” which you can probably get in your local library. It has many techniques to help you stop thinking about your ex. For instance, you could use self-behavior modification. Fill a nasal spray inhaler with old rotten egg. Whenever you think about him, smell the rotten egg. Soon you’ll begin to be disgusted by those thoughts instead of being drawn to them.

You and your child both deserve a chance at happiness. Don’t deny yourself by wasting your life obsessing about a man who doesn’t want you.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



A Princess is a Pain

Dear Dr. Tracy,

A little over 2 years ago I married a Vietnamese woman who is 45, and has lived in this country for over 20 years. She is extremely pretty and quite affectionate, and we share an excellent sex life, and has a very sweet personality. When I first got to know her, it was like a dream come true. She'd been living in a sort of gilded cage most of her life, having little life experience, like a naive princess. She gave herself to me completely. We married within six months after we met. She came from an arranged marriage that she eventually left, to marry me. In doing so, she left her children (9, 16, 18) with her ex and her mother who lives with him, but she regularly goes back there for visits about twice a month. I have to say that she seldom even calls her kids (including her 9 y/o daughter) and unless I press it, she would never have the child visit us - we live about 4 hours away from her home. Her son is now living with us, and she expresses little concern about where he is unless it's late at night - doesn't call him to say what she's doing, etc.

Here is the problem: She has made me "her world" as she tells it, and resents it when my children are around (I have 3 also), and wants me just for herself. Problems with my 18 y/o daughter and her have made it necessary for my daughter to move back in with my ex, as I feel I should put my wife first. My wife feels that I should not spend any time alone with my kids unless she is out of town with hers, or working. She is extremely bothered that my daughter wanted to see a movie with me, for example when she would be left at home, feeling that she has given up everything to be with me, why should I leave her at home. (She has no friends, nor has she ever - she has told me). When I nearly went to the movie (as my daughter has rarely asked me to do anything) she threatened to divorce me. This she has done regularly since we've been married, perhaps about once every 3-4 weeks or so.

During a dual family vacation last year (which I entirely paid for) she nearly took her kids and left me in Florida because I went on some roller coaster rides alone with my boys (she & hers don't like fast rides) for about 4 hours. It took much persuading - even from her own kids - not to leave and divorce me for doing this

When I am alone with her and give her my sole attention, she is happy and we get along fine. But I know that my relationship with my kids has suffered since the marriage. They used to visit 10x per month, and now it's down to 4-5 times. I should also add that her mother used to do everything for her in her previous marriage - cooking, cleaning, shopping for food, taking care of the kids - such that in 20 years of marriage she never even put gas in her own car and had a lot of free time. I expected that she would take on roles of helping around the house, but she has resisted doing so, except on a limited basis. Consequently, I do 90% of the cooking & cleaning, plus all of the home remodeling.

Regarding finances, she operates under the principle that "my money is our money" and "her money is her money" - thus, she has not helped in household expenses, except paying 1/3 of the mortgage, and her own car costs. (That caused me a lot of stress, but I'm used to it now)

Having one divorce under my belt (I'm 47) I've tried very hard to honor my commitment, but feel myself loving her less and less as her selfishness grows harder and harder to deal with. I have always wanted to nurture a relationship with my kids, and looked forward to continuing one as they grow older. I'm aware of the fact that if you ignore them when they're young, they'll ignore you later in life. She ignores her children, and I believe wants me to ignore mine. When I don't, the problems and threats appear.

Dear Selfless,

You and your princess are perfect for each other. She is perfectly selfish and you are perfectly selfless. She’s a total taker and you’re a total giver. It’s amazing how the takers of the world always find a giver to take from.

You’ve done exactly what everyone else has done for your princess – allowed her to call the shots and bent over backward to keep her happy. She manipulates you with sex and with threats, and you back down all the time.

Every time you allow her to set the rules, you create more of a monster. You are teaching her that she gets to call all the shots. But you can turn this relationship around very easily if you stop being intimidated by her threats. It’s time for you to simply say no to her. I know you don’t want another divorce, but it’s either risk her leaving or resign yourself to spending the rest of your life exactly like the last two years, only worse.

The next time she threatens to divorce you, say “Okay, if that’s what you want.” The worst that will happen is that she’ll actually divorce you. That could also be the best thing that would happen. Two people can’t live together with constant threats of divorce as the bottom line way of settling arguments..

On the other hand, she may back down and realize that her threats of divorce are no longer working. The two of you need to have some understandings about how much time you spend with her and how much time you spend with your children. Don’t make unilateral decisions. Include her in the decision-making process and let her know she comes first.

If you can’t work out your problems, you should go for couples counseling. Blending families, even under the best of circumstances, is difficult and fraught with problems for everyone. It’s almost impossible to make everybody happy, so sometimes you have to make hard choices.

Why can’t you spend time with your children during her twice-monthly visits with her children? Why can’t you help her make friends so that you’re not the only person she has in the world? I suspect there is a part of you that likes the idea that she has made you “her world,” but that comes at a price.

You are right, you should put your wife first. However, that means you will have to put your children second. They can’t all be first. But if you have an understanding of how much time you will spend with your children and when, things will be much easier for you and your wife.

You should resist the temptation to compare your parenting skills with hers and your children to hers. Those kinds of comparisons only lead to trouble. Instead, accept the differences. You married a princess and now you’re upset because she’s acting like one. Whoops! It’s a little unrealistic to think that your princess will become a happy housekeeper.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 43 year old female. i was married for 18 years. Have been divorced for seven, his choice not mine. I can't seem to get back on with my life. I am a very affectionate person. I simply love sex! The problem is that I'm shy and don't know how to meet people. I'm not really interested in a long term relationship. don't want to get hurt again. I just want good hard sex...But, i usually end up sleeping with married men. I won't lie and say I love them but it would be nice to have a phone call occasionally. Im afraid that they will think i'm cheap if all i do is sleep with them. I feel cheep after a one night stand. I just need to fulfill a need. How do i do this without feeling guilty for a quickie?

Dear Feeling Cheap,

Let's see... you want quick, no-attachment sex to fulfill your need, and then complain because you feel cheap after one-night stands.

Since you probably can't change how you feel, you'll have to change what you're doing. Quickies are for those who can enjoy them without feeling guilty. If you feel guilty afterwards, then you shouldn’t do it. There’s nothing wrong with any kind of sport sex, if you can do it without feeling guilty. There is something wrong, though, if you’re having sport sex with married men and men you don’t care about and then feeling bad about it afterwards.

I can understand that you want to have sex without any attachments because you're afraid of getting hurt again. But the problem with non-intimate sex is that sex itself is an intimate act. You're obviously not a person who can have sex without feelings.

If you just want to get off, buy a vibrator. But I think you want more, and after 7 years of being single, it's time for you to try a real relationship. Don't worry about being shy; the Internet is filled with men. Find someone who is single, available and interested in sex and a relationship. Trade the guilty feelings and health risk you're now experiencing for a little emotional risk. You'll at least get a phone call occasionally and not have to feel cheap.

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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