6/20/99 Advice Column
What do you think?
So what are the rules for finding someone to love when you're older and wiser?
1. Choose instead of waiting to be chosen. This starts with getting out there and finding a quantity of eligible men to choose from. Join Match.com and other similar sites on the internet. Join a dating service. Put an ad in the paper. You're not in a position to go to a bar and compete with 22-year-olds in a Cute Contest. Instead, use your wits and compete with brains instead of cute.
2. Date only those men who respond to you right away. Don't waste time trying to turn some guy's head when he really isn't interested in you.
3. Choose only from among those men who are eligible and available. That means pick guys who are ready to settle down. You can usually tell from their "profiles." Think about men who've made commitments before instead of a guy who's never been married or committed.
And especially, for those like you who've never had a date or a special boyfriend -- practice, practice, practice. It's unrealistic to think that someone who's never had a date will go out on a first date and fall in love for life.
Dating is a skill that you get better at. You don't want to wait until you get Mr. Wonderful to practice on. Start out with someone who's not exactly your ideal guy. Successful dating and having a relationship doesn't just happen. You have to practice. If your social skills are lacking, join a dinner or lunch club and watch how others socialize. Then model those who do it best.
Don't accept that your destiny is to be alone anymore than you would accept that your destiny is to be unemployed. Get out and do something about it if you want to have a relationship. Be willing to spend time, money and energy -- just as you would to get a career or anything else you want in life.
Be flexible and willing to change. Be positive. A negative attitude (like the one I see in your letter) will drive men away. And read my book, "How to Make A Man Fall In Love With You," for some great ways to get a man's attention.
In theory, I know I am a very attractive woman - I am fit, bright, funny, and darn cute. I am certainly not perfect but I have enough going for me that I should be pretty happy with myself and secure in what I have to offer a guy. And yet, whenever I get into a relationship, all of these horrible insecurities crop up. When I first start dating someone, everything is peachy. But once I start to develop some serious feelings for the person I start to worry frantically about getting hurt.
Right now I am in a realtionship with a wonderful guy. We have been seeing eachother for 5 months and are exclusive. We have been happy as clams. But BOOM - here come those insecurities of mine right on schedule. It's as if my heart says, "Uh oh, I am in love, the other shoe is going to drop any day now and I am going to get my heart broken - better prepare! Buckle your seatbelts, it's gonna be a bumpy night!"
Knowing I have this problem, I tried to beat these feelings to the punch this time by reading all I could about new realtionships, including your great website. I thought if I did everything right in the beginning, I would feel secure. I did not give too much, I am very much my own person - I think I did a good job protecting myself early on and the feelings we now have for eachother are real and good. Alas, my heart is still scared as all get out.
Dr. Tracy, this guy has given me no reason whatsoever to worry. He _is_ a great catch but darn it, so am I! I have not told him about these feelings because I don't want to freak him out. I know its all in my head. How can I just let go and enjoy this sweet man? I am so scared I am going to blow it!
The reason is that you realize how important that other person has become in your life, and how much you can be hurt by them. Fear of losing your love is normal and everyone has it. The main thing to remember is that even if you feel afraid, you don't have to act on that fear and insecurity.
So don't tell your sweet man how scared you are that you're going to blow it. Instead, act as if you're the most secure happy lucky woman in the world who knows her love will go on forever. And, if you act as if you are secure, you might as well be secure. There is a theory that action leads feelings. In other words, acting happy will make you feel happy.
Use positive affirmations. Tell yourself over and over like a mantra, "I love (insert name) and (insert name) loves me."
Realize that you've had your heart broken before and you've survived. So that's not the worse thing in the world that could happen to you. On the other hand, you have a grand chance to not get your heart broken this time. After all, you can only strike out so many times and then it's your turn to hit a home run.
Feeling insecure and worrying and wondering is part of the "in love" feeling. Everybody has it. It's part of the ride. You may have missed "Why People Love" in my library; read that and you'll understand why these feelings are normal.
Her family has put me down and degraded me from day one. Her mother is very controlling and bitter. She relies very much on my wife to take care of her mentally handicapped brother, and then use the rest of her time doing things for her. She does not respect our marriage, nor does she respect me or my family. She has purposely embarrassed me at family functions (which I endure out of respect for my wife), and attacked me for things that I could never possibly done (which she knows as well), so as to cause me grief. I have never tried to cause any conflict or fight back because I know that my wife is afraid of her, and I did not want to make things any harder for her. I did not realize it, but I have been letting all of these things build up in me.
Last week my wife has surgery. She was in the operating room for more than 4 hours. During that time, her mother sat in the family lounge and verbally attacked me and my very kind family over and over again. My gracious mother held her tongue while I received embarrassing stab after painful jab, again, for my wife. Her mother then informed me in recovery that she was taking my wife home with her. I told her that she was mistaken, but I would be happy to come and pick up her and her son any time she liked so they could come visit my wife. It lead to a big blow up and the story got distorted right away, and I was continually harassed by their family the whole two days at the hospital.
My point is that I feel very abused, and also second best in my wife's life. She has never stood up for me, yet is ready to tear anyone to shreds that says a thing about her mother. I don't feel like our marriage is a priority when it comes to her family. I have given and given and given, and now I am over the edge, and I can not get over it. I don't know what to do. These horrible feelings are eating away at me, and I can not get over the hurt that I feel over these issues. I know that she is afraid, but I don't feel respected or to be honest, loved to the fullest. This has been a startling realization, and I am scared for us. I have told my wife how I feel about all of this, and she says that she is sorry, and she should have done something, but I still don't see it, because she is sweet as ever when her mom calls. I am not asking her not to see them, just to let them know who I am in her life and that they can not disrespect our marriage like that. I guess the main question is: Who REALLY am I in her life???
Signed: Desperate for Inner Peace
The world is full of toxic people and your mother-in-law is one of them. Tell your wife in no uncertain terms that you are finished taking her abuse. Tell your wife you will no longer put up with it, and that the next time your mother-in-law insults you, you will leave wherever you are. Your wife can either come with you or not, but you will not stay and be abused.
Your mother in law's abuse will probably never stop as long as she can get to you or your wife. But you will feel better if you stop just taking it.
This is a matter of your mental health. You must protect yourself and your sanity. Your self-esteem will go right in the toilet unless you stand up for yourself. Tell your wife that you understand how she feels about her mother, but that you expect her to put you first. If she can't do that, you will simply leave on any occasion when you are insulted.
Let your wife know that her actions have made you feel unloved, and tell her exactly what she could do to make you feel loved.
Get a counselor who you and your wife can talk to. Your wife needs to learn to say no to her mother when her mother is being abusive. I recommend a book by Pete Smith called "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty," which you can probably find in your library.
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 48 hours by availing yourself of her inexpensive private counseling.