Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Men Who Come On Too Strong
Relationships of Convenience
Tough Requirements

Men Who Come On Too Strong

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have just had a whirlwind romance with a man who came on really strong by asking me for a committed relationship, talking about moving in together and telling me often that he loved me... all within a two month period. I thought this was fast but I enjoyed having someone say he wanted commitment and at first I felt really secure so I opened up to him and gave in to my feelings of the beginning stages of falling in love.

Almost immediately after this he became less attentive, stopped calling as much and couldn't plan getting together more than once a week. Most of the times I saw him were during weekdays also. I told him things had changed and that I'd like to see him twice a week and at least one of those times should be a friday or saturday night. He said things worked better for him as they were and was not willing to budge. He also told me he was going away for three months in the summer for work. I ended the relationship after three months because I was feeling so anxious and unhappy all the time and I was starting to feel anger.

I'm wondering if you think this is one of those guys who can't truely commit even though he said that was what he wanted? Also I'm wondering if this is an issue of not "qualifying" him enough on my part. I'm feeling like I just got taken for a ride by someone who presented himself as the guy of my dreams in the beginning but fizzled to a halt really quickly. I'm also getting a bit too old to still be finding Mr. Wrong. I'm turning 38 in May - luckily I look and act ten years younger :)

Thank you from Rather Confused :(

Dear Rather Confused,

It’s easy to get confused by one of these guys who come on so strong in the beginning. They beguile you and flatter you with their love. If you’re half-way self-confident, you have to think, “Oh, what a smart man to fall head over heels in love with me.”

Then, because you think you have him and it’s safe, you start to return his feelings. Even if he’s not the man of your dreams, it’s so seductive to have a man adore you, you find him irresistible.

However, that’s the time to be suspicious. A man who says he’s in love with you after just two months of dating is very suspicious. He really can’t know whether he loves you or not. And even if he thinks he does, talk of marriage and commitment at such an early date should send up danger signals.

When a man starts talking love too soon, the thing to do is to back away. Tell him you’re not ready to be “in love” and neither is he. Squash the lovey-dovey talk. Instead of letting yourself be drawn closer to him, back away. Don’t let yourself be drawn into his fantasy.

The problem is that there are men who are just in love with being in love. They fall in love fast and fall out of love just as quickly. In order to be in love, a man has to have his love returned somewhat, but not altogether and yet have hope of having it returned altogether at some time in the future. So once you return his love altogether, this man no longer feels the “in love” feeling and loses interest.

Then there are the men who just want to see if they can get you to fall in love with them. That’s a notch in their gun. Once they achieve that, they’re gone. The game is over. They’ve gotten what they wanted. Not a relationship, just proof that they can get you to fall in love with them.

Certainly you didn’t qualify him enough. You didn’t have time. Make it a point not to tell someone you’re in love with them until you’ve been dating for at least six months. Just because someone tells you they're in love with you doesn’t mean you have to give them your heart in return.

Sure you ran into a commitment phobic. But even worse, he’s a love addict. He needs to be in love, and falls out of love as soon as he gets loved back. He’s likely one of those guys who thinks deep down underneath that he’s not very lovable. So as soon as a woman says, “I love you,” back to him, he thinks, what an idiot she is. Then he’s gone in a flash.

Next time, don’t get to the gushy part of being in love so fast. You rushed into it and there was no where to go but down from there.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Relationships of Convenience

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Thank you for reading my note. I will try not to get too wordy here, but will concentrate on the main points. I am 49 yrs old, single (divorced) independent, hardworking woman. I have been dating a certain man (we can call him "Bob") for 2 1/2 yrs, who is 55 yrs old. I have broken up with him, once, and then went back, after a couple of months of being apart, (probably a security issue on my part). Other men have approached me many times, and I have had chances for other relationships but don't "go there".

"Bob" is a good dad, to his two grown sons, and he is supportive of me, emotionally, but he is very cheap, always cutting corners when it comes to treating me to this or that or having me pay half. He lives in a dumpy little mobile home and has had 4 different jobs since we have been dating. I figured at first that he was recovering from divorce, and his lifestyle would improve, but he goes on and continues to live, quite primatively, not fixing things in his home. He doesn't seem to have a clear vision for his future or a lot of motivation.

I have a large, comfortable home, and most times he comes here, rather than me going there and I have made him more dinners than I care to mention which most the time I dont mind doing. I have worked hard to build my life and the comforts I have, and he rarely contributes to dinner, etc.

He claims that guys don't care about fixing up their places as much as women (which I think is poppycock!). I have said,in a gentle way, (when he expressed wanting to live together) that I couldn't live in his home, the way it is, but he said of course he would fix it up. I have to see a man being motivated first and not just giving lip service.

I will mention some of his positive attributes, which are that he is gentle, non-demanding mostly, slightly humorous, and musical, which we have in common. I am physically attracted to him and our sex life is good, and he is forever complimenting me (hey, who minds that!?) and he appears to adore me. I think that some men, however, who don't have things that together in their lives, need to rely on flattery to keep a woman.(sad but true)

I have noticed thru the past yr or so, that he stares at other women while we are in public. I know that men are visual beings, and they look at other females. But he will chose one woman for a vocal point and follow her visually every time she walks by. I have looked inside myself to see if I am unreasonably jealous, but I dont think I am.

I have told him that it makes me uncomfortable, and asked him if he could not do that when we are together (I have avoided going out in public with him because of this). At first he got mad when I mentioned it, but then as time has gone on, he has admitted maybe he has a problem with it.

Last nite, he started again when we were out to dinner, he is so distracted and admits that he enjoys the female "form". I know that he cheated on his ex-wife for yrs and in fact he would stare at ME for yrs before he divorced, and of course back then I wouldn't have anything to do with him. He has never given me reason to believe that he cheats on me, and tells me I am his dream girl and doesn't want anyone else. The truth is, I have this lack of trust in him, because of his past, and his habits, with the wandering eye.

I have a neighbor lady who is our age, roughly, who's husband passed away a couple of yrs ago. Sometimes we comment on her, I like her, and we discuss that her husband died. She has a big beautiful home, and each time we discuss her, "Bob" asks me if she has a boyfriend. We have been thru conversations about her maybe 4 times, and he asks if she has a boyfriend, each time. Its beginnning to annoy me, and I dont know why he always asks that (am I being too sensitive?).

I am wondering if my perception is clear and right, and in my heart of hearts, I am feeling this relationship is not my ideal. When I broke up with him, I missed him greatly, for we do have a connection that is special. I just dont know if we can surpass these things I have mentioned. I have asked myself many times if this is right for me, and I am not sure we are suited for each other, or if I would ever feel secure with him, materially or emotionally.

Dear Uncomfortable,

Being with “Bob” means never being supported by him financially. It also probably means putting up with his looking at women and his lousy housing situation.

However, you must be getting a lot of satisfaction out of old Bob or you wouldn’t have stuck around for so long and you wouldn’t have come back after breaking up. Bob has lots of good points. He’s good to his sons, emotionally supportive, and good in bed. Nobody’s perfect and he’s certainly not either.

The big question for you is can you live with his imperfections. He’s 55 and not going to change a lot at that late age. If you want to live with him, you’ll have to move him into your place and be the financially responsible one in the relationship. If that’s not satisfactory and you can’t live with that, then just enjoy what you have and forget about living together or marriage.

I think your jealousy is a little out of control. You’re overreacting. Really, he’s not such a great a catch that every woman he looks at would want him.

Don’t rush into anything with Bob. You’re not ready to go further with this relationship right now. You have to come to terms with Bob – what you see is what you get. If you can accept that, then the relationship will have a chance for long-term success. If not, you’ll be frustrated and angry and feel cheated and resentful in the relationship. Then you’ll be making two people unhappy.

The key to a long lasting relationship is acceptance of the other person’s faults and appreciation for their qualities.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Tough Requirements

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 44 y/o divorced woman w/ 2 kids (12 & 17). My ex-husband and I have a 50/50 custody arrangement. After the divorce (5 yrs ago) I came out as a lesbian (something I always “knew” but choose not to act on), everyone knows and for the most part it’s been accepted. The kids are relatively well adjusted, they seem happy, their grades and behavior are good, I’m out and content and I have a job I adore that pays well.

No one “brought” me out – I did it myself – and my first lesbian relationship began a year after the ex moved out. Five “relationships” later, (and I use the word “relationship” loosely) I find myself single again because I don’t want to be “married” or I haven’t met any woman I would want to be “married” to.

Between an enjoyable yet demanding job and parenting 2 great kids I have precious little time and at this juncture in my life I have no desire to set up household with another adult. The ex did a rebound thing with a woman who had kids and so my kids have been stuck doing the “Brady Bunch” thing since the divorce and it hasn’t gone all that well – lots of tension, personality disputes and $$ problems. They have separated once already and the kids were very upset at their reconciliation.

I have tried very hard to “date” and I have gone on many dates that didn’t lead to sex and/or a relationship but the phrase “lesbians don’t date, they take hostages” is beginning to resonate loudly within my head.

What I want to know is whether or not I am a “commitment phobic” individual – which I have been accused of. Is it unreasonable to want to date, enjoy sex, be monogamous, not expect the other person to help raise my kids and at the same time NOT be immediately “in love” or want to constantly be with or talk to the other person? I believe I would like to “fall in love” but my experience has been that the other woman “falls in love” with me so quickly (wants an instant family?) that I get turned off. We are talking weeks in some cases, a few months in others.

I like dating, I like sex, I am monogamous and I would like eventually to grow old with another person but I am constantly baffled by the relationship expectations on the part of the other women. I have been told that my reluctance and/or inability to “fall in love” is a serious personality flaw – that I’m holding back, that I have unreasonable expectations, that I’m too autonomous and independent, that I’m a “player”, that I’m incapable of love, etc., and these statements are starting to bother me.

I would like to find another woman with similar expectations (monogamous dating, a passion for life, separate households and autonomous lives that frequently overlap) yet if my expectations are inherently unhealthy I don’t want to continue chasing an unhealthy ideal and would prefer to change to a healthier desire.

Confused ....

Dear Out,

I don’t think your problem is totally about being gay. Your requirements would be hard to find even if you were straight. You want someone who will date, enjoy sex, be monogamous, and yet not be involved in your family or household.

People in your age group are usually looking for a lasting, permanent relationship. Becoming part of the other person’s life and family is part of that.

For gay women, being part of a family unit is especially important. Women are the nurturers and the nesters, and you may be right that they’re falling in love too quickly and scaring you off.

I wonder, though, if you are a commitment phobic. By making your requirements so difficult, you get to reject almost everyone. Just by being a lesbian, you have limited your choices. By wanting a relationship that’s close, but not too close, you are making it really difficult.

You want to fall in love, but are turned off by women who want a family. You resent your ex-husband’s sharing your children with another woman’s family, and I suspect you don’t want to share your children with anyone.

If the statements people are making about you are starting to bother you, change your parameters of what you want. Be more flexible. Be willing to be open and forthright about what you want, but also think about the unrealistic expectations of finding a woman who doesn’t want to move in with you and nest.

Monogamy usually comes along with a desire to live together and build a life together, no matter what the sexual orientation of the people involved. You are asking for all of a person, but not a life partner. That’s going to be almost impossible to find.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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