Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss


Living with Mom
Being Used?
Pursuing a Man Who’s Dating Someone Else

Living with Mom

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 35 year old single woman no kids living in Florida, I have been with my boyfriend for almost 2 years. Lately we have been speaking about getting married and having a family which is all great.

But there is a small problem, his mother lives with him. He refuses to move her out. He has a sister and a brother and both are married with kids and none of them will take responsibility of helping us out. I am really good friends with the sister and she told me horror stories about the x-girlfriend and the mother. Well, they lasted only 5 months living together she left. None of them want to live with her and my boyfriend refuses that she lives alone.

He has told me many times who ever marries him has to accept living with his mother. He will not make her live by herself. I really love this man and will like to have a family with him, but I really don't know what to do, I don't want to live with my mother in law, besides we don't even get along that good. Please help !!!!!!!


Dear Desperate,

In families, there is often a huge unfairness about how the care of aging parents is handled. Your boyfriend has decided to take on the full responsibility for his mother, with no help from his sister and brother. Unless your boyfriend is willing and able to change this arrangement, you and he will be her primary care-givers until she dies.

You either have to accept this or give him up. If you can’t get along with his mother now, chances are poor that you will get along with her after you move in to his house. After all, she’s been the “woman of the house” for a long time. She’s not going to relinquish that role easily – nor is she going to give up her living arrangement, even if it ruins her son’s life.

Even if he does agree to move her out or into an adjacent apartment, he'll probably need to be at her beck and call 24 hours a day. And so will you if you marry him. His mother will become more and more needy, and more of his time will be taken up in caring for her as she ages.

If that's not a reality you can live with, then you really need to find a new boyfriend and find him fast. You say you want to have a family, and your time to do that is running out. So either make a decision to marry him and his mom too, or move on.

Don’t waste another minute of your precious fertility on him. Join a dating service, look online and find someone who is ready to marry and have children and who has no big problems standing in the way.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Being Used?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 51 year old male, separated for 4 years and currently in a relationship with a woman who is 18 years my junior; we have been a couple for 18 months. "Patty" has two children from her marriage (ages 3 and 5) and is separated from her husband.

I own several small companies, including one where "Patty" works. I have been a major contributor to her family finances particularly in regards to her purchase of a home and furnishings. Since we reside in a relatively a small community, many friends have suggested that she is with me solely because of my status and financial stability. I chose to believe that she loves me as deeply as I do her but recent events have caused doubt to creep into my thinking.

First, she has been pressuring me to sell her my company where she works (with very favourable financing terms). Her reasoning is that since we are not married, should anything happen to me, she needs something to ensure a future for her children. I have been considering doing this but don’t like the feel of emotional blackmail.

The second reason is more disturbing, by far. Last week, she discovered evidence at my apartment that I was still smoking even though I had told her that I had quit. She found this "evidence" by going through my private desk when I was not at home. Though I was caught in a lie, I still didn’t feel it was right for her to be riffling through my personal papers. "Patty" stated that there should be no secrets between lovers and any means justifies finding the truth.

I decided to put her theory to work and proceeded to hack into her personal email and do a little checking on my own (I know, I know... bad bad thing to do). I found recent letters to a friend in which she professes her undying love for her separated husband, that she is still in love with him, called her current living situation a "mess", hopes that someday she can be together again with her estranged spouse and that she longs to be in his arms again. She does state that she loves me dearly and for stability reasons, it is probably better that she stays with me but regrets the way things are none the less.

I also found what best can be described as "love letters" to her husband, reminiscing about their life together and how sorry she is that they are not still together. She signed many of the letters, "love Patty xoxoxo".

I have not said anything to "Patty" about what I found for obvious reasons. I feel torn apart inside because on one hand I have been deceived and on the other, feel guilty for reading her personal mail. I believe that the only healthy thing to do is end the relationship. Is there any good way to do this?

Dear Torn,

When we spy on those we love, we have to be willing to face what we find. Often the old saying, “Don’t peek through keyholes, lest what you see will vex you,” is apt. When we peek, we often wish we hadn't.

But it's best you know the truth. Your friends were right. Patty is obviously with you for your money and status. And probably you’re with her because she's young and sexy. So what else is new? Have you ever heard of a symbiotic relationship? That means two people are using each other and that they’re both getting something they really want: sex and an attractive armpiece for you; security for her. You also get to feel needed and powerful in the relationship. That trade-off is as old as the hills.

However, if you want to be sure that a woman loves you -- for yourself and not for your money or status, you need to find a woman with money and status of her own.

There is no easy way out of this situation with Patty. You’ve been a major contributor to her financial security already, and she has rather grand expectations about the future. Breaking up with her is liable to be messy. She’ll be a mother fighting for her children as well as being a woman scorned. You may need to consult an attorney to make sure she has no claim on you.

Next time, remember that you can't buy love.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Pursuing a Man Who’s Dating Someone Else

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I met a man a few months ago when I was 37 and he was 42. We both are employed by different city agencies of the same parent company. He went out of his way to make me feel extra special in every way possible. We both were tired of being single and dating the wrong people (we are now 38 & 43, same sign - birthdays a week apart). The friendship was progressing as well as our feelings for each other. During this time, I had just recently lost my mother and being an only child not having a close relationship with my dad or family members, I was having a very difficult time. He was there, comforted me and tried to make me feel like I wasn't alone. When he expressed his feelings for me, for some crazy reason, that scared me to the point I backed off, eventually, my lack of affection pushed him away. He of course, was still my friend - was there for me when I needed him, but the intimacy and closeness died down.

After I thought about what I had done to him, although not intentionally, I decided to seek grief counseling as well as try to straighten things out with him. He met someone recently and I am so hurt and angry at myself. I told him how I felt, how sorry I was for acting so crazy and would like another chance to have in my life again if possible. To my amazement, he still has feelings. He said he wanted nothing more than a relationship with me but I pushed him away and he felt I didn't want to be bothered. He said he knew I cared but couldn't understand what went wrong. My question is this: I still want him, I care for him there's no denying that and know he's a good man but should I pursue him even if he's dating someone?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you,

Dear Hurt and Angry,

It’s not unusual for someone to finally realize how much they want another person after that person has found someone else. You’re very lucky that he’s even mildly interested in dating you again after you rebuffed him and pushed him away.

However, he’d be stupid to give up his other woman or women for you when you’ve proved to be fickle before. Now the only smart thing for him to do would be to date you on the side while keeping his options open with the other woman in case you turn cold on him again.

If you want him, sure you should pursue him even if he’s with someone else. Most good men in the world are dating someone. It would be different if he were engaged or married, but at this point, all’s fair and you should step up and go after him if you want him.

Remember though, he’s got a fallback position and you’ve got competition, so if you mess up this time, you might not get another chance.

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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