"Ask Dr. Tracy"

4/19/98 Advice Column


Dear Dr. Tracy,

My boyfriend has an ex-wife that won't go away. She calls all time, I think she just makes up problems just to call. How long after a divorce can I except her to get a clue and move on. It might be important to point out that they do have a son together who is 2. I just want to know what the average time is for a person to move on. And what can I expect from him when she finally meets someone new?


Totally Bugged!

Dear Totally Bugged,

Get used to the buzzing noise, because this one isn't going to go away. There's no exterminator I know of that can get rid of ex-wives when they're the mother of his child or children. They're always there, so you might as well get used to it. Maybe when their little boy is thirty or forty years old, married and settle down, she'll go away, but don't count on it.

Your boyfriend and his ex had a child together and so they have a permanent bond. There will be many occasions throughout the child's life when the parents have to be in communication: emergencies, education, graduation, finances, health, weddings, etc. -- all kind of things require them to talk. Even when she meets someone new, your boyfriend will still be involved with her. Even when she marries, she won't necessarily go away entirely.

Just be glad he's not calling her. That'd be something to worry about. Realize he's with you, not her. You can afford to be big about it. Have compassion. She's a single mother trying to get by. Who is she supposed to turn to if she has a problem? I'd say your boyfriend owes her. After all, she's been left with a baby and no husband.

If you're going to waste your energy on this battle you'll be tilting at windmills. This is one you can only win by being generous and allowing him to do the right thing.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hi Doc, I am a 39 year old, single good looking male. I was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis in 1991 and have been lucky and can still walk and the MS seems to come and go. I still havn't figured out how to tell my date about the MS. As such I have not been out on a date in a long time. I need to tell you about an experience that started in 3/97, a pretty young woman told me that she has had a crush on me and wanted to be with me, she knew of the MS before we ever started going out, she is married but filed for divorce, and was with me whenever she could, she has a two year old boy, and we set up a crib etc. for kyler. things were going on great until she had to move in with her parents until the divorce was finalized. Soon after she moved in with here parents she became very distant and finally told me on Christmas day that she can't keep going out with me because she doesn't want to be a nurse for me if the MS progess and she says she can't watch me get like that. I can't say it won't happen so I said if that is your decision then I can't stop you. Now she tells me that she is having a problem because the crush started the relationship but now she is in love with me and can't decide what to do, she has taken a 90 day break with the divorce.

I seriously do not think she will ever get back with me, so I am going to be looking for a new girl friend and need to know what to tell her, and I was devastated by the previous ordeal because we were best friends, lovers, and she just destroyed me, so HELP I can't let my emotions go through that again, I have enough emotional stress with the MS and I am scared to try to love again. I never was one to sleep with anyone, I always had long relationships 3 to 5 yrs, except the last one. I am lost as to how or when to tell my date about the MS, I feel I that I should tell her early in the relationship due to things like my hands and fingers and if I don't say anything some have asked about that and I have told the truth which is usually the last time I see her. So many people don't even know what it is or "is that what Jerry Lewis's telethon is for?" I am very upset about the MS and how it affects my life. I just need to know how to let some one know, how to let a date know without losing that person. Anything you can do would be of great help. thanks Victor.

Dear Devastated,

Well, MS is serious and nothing to beat around the bush about. It's one of those things that's best told up front -- the first time you meet someone, or even before, if you're talking on the the phone. That gives the woman a chance to back off if she's intimidated. The best way to handle it is to simply state what you have and say, "that probably means you don't want to go out with me, right?"

If she says "no, no, I'd love to go out with you," great. But realize that what's she's saying is it doesn't bother her now -- there's no guarantee that it won't get scary for her in the future when she's in love and worried. Think about looking for a girlfriend on the internet where you can describe the details of your condition, which will screen out the ones who can't deal with it before you have to broach the subject in person. Look for a woman with a medical background or even a physical problem of her own.

However you meet someone, talk it through with her and let her know your current condition and prognosis. Don't pull punches. Tell her, this is how I am now. This is how I may be. Then if she loves you and sticks around, she won't feel like she got into it without full and fair warning.

Find a way to keep your emotional cool. Try meditation. Remember, put your health first. It's not what others do, it's your reaction to it that can keep you upset.

As for the woman who is going through the divorce, she has to get her life straightened out before she can make a commitment to any relationship. It could be that you played the part of the interim man, the one who helps her through the separation and divorce, the shoulder she cries on, but hardly ever the one she winds up with.

Next time, get a girlfriend who's settled, with both feet firmly planted on the ground and no other uproar in her life. Then you'll have a better chance of making it last.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am at a point of desperation . . . I am involved with a man who says he loves me, who continues to want to see me, yet he will barely touch me and hasn't had sex with me in 2 1/2 months. I have had many problems with the relationship but we have both expressed that we want to make it work. I am going to be 30 this year and he is 32. We are both professionals (lawyer and doctor) and we are both attractive and have no problems attracting others. I do not want to continue to "wait and see" which seems to be an attitude he has adopted after telling me that this is just a phase he is going through. I am becoming extremely resentful.

We did not start to have these problems until he confessed he loved me about 6 months ago. I have read about men who have the "saint/whore" complex; men who cannot view the woman who they love and want to be the mother of their children as the object of their sexual desires. I have tried to talk to him but he hates talking about the relationship (obviously we have a few communication problems also) and he says he feels I am pressuring him. I need help! How do I react to his coldness? Should I give up on him? I cannot spend another night with his back towards me . . .

Desperate for tenderness

Dear Desperate for Tenderness,

There's something wrong with this guy and he's not telling you. Who knows what it is? It could be a physical problem, it could be another woman, or passive-aggressive behavior, or sure, the saint/whore thing you read about. Of course, if he won't talk about it, you have no chance of finding out, whatever it is. The important thing is to simply put a stop to his refusal to touch you in a loving way or to make love to you.

Lying in bed with a man at night who refuses to make love to you is sheer torture, not just to your horny heart, but to your self-esteem. If you let this go on, you're going to start feeling unattractive and as if there's something wrong with you, and your self esteem will go into the toilet. That will affect every part of your being and your happiness in life in general will suffer.

Forget the wait and see stuff. It won't work, and if he's going through this "phase" at 32, that's not normal. Men at 32 want sex morning noon and night. If they don't, that's a real red flag.

You're right, don't spend another night with his back to you. Send him to a hotel, or a therapist or a doctor. If he refuses to talk about it or to get help, you have no choice but to leave him.

Don't let him give you the old "You're pressuring me" stuff. Put your foot down. Tell him you don't intend to spend your life with a cold, uncommunicative, unresponsive man, because that's what he is. Then find someone who gives you as much sex and affection as you want. Men who don't want sex when you do will make you miserable, and they don't improve. His attitude in general toward solving this relaitonship problem stinks. You can't forge a future life with a man who won't work out problems.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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