Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

6/24/2001

Old Boyfriend, Old Spark
Speed Kills
A Heart That's Been Broken and Broken and Broken



Old Boyfriend, Old Spark

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I recently contacted an old boyfriend. Through our recent communications we discovered that our break-up resulted from a mutual friend of ours lying to him about me because the mutual friend wanted to date me. We figured it out because my ex never knew that this friend had been interested in me.

Since our break-up, he married and divorced. Unfortunately for him, his wife tried to change him after they married and "accidentally" slept with one of her exes. He is 31 years old, has been divorced for two years and was separated for one year. I am 28 years old and have never been married or engaged.

The break-up was really hard on me because I couldn't understand why he would break-up with someone he had such a great relationship with. I began counseling about a year after our break-up because it was still too hard for me to move on. Our relationship had been amazing! We talked a lot. We were both extremely affectionate. We had fun together. We liked each other's friends. We had a lot of similar interests. We made love so passionately. We genuinely cared about each other. We had been dating only two and a half months when this friend began telling him and his buddies lies about me. He talked to his other friends after receiving my letter, and all fingers pointed to the friend who was interested in me. He was the source of all the lies. I was so angry when I found out the truth about this friend because he had been the person I went crying to over the break-up. I moved 2,000 miles away two years after we broke-up. I thought about him so much since our break-up, and I used to rely on the "friend" for information about my ex. I finally took matters into my own hands a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to bury the hatchet. I had no idea the things I would find out!!

Now we know the truth. My ex and I decided there's no point in confronting the friend after all these years. The problem is that my ex has a girlfriend now. I don't know how long they have been together. But I think he's reconsidering his relationship with her in light of this new information....even though we live 2,000 miles apart. I still love him very much, and from the things he's said to me, he is still extremely fond of me too. He wants to remain friends and continue talking. The thing is he sneaks around to e-mail me or to call me. He lied to his girlfriend about who I am, and she has been nervous because two other exes contacted him recently too, wanting to get back together (including his ex-wife). I can understand why. He puts 100% into relationships, but when it's over, it's over with him. That's why I missed him so much. He gave me everything and then nothing.

I'm not sure how I feel about him having a girlfriend. He seem very confused right now and that he's looking to me to give him a reason to break-up with her. I can understand him not wanting to break-up with her for someone that lives 2,000 miles away who might or might not be "the one."

On the one hand, I think it would be so tremendously romantic for us to be re-united after all these years despite the fact that he was dating someone when I contacted him. On the other hand, it seems devious that he's sneaking around to communicate with me, and I feel kind of icky about it. I feel like "the other woman" even though we have only talked and e-mailed and have not even directly mentioned rekindling our relationship. He has said yesterday that if he didn't have his girlfriend, he'd be on the first plane out here to see me. He also said that of all his ex-girlfriends, he thinks of me 99% of the time. He said he doesn't want to lead me on by making it seem like there's something available that "currently isn't." But all the signs indicate that he wants to be available. I know he wants to be with me.

I need advice on how to handle this without it turning into a Jerry Springer show. I will be back in his town in two months, but I have not told him. I wanted to wait to see if maybe they will break-up before then. At times I think that maybe I should tell him now to see if he will break-up with her before then so that we can see each other. The purpose of my trip is to visit my family and attend cultural events, but I have no problem with getting together with my ex if he's single. Otherwise, I think I should maybe go without telling him until after I come home. I really don't know what to do. Advice please?

....Rekindling?

Dear Rekindling,

Contacting old boyfriends is always dangerous. Why? Because so often the problems you had before are still there. (Even if you're not aware you had them, which is what it sounds like.) Plus, during the time that has passed, you have both added new problems.

You only dated this guy for 2½ months and really had no reason to think that the relationship would last forever. It sounds to me like you had a 2½ month romance, and then it was over for him but not for you. And like many men, he needed an excuse to break up. The big discrepancy in this story is that you say you and this guy talked and were so close when you were together, yet he allegedly believed a friend's lies about you and never asked you whether they were true or not. It's convenient to blame someone else for a relationship breaking up, especially someone who's not there to defend himself.

It's also suspicious that your ex says there's no reason to confront this man after all these years. Stop playing games of not asking, not telling. If you really need to get to the bottom of this, call the friend and confront him and find out his side of the story. But I think your ex is toying with you, and you're wasting your time with this whole fantasy of getting back together.

The fact that your ex is sneaking around on his girlfriend is very bad. He says his ex-wife tried to change him and cheated on him. He says he broke up with you because of someone else's lies. Nothing is ever this guy's fault. He's always the innocent victim. Take it from me, nobody's that innocent all the time. When relationships break up there are almost always two people to blame.

Don't spend your time yearning for someone who lies to his girlfriend and sneaks around to e-mail you or call you. Insist on self-respect, which you won't have if you're sneaking around. Stop making excuses for this man - he's so confused… he's looking for you to give him a reason to break up? Sound familiar? If he were a stand-up guy and wanted to break up with his girlfriend, he would be capable of doing so without an excuse.

Listen to your "icky" feelings. You're having them for a reason. You're enabling him to sneak around. Don't become a Jerry Springer show story. Tell him in no uncertain terms that you'd love to see him when he's available. Tell him to call you when he is, but not before. As long as you allow him to e-mail you and call you when he's sneaking around, you're going to feel ickier and ickier. Tell him you're coming to town and if he's really available, you'd be glad to see him. But if he's not, you're going to be too busy.

Usually, when old loves burn out, they leave nothing but ashes and memories. You're probably just wasting your time if you try to rekindle this old flame. It existed in another time and place when you and your lover were different people. Don't go back; go forward. Find someone who's not always looking for excuses.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Speed Kills

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Since about a month now, the friendshup I (20, female,gay) developed with a woman I met over the internet(30, gay) has developed very slowly into a relationship. I confessed that I had fallen for her, she responded with the same. We saw each other the weekend after, and had a very intimate, loving, sexy time together. I feel loved and accepted, appreciated and happy. It's the first time in a couple of years we're starting to develop a relationship with another person. We're also both very comfortable with our sexuality, so that isn't a problem.

Ever since we have started to correspond, we've been sending emails every day, and little messages (the modern version of written love notes ;-) to /from each other'S cellphones.

Even though we are taking it slow, she has already said she's fallen in love with me, and I have answered that I'm in love with her too. I still feel that there's the danger we're depending on each other too much too soon, phoning for hours,sending messages, chatting on the net. I'm not sure if it's too much or not, as she lives 3 hours away by car so we're not actually seeing each other physically. I'd like to slow things downa bit, so she isn't /I'm not heartbroken when a day passes without a phone call or email, but I'm not sure how. I want to talk to her about it, but I'm not sure how to explain myself without making her feel rejected. Any advice/course of action would be greatly appreciated!

Galloping in Germany

Dear Galloping in Germany,

You are smart to realize you've given too much too soon. You've both already told the other one that you're in love. You're both sending love e-mails on a daily basis, talking on the phone for hours and giving your all. What's left to give short of living together?

The problem is in slowing this relationship down. Unfortunately, once you give someone something, like your full attention, your devotion, your love, it's almost impossible to take it away without causing pain for the other person and so for yourself too.

You and she have gotten into an unspoken contract where you've both agreed to e-mail and call constantly. Now you want to break that unspoken agreement. Making promises and breaking them is a sure way to make your partner crazy.

There's no way you can explain to her that you don't want to call or write every day without hurting her feelings. Gay relationships are especially sensitive since they're even harder to find -- but gay or straight, you'd be having the same problem. The reason why you shouldn't give too much is because you can't take the giving back and start over.

I'm afraid you're stuck with the calls and the e-mails on a daily basis. Backing off now is going to be really difficult if not impossible. Even bringing up the subject of calling less will cause her to feel rejected.

Let this be a lesson to you and others. Don't overextend yourself in the beginning of a relationship. It gets really difficult to keep up those daily love letters. Eventually, one of you will be busy or forget and the other one will get hurt and pull back in fear. Then you also pull back and the relationship starts going into a downward spiral. You can try to catch it and "level it off" by talking things over to see if you can agree on a less intense relationship. But that's very hard to do. Nobody wants less love or attention than they previously had.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



A Heart That's Been Broken and Broken and Broken

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Was involved with a man I met online for 3.5 years. Total rollercoaster. After 1 year we got engaged. After having the ring 6 days I started asking questions about how our families would mesh, our lifestyles, and he blew...said why couldn't I just go with it, just be happy to be marrying him... He took the ring back, said he was going to date right away! After a week he was a sorry. I told him I would not take the ring back again unless he madeit a gift. He was using something so precious as a weapon. So he agreed. We started over. 6 months later I found out he had a ad online and was writing 5 other women for dates. He lied up until I showed him the hard copy. Swore he would never do it again. I made him write all those women and tell them he was engaged..... He seemed so sorry... So I tried to forgive again...

I am sure you are beating your head against a wall by now! Rollercoaster continued. We would break up and he would instantly have a date off the net, or pick up someone in a grocery store. 1.5 years later we have a disagreement....mind you we have been to a counselor since the first instance who bailed on us because again he reached out to the internet to some woman after promising the counselor he wouldn't. anyway we had this disagreement....nothing big....I figured he would just cool off.

Then I find out from a friend that he wrote her friend for a date using his youngest son's email address. He even sent a photo...while I am sporting the ring.... we broke off for about six weeks, then I agreed to try and trust him...mind you I have left out some other instances because as I read this ...its sounding so bizaar... I was unsuccessful in trying to trust for the last 8 months. My gut instinct said he was back to writing women again. We argued at xmas 2000 and again I thought he was going to come around... Normal people can disagree and cool off... Why I kept thinking he could do this is beyond me... Yes I am one on those you listed thinking there is so much potential here, it could work, ta da ta da ta da.......WRONG! So the week before xmas we don't speak. Unbeknowst to me until 5 weeks ago.... he had reached out again to some woman in San Francisco and went there and spent the night at her house.... I would have never known...

When I confronted him, he laughed, said "what I do when we are on a break is my business" Well I can see that my forgiving and accepting his past behaviors allowed him to think this was going to fly .... I broke off with him 5 weeks ago. I know I can't fix it, I know that it would never work.... I called his ex wife who told me he did this the last 2 years of her marriage...the internet thing. I called the girlfriend before me and she said she woke up one time to find him on the net at 4 am. The signs were there.... unplugging his phone when she visited...She finally looked at his email to find letters from all sorts of women...

I loved this man so much and realize he was incapable of a committed relationship. He blamed me for everything he did... If you could have been nice to me, you should have, could have, look what I have done for you, if you can't say something without me feeling remotely accused...keep your mouth shut... blame the victim... The problem is I doubt myself. Have sought out counseling...I am over here hurting while he is juggling women (he is a sociopath) He feels fine cause he has replaced me.....he doesn't have to deal with the loss. I invested 3.5 years with this man and I don't know how to stop hurtintg. Its been 5 weeks and I feel like some addicted person who can't turn off the tears..... I have been married before, and never dealt with lies, and betrayal....its just to difficult to stomache... How do or when do I stop hurting..??? I don't think throwing myself into something else for instant gratification is the right thing to do.... My self esteem is pretty beat... Any suggestions......

Dear Hurting,

Of course you're hurting. You found out that you wasted 3½ years with a man who can't be faithful. He wasn't faithful to you or any of the women before you.

Congratulate yourself. At least you didn't marry him and ruin your life. You were smart enough to call his ex-wife and his ex-girlfriend and find out that his behavior wasn't personally directed toward you, it was just his business as usual.

Sure it's annoying that he's not hurting and you are. Sure you feel terrible because he's got someone else who he's also cheating on, you can be certain. The good news is that you will get over it. Right now, it feels like you never will, but five weeks just isn't enough time to recover from a 3½ year relationship. It could take as long as 1½ years for you to fully recover.

Have you asked your doctor about anti-depressant medication? It's possible that you could be helped with one of the new medications like prozac or zoloft.

Basically though, the reason it takes so long for most people to recover from a broken heart is that there are certain things that have to happen for that recovery to occur. People think there is nothing they can do to get over a broken heart, that only time can heal, which is not entirely true.

I recommend my book, "Letting Go, A 12-Week Personal Action Program To Overcome A Broken Heart." It's available in paperback from Amazon.com or your local bookstore. In it you will learn steps to take that will help you get over your broken heart and get on your way to a healthy relationship with a man who can be faithful.

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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