"Ask Dr. Tracy"

5/7/2000 Advice Column

Dances For Wolves
Mooning Over A Dead Ex
Sex For Fun

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 22 year old woman, never married, no children. I work as an adult dancer, and am only working as one as a means to save lots of money while I am in school.

I have been dating a 33 year old man for about 4 months now. He is a wonderful person and I have to say, he is becoming one of my best friends. When we are together, things are very natural and relaxed, and we are always able to laugh together. This is a person who I am sure could love me and I know I could love him. I know we are both eventually interested in settling down and having a family.

I only have one problem. He is in debt. He "owns" his own business, which he started up 2 years ago. It hasn't really caught on, I guess, because he consistently has to borrow money from his parents. He rarely has money to take me out, although he manages every few weeks, so I know he is trying. He does not seem to spend his money on frivolous things, yet he still need to borrow money from his parents quite often, for home repairs and things of that nature. This bothers me for a few reasons.

First, I am 11 years younger than him, yet I have a substantial amount in savings. Granted, I realize my job enables me to make quick cash, but when the subject came up the other day, he mentioned he only has a few hundred dollars to his name. I wonder what this says about his level of responsibility.

When I offered to help him budget, he was not willing to let me help him. I know his business is going through some slow times, but shouldn't he be trying to save and pay off his debts?

I guess my main problem is that I have seen him behave very irresponsibly with money. I am not a gold-digger...I make enough money on my own. But I think he is someone I would like to settle down with and hopefully marry someday. Should I be concerned with his financial situation, and if so, do you have any advice on how to approach the subject and hopefully help him with this problem?

Dear Dancer,

Of course you're not a gold-digger -- there's nothing wrong with looking for a man who's responsible. A 33-year-old man who can't pay his bills is in trouble. If you're thinking of getting serious about him, of course you should be concerned.

It's possible his troubles are temporary. Sometimes businesses start slow and then take off (more often, though, they fail). Sometimes home repairs are required at the worst time, and some families have a tradition of helping with loans. But what's really troubling about this guy is that he seems to be in denial about his situation.

He only has a few hundred dollars to his name, and yet he "behaves very irresponsibly"? He's borrowing from his parents, and yet he won't let you help him budget? It sounds to me like he's out of touch with reality.

And I'm not sure what you're thinking either. You sound level-headed; you must realize that if you were to marry a man with financial problems, it's likely that they would become yours. It's almost certain that he would behave as irresponsibly with your joint bank accounts as he does with his own. He may be fun to know and a good friend, but at this point he's a lousy prospect for a husband and life partner. You've made sacrifices to save up the money you have -- dancing for a living isn't always easy or nice. Don't let anyone threaten the savings you've acquired.

If you're determined to think seriously about this guy despite all the red flags waving, you'll have to take charge. Don't let him hide his finances from you. If you're really going to be a part of his life, it's important to find out exactly where he stands with money. Money problems are one of the biggest obstacles to successful relationships.

Don't spend your money for the two of you and insist that he not spend money either. Make dates that don't cost anything. Eat in. Picnic in the park. Walk on the beach. If he wants to do something expensive, just refuse. He won't like this, but you've got to make it clear that he has to be able to take care of himself before he can spend money on dates.

He'll never be able to run a successful business if he can't budget. Just living a successful life requires budgeting. You've got to insist that he face financial reality by budgeting in both his business and his personal life.

Getting a man who's this irresponsible with money to turn his attitude around is a major undertaking. He may not be willing to undergo such a turnaround, especially at the hands of a 22-year-old woman. If he won't agree to a plan to improve his situation, to save and become fiscally responsible, you should drop him as a marriage prospect.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been divorced for 5 years and I was married for 13 years and have two beautiful boys. Well my ex-husband just passed away. Why do I now feel so much love for him? I have even broken up with my boyfriend of 6 months and do not want to deal with anyone or anything else. I thought all my love for him was over?

Please help, I don't know what to do?

Dear Mooning Mourner,

I can understand why the death of your ex could get you upset and make you feel so much love for him, even though you divorced him five years ago. You are suffering because of some interesting things that happen when we suddenly have to deal with a past relationship.

One is that we all look at the past with rose-colored glasses. We forget the pain, the problems, the anguish we had in the past. That's nature's way of protecting us from feeling all the pain we've ever had all the time. So you're thinking of all the wonderful times you had with him and missing those times. Your ex has taken on a rosy glow that eclipses all the negative memories of him.

Another thing is that you are mourning for your lost youth, the lost past that seems to be gone forever. Which of course it is. A death close to you takes away, for a time, your hopes and dreams that the past is still alive and that you can rekindle the best parts of it at some time in the future.

Thirteen years is a long time to share with someone, and you may be feeling those old feelings you had when you were young and in love and hadn't faced life's real problems. No wonder you've kicked out your boyfriend of six months. How can he compete with a ghost that's now turned perfect through the rosy hue with which you're seeing your past and your ex?

It's time to accept the present and let the past go. You'll never feel the same with your new boyfriend as you felt with your first love. That was then; this is now. There's nothing wrong with remembering the past fondly, but there is a time to let it go.

Try writing a last love letter to your ex, saying all the things you're thinking. Take it to one of your favorite places, tear it up, let the pieces go in the wind and say a final good-bye. You probably didn't get a chance to do that.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a twenty-three year old women who has not had much experience with relationships of any kind. So I don't know how to deal with the situation that I am currently facing. About 6 months ago, I got involved much a twenty-eight man. I was working at a hotel and he traveled for business. At this time, I was very lonely and my sister had almost died in a car accident a couple of weeks before. So when he came and told me how beautiful and how great I was, I thought he would save me from my sadness. I went out with him and we ended up back in his room. By the second night, I had lost my virginity to him. As soon as this happened he said that he and I could not have a relationship because of his traveling and that it was just fun. He told me I could not have his home phone number or address because he was never there. Well after a couple more nights together, he split and didn't call me for a few weeks. When he finally did call it was only to meet him and while he was in town for the night. After this I didn't hear from him for about 4 months.

During this time, there were many rumors and problems due to the relationship with a guest on the job. I also ended up dropping out of school and becoming really depressed. I ended up losing my job, not related to him but some other carelessness. So being down I decided to contact him again. I wrote him an e-mail telling him to give me a call some time and saying I still think of him. To my surprise he called me and told me that he still thinks of me and wants me come down and see him. But I also got a lot more information out of him that I was not aware of before.

It seems that he is living with a women in his hometown and that's why I could not have his phone number or address. He said he had been very guilty about what had happened between us and that is why he had not contacted me. He also told me that he and she only have a business relationship because he lives in 200 miles away and only sees her 1 a week. He said that if I called and told he would lose everything: money, house and his son. You see the reason why he told me everything is because I told him that I had his number and address and wanted him to tell the truth. Because he had lied about so many things I just don't know what to think. He admitted it was a bad situation and I don't even want to get involved. I was supposed to go down to visit him today, but I don't know what to do. Now a lot of things are scaring me because I know I am in way over my head. But for some reason, I can't help myself and afraid I will fall into this trap again. Please advise on what would be my best thing to do in this situation. I did not know that a little fun would cause so much pain.

Dear Inexperienced,

When you lose your virginity to someone, it's not for fun, at least not from your point of view. And the man who took your virginity and then told you it was "just sex for fun," is cruel and insensitive.

You were in a vulnerable position, worried about your sister and feeling lonely, and he took advantage of you. There's nothing more seductive than a man who tells you you're beautiful and great, but this guy shows signs of being very unavailable. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he is more than "living with" a woman. He could very well be married with children.

Now that you've lost your job and dropped out of school, you have even more need for something to fill the void in your life. But don't go visit this out-of-town virgin-snatcher. There are lots of men who travel on business and think, "Out of town doesn't count." These are the same guys who think, "Old girlfriend's don't count," and "Sex just for fun doesn't count," but if you asked the woman he lives with, she'd have a different story, I guarantee you.

He's told you too many lies. If he's worried about losing his house, his money and his son, then he's probably got a wife.

Be smart. Don't visit him. Don't email him. Don't see him or talk to him again. You made one bad decision, but you don't have to make more. Instead, fill your life with positive activities. Go back to school. Get a new job. Find a new boyfriend.

Losing your virginity to a man tends to make you think you're in love with him and should spend more time with him. A woman always remembers her first, but there's no reason you have to have an ongoing relationship with him just because he was first.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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