"Ask Dr. Tracy"

5/14/2000 Advice Column


Deserves To Be Married
In Love With an Ex
Climbing the Wrong Rock




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 29 and my boyfriend is 36. I think its time to make a committment but I'm not sure he is ready. We have been together for over 2yrs and living together for 1 1/2yrs. We both have been married before. I know this is part of why he is hesitant because of his bad experience but I figure you have to go on and we both are happy to be together. I just want a committment.

We have talked about it and he says that he wants to be with me for the rest of his life but it never happens. When people ask him about it and say well when are you going to marry her he laughs and makes jokes about it. Well this kind of hits a soft spot with me. He has a son that lives with us half of the time and I'm like the step mom but I don't seem to get the credit that I deserve for this it seems like it is expected of me. I feel like I'm a convenience for him. I don't know whether I should just be patient or give him an ultimatium? I don't want to waste any more time if this is the way it is going to stay.

What should I do?

Dear Convenience,

If you feel like he's using you for as a convenience, it's no wonder you're worried. After all, you've been together two years and living together almost that whole time. He certainly should know by now whether he wants to marry you or not.

I don't blame you for being upset that he thinks it's a joke when people ask when he's going to marry you. What I wonder though, is what you do when this happens. I have the feeling that you just act like it's okay instead of getting furious and letting him know you don't think it's funny at all and that you're really hurt by his behavior. By not making an issue of things, you set yourself up to be taken for granted. Next time he makes a joke of getting married let him know in no uncertain terms that you don't think it's at all funny. Tell him how you really feel.

This is not a matter of giving an ultimatum; it's a matter of demanding what you want and deserve. Stand up for yourself. Tell him you want to be married and you're not going to wait forever. Never let him make a joke about marrying you. Right now, you're fulfilling all the duties of a wife without having any marital status or protection. The longer you let things go on this way, the more entitled he'll think he is to having the status quo.

You often have to be willing to risk the relationship to get what you want. Think of it as negotiating techniques, step one. You have to be willing to walk away. He'll sense if you're not. Then tell him exactly what you want. Let him know that nothing short of engagement and marriage this year will do.

Don't be patient. That'll just give him the impression that your patience is endless. You may even have to go so far as leaving him to bring him to his senses, but if nothing else works, that often does. Make him uncomfortable and risk a confrontation. Tell him you deserve to be married and you're not going to settle for less. After all, you do deserve a husband, don't you?

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I dated a guy in high school for over four years. After we broke up a month later we were both dating someone else and ended up marrying them. Also, his sister and I became best friends. Aside from that, it has been 5 1/2 yrs since we broke up, but we would go to lunch as friends during that time. I now have 3 kids and he has 1. He is getting divorced and I'm in a hopeless relationship...my husband is 40 and I am 26...he has had 2 previous wives and cheated on them both. He also started a non-sexual(so they said) relationship 2 months after the birth of my 2nd baby. It ended after I found out a month later. He also has a deep problem with lying about anything and everything. Needless to say, I have no trust, or respect for my husband...I believe I am only here for my kids and because I have not worked in over 4 yrs. I'm scared.

Meanwhile, I started having an affair about 3 months ago with my ex-boyfriend. We seem to still connect with one another about everything...he allows me to be myself and has always been a true and honest friend to me. We can talk about anything and not pass judgement on one another. I have always been in love with him and need some advice in dealing with this situation...believe me I worry about my kids before anything else...but I'm miserable in the everyday life that I live. Main problem is that I don't have any friends and I feel all alone...my husband treats me like his kid. Thanks for listening.

Dear Scared,

It's time you stopped being afraid and took action. You are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Being afraid is no excuse for staying in an unhappy, hopeless marriage with a man you don't trust or respect.

Of course, now that you're having an affair with your ex-boyfriend, you're living a lie too -- as bad as the lies your husband told. You won't respect yourself either if you continue to live this lie. Plus, it's just a matter of time before your husband finds out and things get really ugly. Put this affair on hold while you get your life straightened out.

You need to start by getting a job, even if it's just part time to start with. That way you'll be able to earn money on your own. You also need to see a divorce lawyer and find out where you stand legally. Staying in an unhappy marriage for the sake of your children won't be doing them any great favors. They'll learn that it's okay to be untrue to yourself and others. They'll also be deprived of the real you - the happy, nurturing person you could be, if you weren't so busy being miserable.

You need to make some new friends immediately. Join a woman's group. Take a class. Meanwhile, stop letting your husband be your boss and your parent. You may have to put up with him for a little while longer, so stop acting like a kid, and he'll be less likely to treat you like one.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy




Dear Dr. Tracy,

Recently I met an incredible woman who I would like to get to know better. Our first encounter was a chance opportunity to climb together. I am an experienced climber and she was entrusted to me by a staff member at our local gym to introduce her to the sport. I put aside my hormonal instincts (which usually cause me to lock up) and the result was a mutually pleasant evening. When the time came for her to leave I resisted the urge to ask her out on a formal date opting instead to ask if she would like to climb together again. She said she would and could be expected the next Tuesday; no phone numbers were requested or given. A long week passed and unfortunately she was a no show.

Now the real trouble begins. During our evening, among other things,work was discussed. Feeling that this woman was too good not to give a full effort, I made the sticky decision to call her at work and invite her to lunch. This was probably over the line but I sincerely believe she to be the type I have longed to meet for many logical and unlogical reasons. To my surprise she wasn't all that startled but with a quick "I'm sorry, I can't"she refused my offer. For the next second the was an uncomfortable silence. Trying quickly to come up with a response,my mind was scrambled when she blurted out that she would, however ,be interested in climbing together later in the week. I thought my heart stopped and managed a shaky "sure, WHEN. "In consideration to her busy schedule (she works several jobs) told her I would confirm with her the day before and she requested I call her again at work (not offering a home phone number. ) I hung up shortly afterwards thinking I had secured a date.

Arrg ,cancellation stinks. Yep she canceled but I kept my cool and again another date was set. Cancellation really stinks. Again another date was set. Ahh, finally , three weeks later we had a "date". I'm not sure if it was because of the emotional rollercoaster ride or what but that evening went allright but it was just that. I was stiff and she a bit distant. Under the circumstances I didn't feel the opportunity to request a formal date but did inform her that I enjoyed her company and would like the chance to climb with her again. Again she responded positively to the invitation. We haven't climbed since.

I have called her a handful of times over the last several months and dates have been set and repeatedly broken yet my resolve hasn't. I believe it is not her nature to lead someone on ,in fact I find her "just the facts" personality alluring. I tend "mirror" her in our conversations so they are awkwardly short. I have asked her if I am "bugging " her to which she'll reply with a chuckling "no".

There are many reasons that I can see why I might not appeal to her, primarily because, (although I'm no troll) like most women who interest me, she is not physically drawn to me; I find her very attractive. To draw this long story to an end, I would like to know if A) I'm kidding myself. B) How to better approach her. C) Perhaps she is going through a needed period of self reliance and wishes to be uninhibited by even the simplest commitments outside of ones which have a historical importance to her (she seems to schedule friends over our dates). D) Run with it; you tell me.

Dear Climber,

When a woman breaks dates, it usually means she's not interested in you. When she breaks dates over and over again, it certainly means she's not interested in you.

It may not be in her nature to lead someone on, but she may have another agenda. She may have a boyfriend and not want to hurt your feelings. She may not be turned on by you and doesn't want to tell you that. She may be gay and doesn't want to tell you that either. Maybe she's decided she hates climbing and doesn't want to tell you that.

In any case, it seems she's not going to give you a direct no, perhaps because she's secretly flattered by the attention, but it should be clear that she's not going to tell you yes either.

If she, and most women you're interested in, don't find you attractive, then you're picking the wrong women to be interested in, and you're setting yourself up to be rejected over and over again. If you really want a woman, pick one who seems to find you attractive and accepts your invitations to go on dates. (Read When Love Happens Easily in my Library.) If a woman cancels more than once, you can be sure you're wasting your time and energy.

Just because this woman was willing to climb with you once doesn't mean she's willing to have a relationship with you. All the signs point to A) You're kidding yourself.

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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