Baby Comes First
Dear Dr. Tracy,
My ex-girlfriend left for the Pacific Northwest in search of a better place to live. This ended our 5 year relationship as I did not want to give up my job or sell my house. I knew something about the area because of my work and I knew this particular area to be one of poor career opportunities and tried but failed for her to look at this basic fact. She has now admitted to having made a mistake and would like to come back. During the 18 months that she has been gone I have been dating a girl from work, she is now pregnant with our child. I am still in love with my ex girlfriend who wants to get back together (she knows that I have been dating but is not aware of the baby).
Obviously my dilemma is that I am still in love with my ex but am racked with guilt regarding the baby and the mother. Should I put aside my feelings for the ex and marry the new girlfriend so as to raise the child in a two parent environment or am I kidding myself that I can forget about the ex and make the best of a new life?
At this point, your feelings arenít the most important thing. Youíve created a new life, and youíre responsible for that life. You will owe your child the support of a father until your child is of age. You owe the mother your support, emotionally and financially. And you owe your ex-girlfriend the truth before she comes back expecting things to be the way they were before.
You need to accept the fact that your life will never be the same again. No matter what woman you wind up with, youíll always have a child and that childís mother in your life. Itís quite possible that your old girlfriend will no longer think youíre as attractive with the new baggage youíve acquired.
Sure, you should raise your child in a two-parent environment. In the best of all possible worlds, every child would have two parents. However, you canít live a pretend life. If you really donít love the mother of your child, then donít marry her, even for your child. But donít think that because you arenít going to marry her, youíre off the hook and donít have to be a father.
If you think you are racked with guilt now, imagine how you will feel if you donít play the role you should in this childís life. How will you feel if you arenít there for your childís birth or birthdays or Christmas? If you desert the girl from work who is pregnant with your child, your guilt will go on and on.
You may or may not forget your ex, and your ex could very well make that decision for you when she finds out that you have fathered a child in her absence. Either way, your life will never be the same and neither will the lives of those two women.
You seem like an intelligent man. You are smart enough to know that when you have sex, you have to take precautions against an unwanted pregnancy. You obviously didn't, so you better tell your ex girlfriend the whole story. Right away. Youíve been more than ďdatingĒ -- youíve been procreating. Thereís a big difference.
When Fights Become Abuse
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I'm a 30 year old aspiring actress and just moved to LA from NYC in hopes of pursuing my life long dream. I met a man 7 years younger than me (an aspiring musician) about 9 months ago, only 2 months after I ended a four year relationship, and we started what seemed like a very beautiful relationship.
Despite our slight age difference, we found that we had a lot in common. We have similar upbringings, enjoy many of the same activities and find each other both physically and mentally stimulating.
The problem here is that soon into the relationship, the sweet, caring and respectful man that I had fallen in love with was being replaced by someone completely opposite. When we first started our relationship I was still living in NYC and he was living in CA studying audio engineering and with the whole time difference he would call me late at night, after his last evening class (2 AM EST), to have our daily conversations which lasted a couple of hours at least, but I didnít mind because I was ďso much in loveĒ. Of course, after a month or so of only getting 3-4 hours of sleep each night, I started cutting our conversations short and he wasnít very understanding of this. He wanted everything to remain the same, he wouldnít settle for less, regardless of how it was affecting me and my work. Our conversations, the only source of contact between the both of us, became very distressing to me and ceased being enjoyable. We eventually both spoke about how our communication had changed and we both chalked it up to distance. I was sure that once I was in LA, things would be different, better.
Well, initially that was true. We moved in together almost immediately (big mistake) and spent every minute possible together and things were good for a while. Then things became heated. We both donít share the same mind so its understandable that we wouldnít see eye to eye on everything. Well, when he gets upset, he doesnít handle things rationally. He calls me names, very disgusting names and I have never, ever experienced this in any of my previous relationships. Iím not a saint by any means, although I must admit that anything that I may have said in return to him is just in reaction to his behavior to me. Itís not only his foul mouth that bothers me, itís also his insane jealousy. Heís made me cut off my friendship with an ex whom I havenít seen in almost 3 years and we are just the best of friends, and any guy that approaches me is trying to get into my pants.
For example, I just moved in a couple of weeks ago into a new apartment and he was helping me. He had a job interview to go to and was not to be back for at least a couple of hours. Well, there were certain things in the apartment that I had questions about and I went to the leasing office to inquire about repairs and such. The agent wanted to see for himself the things that I was talking about and went back with me to my apartment. A couple of minutes later, my boyfriend arrives and sees the agent in the kitchen looking at my stove and I greet him lovingly and ask him about his interview. He was furious. He couldnít understand why this man was in my apartment. I tried to explain but he wouldnít hear it. He actually went as far as to imply that I was flirting with this person and thatís why I had him up in my apartment...that I was planting seeds for future cheating opportunities. I broke up with him that day because I was tired of all of the name calling and insinuations. He then, after a long, heated discussion, broke down and told me that heís just insanely jealous and wanted me to please work with him. I agreed to work with him and took him back.
Now, periods of beautiful love and friendship are interrupted by arguing, name calling (still) and just recently at 2 AM we got into such a heated argument in bed because he was upset that earlier in the day I had told him that I would "please" him and now, I didn't want to. I guess I should also add that the only reason I said yes was to get him to stop belly aching about it...but the truth is is that I was sick and nauseated all day to the point that I hadn't eaten all day. I tried explaining this to him but he didn't want to hear it. I got so upset that I got up and attempted to take off his jogging pants in order to "please" him so he could shut up and we could both go to sleep. Well, in the process of trying to take off his pants...I accidentally ripped them. He then shoves me off of him using his foot against my stomach and I concede. I go back to my side of the bed and he in turn, gets up, takes off his pants, stands above me and proceeds to slap me across my face with his pants, repeatedly. I started to scream for him to stop and he eventually does. My downstairs neighbor actually left a note in my mailbox asking if I was okay because she heard me screaming the night before.
He apologized...eventually. His apology seemed genuine and I want to believe him because I love him. But I don't want to be one of those women on day time talk shows that cry after having endured years of mental and emotional abuse from their lovers and everyone wants to throttle because she is so dense to be withstanding such drama. I've only had three serious relationships in my life, all long term, and all ended very sadly. In each relationship, I hung in there because I saw the potential of change...change that never happened. To add insult to injury, they are all now in relationships that seem to be flourishing above and beyond anything I ever had with any of them. I can't help but think that the problem is ultimately me. I admit to feeling lonely and the prospect of being all alone in a new place makes me cling to this love that isn't the most "ideal". What I would like to know if there is a way to work beyond the damage that has already occurred in my present relationship. He states that he wants to marry me in a year or so and part of me loves the idea, and another part of me cringes at the thought. I was married at a very young age and divorced two years later so the next time I marry needs to be with the "long haul" man. I would welcome any advice you can give me.
Thanks for reading my long-winded letter... Still Hopeful in LA
Dear Still Hopeful,
In this relationship, hope will destroy you. You canít stay in an abusive relationship with a man who canít work out problems and ďhopeĒ that things will improve.
Youíre 30, ready to settle into a committed relationship. Heís a 23-year-old musician. I guarantee you that heís not ready to settle down. If he becomes successful, he'll have groupies throwing themselves at him. If he doesn't, he'll be tormented. Either way, you'll be vainly hoping heíll grow up and stop being jealous and abusive.
A man who refuses to work through problems is impossible to live with. Anybody can be nice when things are going smoothly. You have to look at a man when things get tough to see what heís really like. The way a person acts under stress is the best indicator of their true personality.
Heís selfish, immature and irrational. He calls you disgusting names and has slapped you across the face repeatedly with his pants because you didnít perform sexually exactly the way he wanted and when he wanted.
You say this is part of your pattern Ė that you find unfulfilling relationships and hang in there waiting for change that doesnít happen. You should know that people donít change easily. In most cases, what you see is what youíll get. Change takes years of hard work and a true desire to change. It also sometimes requires hard lessons.
Now youíre the one who has to change. You have to stop choosing men who need to change for you to be able to be happy with them. Instead, find a man who is okay just the way he is.
Men who have abused you verbally once will abuse you verbally again. Men who have hit you once will hit you again. Apologies mean nothing -- even sincere apologies, complete with tears. The next time he gets stressed, it will be easier for him to abuse you. The fact that he abused you and you stayed with him has already taught him that he can get away with being an abuser.
Donít be foolish. Get out of this relationship. Take a chance on being alone. Itís not that hard to meet people in L.A. Go to classes, find a hobby, join a group. Without the burden of an abusive jealous live-in boyfriend, youíll have a better life.
Ladies Love Outlaws
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am 21 and have always been attracted to the "bad boy" type. The only thing I
get is a broken heart. I know what is going to happen when I get
involved with this type of guy. For some reason I still notice myself
going after the "bad boy" type. Is there any way I can change my
prefernce in men? If there is, please tell me, help me.
Dear ďBad BoyĒ Lover,
Bad boys are especially exciting to you because youíre not ready for marriage. When a woman starts to think about finding a man to spend the rest of her life with, when she thinks about a man who will make a good father and husband and whom she can trust, she suddenly realizes bad boys wonít do.
Bad boys are exciting because you canít trust them. You never know what theyíll do. But when you are sharing your checkbook with someone, you want to be able to trust that person.
Of course you wind up with a broken heart from your bad boys. But right now, you crave excitement, not security. When you want security more than you want excitement, when you want someone you can depend on to be there for you, youíll begin to choose differently.
Bad boys are usually good in bed, thatís why women put up with their lousy behavior. Also, just the thrill of being with a bad boy can make sex even more delicious. After all, the forbidden fruit is always sweeter, isnít it? Unfortunately, bad boys stand you up, cheat on you and break your heart.
Your preference in men will change automatically when your goals change. When you want a man for life instead of to play with, youíll find yourself attracted to a different type of man.
To change your preferences, think about the qualities that make a man really valuable -- integrity, trustworthiness, loyalty and the ability to love. Ask yourself if that ďbad boyĒ is someone with true inner qualities. Youíll find that his attractions are superficial at best.
Most women outgrow their attraction to bad boys. Some women don't, and it ruins their lives. Donít let that happen to you.