Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Nice Guys Finish Last
An Affair to Forget
His Clock is Ticking

Nice Guys Finish Last

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have heard that women will create conflict in a relationship to “test” a man’s ability to fight back. Apparently, if a guy apologizes or gives in during a “test” he is considered unworthy and either dumped or treated poorly.

The reason this concerns me is that I recently had a bad breakup. At first she was very nice to me and the relationship was great. Then about 3 months into the relationship she suddenly started having temper tantrums. I’m a nice guy so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I assumed that it was a result of hormones or stress from work. I was very patient and forgiving. When she acted aggressively I would ask her what was wrong. Usually, I would apologize for whatever was upsetting her. Shortly afterwards she broke up with me in a fit of rage.

So I wonder. Did I fail her test? Did she see me as weak and undesirable for apologizing whenever she felt hurt by what I did? Are nice guys like me undesirable?

Dear Mr. Nice Guy,

Yes, women do test men. Men also test women. Actually, people test other people all the time. We test to see if you can be trusted. Will you call when you say you will? Will you show up where you say you're going to be when you say you're going to be there? And biggest test of all, do you have a spine, or are you a doormat?

Nobody, man or woman, really wants a doormat. We want a partner with spunk. We want someone who's willing and able to lovingly stand up to us and tell us when we're wrong or out of line. We want someone who we can trust to stand for something - their own personal ethics. Not to just cave at the first sign of trouble.

We also want a man who has a strong sense of self and self-esteem. If a man really thinks he's valuable, he doesn't let a woman abuse him. The same for a woman. If she has self-esteem, she doesn't put up with abuse or aggressive behavior.

Unfortunately, it's human nature to aggress upon others as much as they will let us. But that doesn't mean that we will still respect someone who lets us walk all over them.

Here's where you made your mistake. You let her get away with the very first temper tantrum and made up your own excuses for it -- hormones or stress. You meekly put up with it, instead of firmly saying "Hey, I'm sorry you're having a bad day, but you're not allowed to deal with it by screaming at me. Now either calm down or I'm outta here." In essence, you taught her that she can have tantrums with you and that you will still be there, still be nice, and not call her on her bad behavior. So you taught her to repeat the bad behavior.

You were too patient and too forgiving. If your new puppy nipped you, would you not swat or yell at the puppy or somehow let the puppy firmly know that biting is not allowed? Of course you would. And the puppy would learn not to bite you. Your girlfriend is probably smarter than a puppy. So when you didn't object to her temper tantrum she quickly learned to manipulate you by acting ever more aggressively.

You failed her test. You appeared weak and undesirable for constantly apologizing. Surely you weren't always wrong.

Nice guys like you are desirable. But even nice guys have to draw a line of self-respect in the relationship sands. Don't let anyone cross that line, not only because it's disrespectful to you, but also because you'll only lose out in the end when that person thinks you're too spineless.

Next time, be willing to risk the relationship. When a woman does something wrong, don't be so patient and forgiving. Let her know you deserve and require respect. Without respect there can be no love.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

An Affair to Forget

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Not too long ago, I had an affair with a neighbor of mine. He is married, in fact, this is his second marriage. He is his wife's third husband! I am also married. I have been for 15 years. I was always attracted to this guy, maybe love at first sight. Our affair wasn't very long, it only lasted for about three months. I would go to his house and have sex while his wife was at work. her kids were at school. she has three kids from two different marriages. he kept telling me not to fall in love with him. how stupid.

Eventually I realized he was using me for sex. I got upset with him and told his wife. I cussed him out, cussed her out, and was even mean to her kids. I sometimes find myself not being able to get over him though. I know it sounds dumb. They seem pretty happily married though that is what upsets me. I keep thinking how much he really is in love with her. I have made an ass out of myself over this because I sometimes would harrass him, yelling at him, calling him names. Please convince me he was an asshole.

Dear Used for Sex,

What on earth did you think he was using you for? When a married man tells you not to fall in love with him, that's an obvious message that he's only with you for recreational sex, not for emotional commitment.

What's amazing is that you went to his house to have sex while his wife was at work, then told his wife about it, cussed them both out, was mean to her kids, and you want me to convince you that he was the asshole? Frankly, you were both assholes, and you got what you deserve. You and he are both lucky that you're still married.

Right now, you need to get this whole sorry mess behind you. You're angry and want to get even, you want him to suffer. You want his marriage to suffer. You hate that he's in love with his wife and used you.

You're lucky that he and his wife haven't taken legal action against you for harassing them and making a general nuisance of yourself. Also, you never mention your own husband or the pain you've caused him. You'd better see a therapist and work on getting your head straight.

I suspect that you're looking for something to fulfill your life, and if that's the case, another woman's bed is not the place to look.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

His Clock is Ticking

Dear Dr. Tracy,

To the point...I'm 38, single, white, professional male, working in DC for the Gov't as a Budget and Financial Manager. I'm pretty athletic, very clean, attractive but not a GQ guy, rather someone you could picture in Sports Illustrated. A gemini with killer blue eyes with glasses. Following a divorce 7 years ago I went back to grad school acquiring a MBA while working. Am a very focussed and dedicated person with hobbies associated with the outdoors, riding a harley, and family....but no kids. Something that I'd like to have right now and feel my time is narrowing!

I met a lady 2 years ago thru the internet...our initial contact was good which immediately progressed to a camping trip with her family followed by several nice dates over the following next couple of months. She has a daughter who was 5 at the time. Our dates ended with some emptiness and eventually no phone calls. Over the past 1 1/2 years I've stayed in contact by calling and leaving short sweet "hi how are you" type phone messages and "thinking of you" once in a great while. Well 3 months ago she called while I was on a trip to Wyoming....we both live in Virginia but about an hour or more apart. We talked and talked...everything was rocking along really nicely like I had really been given a second chance. To test this I paid for a airline ticket bringing her to Boise Idaho for the long drive back to Virginia. She accepted and we had a great time. Now its been about 4 weeks and I've spent several weekends with her and her daughter. Have met her friend which I didn't good vibes from but chose to ignore them. Her parents and myself get along great...her dad even calls my cell to chit chat which I really like.

My father just passed and I'm just returning from the trip to find that she has decided that there is not chemistry on her part and she just wants to be friends. I feel like there is more between the two of us but have been given a cold shoulder....maybe just a case of cold feet? I'm not sure but here's what I did today and why I did it.

2 years ago I left the relationship with the idea that if I gave her plenty of space she would respond by chasing me...didn't happen.

Today, I chose to have a talk with her and lay all of my feelings out on the line without going as far as saying "I love you". Told her that I felt chemistry, could see a future, and wanted to have a relationship. But I didn't receive a positive response....she said that she did not share the same chemistry feeling and felt like we should only be friends. Back to square one in my oppinion....the same square that I had visited 2 years ago by being laid back and easy going.

Here's my question: what should I do? walk, talk, or forget? I really like this girl but feel like a ship without a compass in the middle of the ocean.

I hope you can give me some advice!

Dear Mr. Ready,

You're feeling that it's your time to get married and start a family. This woman has had two years to decide if you're the guy she wants to be with. Obviously, she has decided you're not the one.

So don't waste another moment. Take your Sports Illustrated physique and turn those killer blue eyes on someone who will appreciate you. When a woman says she just wants to be friends and that there's no chemistry for her, that's a crystal clear message that the magic just isn't happening. She's not attracted to you in a sexual way. You just don't turn her on. You're not her type. Who knows why? That's just the way it is.

I suggest you not waste your time even "being friends" with her right now. Instead, find a woman who thinks there's chemistry between the two of you. Then you won't be fighting another uphill battle.

To find that woman, you really should be dating more than one at a time. If you keep taking two years per woman to find out if there's strong mutual attraction, you may be 65 years old before you can start that family you want. Go out with several women at a time and see what develops with each. It takes more than chemistry to make a good relationship, of course, but chemistry is a must. If it doesn't kick in soon with someone, replace her in your lineup and keep moving. Dating more than one woman at a time will help your self-confidence, your selectivity, and -- in a subtle way -- your attractiveness to women in general.

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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