"Ask Dr. Tracy"

6/4/2000 Advice Column

Swinger's Dance
Boyfriend in the Wings
Mother-in-Law From Hell

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 40 year old divorced woman. I've been dating a man my age for a couple months (a year ago we dated for a couple months - took a haitus, and then found our way back to each other).

One of the things I like about him is his sexual nature. There's nothing I would feel shy about doing or asking him. Last year, I asked him if he would take me to a stripper bar - I'd never been, and I was curious. We went, and it was a fun, adventure (to say nothing of the sex that followed the appetizer!).

Now he's asked me if I would go to a Swinger's Dance with him. It's a large, private group that meets once a month. Couples only. He went once before with an old girlfriend. He says there's no pressure to do anything, and we certainly wouldn't end up in a hotel room having sex with strangers. He says it's fun and flirty.... that you can be provocative in a safe enviornment.... kind of like our adventure of going to the stripper bar.

I'm not that eager to go and be pawed by someone I don't know. And I can't imagine that watching him nibble some other woman's neck would be that much fun for me. But..... he says the call is entirely mine. If we go and I want to leave, it's not a problem.

What do you think? Should I go once just for the experience?

Dear Curious,

There's no reason why, at the age of 40, you shouldn't do just about anything you want to do, and that includes going to a "Swinger's Dance" with your fella. You're way over 21, you're not too inhibited to ask him to take you to a strip bar, so why shouldn't you go with him to a "Swinger's Dance"? I definitely think you should go just for the experience, and who knows, you might really enjoy it.

If you thought the sex was great after the appetizer of the strip club, believe me, a swinger's dance is even more exciting. It's charged with sexuality, and many couples don't do a thing but go to get an appetizer for their main course at home.

Of course, one difference between a strip club and a swing dance is that he probably wouldn't be welcome at the swinger's dance by himself, so if he wants to go, he needs you as an entree. Another difference is your concern about being pawed. However, that's unlikely.

Most swinger's dances don't allow indiscriminate pawing. Swinger's clubs have very well-enforced rules about not touching someone unless you're specifically invited to do so. Many times there will be a special room for touching whomever you want, and as long as you stay out of that room, you won't be bothered. Swingers aren't sleazy, like many people imagine - they're schoolteachers, doctors, lawyers, secretaries and computer programmers who like sexual adventure. And with sexual adventure all around, why would someone paw an unwilling lady?

Since your guy's sexual nature is one of the things that attracts you to him, you really can't expect him to be uninterested in sexual happenings. However, before you agree to go to the "Swinger's Dance," set some rules such as, you say when and whether you leave or stay. Neither of you will indulge with others, unless you both agree to. You'll stay together at all times; no wondering away and leaving you. And you'll have a secret signal that means, "I'm uncomfortable as hell and want to get away from these people."

One interesting statistic about swinging is that the men who convince their girlfriends to go to a "Swing Dance" or other swinger's event often wind up enjoying it less than the woman they brought. One of the best sources for information about swinging is American Swingers Guide to the Swinging Lifestyle.

Stop dragging your heels.

Good luck and have fun,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I feel like a complete idiot writing to you, but I feel that I am losing my mind. I have been married for 10 years to a very controlling, hot tempered man who is very overweight and absolutely no fun. There is a 10 year age difference between us, (I am 31) and while it didn't seem like a big deal at the time, it shows now. He is boring and out of shape, etc. My problem is this. About two years ago my husband hired a man from England to come to work for us. (We live in Tennessee, so you can imagine how common that is!) He was cute and charming and very funny. He and I hit it off instantly. We seemed to have every thing in common. He is very sexy too in a off beat way. I never saw myself as someone who would be appealing to a man like him. So I was shocked when one night we were at a club (introducing him to my friend) and he let me know he was infatuated with me. To make a long story short, we immediately embarked on a torrid affair and I believed no one in the history of the world had felt such passion or love in their life times. I thought for sure we would get married and run off into the sunset. About one year into our affair, I moved into my own apartment, ready to divorce and marry this man. One week after my move, my boyfriend decided he wanted to have me all to himself and he moved in too. I have two children so this was a very awkward, hidden relationship. It put a strain on us.

The problem that I am writing to you about is this. This man is very funny, sexy, lovable, etc., however, he has many problems and I don't know if I am overreacting about them. First, he is not a legal citizen of this country, he has no green card, files no taxes, etc. Second, he drinks every day and smokes pot every day. I don't do these things and felt that over time, I would totally resent it. The year that we lived together, he never paid rent, bought groceries, etc. He left it all to me to pay. He is very irresponsible and needed me to co-sign his car, give him loans, etc.

I went back to my husband even though I do not love him because I felt he was more "secure" than this man. I never lost touch with my boyfriend. My husband found out about our relationship and lost his temper but doesn't want a divorce. My boyfriend however has gotten tired of waiting for me and told me that many women want him and even though he is heartbroken, he is going to move on with his life, because he is so handsome and wonderful, he can get any woman. I have decided to clean up my life and either save my marriage or end it for the "right reasons" rather than because I have a boyfriend in the wings.

Why, then, can't I stop thinking about this man? I feel absolutely heartbroken but my head keeps telling me that he was really a loser. But I have this horrible feeling that if I don't have him, no one will ever love or even like me again.

Why do you think I feel this way? Why would a grown woman be so smitten with someone who is obviously not good for me, for my children, for my entire life? Any help you could give would be wonderful.

Dear Heartbroken,

There's no accounting for love. You can love a loser, even if you know he's no good for you and you'll never be satisfied with him. And this guy sounds like he has so many problems you don't want to deal with - he has no green card, files no taxes, drinks and smokes pot daily, has no money and doesn't contribute at all. That'd be hard to explain to your children. Plus you don't want to support him forever.

Some guys are great to have affairs with, but horrible people to live real life with. Your boyfriend sounds like one of those.

However that doesn't mean that you won't yearn for him, mostly to escape the horrible situation with your husband. Of course someone will love you again, but you have to get away from the controlling boring husband whom you no longer love before you'll find someone to have a healthy relationship with. Staying with your husband for security is a sad life and you'll be ready to jump into the arms of the next sexy loser who shows up, just to get away from your unhappy marriage. Staying with a hot-tempered husband who's no fun will get worse and worse, and you'll be driven to even worse losers than the flaky Brit.

Before you can find someone who you can be passionate with and who can also be a responsible contributing partner and surrogate parent to your children, you need to get your life together. See a divorce lawyer and find out your rights. Just because your husband doesn't want a divorce doesn't mean that you should stay with him. Marriages that last need more than financial security; they need respect and love, and yours has neither. Get out while you're still young enough to start over.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 28 years old female and I have been engaged for 1 year and 8 months. I have been having problems with my mother-in-law for quite a while, she watches every move I make and she criticizes me all the time. But now she is saying outloud that she doesn't like me and that she doen't want me to marry her son. We tried everything to make her change her mind but she doesn't want to listen.

My parents aren't confortable with the situation anymore and they want us ( me and my fiance) to do something about it. What do you think should we do? Should we break up? or should we go on with our wedding plans, especially that we are going to live in the same building where his mom lives?


Dear Confused,

It's a rare bride who's the apple of her mother-in-law's eye. Most mothers think there's nobody good enough for their precious sons, and there's very little anyone can do to change their minds.

All you can do is grin and bear it. Don't try to win her over, you'll just fail and wind up more miserable and rejected than before. Give up trying to get her to change her mind, because no matter what you say or do, she won't. If she's at all like my mother-in-law, or many other mother's-in-law I know about, she'll never like you, so why make yourself crazy trying to get her approval. And don't take it personally. She'd find fault with any woman her son bought home.

Your fiance should learn to say, "It's apparent that you don't like my choice, however, I'm going to marry the woman I love and that's all there is to it. If you loved me, you'd be happy for me."

You have to tell your parents that there's nothing you can do about his mother and you'll try to avoid her as much as possible. Then do exactly that. If your fiance goes to visit her, let him do it alone. Stay away from her. Don't give her a chance to be mean and hurtful to you.

Of course you shouldn't break up or postpone your wedding plans. You're an adult and you're entitled to your happiness. But you shouldn't live in the same building where his mom lives under any circumstances. That's asking for trouble. Find somewhere else to live and live happily ever after.

Who knows, miracles happen. Maybe after you have children she'll turn into a loving grandmother. Until then, stay out of her way.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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