"Ask Dr. Tracy"

6/2/96 Advice Column

Tap-dancing on your heart,
Tightwad Boyfriend,
Ignored at parties

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm 22 and the guy I dated is 27. I met him about 3 years ago through my roommate at the time. We became really good friends and although I liked him there was never any hint that he liked me. I had lost track of him for the past 2 years and then one day last fall he called me out of the blue. We talked almost everyday on the phone and then eventually we started dating. Everything was going perfect, just like a fairytale and then about a month later he told me that his old girlfriend was back and he wanted to try it again with her.

So I thought it was over but then about 2 months later he calls to tell me he wanted a second chance. With everything going so good the first time of course I told him okay. We've supposedly been back together for 2 months but I have only seen him 5 times. If I call I leave a message for him to call me back and he never does.

So I wrote him a letter saying if he wanted it to be over then just to never call back. He called me asking why I wrote that letter and gave me all kinds of reasons why he's been so busy. He called a couple of times and I seen him once since that letter. He knows I'm ready to give up because he doesn't call and still I don't hear anything from him. I'm not calling him anymore but what do I do if he calls me back? I know he will and I'm so tired, my heart feels like a yo-yo. I don't know whether to give up on him or stick it out and hope it pays off in the long run.

Confused in Texas

Dear Confused,

You're confused because you're getting hot and cold messages from this guy and nothing will drive you crazy faster than that kind of behavior. He's a classic waffler who doesn't know what he wants.

This kind of guy will break your heart over and over again if you're stupid enough to keep letting him do it. Every time you take him back, you give him the message that it's okay to tap dance on your heart and you'll keep taking it because that's the kind of "victim female" you are. As a victimizing male, he'll be delighted to hurt you as many times as you let him.

Give him up right away. Don't talk to him. Don't write him letters. Don't see him. Pretend he's dead and treat him that way if you want to save yourself. He's toying with your emotions and that's not fair.

When this guy says he wants another chance, don't give it to him. Read "When to Get Out of a Relationship" in my Library and follow the links.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 27 and have been dating a 37 year old for a year and a half. He is a great to me except being too thrifty for my taste. He does not make that much money but for special occasions like my birthday I expect to go somewhere special maybe costing more than our usual date. I have told him about this and it does not seem to change anything. He is in the process of finding a better paying job, which I think he should have already had at his age. Everything else I like about him. I read some of your articles about "Being Perfect Except..." Since we have been dating this long should I date others for a while and still see him or just end it completely?

Dear Ms. Extravagant,

Your boyfriend's thriftiness won't go away. He won't become Mr. Extravagant, lavishing luxuries on you. On the other hand, if he does get a better job, he may loosen up just a little.

This isn't all bad. People like you who like to spend need someone in their life who thinks you can have fun without spending a lot of money. And guess what? You can. Where is it written that you have to have a fancy dinner out because it's your birthday?

The good news about your fella is that if you marry him, you can probably be sure he won't blow the family fortune at the track or on cheap booze and loose ladies.

The bad news is he may never make a lot of money, although I never advise marrying for money. After all, what if you marry a rich man who's just a little boring and he loses his money? Then he gets to be very boring.

Money is the cause of most couples' fights, especially when one is a tightwad and one is a spendthrift. If having lots of money and spending it freely is very important to you, I'd suggest that you find a way to make your own money to spend instead of thinking your boyfriend will change or you'll find a rich guy who's a liberal spender.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My boyfriend and I had our first argument this past weekend. The problem is this. Whenever we are at parties together, and he gets around his friends, I don't exist anymore. When we're with a small group, or alone, he is very affectionate and open, but in large groups, I feel very left out. We have a different group of friends, who I know, but not well enough to strike up a conversation with. I brought this problem to his attention, he had no clue what I was talking about, and he still doesn't. How do I explain to him how I feel? And then, what do we do about it?

Dear Ignored,

Nip this in the bud. Let him know you won't put up with being ignored. Tell him how it hurts you and how you feel left out. Tell him that if he really cares for you, he'll want you to be happy.

Give him some ideas of what he can do to make you feel included. Tell him you'd be happy if he tried to include you in conversations, if he noticed when you weren't there, if he put his arm around you or held your hand. Let him know there are many ways he can make you feel included.

Then, since he seems unaware of the situation when it occurs, set up a key word or phrase that will signal him without letting others know what you're talking about. For example, if you say something like, "Did you remember to call your mother? You asked me to remind you?" Or, "Did you feed the dog?" Or "Is it hot in here?" Or anything else that will be your private signal that you feel left out and need attention. You may have to do this several times, but he will learn.

To make sure your argument doesn't turn into a fight, read "Avoiding Fights" in my Library.

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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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