"Ask Dr. Tracy"

6/7/98 Advice Column


Dear Dr. Tracy,

I've recently become acquainted with a mysterious man. I don't know too much about him, however he is very inspiring and has made me feel good about myself by some of the things that he has said to me. I feel a strong connection to this man in some way and I believe that it may be some kind of an omen or sign. I enjoy this new encounter, however, I'm afraid that I may be having illusions; he seems to have an unusual way about him that I'm absolutely fascinated with. HERE'S THE THING THOUGH: THIS MAN IS MUCH OLDER THAN I. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO YOUNG WOMEN WHO ARE INFATUATED OR MAY HAVE UNUSUAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH OLDER MEN? SHOULD I BE FEARFUL OF BECOMING ATTACHED TO AN OLDER MAN? WOULDN'T I FEEL AWKWARD OR UNUSUAL BEING SEEN IN PUBLIC WITH "AN OLDER MAN"? I ENJOY BEING WITH THIS MAN, BUT I CAN'T IMAGINE BEING SEEN IN PUBLIC WITH HIM. WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE ON THIS MATTER?

Sincerely, Unsure

Dear Unsure,

My grandmother always used to say, "It's better to be an old man's sweetheart than a young man's fool." I can certainly understand your fascination with this older mysterious man. I knew some of those older mysterious men myself when I was younger, and it's always an adventure for a young woman to learn some sophisticated new tricks from one of them.

However, be aware, you could become attached and want to spend more than just a fling with him, which probably won't work out. However, for a fling, an older man is great. He'll be more patient and interested in your pleasure sexually, and he may be able to afford the niceties of fine dining, gifts, and exciting travel that a younger man can't. The best way to have a dalliance with an older man is to enjoy it for what it's worth (an exciting and educational adventure), avoid "futurizing," and let it run its course.

Of course when you're out with him, people will think you're a gold digger or worse, and you might feel some uncomfortable looks. Just ignore them and hold your head high in public.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

It all started back in November. The woman I have been seeing for three months(she is 38) asked if she could borrow $160 to buy a PlayStation for her son(he is 13) for Christmas. I said yes(I am 47)and put it on my credit card.

Two months later(and she had not payed me back) she became ill. A bronchial condition that sent her to the emergency room three times, and more than three weeks off work.

I received a call from her to meet her for lunch, a twenty minute drive from my work. We met and she said she didn't have money for medicine or food for her children(she also has a 15 year old daughter). I gave her a $100 bill I carry for emergencies and one of my credit cards (I have two-1 for personal, 1 for business). I did not see or hear from her for two weeks and she did not show up for work(another mistake, we work for the same company-but not together).

I had already received my statement with the initial drug store charge and groceries. But when I received my next statement for over $800 I about died. When I mentioned it to her she said it was necessary just to keep her head above water. She said it would not happen again. Said she was expecting her income tax return and would sign it over to me. Next statement $900. I asked for my card back. She got really mad, but gave me the card. Said she had to use her tax money for bills. Said she would pay me back $100 every two weeks(which I calculate to take to the end of February 99'. Got my third statement and she had charged over $200 worth of merchandise by mail order using one of the receipt slips to Chadwicks of Boston, a clothing store.

I confronted her. Told her that what she did was wrong, it was stealing. She screamed at me, called me names, said she would get the money and I should never talk to her again.

Here is the problem. I really love her. I am in such conflict. I want her and need her, but after what she did I can never trust her again. I have capacity for forgiveness, but she feels, adamantly, that she did nothing wrong. I've lost 12# in the last three weeks. I can't sleep or eat right. I think about it all the time. Five or six times a day my body temperature rises to where I feel I'm on fire.

I know I must solve this myself. You have no magic spell. It feels good just letting someone else know how I feel. I can't tell my friends. I feel like such a fool. I was trying to be a nice guy.

Dear Mr. Nice Guy,

You've let this woman take advantage of you outrageously. You're a giver who met a woman who's a total taker. What's interesting is that givers are often attracted to takers because they are takers.

The reasons behind being the nice guy are sometimes quite complex. One is that giving a lot is a way to keep control. Maybe it's not even a conscious thought, but the idea is, "If I give you everything you need, then you need me." Well, that's not such a good idea, as you've found out.

Never give your credit card to a woman unless she's your wife. If you want to buy something for a woman, have her tell you where to call and leave a credit card number. Do not give out your card. I'd say you learned an expensive lesson and probably will never see your money. Write it off and figure that it could have cost you a lot lot more.

Forget about starting over. Forgive her if you want, but don't go back to her. She has betrayed your trust more than once, and will surely do it again and again if you give her a chance.

When you start to feel upset about what happened or that you really love her, take a few deep breaths and tell yourself, "I deserve to be treated with respect. I deserve honesty. I deserve to love someone I can trust." And please read "Letting Go" in my Library. It will help you get on with your life.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My boyfriend and I have been together for four years, and living together for two. When we met, we were both married. Our falling in love created the most terrific mess. Both spouses fought divorce. He has two children, aged 11 and 13, and I have a daughter, now almost six. Both households crashed; somehow our relationship (and our kids) survived. My own divorce, though painful, was in the end relatively amicable. His always very troubled marriage, however, has not yet been dissolved (to give you an idea of the problem, his wife is physically violent, and once spent the night in jail for spousal abuse.) I am 37 and he is 46.

This would be the third marriage for each of us, so neither of us has had much luck with marriage per se. My question is: given that I am a grown woman and very fond of this man, I am in two minds about the question of marriage. On the one hand, my own parents had a very happy marriage and part of me would like to have that, or something like it. He is willing (I would not, unfortunately, say eager) to marry me, but contrary to our original agreement, has not really taken any meaningful steps to put the divorce in motion. There are financial considerations -- he has always been the sole support for his wife and children -- and also his wife will fight him very bitterly on custody.

Given that our day-to-day life is satisfying and fun, and that his relationship with my daughter (and mine with his kids) is also healthy, how much should I care about all this?? I know I won't have a "normal" family life, and have accepted that, but sometimes I get rather down about the whole thing.

Dear Waiting,

Being married would be better for your kids, better for you, and -- unless there's something he's not telling you -- it would be better for him to sever the ties to his ex. Stop denying to yourself what you really want. You deserve as much of a marriage and a "normal" family life as anyone else. Don't get down about the whole thing, get what you want. After all, you did have an agreement and you went through with your part of the agreement.

Many men postpone the discomfort of finalizing their divorces, and there's always a reason, usually financial, that they just don't do it. Assuming that your boyfriend can afford alimony and child support and still be a financial partner with you, it's time to push him to the altar. If he really can't, then you're stuck. But if that assumption is correct, don't be shy. Tell him he must file and finish the paperwork so that the two of you can be married. Don't take no for an answer. Just because you're happy unmarried doesn't mean you couldn't be just as happy married.

Let him know that getting married is important to you. If he thinks you don't care, he'll never get it together. Don't let it bother you that it's the third marriage for you both. Many people find happiness in the fourth or fifth marriages.

You'll feel a stronger sense of belonging and commitment if you're married. So will he. And if something should come up where you need to be married to make decisions for emergiencies or health reasons, you'd want to be official. Also, you deserve the protection that a wife gets financially, socially, and emotionally. Just because a lot of things are great, doesn't mean you shouldn't get the marriage you want.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Submitting a Question to this column

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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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