Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Paternity Puzzle
In Love With Two Men
Ex-Wife In Her Life

Paternity Puzzle

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am 29 years old and single with two small children. I left their father a year and a half ago after the relatonship had turned increasingly abusive. After I left I didn't want to date seriously, or trust anyone around my kids or in my life.

I ended up seeing a married man on a regular basis. I was lonely but wasn't comfortable sleeping around, and this worked for me because I didn't have to get too emotionally involved. I figured he was going to be a cheater anyway, and I was just taking advantage of it. I was very tempted by him because he was someone I've had strong feelings for for years and I enjoy being intimate with more than I ever have with anyone else. He never led me on or claimed to be leaving his wife, it was just fun for him.

That was okay since that was all I wanted, too. I lost interest in dating other men as I began to feel that no one quite compared with him and it wasn't worth the trouble unless I found someone amazing. I never closed my mind to the possibility that I would find that someone, though, or fooled myself that I could get more out of this relationship.

After a year of seeing him, six months of it monogamously, I was starting to miss the other benefits of a more legitimate relationship. This led to a drunken one night stand with someone I wasn't even attracted to, just to have someone to hold me through the whole night and wake up with. I didn't like the guy, however, and went back to seeing the married guy a couple days later. Even though I was on birth control I ended up pregnant. And of course it happened that week.

I wasn't able to go through with an abortion and am now nearly six months pregnant. I am awaiting the results of a prenatal paternity test I had done with the cooperation of the other guy. The married guy is a wreck, afraid of losing his whole life. I have assured him I will do this on my own and not tell his wife. If this child is his, should I pursue child support at the expense of destroying his life and hurting others? I am a college student and will now have three children to support, so I desperately need the help. We both were wrong in what we did, but I feel more responsible because I was the one who decided not to end the pregnancy when I should have, given the circumstances. Am I right to take this attitude? Should he be spared?

Dear Pregnant,

You owe it to yourself, your other children, and your new baby to get child support. You’ll have enough trouble going to college with three children, one of them an infant. You’ll need the father’s emotional and financial support.

If your married lover turns out to be the father, "sparing him" is really not an option. Even married men have to be responsible for the children they produce, whether with their wives or with their mistresses. After all, he was sleeping with you for a year. He’ll have to confess to his wife, try to get forgiveness and somehow work things out. If he turns out not to be the father, he might think twice before he endangers his marriage by having another affair.

Sure, you were both wrong, but you were no more wrong than he was. A woman can’t be expected to abort her baby to protect her married lover. He took the risk and now he’ll have to face the consequences, just as you will.

Having sex without emotional involvement, like you and your married lover attempted to do, is always dangerous. Sure, you might be able to have a one-night stand without getting sucked into wanting more of a relationship, but sleeping with someone over and over again is playing with fire. Just being together and exchanging pleasures and intimacy will arouse loving feelings whether you want them or not.

If your one-night stand turns out to be the father, you'll have another problem. The one-nighter may be less cooperative about paying child support. However, he too must be responsible, even if it was only once. Children don't care if you had sex a hundred times or one time - they still need to be taken care of.

Next time you want sex with no complications or emotional attachments, think twice. And please consider – somewhere between a long-term affair with a married man and a one-night drunken fling, how about a real relationship? Surely you deserve better. It’s time for you to get over your fear of emotional involvement.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

In Love With Two Men

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'd like to begin by thanking you for creating such a helpful website. They are often hard to come across! I would also like to introduce myself to you. My name is Liz, and, although this site seemed to be aimed at an older audience, I am an interested eighteen-year-old who desperately needs your help.

This is a problem that has probably come across a number of times, and hopefully you will understand the situation and offer some help.

After dating someone for about a year and half, I broke up with him and started seeing someone else. I am currently still single, because I'm still in love with my ex and I don't feel its fair to this new guy. The problem is that I'm starting to fall for Mr. New and I'm still in love with Mr. Old. I know it's wrong to have two guys, so something needs to be done. Ultimately, someone will get hurt, and I really hate to do that. I also don't want to let either of them go. It's selfish, I know, and probably immature, but it really is difficult for me. I love them both...

Everyone else I ask always tells me... "follow your heart" and "only you can answer" but I can't, believe me, I've tried for so long...Please offer some real help!

Dear Still In Love,

Where on earth is it written that you are only allowed to love one man in your life, or that you can only love one man at a time? It’s absolutely okay to love more than one man in your life. People fall in love, they even marry and live together for many years and then their partner leaves or even dies. That doesn’t mean that they can't or shouldn't love again.

When you love a new person, that doesn’t mean the love you felt for the old person disappears or is lost to you forever. The loving feelings you have for someone always live in your heart and in your memories. They don’t disappear because you have found someone else.

However, just because you love someone doesn’t mean you're "meant" to spend your life with that person. Many times we love someone but we can’t live with them or they are inappropriate marriage partners.

You are still very young. You really don’t need to choose just one love and never love someone else. You are at a time in your life when you need to experience love with more than one man so that you can find out what you like and don’t like.

You don’t have an obligation to love only “Mr. New” or to forget your love for “Mr. Old” just because you’re with “Mr. New.” Every love is different and each relationship has its own wonder and each man has something to love.

If you’re not ready to make a decision, then love both until you figure out which one is the one you want to be with. Consider yourself lucky to have two men to love. Some women can’t even find one.

It could be that neither of these men is the last man you’ll love. You could love again and again. Each new love doesn’t mean that the old love has no value, just that it is in the past and the new love is in the present and maybe the future.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Ex-Wife In Her Life

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been married to a great guy for five years and have been with him for six years. He and his former wife have been apart for about 18 years, I had nothing to do with the breakup. I have great in-laws, great step-kids and yes, even the former wife is an ok person.

However, my in-laws (including sister-in-laws) keep inviting her to everything. Graduations, weddings, showers, etc. that are for people who she has never met before. My husband and I consider this an insult or a slap in the face, whatever you want to call it. These gatherings have absolutely nothing to do with her children (my stepchildren). I could see if the parties were for them, but they're not and they keep inviting her to everything. She always manages to make snide remarks about my husband in my presence, and she is very bitter and lets everyone know it and I think its in very poor taste. I have to listen to her comments about how glad she is that I'm married to her ex and comments about trust and little digs here and there and I'm fed up with it. I adore my stepkids and have never tried to become their mother and I don't want to start trouble between the kids and their father. However, I have been stepping aside for six years to make everyone happy but me and my husband.

Every time this woman is in our presence, she has to make a scene with one of the children by kissing them and hugging them and saying I love you to them until you want to get sick. She sees them all the time. The kids are 23 and 20 years old and can be protective of their mother, but she also makes these scenes and they are embarrassing. She has no relationship that I know of. and any time we ask anything about her, the 20 year old says we don't have a need to know. But she has a need to know all about our business.

Anyway, last week, my sister-in-law invited her to my twin nieces graduation and she came. My husband and I waited until she was gone before we showed up. Everyone was upset because we were so late and we told them that if they wanted us to participate in family functions, that they need not invite my husband's ex-wife. The part that is so confusing is..... no one ever talks to her on the phone, or goes to visit with her, or has her over for dinner or anything for years, its only when there's something big going on that they invite her and I don't think its necessary. We don't get invited to her family gatherings, so why should she be invited to ours? What do you think?

Dear Current Wife,

Some people are toxic. Your husband’s ex-wife is obviously toxic to you and your husband.

However, you’re in a tricky position. If you say anything bad about her, you’ll alienate his children. So you have little choice but to ignore her as much as possible and try not to let anything she says bother you. Don’t be insulted by his in-laws inviting her. Instead, feel sorry for her that she has to cling to her ex-husband’s family.

It’s very difficult to be the “new” wife when the old one is still around, but it’s almost impossible to make her disappear, since she holds the “mother” title and will play that card at every opportunity. For some events, you can just stay away if you know she’s going to be somewhere, as you did with the nieces' graduation. Don’t bother telling the relatives why. They’ll figure it out and make their own choices about whom to invite.

You could also start to hold some of the family events at your house and not invite her.

There will, of course, be marriages, births and deaths, and you’ll be forced to be around her at those times. If you can't avoid being at an event together, try to avoid physical proximity -- stay on the other side of the room or in another room when she’s around. If you’re so far away you can’t hear her or see her, you will be less bothered by her presence. If she gets close enough to say something really insulting, simply walk away. That's the classy way to handle it.

All in all, try to make peace with the situation. Keep in mind that you have a husband who loves you and she’s alone. No wonder she’s angry. Why let her ruin your happiness?

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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