Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

7/28/2002

About to Blow It Bigtime
A Stray Arrow
After a Break-Up



About to Blow It Bigtime

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been going out with an old friend (we've known each other since 1993) with whom I reconnected a little over 2 months ago. She said she wanted to take it slow, and I agreed, but told her she was going to have to let me know how fast or slow she wanted to go by communicating with me. I told her that my feelings for her are intense, but I have always respected her space and needs (I just enjoy her company, and I am not all grabby with her) and things were going well untill recently, when she pulled a childish game.

We were both out of town, so I called her cell phone (which she always has with her) to wish her well, but she didn't return my call. So I called her back the next night; still no response, so I called her again the next day. She still did not call me back, so I called her at work the next day and told her to please just let me know she was ok, as I was worried about her (she usually returns my calls within a day, and I rarely call her more than twice a week). She called back and was angry with me for having called so much, as she wanted to take it slow. I was angry with her for equating my care for her with being controlling or rushing, and I told her so. I mean, all she had to do was call back and say she was busy. She said, "I adore you, and there are so many things that attract me to you, but these past two months, I have just felt rushed."

Now we are on a 3 week probation until we both get back from vacation, and I am scared she's going to end what could be the real thing because of her apprehension. I know that she was recently in a 3 year relationship that ended badly for her, and he was a jerk. Also, a lot of times on our dates, she brings up marriage or children or future plans, and I don't shy away from the topic because I think she has marriage potential, but I am in no way asking her to consider me yet. We both are looking for commitment, have the same values, and share many other things in common, and we talk about anything that's bothering us (well, almost anything based on recent happenings). Am I being played here, or is she really into this and just in need of space? Why do I feel like a fish that's being reeled in and then slacked off over and over?

Sincerely, Confused

Dear Confused,

You've only been in this relationship for two months and you're ruining it. You don't understand the "in love" feeling and what makes it happen. In order to feel "in love," a person has to have their love returned somewhat but not altogether, and yet have hope of having it returned altogether at some time in the future. You've already let her know your feelings, so the uncertainty that creates the "in love" feeling is gone.

Not only that, but you called her way too often. I don't care what the reasons were; it was too often for a dating relationship. Now, you look like an insecure, needy pest, which is not very sexy, believe me. What you should have done was give her time to call you back instead of calling over and over again. If you were self-assured and secure (which most sexy men are), you would have figured, "Hey, one call is all you get from me."

You feel used because you have let your self-esteem lapse. If you really want this woman, stop acting so needy and totally in love. Let her wonder a little about you. The reason you feel like you are being played is because you are so powerless in this situation. If you want to have power in this relationship you have to start acting as if you could walk away. Pull back on the intense feelings you are displaying and stop pushing for more than she is ready to give.

Even though you've known her for a long time, you've only reconnected for two months and that's way too soon to be expecting anything more than casual dating. Nobody should expect a real commitment until they've been dating for a least six months - it takes at least that long to really get to know each other.

If you don't want to feel like a fish that's being reeled in and let go over and over again, start saying "no" to her once in a while. Don't always be available to hang on to her hook. A fish that's too easy to catch isn't going to be interesting to a fisherman or a woman.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



A Stray Arrow

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I met a man on line about three years ago. He moved to Texas, and we married a year later. He has always been into archery, so after he got laid off he decided to start his own archery related business. With the expectation of getting me out of my job. Or allowing me to work fewer hours, and to make more money doing something he loved.

I feel a lot of resentment. I go to work and call home and 9 times out of 10 he is sleeping or on the net or watching TV. I feel like if he is at home and I am working away from home that he should be responsible for taking care of things around the house I am responsible for making the majority of the money and for the insurance, and for making sure the bills are paid. Stan, my husband is responsible for nothing. Stan says all the right things...but I feel actions speak louder than words. I need to know how to express myself, in a way Stan will understand. And not just think I am nagging and turn me off. I know you are busy, but any help would be appreciated

Dear Provider,

Your husband is obviously taking advantage of you. You're doing all the work and providing the finances, and he's not doing anything except letting you take care of him. No wonder you resent him.

His plan for you to get out of your job or work fewer hours hasn't panned out at all, and it won't unless he makes a real attempt to get his archery business started. Starting a new business requires drive and dedication, and people who are serious about their start-ups work long hours to build their business and sell their services. Plus they often work part-time to keep money coming in during the start-up period. They certainly don't lie around the house sleeping or surfing the net or watching television.

But it's you who has allowed this to become a pattern. Since you didn't put your foot down immediately when he started to goof off while you paid all the bills, you have taught him that he can get away with being responsible for nothing, not even himself.

To break this pattern, you'll have to become far more assertive. Sit your husband down and tell him you will not be married to a deadbeat. Tell him he should get a part-time job while he's getting his archery business going, and until he starts contributing money, he must contribute help around the house. Have a list of what you expect him to do during the day. Also, get him to agree on a deadline for the archery business - that is, if it isn't bringing in x dollars in, say three months, he's got to get a full-time job.

Don't nag, just be clear and firm. If he doesn't change his ways immediately, insist that the two of you see a counselor. If he won't go for counseling and he won't get a job and he continues to do nothing, the next step will be to try jolting him out of his deadbeat pattern by getting a legal separation. Then he'll have to support himself. Hopefully he'll come to his senses before that.

Unless you're prepared to be strong, you may wind up supporting your deadbeat husband indefinitely, which might be okay if you were getting enough from him in other ways, but it sounds like you are not.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



After a Break-Up

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 25 year-old single woman. I recently started (casually) dating again after breaking up with my boyfriend of one year and a half. My question has 2 parts. First I thought that I really loved my ex but when we broke up, I didn't feel anything and couldn't wait to date again and find someone better. Although he was a great person I broke up with him because he did not know what he wanted out of life, wasn't sure where he was going and if i was in the picture for the future. It has been almost 3 months now and i started dating again. Is there a "recommended" mourning period before starting dating again? Also I thought i loved him but it disappeared when we broke up, how can I be sure that it is Love next time? (if there is a way)

My second question is that I have been dating casually two men. (really casual, dinner, great conversations, lot of laughs) for the past three weeks. i don't want to waste time anymore with undecided people. Friends advise me to date away until I talk commitment with a man. What do you think of that?. The reason i ask is because when I like someone I naturally tend to only want to spend time with that person and it would be weird (and confusing) to date away and i would not want to hurt anyone neither. But I have been told that I should not be hung over only one man if he does not talk commitment and I should always have other options. Also is commitment when you talk about dating exclusively or when you talk about marriage?

thank you so much for your help! Confused in the dating game

Dear Dating Again,

There's no special time of mourning after a break up. Actually, the faster you get back into the dating scene the better. In my book, "Letting Go," I write about a 12-week program to get over a broken heart. For many people that would be fast. Some people take years to mourn their lost love.

In your case however, you are lucky. You don't have a broken heart. You got out of the relationship because you realized you weren't going to get what you wanted from this man, and three months is a very respectable time to wait before you start dating again. Just because you weren't heartbroken for years doesn't mean it wasn't love, it just means it wasn't the "right" love for you.

You'll know it's love when you feel like you can't live without the person in your life. You'll want to be with him forever, and you'll be happy to be with him no matter what you're doing -- shopping for groceries or having a romantic dinner together. You'll respect his life plans, you'll have mutual goals, and you'll trust him with your life and your future. You'll care for him in a deeper way than you've ever cared for anyone else.

As for your second question, about whether you should continue dating other men when you're undecided, the answer is absolutely, positively yes. You should always have options and not give up those options until you make a definite and mutual commitment to one man. Giving up your options too soon will make you seem needy, and you could be missing out on someone who is absolutely perfect for you.

There are different stages of commitment that lead to marriage. The first stage is dating exclusively.

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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