Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Long Distance Love
Her Old Friend
Obsessed With An Old Love

Long Distance Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am very confused about a man I met 4 months ago over the internet... In May I met a man named James... He is 49 years old and I'm 36. James is divorced, lives in california and has 5 kids. 4 with his ex wife and 1 with a girlfriend that it didn't work out with.

I really like James alot but I am not sure if he likes me... we started out annoying each other in the beginning and I didn't want anything to do with him and then one day I was addicted to him. He has told me that he believes that he's falling in love with me... He's supposed to come to New Orleans to see me in October... He knows that sex is not on my agenda and he doesn't bring it up.

I know he has other women he talks to online but he said they are nothing but just friends and that he has me on his mind only.

Is he playing a mind game with me or could he be serious as he says? Please help me with this problem... I'll appreciate it very much.

Dear Confused,

I can understand why you're confused. There is too much about this situation that doesn't make sense.

First, while it's always flattering when someone says they're falling in love with you, it should also raise a red flag if he says that before he's even met you.

Second, he's planning to come all the way from California to New Orleans to see you, and he's quietly accepted that sex is "not on the agenda"? With 5 kids, it's unlikely that he's gay -- more likely, sex is very much on his agenda, even if he "doesn't bring it up." The issue of sex is not so easily dismissed. He deserves to know why you're totally ruling it out, and you deserve to know how he honestly feels about it.

Third, where do you think this can go? You are living in different parts of the U.S., and unless you’re going to be willing to move to where he is, a relationship will be difficult if not impossible. He won't want to move to New Orleans and be separated from his kids. Which brings us to children, the final big issue. You're 36, with your biological clock ticking, and he already has five children and has quite likely reached his limit and doesn’t want any more.

Right now, you are in fantasy-land. You don't know this man at all. You both need to talk honestly and learn a lot more about each other before you agree to spend time together in October. It's possible that he is writing on the Internet to women all over the country and promising to visit, just to see what happens.

Meanwhile, if you want to find someone, you should be meeting and dating real guys, face to face, where you live. This strange rendezvous in October may never happen. Don't get so caught up in it that you miss what might be right under your nose.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Her Old Friend

Dear Dr. Tracy,

An old friend of my wife's came back into her life about 10 mos. ago. He is 40 years old and has never been married and has no kids. They would talk on the phone for about two hours per night. When I talked to her about this, she would tell me to just trust her. Well on my wedding anniversary I caught her at my brother's house, on the floor having sex with him. It took all of my self-control not kill him. If it had not been for my martial art training, I could have made a very big mistake. I have never felt that kind of pain in my life. I know every one makes mistakes, but when she did and where really hurts.

Now I find out she is still talking to him over the phone. She tells me its over, but I must understand they grew up together. She claims it will never happen again. She claims she never stopped loving me, that's hard for me to believe. I have three children and I don't want to be a weekend father. My father left us went I was 5 years old for the same thing, I vowed I would never leave my family.

I know I am not perfect, but she knows she could always talk to me. She was the light of my life! She was my best friend, lover and mother to my babies. I feel very lonely and I don't think I can ever trust her again. We went to counseling, but I found out later she was lying to the councilor the whole time. She told the councilor that only had sex once and she was no longer talking to him. I still love my wife, but I feel I am dying inside. All I want is a partner to treat me like I am special, to give my heart to, treat her as my equal, and to share my life with (the good and bad). Is that too much to ask for. (They both claim to be Christians!)

Dear Betrayed Hubby,

This is such a sad story. Your wife is sooo out of line. Of course she shouldn’t be having a “friendship” with any members of the opposite sex unless they are friends with both of you. Then again, you shouldn’t have put up with her talking to him on the phone for two hours a night. That’s not appropriate behavior for a married woman and a single man.

I wonder why you didn’t call an end to this friendship long long ago. Well, the past is the past, but what really puzzles me is that you are putting up with her continuing to talk to him on the phone. This is really too much. It’s time to put your foot down.

Your wife probably knows your feelings about being abandoned by your father and your vow never to leave your children. She feels that you won’t leave her no matter what she does. Let her know that you will leave if she keeps up this “friendship,” and that she has to stop talking to him right now. Let him know that you want him to stop talking to your wife.

Then get back into therapy and work on finding out what your wife was getting from this man that she was missing in her life. Usually when a woman goes astray in her marriage it’s because she wants more affection and attention, and the other man is giving her that.

If your wife wants to stay in her marriage and she truly loves you the way she says she does, she’ll be willing to go back to the therapist, to tell the truth, and to find ways to get the romance back in your marriage. If you still love her as much as you say you do, you’ll be willing to forgive and to rebuild the trust you’ve lost. Rebuilding trust takes time, but by facing and dealing with the hidden problems between the two of you, you do have a chance of coming out of this with an even stronger bond than you had before.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Obsessed With An Old Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hi, my name is Amy and I am 20 years old. My, now ex-boyfriend, and I broke up in January of 2001. Actually, he broke up with me to date another girl. We had been together for a year, and he even proposed to me 2 weeks before he dumped me!

Well, now it's 2003....it's been two and a half years and I am STILL not over him! I think about him all the time, everyday, when I am driving through town, I look at all the cars for his. Everything I do and everywhere I go depends on him....you know.....whether he would do that or whether he would go there.

Anyway, I want to know what's wrong with me! I have only dated one guy since him, and the whole time I was with this guy, I was hoping that my ex would find out because I wanted to make him jealous. No guy that I find that likes me is ever good enough. No guy can be my ex. I dont know...maybe I just have very high standards.

We wont see each other for a while, months at a time, then he ALWAYS calls me to "see how I am". And when he calls, I always go see him, but in arpil of 2003, I loaned him some money and he wouldn't pay me back, so I left him a message on his phone, and told him to never call me again, and that I hated him! He hasn't called since then, but I know he will...it never fails.

But if you could please respond to this letter, and tell me something. I do want to get over him and move on, but if it hasn't happened after almost three years, will it ever???

Dear Wanting to Move On,

When you once love someone, that love never totally disappears from your memory. As time goes on, we tend to remember the best parts of the relationship and forget the bad parts. That’s how our minds protect us and help us get over past traumas. The further away from the actual relationship, the more the bad memories fade, leaving the good ones to form a hazy, feel-good fantasy version of the relationship.

You can’t get over him because you are reliving that fantasy and hoping to get it back. As long as you are comparing every new man you meet with your fantasy about the old boyfriend, the new guy doesn’t have a chance. So it’s time to remember the rotten things the ex did. Now you can put borrowing money and not paying you back on your list along with him dumping you just two weeks after he proposed.

Then whenever you start to have yearning feelings for him, look at your list. Realize that just because you love someone, that doesn’t mean you can live together or that you can spend your lives together. Nor does it mean they’ll love you back.

It’s time for you to decide to limit the amount of time and energy you’re willing to give this fantasy of yours. Start living in reality. Reality is that you will have to find someone else. You can’t go back again, and trying to get an old relationship back is a big waste of your time and energy. But you'll be tempted. He'll probably keep calling every once in a while to see if he still has you in his hip pocket. Don't talk to him.

Try using self-behavior modification. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and when you think of him, snap the rubber band. Carry around an inhaler of something nasty like rotten eggs and smell it when you think of him. Put away all the things that remind you of him and stop listening to music with words (they’re all about broken hearts or getting someone back).

For more self-behavior tips, read my book, “Letting Go, A Six-week Personal Action Program to Overcome a Broken Heart.” The book takes the things that normally happen over time and puts them into a program that only takes six weeks. You don’t have to be chasing his mirage.

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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