"Ask Dr. Tracy"

6/30/96 Advice Column

Engaged and confused,
Attracted to much older women,
Virtual better than Real?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm 23, and have dated the same guy for 3 years. We've been battling a long distance relationship for over a year now, and during that time he had shown strong signs of over-possessiveness. And we lived together for a year, before that. He had temper tantrums, as well as breaking things. He never touched me though.

I have worked with another guy for almost two years, and were friends, but there was always an attraction there. He showed some signs of interest in me, and one night, over a beer, confessed that he has "had a crush on me for the past two years." Our relationship escalated, ultimately to an intimate level, and I broke things off with my boyfriend. For two months, we had been broken up, and I became comfortable in the notion that he was out of my life, for good.

However, my new lover hadn't broken things off with his girlfriend of three years. I became frustrated. The boyfriend returned to town, and proposed marriage. I was reluctant to accept, but did. My lover was out of town, and was upset to find that upon his return I was engaged. He then broke up with his girlfriend. He tells me, "He's happy if I'm happy...," but has told others he thinks I'm making a huge mistake, and they tell me he seems visibly upset by this. Since I've been engaged, for two weeks, he's been around me more than ever, coming by every day, etc. Also lately, there seems to be a new girl in his life, though I'm not sure if I pushed him to her. My heart is with him, but I'm marrying another! Some times he seems to talk to others like he is jealous, and doesn't want me to marry him, but afraid to tell me that! If he told me not to marry him, though, I wouldn't.

What makes things even worse, my parents, as well as the groom's parents, are very skeptical about the marriage, given our history. I know my parents don't approve.

Should I confront this guy? What if we are both too afraid to admit how we feel? What if I make a fool of myself? I have to work with him! What if we were meant to be? Relationships always seem to work best, when you are friends as well as lovers. My heart tells me to go with # 2. But my mind tells me to marry #1...

I had a dream the other night, that the preacher asked for any objections, and my lover, as well as everyone who knew us together - stood up.

Dear Engaged and Confused,

No wonder you're having dreams about stopping this wedding. You really aren't in any condition to marry anyone right now. Stop. Cancel the preacher. Don't order a cake or plan a honeymoon. Call off this marriage, or at least postpone it indefinitely.

Man number one who has temper tantrums and is overly possessive is a high risk man. If he breaks things before you're married, chances are he'll continue afterwards and progress on to violence against you. No woman should ever marry a man who's been violent or possessively jealous. That's asking for trouble.

Your new lover doesn't sound like a good marriage risk either. He's not sure who he wants, but like many men doesn't want anyone else to have you.

Talk to him about your feelings. What have you got to lose? You've already been lovers. Find out if he's serious about you. Then take time to get to know him and discover if you're really meant for each other.

You're only 23. Don't rush into anything just to get married.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 27 year old male who has long been physically attracted to women considerably older than myself - ie in their 60s or over. This may not be of general interest, though there do seem to be many more intergenerational relationships these days than even 10 years ago. My question is, do i have a problem? i don't feel attracted to women my own age and am at my wit's end. is this the converse of paedophilia? and is there any way of overcoming this obsession? what could be it's causes? Or is it just a case of personal preference? An attraction to the kindly twinkling wrinkles, the well-defined, slightly weary, wise expression, the silvery hair and soft folds of a warm neck? Any advice would be much appreciated. I don't know whether i'm coming or going anymore.

Dear Attracted to much older women,

Many older men have been attracted to much younger women and if that's okay, there's nothing wrong with the reverse. Actually, everyone knows that older women are sexier, wiser, and more relaxed about life and relationships, but most men are too hung up on images to appreciate them.

Sometimes a person's sexual attraction is set for life when they're very young. Perhaps a key early sexual experience in your life was associated directly or indirectly with a much older woman. A strong obsession like this is often difficult to get over, but you could try to modify it by masturbating to pictures of younger women. The question is, do you really want to?

Being exclusively attracted to women in their sixties and older is obviously a major problem if you want to have a normal family and children. If for some reason you don't, then your obsession is only a problem if it bothers you.

It sounds to me like some lucky older woman is going to get a lift having you around to appreciate her.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 27 year old woman that has been living with a 23 year old man for the past 3 years. We get along very well and love each other a lot. He is not wanting to marry or have children in the future. However, I feel that someday I will want to marry and have a family. I keep thinking that his reasoning is due to the fact that he is much younger than I, although he is otherwise quite responsible and mature.

Recently I started talking to a guy on the net. We talk about everything and anything and get along great. We exchanged pictures and both of us were more than pleased. He is what I would consider to be "my type", whereas my current live in is not what I usually "go for." My online friend and I have talked on the phone several times as well and have great rapport. He knows my current situation and is basically on a friendly basis with me, none of the hot chat or anything like that has occurred. I find myself thinking about him a lot and feel pretty guilty about it.

Basically, I love my boyfriend and want to hear some sort of commitment from him. I feel that if he cannot give me one, my friend could and probably would. I don't know where to take it from here. My boyfriend knows nothing of this as I am afraid to tell him...we would have a fight I'm sure. My online friend is not pushing for anything, but I feel like I want to get closer to him. I've read all the articles here and I'm still at a loss! Can you help?

Dear Virtual better than Real,

Online relationships often seem better than "real" relationships. That's because you can fantasize about what a real relationship with the person would be like, without reality getting in the way. Also, online, you're more likely to discuss the difficult questions up-front, like "Do you want to get married?" Or, "Do you want to have children?" These issues aren't discussed soon enough in most conventional relationships.

After three years you know in your heart that your live-in guy isn't going to marry you and have the children you want. If he was interested, you'd be planning a wedding instead of flirting with men online.

It's possible that you actually have a good idea of your online friend's availability and what kind of commitment he might be capable of. Or it may just be congenial talk. The next step is to introduce reality. What else do you know about him, his work and family and friends? Is he open about his life or is he a mystery beyond the favorite subjects you talk about?

If you feel realistically he's more likely to give you what you want, by all means see him in person. Set up a meeting, but be extremely cautious (read "Going Beyond E-Mail" in my Library). Then see if the online vibes hold up in person.

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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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