Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Is This Behavior Normal?
Single Mom Dating Dilemma
What About One More Shot?

Is This Behavior Normal?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 32-year-old divorced woman who has been seeing a 33-year-old man for 3 years. I have read your book "Marrying Later, Marrying Smarter" and liked it.

My ex-husband was a drinker and very verbally and emotionally abusive. My boyfriend doesn't drink or party and he isn't physically abusive like my ex.

But there is something that bothers me. Sometimes I don't feel like having sex and he always forces me into it. This isn't physically forcing me as much as emotionally forcing me. He gets angry when I say no. Even if he knows I'm sick.

He will whine and complain and try to make me feel guilty. He says that all I have to do is just lie there and he will do the work, and he does things for me so I should have to do this for him. He won't listen to reason when I say that if I don't feel like it I shouldn't have to do it.

He also has some other strange traits, one of which is his mother is very much into his financial business. She signs his checks and gets them cashed for him and is always bugging him for money. She tells me that she is the only woman he can ever really trust. He doesn't share his money with me, only with her.

This man has been pushing me for marriage for several years now but something holds me back. Do you think his behavior is normal?

Dear Feeling Forced,

Hmm, let's see, you say he isn't abusive, but he forces you to have sex when you don't want to. Maybe that doesn't seem abusive to you because you're comparing him to your ex, but it's definitely abusive behavior. His emotional blackmail and guilt induction may not leave bruises, but even if you end up reluctantly agreeing, you've been forced, and that's rotten. What kind of a man can be satisfied with an unwilling partner?

You certainly can't enjoy sex when you really don't want it, aren't turned on and are just giving in to get him off your back (literally). What a male chauvinist view -- that women just have to lay there! And if that's the kind of sex he wants, why doesn't he just buy himself a blow-up doll??

The fact that he gets angry with you for not having sex with him, even if you're sick, shows that he's insensitive and selfish. He's just interested in his own satisfaction and doesn't care whether you're sick, or even enjoying the sex.

On top of all that, he's way too involved with his mother for a 33-year-old man. How can he marry anyone and share his life, when he's already sharing so much with his mother? He's shown no willingness to share his finances or his trust with you and he doesn't respect your feelings.

A man who doesn't really trust women is the kind of man who finds it easy to ignore a woman's feelings and hurt her, and can do so with no remorse. He feels that the woman is less worthy of respect than he is. Without love, respect and trust, you can't have a marriage.

Just because you have to wonder if his behavior is normal is cause not to marry him. Also, you don't say anything about loving him or that he does anything for you - other than force you to have sex. Why would you want to share your life with this man?

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Single Mom Dating Dilemma

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 30 year old single mother with one 10 year old son. I have been a single parent for the past 9 years and have dated a lot of men in that time. I am currently in a wonderful relationship that has been going strong for 4 months. When I met my current boyfriend, he knew that I had a son, and we talked about it. He really has had no experience with kids except for his sister's daughter who he does not see that often. He also told me that if he thought it was going to be a problem, then he wouldn't have pursued the relationship. The problem is this, other men that I have dated who have met my son seemed to have no trouble taking him under their wing and feeling comfortable around him. My current boyfriend is having some issues with this.

A couple months ago, I had invited him to come over to my house and he briefly mentioned that he felt uncomfortable being at my house. I begged him to tell me why, but he never did. I could only come to the conclusion that it was because my son was also at my house and he was not yet comfortable being around him. At any rate, it was never brought up again and now he comes over to my house at least 3 to 4 times every week. So I thought maybe it was nothing, and he had gotten past it.

Well this past weekend, my boyfriend was at my house the entire weekend and things were going great. Then last night as we were driving he got quiet all of a sudden. After an hour of him barely saying 3 words to me, I questioned him about it and he kept telling me over and over that everything was fine. I persisted and finally after 20 minutes of drilling him to tell me, he says that sometimes he feels like he is resented by my son for being over there, and also that he is not sure of what he is allowed to say to my son (ie: if he is acting up should he say something to him). He then said that he thought he got into this way too fast. Then he paused and said that that came out wrong and he didn't mean that the way it sounded. I told him that every guy my son has been around (not many) my son always tries to punch my buttons when they are around. It has nothing to do with the guy, but more my son vying for my attention. I also told him that after my son gets to know him, that will wear off and he will learn not to do that around him. He listened and seemed to agree and the rest of the night was fine.

Now I am left with several questions on what to do. I feel like I sometimes I am hiding my son away so as not to make my current boyfriend uncomfortable. For example, if I know my boyfriend is coming over, I will see if my son wants to spend the night somewhere or try to keep him occupied in his room. Is this wrong? I think that once they get used to each other, things would feel a lot more natural, but at the same time, I don't want to force my son on my boyfriend. This has never been an issue for me before and I am totally confused on what to do to make everyone happy, including myself. I love my boyfriend very much and I don't want to scare him away, yet I also don't want to keep my son away when he comes around. Please help!

Dear Mom,

You've only been in this relationship with this man for four months. You've been a mom for ten years and will be a mom for a lot of years to come. You can't expect your son to happily move over and make room for your new boyfriend at the drop of a hat.

Right now, you're just dating this man. He's never been a parent and doesn't know how to act with your son, or really with any kid, not just yours. Your son, like most young boys his age, has issues with men you date. This man is sensitive to the bad vibes your son is throwing his way and doesn't know how to ignore them or what to do about them. You can't blame him for being uncomfortable. It's not fair to him or to your son to expect them to quickly or easily develop a comfortable relationship.

It's up to you to make it easy for them to get to know each other. Plan outings where you do something that your son and your boyfriend would both enjoy. Don't hide your son. If your boyfriend really can't get along with your son, you might as well find out sooner rather than later.

Also, spend time with your boyfriend away from your son so that the two of you can have a romantic relationship uninterrupted by your son's resentment. And of course, spend quality time with your son without the boyfriend.

Your boyfriend has to realize that you and your son are a package deal. If he's not up for the whole package, you're wasting your time with him.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

What About One More Shot?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 25-year-old guy who is a very confused single man. First let me say thanks for at least reading this even if you do not respond.

I started going out with a girl when I was 18 and we ended going out for four years. We even were engaged for the last three years. We did have a break up for about two months while she was a sophomore in college. We broke up because she wanted some space to see if I was the one. I agreed because I have not really had a serious relationship and figured it was a good test to see if our love was real. I admit it was very tough but we both realized we did love each other and decided to give it another shot -- although things just did not seem the way it was before. I was very uncomfortable being around her. I could not explain why, it just was. She ended up breaking it off with me right before her senior year. She said that she just did not feel anything for me anymore.

It turns out that was not all. She ended going back out with an old boyfriend that she had when we first started to know each other. We ended up staying friends talking every couple weeks while she was in her senior year. She broke the news to me that she was two months pregnant around December and it was with the old boyfriend. I was not sure how to take the news. I ended up being very understanding and we remained friends.

Well that takes me up too now a year and half later and her son turning one in August. The father ended up being a deadbeat and she and I getting along almost better then we did when we started going out. I still feel uncomfortable though, mostly because I still have a lot of feelings for her. I have tried meeting other girls since through the internet match making, bars and through friends, but I can never stop thinking about her. Every girl I have met since, I always compare them to her and it is not even close.

I cannot tell if she likes me again. We even spend family activities together like Christmas, Easter, birthdays etc. It is like we are still going out. Even her family treats me like I am part of the family. She also calls up my mother and sister to go hang out. I have tried to feel out whether she still has feelings for me by not calling her, and she will usually not let it go more then two days without calling me or wanting to go hang out. I am worried if I tell her that I still have feelings for her it might ruin a great friendship that we have. Although I also wonder if I do not I could pass up something that could be great. I know if she ever married or even started going out with somebody else I would be very jealous and find it strange to be around her. I am very confused on what to do except for one thing. I do not want to lose her from my life. Please let me know what I should do.

Dear Confused,

You've given this relationship so many shots, I doubt very much that one more shot will be the winning combination. You've been together and then broken up and engaged and then unengaged and then friends, and now you want to be back together again.

You're most likely wasting your time, but if you won't be satisfied without trying it one more time, just to be sure, go ahead. You're worried that you will lose her friendship if you do. That will hardly happen. She likes your friendship. It's just having an intimate love relationship with you that seems to make her unsatisfied.

It's possible that you are too nice. She could be turned on by guys like the father of her child who is a deadbeat and maybe not as nice as you. In any case, you won't lose her friendship -- and that's the problem.

You'd be better off if you did lose her friendship. You really need to get her out of your life once and for all. So it's time to give it one last shot. If that doesn't work, promise yourself you'll move on.

It's pitiful for you to keep hanging around her, waiting for her crumbs. You're only going to suffer more when she finds a new boyfriend. Also, keeping her friendship while wanting more from her makes it impossible for you to be with any other woman -- one who might even want you for more than friendship.

After all, what kind of a woman would want to be with you while you're hanging on to this strange pseudo-friendship and hoping that it will turn into something more.

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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