"Ask Dr. Tracy"

7/23/2000 Advice Column

A Husband's Dangerous Friendship
Men Who Won't Wear Condoms
She Runs Hot and Cold

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am new to advice columns so I will try to make this as brief and to the point as I can. I have been married to a wonderful man for four years and we have a 15 month old daughter. Our relationship has been great up until about four months ago. I am so distraught I do not know what to do.

My problem is that my husband has what I consider an inappropriate relationship with a female co-worker that he met on the job about nine months ago. I did not always think it was inappropriate though. About four months ago it became very clear that my husband wanted to have sex with this woman because he brought her home and initiated a session between the three of us. Let me preface this with the fact that my husband and I have had some experience "swinging" and I had had no problems with it up until that point. The couple that we had been intimate with were good friends of ours for a couple of years before anything happened and it was mutual between all involved that that was what we wanted and we all talked about it afterwards and agreed that we all enjoyed it. Anyway, I was not wanting to participate in a session with this woman so nothing happened between the two of us but my husband continued doing things to her and she was a willing recipient. After he was done with her they went into another room and had intercourse. Needless to say, this did not go over well with me and I made it known so they stopped. She is married too and her husband was out of town that night. Supposedly, he knows about that night.

Since then, my husband has tried unsuccessfully to get something going between the three of us and he is always hanging on her and she on him. Her husband and I just kind of sit in the background and watch. I have told him several times that I am not interested in an intimate relationship with either her or her husband but he cannot understand that. He thinks that because I can be intimate with our other friends that I can be that way with these two and I need to give it a chance. I will not sleep with them because I do not want to and I am not going to do it just because he wants me to and that is that.

This woman and my husband work together everyday. They carpool, go to the gym, have lunch with each other everyday and we hang out with them during the week and on weekends too. I cannot suggest going anywhere without my husband inviting this woman and her husband along. This woman and my husband share a lot of the same interests too. She even comes to my house after work to play video games with my husband. They are always hugging and or holding hands when we get together. Her husband supposedly does not mind this "friendship" between the two of them and I have never asked him about it myself because I am too embarrassed about being jealous. My husband even goes as far as to ask my advice on something and then calls her up to get "second opinion". People at their work have even made comments about their relationship with each other so I am not the only one who has noticed this.

I have confronted my husband on this and he says that she is his best friend and that he loves her as a friend only. He is a very sentimental person and he gets very upset when we argue about this. He tells me that this woman loves me and she would do anything for me and that he wished I felt the same about her. She is very nice, but I just cannot get past this resentment and the envy that I feel about this relationship that they have. He used to be my best friend and I felt like I could talk to him about anything, but that is not the case anymore. I do not know if I am making this worse than it is or if I am just not seeing the obvious.

Dr. Tracy, I have never sought advice on anything before, but I am so confused and sick about this whole thing that I am driving myself crazy. I just need some outside eyes to help me to see. PLEASE HELP!!!!

Sincerely, A Desperate Wife

Dear Desperate Wife,

No wonder you are upset and confused and driving yourself crazy about your husband's "inappropriate" friendship with this woman from work. I'd say it's more than inappropriate, it's infidelity. Your husband's trying to pretend it's not by being open with you about it, but that doesn't change the fact that you haven't agreed to this relationship.

Just because he had sex with her openly the first time doesn't make it okay. And just because you've been involved in swinging before, doesn't mean you have to swing with the woman he chooses. Nor does it mean that you have given up all rights to fidelity or that you will never feel jealous.

Swinging means everyone mutually agrees and is comfortable with the relationships involved. When that comfort factor is missing and one person doesn't want to participate, then it's not swinging, it's extra-marital sex, plain and simple. With real swinging, the participants supposedly aren't jealous because they're willing and happy to be intimate with each other and to share their partners. That's the only way it can work.

But in this circumstance, of course you feel jealous. This woman isn't just having intercourse with your husband, she's usurping your position as best friend and companion. Swingers don't threaten each other's primary relationship, they add to it. Tell hubby that what he's doing isn't swinging, it's cheating, and you don't want it to continue. If you don't want to have an intimate relationship with this other woman and/or her husband, that is your absolute right. And you don't have to put up with her hanging on your husband all the time.

It's time for you to put your foot down and just say no. Tell the other woman in no uncertain terms that you want her to lay off your husband. Talk to your husband, and talk to her husband. Tell your husband that if he loves you and she loves you, and if she'd really do anything for you, that what you want her to do is lay off. Tell her husband that if he values his marriage, he'll get his wife away from your husband.

End these not-so-innocent get-togethers. Stop allowing the whole thing to go on just to prove you're open-minded and not jealous. Then find some new friends, swinging or otherwise, for you and your husband to hang out with. If your husband refuses to stop seeing his new friend, insist that the two of you see a counselor. He may need a third party to tell him he's out of line.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

here's the situation: the guy i have been with for awhile now, refuses to use birth control, ie. a condom. i am unable to take the pill for various medical reasons. i have been charting my ovulation times by taking my temperature etc., and as well, he usually pulls out when it's during an 'unsafe' time period. however, i am aware that this is not the safest method. i would consider buying the female condom, but it's way more expensive than male condoms, and it's not like he contributes any money.

when i ask him to please use a condom, he gets angry and refuses, because he doesn't like the way it feels, and other reasons like that. i tried to tell him that i would appreciate it if he was understanding- every month before my period i am anxious and stressed out. i'm always wondering if this time i am going to be pregnant. and it's me that has to deal with the consequences, not him.

but no amount of convincing can make him give in and wear one, even for my sake. sometimes if i persist, he would rather not have sex at all. it is starting to make me angry, because it's obvious that he has a lack of caring for me, and for my preferences, especially in a situation this important to me. i'm wondering what i should do in this situation. why should all the responsibility be on me?

Dear Worried,

There's no reason why you should have to worry every month that you may be pregnant. Talk about PMS - you must have a great case of it.

You have several choices. One is to tell him "no condom, no nooky." Another choice you have is to find another guy, one who cares enough about you to use birth control. Another choice is to find another birth control method, one you control. You could get an IUD. You could get an implant. You could use the condom.

In the long run, you're right. You're the one who would wind up paying if you got pregnant - either for an abortion, which is traumatic, or for an unwanted pregnancy which would change your life forever. Sadly, it's always been the woman who has been responsible for birth control. If it was up to the man to take the pill, could you really trust that he had taken it? Besides, he doesn't get pregnant, you do.

The responsibility is on you because you're the one who faces the consequences. So either dump him or step up to the plate and take care of yourself.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I think I'm in love with a Waffler, but I don't know for sure, and I don't know whether I should just cut bait and move downstream or keep trying for her. She's the only woman I've ever loved in my whole life, and she gives me just enough attention to keep me interested, but she won't completely give herself to me.

A little background: I'm 41, and she's 31. We lived together for about 2 years, until she walked out on me just after we were fitted for wedding rings, essentially to enjoy the affections of another man. This happened about four years ago. Of course, it didn't work out with the other guy, and she said recently that she's been out with 85 guys since we broke up. Meanwhile, I've been out with maybe 6 or 8 women.

I'm experienced enough to know that what we had doesn't get any better. We had fabulous, utterly toe-curling sex. We also had lots of playful affection, and we lived together mostly harmoniously. She's witty, vivacious, and a socioeconomic and educational match.

Since then, we have dated for brief, intense periods off and on, but I always end up getting frustrated by her aloofness and lack of interest in me, and I give up for a while, and we won't talk to or see each other for months.

When we do get together, she constantly will bring up funny little sayings or expressions or memories that we have shared. But another thing she does, is every time we are together -- and I mean every time -- at some point she will start crying. Now mind you, I don't make her cry. I just look over at her, and her big, blue eyes are all pink, and she's all sniffly. At first it was upsetting, but then it got to be kind of funny. She thinks so, too. She'll start to boo-hoo, and I'll look at my watch and say something like, "Yep, the 2:37 from Tearsville, right on time...." and she'll laugh. But she will never tell me why she's crying. She'll say "I don't know." I think it's because she's an emotional wreck for reasons I or she can't put a finger on. But I can't help but wonder if it's because she still loves me and can't or won't admit it.

The woman I love is one, big rollercoaster ride. SHe gives me plenty of thrills and excitement, but all the while I never know if she's going to throw me from the tracks. For example, two weeks ago she took me to a wedding. I haven't had such a good time in a year. We danced, I met and got along with her friends -- it was a blast, and she was the "life of the party." However, toward the end of the night, she criticized me for walking ahead of her, and said that my bad manners were a turn off. "Other guys I've been out with have better manners than you." I didn't say anything, although I was pissed off. ("OK, where are those guys tonight??")

We were both too overserved to drive home, so with her consent I got us a hotel room for the night. As we were walking to the room, I was careful to let her walk ahead. As we were climbing the stairs, she farted! She turned and said, "Oh, I farted!" I said, kidding, "That's the last time I let you walk ahead of me." She came to bed completely nude, we made out a little bit, but then she passed out. I didn't try anything during the night, out of respect. The next morning, she made me wait while she vomited five times. All the while, I'm bringing her soda, aspirin, towels. And turns out she didn't remember much from the night before.

I actually thanked her on the way home for bringing up my impoliteness, figuring that she wouldn't have bothered if she didn't care. She thanked me for taking care of her while she was sick.

I haven't heard from her since. She's kind of sloughed me off on the phone a couple of times when I called her. I'm getting kind of annoyed and angry again.

What's her deal? Is there any hope? If so, how should I play it? Or, how big a fool am I?

Thank you, Waffle Lover

Dear Waffle Lover,

The woman you're in love with is worse than a waffler, she's a bona fide crazy-maker. And you're the sucker who keeps taking her back over and over again.

You try to get close enough to get the good parts of her - the great toe-curling sex, the affection, etc., but each time you get close enough to have a good time, you get the bad parts as well. And this has been going on for four years! How much longer will you be willing to put up with this?

It could go on forever. I predict that she won't change. You could take her back, have a wonderful time together, and wind up holding her head while she vomits, listening to her criticism of you, or worse.

She comes back because she wants to see if she can have you. She acts nice enough to get you back, and then once she has you, she turns cold and disinterested. This kind of behavior, combined with her teary signs of being "an emotional wreck" make me wonder what's wrong with you that you keep going back for more.

Perhaps you think each time will be different. Take my word for it, it won't. You could wind up halfway to the altar again and have her change her mind. Stop being such a fool. Stop calling her, stop taking her back, and find someone emotionally stable to love.

Just because you have great sex and are a socioeconomic and educational match isn't enough. You have to find a woman who is basically kind and caring and who has empathy for others, not just herself.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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