Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Life's Not Perfect
Getting Screwed
Wedding Day Nag

Life's Not Perfect

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I just wanted to thank you for the beautiful letter you wrote in response to the terrorist attack. I know you get so many emails each day asking for advice, and I wanted to send you one that simply said thank you.

I found the letter so moving that I forwarded it to a group of my close girlfriends.

Tonight I think I will hug my imperfect boyfriend a little tighter and smile at the things he does that once made me cringe.

Dear Reader,

It's always nice to get positive feedback. Thanks, and give that imperfect boyfriend another hug tonight. Keep smiling at his imperfections. Good relationships are made with two imperfect people who can smile at each other's imperfections, or at least live with them.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Getting Screwed

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I think that I have "SUCKER" written across my forehead. I'm told over and over again by many people that I'm a wonderful woman, so sweet, and very loving...so why can't I find love and why does EVERYONE take advantage of me? We're talking not just love interests; but, employers, ex-husbands, kids...I'm tired of, pardon my french, getting screwed.

What am I doing wrong?

Thanks for you help,

Dear Screwee,

There are lots of people like you who are always getting screwed. They are almost always the nicest people.

There's such a thing as being too wonderful, too sweet and too loving. It's great to be that way when someone's being sweet and loving to you. But when they're not, you have to learn to get tough. If you're nice to someone who's not nice to you, you are teaching them that no matter how badly they treat you, you'll continue to be nice. So you've taken away their motivation to be nice to you.

It's an unfortunate part of human nature, but most people will take advantage of others as much as they can. So if people are taking advantage of you, it's because you let them and they know they can get away with it and there will be no repercussions. You have to learn to say "no" without feeling guilty. Get a copy of Pete Smith's book, "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty," and Wayne Dyer's book, "Pulling Your Own Strings." They'll teach you about not letting people take advantage of you.

You might have too much invested in being a "nice" person, so you don't dare tell someone that you don't like their behavior or that you won't do something for them. Or you could have been raised in a home where disagreeing or refusing to do something was greeted with severe punishment.

It's time to get over those feelings and start standing up for yourself. Until you respect yourself enough to stop people from taking advantage of you, you won't be able to have a decent relationship, with a love partner or a boss. People don't respect someone they can take advantage of, so eventually they just leave them.

So if you're tired of getting screwed, take the risk of stopping it. Risk losing a relationship by really putting your foot down the next time someone takes advantage of you. After all, keeping a relationship where you're just used and used is a lousy deal anyway.

Another reason you may be getting screwed (besides the sucker sign on your forehead :) is because you are choosing people who are needy. That way you get to give and give, which gives you power and makes you feel needed. So try some relationships with people who don't need anything from you. Then you won't be asked to give anything but friendship and love, within reason.

Make sure your relationships pass the "tummy test." If something feels wrong in your gut, if you sense that you're being taken advantage of, stop and be strong enough to say, "I'm not comfortable with that." Learning to assert yourself can be a simple as learning to listen to your own discomfort.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Wedding Day Nag

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I've been reading your site for several months and I think the advice you give is absolutely marvelous (I've referred several friends to your site already and have even used your advice for them on occasion, always crediting you and referencing your website).

I'm 32 and my fiance is 34. We had a whirlwind online romance that eventually turned into a much deeper relationship. She came to visit me in October 1999, stayed with me and we have been living together ever since, in three different places. We finally got our own place this past July.

I've been with many women in the past eight years or so (including a couple of 2-3 year relationships) and I'm sure this woman would be good for me to marry...I've never felt like I wanted to marry anyone else. I got her a ring this past April and we plan on getting married July 20 next year. Because she has four brothers and a lot more family than I do, she wants to get married in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where all her family is. (currently we are living in San Francisco). I told her whatever she wanted was fine with me, as the wedding itself was a lot less important to me than actually getting married.

I've never been much for ceremony(she knows this), yet I know how much her family has been looking forward to her getting married, and how important wedding days are to brides, so I go along with it for her sake and her family's. We want to marry each other regardless, so whatever makes her and anyone else happy is fine with me.

Now the trouble (which I hope doesn't sound too trivial)...even though our wedding is not for ten months yet, she's been kind of nagging me about what I want in the wedding, and I don't know what to say to her. The truth is, I really don't care. I don't say it in those words, I just tell her that she can do anything she wants with it. Whats important to me is the fact that we are getting married. I even asked her to ask me more specific questions besides "What do you want to do for this wedding" but she was at a loss for words when I asked that.

She already knows all the right people to hire back in South Dakota (all her brothers and many of her friends back there are married), and has decided on the reception location, DJ, caterer, photographer, videographer, etc...even our honeymoon spot (her uncle's lake cabin in Minnesota), so it seems to me she's already got it planned out anyway. But she keeps on asking me what I want to do, if I remembered anything I liked at past weddings, etc. and truthfully, that same question all the time getting to be a bit of a trial.

I've only been to two weddings in my lifetime, one of which I was the best man at and the other a very simple ceremony that only included a cake reception and no dancing or photos except the pictures personally taken by the guests. I don't really have any basis for comparison, as I don't remember many details from either of those weddings, the first for obvious reasons as I was mostly taking care of the groom, and the second was just in a park setting and only lasted about an hour.

Its getting to the point where I want to say, lets just drive to Vegas and get a license there, or to city hall. But I know that will make her upset if I say that...its very important to her that we include all her family in our wedding (about 85 people). What can I say to reassure her without sounding like an uncaring lout when I truly don't care much what kind of wedding we have? Are all women like this when preparing for their wedding? Any advice? Thanks!

Dear Groom to Be,

Thanks for the nice words about my site and for recommending it to your friends.

Your predicament is common to lots of grooms. They just want to show up and get married, somehow bypassing all the decisions and problems that a big wedding entails.

However, that's just not how it works. Planning a wedding is your first real "working together and problem-solving" experience that the world will see. Your fiance wants to know that you are interested and involved. So if you're smart, you'll pretend you are, even if you're not.

You see, when a woman thinks something is important, such as a wedding, she wants her mate to think it's important too. And a wedding is one of the most important things in a woman's life. So poo poo the wedding, or act like it's not important, and you're looking at big big trouble.

Even if you don't care, act like you do. Listen. Nod. Make little noises. These are important hubby things you have to learn to do so that you'll have a happy marriage. And contribute. Make suggestions. Seriously discuss the invitations, the bridesmaids dresses, the menu, the guest list or whatever else she wants to talk about.

Think of something you'd like. Or even if you wouldn't like it, think of something. Maybe a special thing in the video of the wedding including local South Dakota scenes to show your friends who can't make it to South Dakota, or a release of white doves, or a special gift for your best man, or a candle ceremony, or a special flavor of cake.

Get in the spirit of the thing. You can't be the "scrooge" of weddings. Don't make her think you're being dragged to the church and down the aisle. Do not talk about eloping to Vegas or City Hall or anything else.

All women are like this when preparing for their weddings, and it could get much worse before it's over. "Bride fever" takes hold and nerves get out of control. Your job is to stay pleasant, loving, consistent, constant and supportive, no matter what.

The wedding is a test of being able to take pleasure in something simply because it makes your mate happy. If you can get through this with a good attitude, you'll be on the right track to getting through life's trials and tribulations.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Submitting a Question to this column

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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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