"Ask Dr. Tracy"

7/14/96 Advice Column

Too In Love,
Looking for Mr. Right,
Can Cyber-love Get Real?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I've been talking to a man, i.e. emailing and chatting, and I really like him. We have more in common than with any man I've ever met and we've suffered a lot of the same things in previous relationships (and learned a lot of the same lessons). We work in the same type of field, we have the same hobbies, values, goals in life, religion, backgrounds, etc. I feel like I know a lot about him because we are so alike. The relationship has progressed to telephone conversations and we've even discussed meeting.

My question is, are cyber friendships still to be considered building a friendship that could lead into a relationship? I mean, I think it's good to really get to know someone, yet this doesn't seem "real", it seems too good to be true, and I don't want to get into a painful or impossible situation. What has been your experience in these matters?

Dear Cyber Lover,

Sure, cyber friendships can turn into real life ones, but you're right, it's not real yet. You have only dealt with each other under the optimal circumstances of computer-to-computer instead of real person to real person. You don't know if he has BO or bad breath or if he hums all the time (like a guy I once dated did). You have no idea what his skin feels like or if his lips are soft or his hands are gentle.

You don't know anything about each other sensually, so the magic you've generated is unreal, yet it does have possibilities. What have you got to lose? The worse that can happen is that it doesn't work out. On the other hand, there's a chance it will.

Meet carefully, the way you would with any stranger. Read "Qualifying Someone" in my Library for a checklist on what you should learn about him. And if he checks out, take the relationship slowly and let it develop. Just because you've had a cyber relationship startup doesn't mean that you should skip all the wonderful romantic getting to know each other in person parts of a good love affair.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I met a wonderful woman a little over 3 years ago. I knew from the first minute that we would be married. It truly was love at first site for me.

Her father died about 6 months before we got married. I know that this truly effected my wife. It was like a piece of her went with her father to heaven.

Our wedding day was beautiful and I couldn't have asked for a more incredible day than I got. Our honeymoon, though, was not the greatest time ever. She was worn down and exhausted, partly from the death of her father, and partly from all the planning.

I suggested she go to the doctor at the end of the honeymoon, and after finally going, the doctor told her she was 100% healthy, atleast physically. He told her that all of her problems might be emotional or psychological (if there is a difference).

So what am I getting at? Since our marriage, she lost her Aunt and her brother (about 1 month ago). We have been married for about 10 months and while it has not been a rocky marriage, I have noticed that she is not the same girl I fell in love with.

Well, 2 weeks ago she decided that she needed to be alone for some time. How long?? 2 weeks? 2 months?? She couldn't say. It made be so miserable to move out, but I had no choice. After seeing how miserable and hurt she made me, she told me I could stay and she would just be unhappy. Well, I couldn't see her unhappy, it just made me more unhappy. So, I have been out of the house for 2 weeks.

She told me from the beginning that this has nothing to do with me and she loves me very much. I have been a great husban and friend to her. She just needs to take all the weight off her shoulders which included me. She refuses to get any counseling and thinks she can handle this all on her own.

I have tried to convince her friends to push her towards counseling, but I can't be too pushy. They only want what is best for her and when she gets defensive, it is hard to push her.

Is there anything I can do to save my marriage? We talk like once a week now and it seems as if we were never married. To me, it seems like the fact that she was able to separate from me over the past 2 weeks makes it easier in a way for her to not deal with me at all. She has already made the mistake, but why fix it, when it is easier to not do anything about it.

I forgot to mention she is very religious (Roman Catholic) and that gives me hope that she will not take the drastic step of divorcing me as it is against her beliefs as well as God, Christ, and the Church.

The way I look at it is if I can get her to remember why she fell in love with me and why she married me, we can get back those great times. I don't know what I would do without her. I have always felt that I would get married once to the girl of my dreams...her.

What would you suggest I do? Do I just sit back and hope she snaps out of it one day and realizes what she is losing? Or is there any other course of action I can take.

Please help me....... I can't afford to lose the woman I love!

Dear Over-lover,

When you love too much, and you don't assert yourself because you're afraid of losing your love. You become a co-dependent doormat.

When you want to save your marriage:

  1. Never move out.

  2. Never agree to separate.

  3. Never agree not to get counseling.

  4. Never let one person call all the shots.

Since your wife is very religious, why not get counseling from a priest? You're letting the depressed person take over. Have you considered going to an Alanon meeting so that you would understand the roots of co-dependency -- when one person's problem takes over another person's life making them unhappy as well. Also, I highly recommend Melanie Beattie's book, "Co-dependent No More."

Without seeing each other, there's nothing you can do to save your marriage. You must move back in and insist that she work things out. Then, you should both go to therapy. Read "Why People Love" in my Library, and consider a weekend couples' encounter workshop.

If you don't move back in, and continue the once a week calls routine, you'll be pandering to her instability and enabling her to avoid working things out.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a 25 year old swf and I never seem to pick the right men! I was involved for two and a half years with a man whom when I first met was married. I lived with him for two years as he went through his divorce. While we were dating he kept promising me we would get married as soon as his divorce was final. Well needless to say, two months after his divorce was finnalized he walked out on me and into the arms of another woman. After this I went into therapy which I still attend for Codependency.

I really thought I learned my lesson until five months ago when I met, who I thought was Mr. Right.The first two months we dated everything was perfect. We had similar interests, we liked eachothers families and we had the same ideas on the future. I was trying to take things slow with him, but he swept me off my feet and I got carried away.

OK here is the problem, he works full time and goes to school at night. On the weekends all he does is study. In the begining he was making some time for me but as the weeks passed it became less and less. I started getting really mad and started picking fights with him. I know I was wrong and being in a twelve step program I tried to make ammends for it. He has now become more distant and when I ask him how he feels all he says is he doesn't know how he feels.

I'm trying to detach from the situation and live my life but once a week he sends me Email and sucks me back in. Its totally nuts because he doesn't see me ever! He told me he's too busy and doesn't have time to see me or talk on the phone. I tried to talk to him numerous times but he only gets really angry because I'm distracting him from his studies. What should I do?? I really do care for him and I know when the summer comes he'll be off from school until September. I know when he's not in school he's like a totally different person. Please help me.

Dear Looking,

Check out the Personals, because this guy isn't for you. What part of "No, I'm not available," don't you understand?

Of course you got angry when he started to pull away. Justified anger doesn't call for an apology though. It calls for getting angry and then forgiving the transgressor when that's appropriate. Too many people can't get angry without feeling guilty afterwards!

Yours was a tricky situation and almost everybody gets it wrong. When someone pulls away from you, that's the time to ignore them, not give them more attention.

Ignore his e-mail. He doesn't deserve an answer. He just wants to keep you on a string and he just wants to make you crazy.

Time is always a good test of a man's love. If a man doesn't make time for you, he's just not interested. Read "When to Get Out of a Relationship" in my Library, and save yourself a lot of anguish. Find someone else.

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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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