"Ask Dr. Tracy"

8/2/98 Advice Column


Dear Dr. Tracy,

My girlfriend and I are talking about moving in together and we are at odds about paying the bills. We are going to live in my current apartment. I am currently paying all the bills for my apartment now. My salary is roughly 60% more than hers. I believe that I should pay the rent plus renters insurance and my personal bills (truck , auto insurance and misc. bills) and that she could take care of utilities and groceries (roughly adding up to 60% of the rent and insurance) and her personal bills (car, auto insurance, misc. bills). She believes that I should pay rent and utilities and that she will pay for groceries and misc. stuff to decorate the apartment (i.e. new furniture). I am just wondering what is the proper etiquette and if I am being reasonable.

Dear Bill Payer,

I'm not sure I follow all of that, but if you're saying each of you should cover your personal bills and then split the apartment bills in accordance with your respective incomes, that makes some sort of sense. But there's more to this than arithmetic. Moving in together is a romantic and personal decision, not a financial one.

First of all, she's taking all the risk, moving into your place, and if it doesn't work out, she's the one who'll be out in the cold. So you have to lean over backward to be fair and make her comfortable with the new arrangement.

Second, you don't want it to appear that you want her to live with you to reduce your costs, so one way to do this would be for her to simply pay the increased costs of her moving in. You had to pay rent and utilities before, so there is a basis for saying she should only be responsible for the increase caused by her residence in your apartment. And if that's a really small amount, don't count pennies. Couples who try to divide everything up evenly are doomed to failure. Every outing winds up with a discussion of who ate more.

Since you're already paying the rent and insurance etc., it makes sense for her to contribute in other ways. For example, she could pay half of the utilities and groceries along with her personal bills. Or you might consider agreeing to a set amount that her monthly contribution toward expense would be. That way, she'd know what to expect and so would you. Of course if she has relatives in China that she talks to on the phone every night, that should be her responsibility.

Living together is often a preamble to marriage, but it also sometimes doesn't work out. So when you buy things for the apartment, it really doesn't matter who pays, one or both of you, but you should predetermine who gets which of your new acquisitions if you break up. For instance, she gets the tv, you get the stereo. There is no "right" way to share expenses when you live together. Everyone has to make their own rules. Successful living together means that you support each other. If you lose your job, she contributes more. If she loses her job, you carry her for awhile.

Balancing the "who contributes what" equation is different for every couple, whether married or living together. But when making these decisions, consider the happiness factor. People have different talents, and successful couples contribute what they do best whether it's creating wealth or creating happiness.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

This is for the 21 year old cross dressing guy from the 7/5/98 column.

Hi, I'm a 24 year old "normal" woman in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'd like to reaffirm to you, the cross-dressing guy, that not all women mind. I, for one, am not bothered by it, and yes I would even date someone who was a cross- dresser if he was someone I otherwise clicked with. This is something that with the right woman and enough of a sense of humor can be turned into a real positive.

Women are probably afraid you're really gay, or else they are afraid you get turned on by something that has nothing to do with them. Cross-dressing isn't acceptable in our culture but it has a long history in many others, even in Europe, and especially in the theatre so from my point of view there isn't anything really wrong with it. There are women out there who are more informed or perhaps older and definately more open minded. Look for one of these, not a "small town girl". And when you look, highlight your other great qualities and emphasize cross-dressing later.

Here is my experience, one that changed my consciousness forever about cross- dressing.

When I was 19, I spent some time in beauty school, and thus got recruited by a friend when he wanted to become "woman for a day" for Halloween. Since he and I are the same height and he is fairly thin, I let him pick stuff out of my closets; we had a grand time sorting through my collection of makeup and he borrowed a wig that I own. In the end, we both had a great time. I didn't know that it was so much fun!

Keep an eye out and you'll find someone. You might also have better luck with a woman who is more open-minded about other stuff. Trust me, many women actually get turned on by the idea of a guy in their clothes, they just can't admit it because they're afraid it means they're lesbians. For this reason you might have better luck with someone who's bisexual, or at least REALLY open minded. If you find such a woman, let her help you dress up; she'll feel more part of the process. Let her help you go shopping for clothes. Women are really big on feeling like part of the process; we don't want to feel he loves our clothes, not us.

Anyway, I hope that helps. Just letting you know there are women out there who don't mind. :)

Dear Open-minded,

Thanks for your encouraging letter and good advice in response to the cross-dresser who didn't know how to get a girlfriend or when to tell a new woman about his secret. Of course you live in San Francisco, which is probably the most open-minded city in the U.S.

I have often suggested to clients who are secret cross dressers that they move to San Francisco, where they don't have to live in fear of their terrible secret being revealed. You'd be suprised at who's a cross-dresser. There are doctors, lawyers, scientists and entrepreneurs who are all hiding their shaved legs from their friends and co-workers. If more single women knew the caliber of the men who are cross-dressers, they'd be out looking for a man who loves to dress up. Also, I agree that finding a more open minded woman instead of one with "small town girl" sensibilities is a good idea.

I'd say it'd be one lucky guy, cross-dresser or otherwise, who gets you.

Best regards,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I look about 10 yrs. younger than my 42 yrs., so I often date younger men.

I have a grown child and am unable, and would be unwilling anyway, to have any more children. Several times a relationship that could have been great was ended because the guy admitted that "someday I might want to have children" and "can you blame me if I want a family?" Yet, in staying in touch as years go by, they neither marry nor have children and admit ambivalence about having children. Then they go on to tell me they miss me and the wonderful times we had.

What gives? Am I hooking up with these men because subconsciously I don't want a commitment, or is it they don't, or is it a mutual thing? I *do* want to get married again, and I *would* consider marrying my present beau (who is 38) in the future if having children issue wasn't an issue for him. In every other way we seem to be made for each other. Any advice would be helpful.

Dear Unwilling,

Well, you have a serious problem. It's fine to be attracted to younger men, and it's great that you only look 32. The problem is that the children thing just doesn't go away with a younger man. It's an anthropological-biological urge to procreate that can't be denied. Even a man who says he doesn't want kids can change his mind and begin to yearn for "family," a sense of belonging, a feeling of being connected in a real way with future generations.

It's an emotional urge too. When a man falls in love or commits, he begins to think about forming a family and creating a dynasty like his father before them. Do not marry a man who wants children if you don't. He'll begin to resent you for taking away that option.

Yes, I do think that dating younger men who want kids is a good way for you to avoid commitment. So many times people say they are only turned on by exactly the person who is guaranteed not to want to marry them for some reason or other. What a perfect way to stay single!

If you really really wanted to get married, you'd date older men or men your own age. There are guys who, like you, look and act 10 years younger than their age. Why not look for one of them? Or look for that "different" guy who absolutely can't stand the thought of kids. Or perhaps best of all, a guy who also has already had his kids.

There's nothing wrong with a May/September relationship, and a woman is just as entitled as a man to like someone younger. Finding that perfect much younger man for you, though, means finding one who doesn't want to be a father, so next time you meet a potential cutie, find out if he wants kids right away, before proceeding further.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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