"Ask Dr. Tracy"

10/24/99 Advice Column

Verbally Abusive Boyfriend
Fear of Intimacy
Menage a Trois

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am in True Love with a man who I have been living with for the past 16 months. Prior to that we had a "secret affair " for 4 1/2 years. He is a audatory person. My boy friend is very loving and supportive and we have great fun together. I divorced when we started the affair-he was stuck with a mean, cold woman whom he owned a business with. While we are very happy to finally be together, he sometimes critisizes and says mean things to me. Initially I ignored it because it didn' really seem to be directed at me. But now I call him on it and tell him to stop it. If he doesn't I ignore him (don't reinforce negative behavior). This isn't really helping much.

I think his excessive critisism is a method of controlling me, it wears on my self-confidence and makes me more submissive. I have started to stand up for myself more but I don't want to be bitching all the time. Do you have ay ideas on how I can end his mean, verbal abuse? He is not abusive in any other way and is a very loving man.

Thanks Alot! Fed-Up

Dear Fed Up,

You're being had if you think your boyfriend's wife was totally at fault in their split. He was having an affair with you, and probably being verbally abusive to her in the bargain. Now you are beginning to see how he can really is, now that you're together as a couple.

I'd suggest you call his ex, ask her out to lunch, and get the real story on how he can behave when angered. In the meantime, stop ignoring his abusive behavior. Verbal abuse is just as bad as physical abuse, sometimes even worse. Putting up with that and constant criticism is destructive to your self-esteem and to your relationship as well.

And simply calling him on it and telling him to stop isn't enough either. Obviously, it's not working or you wouldn't be writing me.

Bad behavior has to have repercussions. In other words, there has to be a punishment for a boyfriend who is verbally abusive. The next time he becomes verbally abusive, leave the house immediately. Then don't come back for several hours. If he continues the abuse or does it again, stay away overnight. Let him know that you won't stay there if he's abusive.

If he can't control his anger, get him into an anger management workshop or to see a counselor. Even if he agrees to go, you're taking a chance with this man. As a verbal abuser, he's one small step from physical abuse and it's an easy line to cross. A well-balanced man who really loves you is not mean, critical, and verbally abusive.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I find myself in a same sex love affair with a man who was abused and neglected both physically and emotionally as a child. When we first met the physical side of the relationship was outstanding. After I showed signs of real care and possible love he stated he could not return the caring and had always felt violated when touched by anybody. He can have meaningless sex with people who mistreat him and want only to use his body for their satisfaction. Yet he is terrified by the prospect of a nonsexual hug of confront or sign of pleasure to see him from me. He repeatedly states his deep concern for me and in fact in all respects except the sexual we are a very caring and supporting couple. Seen by others as a model of mutual respect, support, and caring.

I have seen him approach me a stop just short of giving me a physical sign of his caring. I know I have seen a desire to touch me lovingly but then fear. He will out of the blue give me a passionate touch and quickly move away. I feel that at times he has done or said things in hope I will leave the relationship. He has repeatedly stated he has never been able to retain a close relationship once sex becomes a factor and that he values our closeness to much to lose it because we have sex. Is there anything I can do to help him see that physical intimacy is not a killer of relationships? Or am I being a fool that has fallen in love with someone who can never love me or anyone?

Dear Fool,

Yes, you are being a fool for love. You've fallen for someone who can't love back. He's even told you that he can't love back, and yet you don't want to hear what he's saying. When someone tells you they're unable to love because of deep psychological wounds from their childhood, why don't you listen? Is there, perhaps, some safety for you in loving someone who can't really love back?

If not, then you are indeed wasting your time if you think there is something you can do to make this person's past traumas go away. He needs therapy, big time, perhaps years and years of therapy. And there's no guarantee that after those years of therapy he'll be able to love you or anyone else. Please read "The Broken Popcorn Machine" in my Library. It won't solve the problem, but it will make you understand it better.

His whole story about only being able to have non-intimate, meaningless, unloving sex is so sad. But he is also able to tease you just enough with occasional glimpses of tender loving possibilities to keep you hoping. How clever he is in spite of his inability to love!

I don't know that he'll never be able to love you or anyone else -- that's a harsh prognosis -- but I can tell he's deeply troubled and that love with him will be a heartache.

He deosn't have a good track record in relationships. If you really want to love and be loved, find someone with a relatively healthy attitude toward love and relationships. Look for past healthy relationships as a predictor of the future.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My fiance and I are very much in love. This is both our second marriages and we both never felt this way about anybody in our life before. My fiance has a fantasy of two woman. He says this is every guys fantasy and from what I am hearing from guys he is correct. I want to give him this fantasy but I am also a little nervous. The one question that keeps popping into my mind is, "Is this a fantasy for guys to have permission to have sex with another woman or as my fiance says, it is a fantasy to be able to handle and satisfy two woman at a time, plus having two women please him at the same time." He said he would only do it with I was totally comfortable with it and would enjoy it too. He said we wouldn't do it if it would threaten our relationship in anyway. Do guys really fantasy about this and not as a way to have sex with another woman with our permission? What have you run across in your counseling?

Dear In Love,

Many men have the fantasy of making love with two women at once - to satisfy both women, to help them satisfy each other, and to be made love to by two women. Many women also have the fantasy of being made love to by two men, but interestingly enough, not usually to see them satisfy each other.

This fantasy is not necessarily about a way to make love to another man or woman with the permission of the mate, even though that is some part of the excitement. It is simply a fantasy that's as old as ancient Rome. It's sort of an "If one is good, two must be even better," kind of thing.

Love makes all things possible, including a menage a trois, if it's done in the right spirit and with the right understandings ahead of time, and if everyone involved is comfortable with those understandings. Before entering into such an arrangement, everyone should be clear about what they expect and what they absolutely don't want to happen.

I know of many couples who've experimented with sex with another woman or another man and some who've even made it a regular part of their lives. Most though, do it once or twice for the thrill, and then they move on, with a shared erotic memory to grin over in their old age.

Don't agree to do anything you don't feel comfortable doing.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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