"Ask Dr. Tracy"

7/28/96 Advice Column

Don't Tell!,
Virgins are scarce,
Commitment Phobic

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a married male with two children. My wife and I met in high school 13 years ago. I love this woman but I have always carried another woman in my heart. I have strong feelings for my sister-in-law that never go away. I have always wanted to tell her but I am afraid of the consequences if she tells my wife. I am not seeking an affair or a change in my life. I simply feel that I should express my feelings to my sister-in-law to finally get it off my chest. I can't see the harm in telling another woman how I feel about her as long as I don't try to act on it. Please provide some advice so I don't make a terrible mistake.

Dear Can't See

Stop! Don't tell. You have no right to upset everyone else just to express some pent-up emotions. If you "can't see the harm" in what you want to do, just trust me; you'd be risking everything. Keep your mouth shut. Deal with it by yourself. Work out. Get a hobby.

Wanting to "get something off your chest" is no excuse for causing emotional uproar and making an entire family miserable.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a male who's still virtuous and have never had a relationship with a lady. Almost 39 years of age. Working odd shifts my awake time doesn't jive with the norm. Not interested in wanting children (at this time anyway). Where or how can I find a gal who shares same values? This is NOT a false question as I'm an honest person too.

Dear Virtous,

You've gone the first half of your life without a love relationship, and I'm worried that you'll spend the rest of your life lonely. It sounds to me that you're asking for a 30-year-old-plus virtuous virgin who has no biological clock ticking. That's an almost impossible set of requirements.

Other than at a church or religious group, I don't know where you'll find a woman who prizes virginity. And almost all women in your age group want marriage and children. All of which pretty much puts you out of the running for a great relationship since there are so many men out there without all your requirements and so few virgins.

I'm afraid the news gets worse. Most women will be suspicious of a 39 year old man who's never had a relationship; they will worry if you're emotionally incapable of intimacy or commitment. Hopefully you have a better story to tell about why you've waited so long than "working odd shifts."

Try to show other signs of your ability to love and nurture in a relationship. Close family ties and lots of friends, pets, plants are all good signs. Also, try to turn your inexperience and virginity into an asset. After all, in the age of AIDS, virginity can be a life-saver.

I urge you to rethink your position on wanting children. It could make all the difference in finding someone (and in having a full life). Read "Why People Love" in my Library to gain some insights into what you've been missing.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hi, I'm 24 years old, I have been dating this guy off and on since March. The reason it has been off and on is becuase he is Korean and I'm what us silly americans call white. Hi sfamily would never except him dating anyone who wasn't Korean. They are from Korea, my boyfriend has lived here since he was 2. They are the typical Asain family, he stays home during the day to take care of his elderly grandmother and his family means a lot to him. This is our problem, he cares very much for me. I see and feel it, there is no pretending going on here. He also isn't remotely attracted to Asian women, so he will never marry or date an Asain women.

He says he has a problem with commitment and as soon as it gets too close he bails out, ever if he likes the girl. He has tried that with me only to return a week to a few days later saying he missed me. As we stand right now we have agreed to see other people but we are still seeing each other. I tried this but it didn't feel right at all, I just wanted him!! And I can tell he misses me a lot too. I'm tried of this roller coaster we call a realationship but I'm not about to give up on him! Do you have any advice when it comes to a man who is afraid to commit and has a family to deal with. Please don't tell me just to let him go because he is everything I want in man, I truly love him very much and I'm not giving up without good fight! Not while I still see love in his eyes!

Dear Persistent,

Forget his family for now. The reason "it's been off and on" is because of his inablity to commit. He may even be using the cultural/family problem as a way to avoid commitment (which has worked so far with you).

I sympathize with your anxiety over having a rollercoaster relationship, and I admire you for not giving up. Here's my suggestion: Commitment-phobics (of all cultures) sometimes get over their problem, but not all at once. Let him know you want an exclusive relationship on a trial basis, say for six months. Then you will both reevaluate at the end of that time. That way you're not putting "for the rest of your life," pressure on him, and you're taking the on-again, off-again pressure off your relationship so that you can find out if you really belong together or not.

Also, you'll find out if he's able to make even a small commitment or if he's a total phobic about getting close. If he can't get through six months, find someone else.

If you and he are meant to be, his family will eventually go along. Many families of different races are learning to accept their children's mates regardless of ethnic background -- it's the way of the 90's. Just because you have a problem with a man's family is no reason to give up on him. If all women did that, there'd be few marriages because most men's family's are a pain.

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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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