"Ask Dr. Tracy"

10/26/97 Advice Column


ONLINE ROMANCE GETS REAL,
PERFECTIONIST PROBLEMS,
A VIRGIN AND PROUD OF IT




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am in need of urgent advice. In October of 1996, when I was 18, I was living with my family in Oregon, I was a speed addict and I weighed about 110 pounds. I met a 22 year old man on America Online named Jeff. He lived in Atlanta, and we seemed to instantly click. He told me of his problems with drugs and I seemed to be all he needed to become sober. I never told him of my addiction. We exchanged photos and such, and began talking over the phone on a regular basis. Around November, when he was turning 23, he told me that he was in love with me. I was happy to return the comment, because I found myself falling in love as well. I started becoming sober. Soon, my family life started falling apart, my mom is a manic depressive and we could never seem to get along. I started gaining weight out of nowhere because of coming off of the drugs. Talking to Jeff was my escape from reality. He was always there for me and had just the right thing to make me feel better. Phone conversations and feelings of love continued.

In February of 1997, my parents kicked me out of my house (they never knew of my drug problem either). My mom had found a letter Jeff wrote to me after he found out that my parents have slapped me before. He was furious about that and expressed his feelings in the letter, it was very sincere. A specific thing he said, "If I ever find out about your dad hitting you again, he'll be on his knees in your front lawn begging for your forgiveness while I hold a gun to his head." My mother had no right digging through my drawers to find this letter in the first place. Anyhow, my parents assumed that I was telling Jeff that they beat and abuse me (which was never true). My dad called me a bunch of nasty names and my parents told me that they wanted me to leave.

Without hesitation, I stepped out of the house and went to my best friend's. The next day I came back for my stuff and moved in with my friend's family. I stayed there for about a month before heading on my way to Atlanta to live with Jeff. He promised me a great life, to love and cherish me. I went through Los Angeles (where I was born) and stayed with some friends for about a month...and then went on my way. My car ended up breaking down in Arizona, I barely had any money and had to call Jeff for help. His wealthy parents, out of the kindness of their heart, wired $800 to have my car repaired. I was very grateful. I had stayed in Phoenix while my car was being fixed with a cousin of mine for about two weeks. By this time, I had weighed about 170 pounds, and still haven't told Jeff. I was so afraid of going to Atlanta because I had gained so much weight...one day I decided to tell him about my problems with speed and how much weight I had gained. He was infuriated that I never told him, and said that he wanted me to get back in shape as soon as I get there, because he is not attracted to "thick girls". He said he still loved me, but things were gonna be different. I felt so good to have gotten that off my shoulders. My car was soon repaired, and I went to pick it up. To my luck, on my way back to my cousin's house in my fixed car, the transmission failed, I had to sell it for $75 and shipped all my stuff to Atlanta, and hopped on the Greyhound.

After a few days, I finally reached Atlanta. I took a cab to Jeff's apartment, went up to the 14th floor and knocked on his door with butterflies in my stomach. He opened the door and greeted me with a big hug, and we began to kiss. It was so wonderful to meet him for the very first time! He was so adorable, and it felt so good to be in his arms. We had sex that same morning. I moved all of my stuff in, and we still live together today.

I am now 19 and I have never felt so lonely. We are currently on a "room-mate status" and I don't understand what is going on with us. I work as a waitress full-time, come home and cook dinner, keep the apartment clean, take care of our kitten, do all the laundry, etc. I do not mind doing this, because his parents pay for our rent, and we agreed that taking care of the apartment is my way of making up for my part. He is a senior in college. The problem is, he is always gone. He goes to a city about an hour away on a daily basis, and lately he has not been coming home at night. I don't know anyone here, and I feel so abandoned. We argue a lot, and I am still trying to lose my weight. I don't know what to do. Everyone I work with tells me that I deserve so much more than Jeff, that he treats me bad (there are a lot of other things than him just being gone). Dr. Tracy, I love this man so much, and I honestly believe he still loves me, but I don't know what to do. He obviously needs his space, but I need to have him around for my own sanity as well. My self-esteem is at an all time low, and I'm tired of crying on more than a daily basis. I want to make things work between us, and I am willing to try anything...please...what can I do? I don't have my family or friends anymore. Please help me, I have no where else to go.

Dear AOL Romancer,

One big problem with online romances is that it's so conveniently easy to leave something important out of the equation -- like a drug problem or a weight problem. Now reality has hit.

Your romance hasn't translated into reality, and now you're in Atlanta and need to learn to live with the decisions you've made. Instead of getting depressed, take responsibility. Accept that you're exactly where you wanted to be and that you play a big part in your fate. Stop blaming your boyfriend and stop looking to him to make your life complete.

If you want to feel good about yourself, start exercising and join WeightWatchers, where you'll learn to eat the right foods and find a group of supportive friends. You'll also get some tips on working with the self-esteem problems you've obviously encountered. It's almost impossible to feel good about yourself if you're overweight and living with a man who's ignoring you. Most of all though, your problem is increased by your feelings of helplessness. Think about taking some correspondence classes and looking for a better job; your letter indicates that you're an intelligent person. Do something (almost anything) for yourself, and you'll start to feel better just because you took action.

The solutions to your problems begin with changing yourself, not with trying to get a guy back. Besides saving your own sanity, changing yourself is probably your only chance of getting him to notice you in the way you want.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I don't know if you can help me with this or if you have answered this question before. If you have please let me know. My Boyfried and I are active sexually and today during a conversation he stated that I never initiate anything. I sensed that this bugs him and maybe makes him feel unattractive to me. This is quite the opposite. The problem I have is I am literally clueless and afraid of embarassing myself.

I know it sounds silly but I have this small problem with a need to get things, if not perfect, then really close. What I want to know is how do I get past these feelings? I want to do this for him. Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks,

Clueless

Dear Clueless,

Perfectionism is a curse. Having it usually means you can never be happy because nothing is ever perfect enough. In your case, you won't try something because you're afraid you won't get it perfect on the first try.

How far can you go wrong? How hard is it to get a guy going? Really? All you have to do with most guys is kiss them, tell them they're the best (insert something nice), and touch them. Or be bold. Surely you've heard of oral sex? Surprise him. Throw him down and do him. And believe me, honey, you don't have to do it perfect to get a reaction.

Women must give something back besides simply surrendering in bed. Your man is asking to be seduced, to be shown your love in a way he understands. He's telling you he doesn't feel loved enough. Try to realize that his experience of being loved may be very different from yours. Remember, there's no such thing as perfect sex. What's perfect for one person isn't at all for another. Couples find what's best for them by experimentation. Read Spicing Up Your Sex Life in my library to open your mind to some possibilities.

I suspect that you may be using your perfectionism as an excuse in this situation. If you care for someone, you take the initiative and accept the emotional risks. You reach out to that person and show them that you care. If you can't bring yourself to do that, you're risking your relationship. He may be right -- maybe you have deep reservations about this relationship that you haven't acknowledged.

Reach out and touch someone you love. What have you got to lose?

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy




Dear Dr. Tracy,

i have read several of your responses regarding women who have remained virgins well into their adult lives, and i want a little clarification about your position regarding the choices we have made, as i myself fall into this category.

i have no chip on my shoulder, i am not a man hater, nor am i anti-social and frigid. i am simply a 29 year old female who takes her sexaulity very seriously. i am not a "prize" to be given away to the highest bidder, and i do not want to have an intimate relationship with a man that doesn't take sexuality seriously himself. i'm not in any way expecting another virgin, i know that men have different standards than i do. but i do expect somebody with enough self-respect that he doesn't go with any warm body that might throw itself his way. i have no idea if i will wait until marriage because the right man hasn't come along yet. if the day ever comes when i do find myself in a relationship, i'll be very honest and take things as they come. not try to force any issues.

i sense that you are overly critical of women like myself, and my question to you is why? in your eyes is sexuality merely a possession to be gotten rid of at the first opportunity, regardless of age, circumstance or emotional maturity? i get that impression and would love clarification from you.

in my life it has boiled down to 2 basic points: 1) the vast number of my friends who talk about their "first time" with regrets, they wish they had waited to find a better person to share a very vulnerable moment with; and 2) which do you think a potential lover/mate would rather hear, that you are HIV+, that you have 3 kids at home, or that you are a virgin? i think the answer to that is a no brainer.

give us a break dr tracy. we look quite normal, virginity is not distinguishable to the naked eye, and even if it was i would still be proud of the decisions i have made because they have made me what i am today. we're not bad people.

Dear Ms. Virgin,

You are absolutely entitled to save your virginity for as long as you like. You're old for a virgin, but not that old -- I have met older ones. Eventually though, most women either meet someone who makes them change their minds about the virginity issue, or they just take the plunge to see what all the fuss is about.

I feel that sex is good, can give you pleasure, and that everyone deserves the pleasure that sex can bring. Life is not a dress rehearsal. If you're missing out on sex, you're missing part of living life, and you don't get a second chance. That doesn't mean I think virgins are "bad people"; I just feel sorry that their timidity is keeping them from living a full life.

I'm a little surprised that most of your friends remember their first times with regrets. They either made terrible choices of lovers or had over-romanticized expectations -- where did they get the idea that the first time would be the best? The first time is just the first -- the very beginning of experience about how to choose a lover and how to enjoy sex more and more. In any case, they should learn to stop regretting the past which they can do nothing about.

As for your choices: HIV, 3 kids or virginity? Surely you can think of some other options. If you can't, no wonder you want to stay a virgin.

Write me again when you do it. Or if you don't, in say ten years, and we'll have a serious discussion of the issue. Meanwhile, remember that the longer you wait, the bigger a deal it gets to be, the more men will wonder why you're still a virgin, and the more disappointed you'll be if the act isn't really that big a deal. The really big deal is living life and finding the right mate, not saving your virginity.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy





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