Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss


Internet Not Just for Beauty Queens
Do All Women Cheat?
Critical Men

Internet Not Just for Beauty Queens

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Im a 34 yr old divorced woman with 2 teenagers. I tried several times putting ads on internet sites. I am a reasonably attractive woman. I wear a size 9 and I work out. I have been very disappointed in the responses I have gotten. As soon as I submit my picture I just either get no response back or I get a critical response. I must take a really horrible picture. I find that these men, and most of them could not be considered handsome, only average are looking for some model type woman. I just don't live up to their expectations.

I never have a problem when I meet someone in person, many men have found me attractive in person. I'm not very photogenic. I've had comments made about my weight and my hair and it really hurts the self esteem. I don't have opportunites to meet men because I don't have any single women friends to go out with and i'm not into sports activities.

I guess I can cancel the internet out too because of the picture thing. Why do very average looking men expect women to look like beauty queens?

Not only that but if they don't like a person's picture why not just not reply why make rude comments?

Dear Disappointed,

Instead of complaining about how disappointed you are in the responses, you should take action. You're attractive, a size 9, and you work out. You shouldn't have any trouble finding a man. The internet is perfect for you because you can write to someone and show your literate, clever self without being judged just on appearance.

At 34, it's hard to hang out in bars and compete with cute young 18-year-olds with no kids and no problems. So don't.

But you must realize that you're competing in a visual world, and most men are highly visual. They start by being attracted to your looks, no matter how crass that may seem. Then they move on to your personality. So accept the feedback you are getting. Maybe you need a little makeover. How long has it been since you had your hair restyled, your makeup done? You may need a new look.

You probably also need a better photographer. Don't just send out family snapshots. Get some professional photographs done. Don't let a lousy picture keep you from finding love. Start looking for a good photographer right now. Invest some time. Look at his pictures. Then invest some money in this project. Sure, you'll have to pay some to get a new look and great pictures done, but after all, you're looking for something valuable - a lifetime partner who loves you. Isn't that worth a little time, energy and money?

Other women are using professional pictures and getting themselves glamorized. Approach this in a professional manner. If you were selling your house, you'd get it painted and plant flowers in the front, wouldn't you? Don't you deserve to do the same for yourself?

If men like you when they meet you, then it's obvious that all you have to do is to get past the picture thing to get to the meeting. Don't be foolish enough to insist that they're rude and you're perfect just the way you are. It's true that looks aren't that important and that just average men might be looking for more than they deserve, but that's the way it is. If you want something, you deal with the reality of what you have to do to get what you want.

Consider this a job and get it done. You're too young to be alone for the rest of your life just because you're not photogenic and too proud to do something about the problem.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Do All Women Cheat?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I'm a regular reader and was fascinated by the "Do all men cheat?" question. I'm amazed that there are people who have to ask this question. What terrible things did a man (or men) do to this woman to make her even think this might be true? Certainly people judge based on their past experiences, but this seems pretty drastic. I can say from my experience that trying to gain the trust of a woman who's been hurt this way is very difficult.

Since you covered the "why men cheat" topic, could you enlighten us about why women cheat? As a guy who's never cheated, but has been cheated on, I think this question is just as important and I think the answer is often similar. Low self-esteem, avoiding commitment, and not respecting one's partner all seem to be contributing factors. What do you think?

Lesson Learned in SoCal

Dear Faithful,

You're right: it's hard for a woman to trust again after she's been cheated on. Being cheated on makes a woman's self-esteem go into the toilet and she feels like no man can be trusted, even if that's not true. It's hard to imagine that the next guy will be faithful. It takes a leap of faith. If you're that next guy, only time will show her that you are faithful and teach her to trust again.

Why do women cheat? A lot of times, it's for the same reason as men do -- they go into a relationship with the best of intentions and try to remain faithful, but the relationship just doesn't work out and they find themselves attracted to someone else before they formally break up. The simple truth is that most relationships don't work out. You start having relationships when you're young, and you keep trying until one works. The stand-up thing to do, if a relationship isn't working for you, is be honest with your partner and break up before having sex with someone else. Unfortunately, however, cheating is used all too often as a way of breaking up.

A variation on that theme is cheating to avoid commitment -- consciously or unconsciously sabotaging every relationship. And that also applies to both men and women.

The big difference between men and women is that men tend to cheat for excitement -- the thrill of the chase, the brief satisfaction of the "score" -- and because it's "forbidden fruit."

Women tend to cheat for love, appreciation and affection. You think women cheat because they have low self-esteem, and maybe that's part of it, but not the primary reason. Nor do women cheat just because they don't respect their partner (although cheating is always disrespectful to your mate). Women cheat because they feel unappreciated and unloved at home. They cheat because someone pays more attention to them than their mates.

Sure, passion plays a role, but not nearly as much as you might think. Women cheat because they're looking for something their mate isn't giving them. They cheat because someone makes them feel special and needed and wanted. When a woman's mate takes her for granted and makes her feel as if she's just there for sex or housework or taking care of kids, and someone comes along who tells her she's beautiful, desirable and sexy, she can't help but be tempted.

And like my answer for men, not all women cheat, no matter what the reason.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Critical Men

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Huck and I have been dating for about 8 months, we're both in our early thirties. We were introduced through a mutual friend, a very dear friend of mine since I was a teenager. Anyway, this whole thing proceeded, and continues to proceed, very slowly. I am very happy about that because of what I am slowly and painfully discovering. Huck can't stand my friends, my life, outside of HIS life and our or HIS circle of friends.

In fact, since we started going out eight months ago, I have had the opportunity to meet his close friends and family, and we've all hit it off really great. I really enjoy his circle of friends, and that I have been accepted into this group. I really like his parents. As we were slowly becoming closer, I was starting to think that this could be the "one." Everything was seeming so right. I feel like I've known him my own life. I really feel like I am myself with him.

However, I had a life before this, and in fact, I have a life with diverse interests now, and although my friends from the past are more dispersed, they still remain important to me. So, I invited Huck to a couple of weddings, and he came up north with me to Seattle to visit a REALLY good friend of mine from when I had lived in Eastern Europe for a year, years and years ago. Anyway, he's had an awful time every time. Anything that doesn't circle around his lifestyle and his habits is sheer torture for him, and he lets me know it under no uncertain terms. He says he is just "expressing" himself.

I know people are who they are, and I can't change him, but can you imagine my disappointment? I would really like a boyfriend who can at least ACT civil and friendly to my friends. It shouldn't matter that I only maybe see these people once a year. They are still people, they are still important to me, and although I know I can't control his feelings, I just wish he could like them. Or just ACT like he likes them. Which he calls being fake. I don't care. I call it being polite.

I know that not everyone is going to hit it off, but that's my fantasy. Admittedly, if I weren't dating Huck, I would never even know many of his close friends. Some are rather moody and have their own issues, but I have made an effort to be open minded and compassionate, and the pay off is, I can see all of their good qualities, and I honestly can say that I really like them and I am glad that I know them.

The way I feel about it is that I have opened my heart to his friends and his family, but he's not doing the same for me, and he's not even trying. And it hurts me that he feels my friends are simply not good enough and it hurts me when he says it. He says they are very strange and too liberal, too weird, too whatever. He can't really pinpoint it. He often nitpicks and goes too far and just says mean things. And because these friends are so important to me, it's almost as if he's attacking me. He's saying these things without even knowing who they are.

And it's more than these trips and weddings. He doesn't like my house. When he comes over, he only complains that my tv screen is too small and he can't watch sports and he's uncomfortable and he hates my bathroom and so on and so on. It gets really tense. I try to figure out ways to make him happy, and I can't. It seems to me that he just really wants to be miserable. And he wants to drag me down with him.

I think his complaints really aren't about my house, nor my friends at all, but just to attack ME. But more than that, I don't think his problems are even with me. I think he's got some serious issues with himSELF, and he's using me as a target to attack so he can feel better about himself.

He criticizes things that I can't fix immediately, and I don't know if I'd really want to fix them, ever. I really like my house. I've never met anyone in my life who could jump on my personal space so quickly, yet he does it with such ease. He doesn't think twice about it. And when I ask him to stop, he says I'm trying to control his emotions. He says I'm trying to challenge him. He says, actually, that I am a bully.

Please understand that three weeks ago, before he came on vacation with me and jumped on my friends, HER house, her hosting ability, her political views, her appearance, and so on, I was so in love with this man. I really thought I loved him. And slowly, as we both recover from that vacation, I see the love again. I see all that is good and wonderful, things that I want in my life.

It's like there are two Hucks. One I adore, the one I consider to be my absolute best friend, the one I turn to, immediately, for anything, and the other one who is just sucking the life right out of me.

Okay, so my question is, I know your boyfriend isn't going to like all your friends. I know we all have our idiosyncracies and quirks. But when do you draw a line? I want to maintain my own life and my own interests and I want a boyfriend who is supportive, who wants me to be all that I am, and maybe I'm going too far, but I want it to be this man, because he does mean so much to me. Yet, right now, it seems to me that he wants me to be all that I am, but only at his house, when it is convenient for him.

And this is not black and white, mind you. There is give and take in every relationship. We all must be willing to compromise and negotiate. And I want to do that, but I don't want to give up ME. Am I being ridiculous and selfish?

Dear Criticized,

The longer you stay with this man, the more you will suffer. He's not just criticizing your house and your friends and your way of life, he's criticizing who you are and telling you over and over again that you aren't good enough the way you are.

He says nasty things about your friends and demeans everything you do. He doesn't like your house, your TV, your bathroom, etc. He has you dancing around trying to find ways to make him happy, and you can't. This is totally destructive to your self-esteem. Don't let him do this to you, no matter how much you thought you loved him.

You're already walking on eggs trying not to upset him. Apparently, he can't be happy, and you can't make him happy. He is simply unhappy with himself and so he makes it your fault. Don't accept the responsibility for his unhappiness. If you stay with him, he will drag you into his unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

You can't get close enough to find the man you adore without getting the grumpy, shallow and mean man too. Sometimes there is no amount of compromise and negotiation that will make someone happy.

Almost anybody can be nice in the beginning, like your boyfriend was. The trick is to find someone who will be nice over time. You deserve a boyfriend who will make you happy and appreciate you, not criticize you. Get rid of this jerk and get someone who you don't have to give up your friends for.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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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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