Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am 29 years old. I was friends with my boyfriend for fifteen years before we got together; he pined for me that entire time. Finally, six months ago, I realized I was in love with him, and we got together; a month ago, I moved 600 mi. across the state to live with him.
We have a great relationship. It feels like it's getting better all the time; I really feel like he and I mesh well.
Before we moved in together, I was a rational human being; I was not in a hurry to get married. I was pretty apathetic about this whole marriage business, and thought that it didn't matter.
And now that I've been here a month? Suddenly I'm marriage-psycho.
At first I start thinking that maybe I'm caving in to cultural pressure, plus the pressure of my very old-world, socially conventional Jewish mother who thinks I should not have moved in without being at least engaged. She has decided that my boyfriend is a "schmuck" and that I am just his "mistress".
The problem is, when I put my mother out of my mind, I have peace for a little while. Then I find an ex's wedding pictures, and his livejournal, and find out that this ex only took five months to propose to his girlfriend (five months after he MET her). And I start getting obsessed with the fact that my boyfriend has known me fifteen years and hasn't proposed.
I've only been here a month and rationally I know he and I have things to work out, rationally I know that we've only b een together six months and it's not like he's stringing me along...
...but then I pass a store with engagement rings and I go in and stare at the rings for half an hour.
...but then I contact old high school friends and find out they're married.
...but then I feel embarassed introducing my boyfriend to people because I feel like a high school kid.
Why am I so neurotic about marriage this soon?
He says that he is "waiting for the right moment". I don't know what that means. I'm afraid to bring it up. I'm afraid to even air my neuroses because I don't want him to decide I'm totally psycho and dump me. I really have gone totally irrational. HELP ME!!
-- formerly rational woman who's gone wedding-bell-crazy.
Dear Hearing Wedding Bells,
You’ve just moved in together. You admit you and he have “things to work out." And yet you are turning into a self-proclaimed marriage psycho. Why are you in a sudden rush to get married?
Stop thinking your boyfriend has known you for fifteen years and hasn’t proposed. Instead, realize you’ve only really been with him for a month. Relax, it takes a good six months of living together before the skeletons start to come out of the closet.
You’re letting your mother make you feel guilty. You’re 29 and you’re acting like you’re 12. Tell Mom, “Thanks for your input. I understand your feelings and I’ll take them into consideration.” Then let it go. Mom grew up in another era, another world. You have your own life to live.
In addition, your “getting married, making babies” urges are starting to drive you. Watching friends get married, yearning after engagement rings and wanting an upgraded title from girlfriend to wife are all sure to drive you to want a proposal.
Finally, living together makes you want to get married. You’re in a homemaking, family-type situation, you like it, and you want to lock it in. That’s natural. Just don’t let your urges trick you into pushing for a wedding before you're both ready.
Don’t bring up marriage to him right now. It’s too soon. Give your “living together” at least six months before you start pushing. Give him a chance to pop the question over the holidays or for Valentine’s Day.
If you really do want to marry this man, it’s important that you act sane. No man wants to marry a woman who acts crazy, psycho or irrational. Act in your own best interests. Be a woman he’ll want to spend the rest of his life with, not one who has gone wedding-bell-crazy.
A Man From Her Past
Dear Dr. Tracy,
Your column is my favorite and I read it regularly. But I need your direct opinion on something very important.
I am 36 years old, divorced with three young children. Most recently my boy friend from college called me after 16 year hiatus after dreaming about me. We almost married each other 16 years ago if it wasn't for his mother who opposed this marriage very much. After that, I discontinued all my contact with him.
10 weeks ago, when he called me, he said that he and his wife were separated and that his wife had left the country with his children, not knowing if she will be back ever. Been thru divorce my self, I did not wish the trauma on anyone and suggested he patch up if possible. He insisted that it was impossible and his 8 yr old marriage stinks etc. and wanted to divorce her even if that meant he had to give her every possession and that he wants to marry me. Feeling that his mind was made up, and their separation wasn't because of me, I allowed him to visit me from more than 1200 miles away. He again insisted that he loved me and wanted to marry me and said that as soon he went back he would file for divorce and return to me.
Well within 48 hrs of his return he told me that his wife was back and all of a sudden he felt very responsible for the children he brought in this world and could not part with his house etc. either and that he was trying to convince his wife that they need to seperate / divorce but still remain at friendly terms.
I am now confused. I feel as if he only wanted to re-ignite our love to make sure that I still felt the same way for him like I did 16 years ago. And once I admitted to my love for him, (we never had sex together) he felt he had conquered me and that was sufficient for his ego. He still is asking me to give him 6 months so he can figure out a way for us to be together. I really don't want to waste my emotions on someone who may six months later tell me that he could not keep his promise. I'd rather get hurt at this early stage than later. The only problem is that I do still love him very much after all these years and it hurts to see him walk out of my life again.
What should I do? Should I give him 6 months to settle his marriage with possible divorce or should I move on? Should I just stop taking his calls (he calls me every day from his work).
What does a man mean when he says I want to marry you but........... I had a similar experience not too long ago where another man confessed his love for me and told me he wanted to marry me with too many buts. I wonder if they propose because they know I don't believe in sex without marriage. But change their minds as I insist on marriage before sex where as they would be happy having me on the side perhaps. I wonder what goes wrong?
What should I change in my attitude towards men in future to guard off such jerks from hurting me? Why do I attract such people and perhaps you can tell me why do I scare them away?
Thanking you in anticipation,
The situation with your old boyfriend is very simple. He's just shopping. He wants to see what’s out there before he makes any moves, and you really don’t know how many women he’s shopping with.
I wouldn’t believe a word he says. It’s absolutely possible that his wife never left with his kids and that he made up the whole story. If you really want to find out the truth, you’d have to talk to his wife. Who knows, maybe she threw him out for cheating and agreed to take him back and try again.
However, at this point, it hardly matters whether he was telling you the truth then or whether he lied. Or even whether he’s telling you the truth now. The operative point is that he’s gone back to his wife and children.
You’re in love with a married man. Don’t be a fool and waste your emotions on him. Tell him not to call you until his divorce is final and he’s a free man. Then, after you’ve verified that he’s single, preferably by seeing the divorce papers, then you can decide if you want to see him or not.
He’s not a good bet for your future. The reason you attract men who want to marry you with buts is because you aren’t really choosing men who are available and who adore you. You’re also driving men away by saying you don’t believe in sex without marriage. I can understand an 18-year-old virgin having such an idealistic view, but you're 36 and divorced with 3 kids.
How could you imagine marrying a man you haven’t had sex with? What if you and he turn out to have lousy chemistry in bed? You’re also tempting men to talk about marriage just to get you in bed.
Change your attitude about sex before marriage if you want to remarry, or you will vastly limit the men available to you. In your situation, with three children, you need to cast a wide net to find a man who wants to marry you and assume the obligation of fathering three young children.
When you find a man who looks like he'd be a perfect husband for you and willing father for your children, make sure you're sexually compatible. Then show him what a great sex life you’ll have together. He’d be a fool to marry you without knowing that ahead of time.
Best Friends vs. Love
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am a 22 year old mother with 3 young children (4,1,newborn). I have recently broken up with a man that I have been dating and living with for over 6 years. The last 3 of those years I had been hanging on to a relationship with little to no communication, and no affection.
My best friend for the last 8 years was the only thing that kept me sane during those last years. We talked almost daily, for hours. We saw each other about once a week. He has told me several times that he loves me, and he has been the first person that I felt like I could spend the rest of my life with. I have never been able to talk to someone the way we talk. We never get bored of each other, and although he has been in other relationships, I have always been first priority in his life.
The dilemma is that he has several problems that he does not feel are a problem. He does not seem to think that daily use of weed and alcohol is a problem. He frequents bars daily, and admits to having a problem with alcohol but does not want help. On top of his problems, I have three small children to raise and he is not emotionally equipped to handle that type of responsiblity.
I know that I will not be happy in a relationship with the situation as is. He tells me that he can't make me happy and doesn't want to ruin our friendship. He says that he is not good enough for me and that I deserve to be with someone who will make me happy.
Although there has been some sexual activity in the past, it is platonic now. He has been there through a lot of things that have happened in my life and I feel like he is the one, that he is still really young and will eventually be ready to get help. What is another couple of years while I finish school and find myself before getting involved?
At the same time, I am ready to experience a relationship but don't WANT to be in one with anyone but him. I am afraid that unless we can forge this into a real romance, that our friendship is doomed. I can't control my feelings for him if I continue to talk to him daily, and if I do force myself to surrender to the fact that we are truly "just friends" I will still need to move on and start a real relationship with someone else. The thought of losing him scares me more than anything.
Is there hope for our friendship still? Is there hope for a romance?
Thanks you for your advice.
Why don’t you want to listen to what your best friend is telling you? What part of “I’m not the guy you’re looking for” don’t you understand? He’s said that he doesn’t want a relationship with you beyond the one you already have. Stop pushing for more before you ruin the friendship.
He doesn’t want the responsibility. He wants to smoke weed, drink, and hang out in bars, not help you raise your babies. He doesn’t want to change and he doesn’t want help to change.
You admit that you wouldn’t be happy with him the way he is. You want him to totally change his behavior, become responsible, grow up emotionally, have a sexual relationship with you and become a whole lot of things he’s not. You say that if he won’t do those things, your friendship is doomed. Well, if that’s the case, you can kiss your friendship good-bye.
No way is he going to become a whole new person. Waiting years is no answer. Chances are that he’ll stay the same and you’ll be in this same situation in a couple of years.
Appreciate him for who he is and what he has to offer you. Stop expecting more from him than he has to give, or you will find yourself without this friend in your life. Just accept the friendship he's offering and stop worrying about "losing him" when you date other men.