"Ask Dr. Tracy"

11/2/97 Advice Column


Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been talking to a man online and by phone for over two years. There has always been a tremendous amount of concern, respect and love between us. In the last six months the relationship has changed at his instigation.

I have been in a marriage for the past 16 years....a bad one. Have been separated from my husband the last 4 of those years and my divorce is final next week. My friend (I'll call him Bert) has never been married has devoted his life almost entirely to his career. He had one relationship in his twenties where he wished something had resulted but it did not. One of those "worship her from afar" or "The love of his life" situations.

Bert had asked me to meet him earlier in our relationship several times....but I always refused fearing losing the wonderful relationship we had online. We each pursued our separate interests but always returned to each other. When I had to leave one online service because of the cost....three months later he found me on IRC. We were both again happy. Earlier this year he issued an ultimatum....either I meet him this summer , just the two of us, or I meet him at a channel party this fall. After considering it I decided perhaps it was best that we meet alone the first time.

We met at a grand 4-star hotel....all those years I assumed he was just like me....living from paycheck to paycheck. But just before we met he revealed he was an executive in a large company. Fear gripped me...but I met him anyway. He said that that was one of the reasons he loved me so....that I loved him when I thought he was just a common man. We both tremendously enjoyed our time together. He had always told me he loved me and in the months before our planned meeting the tone of that love changed and appeared to deepen. After 4 fairy-tale days we returned to our respective worlds. Our online relationship continued much like it was before. Then several weeks later I began to sense hesitation from him.

One night we had a candid talk....and he said he feared he would be unable to love me as much as he "should"....or perhaps as much as I loved him. That he kept expecting the "fireworks"....the "bang". I guess because I have been in other relationships....I knew better....was not looking for that "bang".....am fairly certain it is a myth. I know a good solid relationship is built more firmly on the other things we had, mutual respect, trust and love.

Sensing his discomfort, I offered to go away....or to not allow us to monopolize his time. To perhaps date other people until he could get his mind straight. I felt as if my voluntary exclusivity was inadvertently putting pressure on him and said as much. He replied that his first gut-level reaction was to think yes....that would relieve some of his own interenal pressure. But he went on to say that he didn't know if he could live with that decision....that he couldn't stand to know that I was with other men. We are not children we are both in our late 30's. Now, Dr. Tracy.....I don't have a clue how to proceed....I love this man very much. ENOUGH....to let him go if it is for the best....please, please.....help me. I don't trust my own judgement....and I would give anything in the world NOT to mess up this relationship. But I cannot give something I myself believe to be a product of teenage hormones....a myth. Am I wrong?

Dear Online Lover,

I've been telling people for years that eventually online relationships have exactly the same problems that other relationships have. Now you've run into a typical one. You thought that because your relationship happened slowly over time over the internet and without knowing that he was a big CEO type, everything would be different. You thought you didn't have to worry about the same problems, create the same in-love effects, play the same games or be involved with the same expectations. Now reality hits. All lovers eventually crave the same thing -- passion. The "in-love" feeling.

He's craving the angst that in-love lovers feel, and that means he needs to be worried. He needs to wonder if you love him enough, not if he doesn't love you enough to live up to your great love for him. He needs to worry about what you're doing and with whom. I'd say give him what he's asking for.

First tell him how stupid he's going to feel and how much he's going to regret this decision -- in your own words and style of course. Then, tell him you're going to start seeing other men, and do it. Let him fantasize about some other guy getting all the goodies he got -- and who knows, you might find someone even better.

Next time, play it cool. Don't give a guy too much too soon. Don't let him have all your love. Even if you do become lovers, try to keep a little mystery. Don't be totally his voluntarily and without a real commitment on his side. Remember, to create the "in love" feeling, a man has to have his love returned somewhat but not altogether -- yet he has to have hope of having it returned altogether at some time in the future. Read Why People Love in my library.

You say you'd give anything in the world not to mess this up. Okay, you can give up your present manner of courting if you really want this guy. Age, BTW, is not a factor in desiring romantic bells to ring. And courting practices are not a matter of right or wrong. What this is all about is a way of obtaining an outcome that will bring you and him true happiness.

I know it sounds like game playing, but remember these are the dating/mating rituals our society has nurtured and believes in. You don't want to be the only peacock who refuses to spread its wings, even if wing spreading is a silly meaningless game.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been with my fiance for six years now. During these six years, I broke up with him for a year, because he was mildly abusive and dated someone else. He wised up and changed his ways. It has now been two years since we've reunited and now we want to get married. The problem is that I'm Catholic and he's not. He actually doesn't have a religion, but he knows that he does not want to become Catholic. He attended a Catholic boys highschool and is against the teachings of Catholicism. It is important to him that we bond spiritually with the ccovenant of marriage as our foundation. That's fine with me, but why do I have to change my religion? He knew I was Catholic when we started dating and we've been living together for the past two years. How can I convince him that people of different religions can still bond?

Dear Ms. Catholic,

Sure, people of different religions can bond and do all the time. The important thing is that they put their relationship first, not their religious commitment. It sounds to me that you are much more committed to your religious belief than your fiance. That means you're going to want to have a Catholic wedding, and probably want to bring your children up in your religion as well.

Face these problems and talk them over. They won't go away. Probe your fiance's feelings about Catholicism. Make sure his hostility toward your religion's teachings won't rub off on you. Do it before you get married, not after.

Neither of you should have to change your religion, although there is no question that it's easier to make many life decisions if you and your mate have the same religion.

Saying that people of different religions can't bond is like saying that liberals and conservatives can't bond. Of course they can, if they love each other as much as they love their cherished beliefs.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am an American born Filipino male, 31, and divorced for two and a half years. My past relationships with women here (the U. S.) to include my marriage were downright abysmal. It seems to me that American women, including "Americanized" Asians, generally are not happy with what they receive in spite of my efforts to please and accommodate them. I can't understand why I feel they are "looking over my shoulder" for something better and that "I'll do for now".

Anyway, I've delayed my trip to the Philippines for the first time until October to visit close relatives and just maybe, find a spouse. From what I understand, women there would be more than just appreciative of the attention I would give them and what I have to offer, but thankful. However, I also know about the insincere ones that would see me as an opportunity just to get a "green card" or as the rich American to settle her entire clan's financial obligations.

Please don't think that I'm one of those men who are absolute control freaks looking for Third World girls to service my every whim, sexual or otherwise. I'm also not a "loser" socially and professionally. Contrary to popular belief, I am really a generous and somewhat idealistic man who proves his love by doing his best to make a significant and positive impact in a woman's life. In my experience, it seems that women here have everything they need to be happy and look to men for the extras that are nice to have, but not necessary (i. e. even if they want a child, they can be artificially inseminated). Since I make an average middle class income, I can only offer a Filippino girl an opportunity to live up to her potential that she wouldn't otherwise realize in the Philippines. All I expect in return is her appreciation and a chance to earn her love. In other words, I want a relationship that would be mutually beneficial regardless of differences in culture.

Could you please advise me on how I should mentally and emotionally prepare myself before going there. What can I do to ascertain a woman's sincerity given the limited exposure? My initial plan, if a woman did interest me, is to meet her, get her here on a fiance visa, and marry her within the 90 day period. Is this wise? If it is, what can I do during the 90 days to make her feel truly loved and for both of us to feel, in spite of the limited prenuptial time together, that the marriage will be right and "until death do us part"? I do not EVER want to go through another divorce.

Thank you,

Dear Mailorder groom,

The trouble with looking for a woman from another country is that you take yourself with you. If you are annoyingly persistant and persistantly annoying, which I can tell you are from the number of times you've sent this question, then wherever you go, your annoying self will be there. So no matter what kind of woman you meet, your need to control and make a significant impact on a woman's life will not serve you well. Eventually, even the most complacent, non-feminist woman will tell you to bug off, and once again you will blame the woman.

In the United States, people marry for love, not mutually beneficial relationships. So after you bring your new bride home, she's going to find that out and realize what she's missing.

You should plan on spending more than one visit looking for a wife. Take a few years to find the right woman and get to know her. Rushing into a marriage is a sure way to get into trouble. Find a woman who is already exactly what you want, not one who needs you to change or fix her life. Find a woman who you love and who loves you, then decide to marry her. Don't decide to marry her and then get her to love you.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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