"Ask Dr. Tracy"

9/6/98 Advice Column


Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 34 year old male and I feel like I've reached the end of my rope. I consider myself attractive but I always end up in relationships that I feel that right at the beginning but end up ending after 4 or 5 months. I think part of my problem is that I come from a broken home and have never had the benefit of growing up with both parents in a loving relationship. I have had many girlfriends in my life and too many sexual relationships to mention. I am at the point in my life where I want to settle down and raise a family.

However, I think that I am too impatient. When I meet someone new, I immediately fool myself into thinking that it's Mrs. Right and shower that person with affection, only to lose interest slowly over the course of several months. I end up breaking many hearts that way. I find that I am constantly comparing the girl that I'm with other women and then finding faults with them. I think that I subsconsciously tell myself that I can find someone better and won't settle for second best. It's ruining every relationship that I have. I'm not getting any younger so I wish that there was a 'magic pill' that could change my way of thinking.

Dear Impatient,

It's true that coming from a broken family could make it harder for you to achieve a good relationship, since you don't have a good role model for intimacy. However, lots of people who come from broken homes manage to find and nurture a good loving relationship.

Your impatience is definitely a problem for you since it leads you to "instant love," overgiving, and burnout of the relationship before you've gotten further along than good sex. The next time you meet someone who seems like a possible, slow down. Don't shower the person with affection, give too many gifts or spend too much time together.

Most of all, though, your self-defeating behaviors come from making comparisons of one woman with another. Sure, each woman you meet will have special qualities, but they won't be the same special qualities that the last woman has. The danger here is that you collect the special qualities of each woman in your life and begin to search for that one woman who has all the great qualities of all the other women -- and you're doomed to failure in that search.

Stop comparing women. Instead, appreciate each one for the unique person she is.

Stop looking for someone perfect and start looking for someone you can live with. Look for someone you can love and rely on, someone you'd trust to raise your children and take care of you if you became ill. Make a list of the qualities that really matter to you. Think in terms of qualities that will last, like kindness, intelligence, being affectionate, nurturing etc., and stop focusing on the superficial attributes like color of eyes, hair, etc.

Realize that you won't find anyone who is better in every single way, just different.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

This isn't really a question, but I felt I had to reply to the letter about the May/December Romance.

That could be me, except I'm 36 and my boyfriend is 24. I'm also divorced with two children. My boyfriend and I have been dating a year now...at first, I had a real hard time with the age difference, and kept saying the same things to myself as the writer of that letter did. "Will he leave me for a younger woman?" "What could he see in someone 12 years his senior?"

You know what? I finally wised up. You're absolutely right that if it was the other way around, nobody would blink. You hear about older men and younger women all the time. There are no guarantees in life, and if the younger man makes her happy, she should definitely go for it. Life is too short to waste any time worrying about what might happen in the future. I'm just enjoying each day as it comes, and so far it's better every day!

Thanks for the good work. I sure hope she takes your advice.

Dear Wised up,

You have discovered the secret to true happiness. Enjoying each day as it comes is a fabulous way to stay in the here and now. Forget about what happened yesterday -- there's very little you can do about it, and stop worrying about what's going to happen in the future because the future isn't guaranteed to anyone. Instead focus on each day, since that's all that's really sure, and cherish and enjoy your love.

It's wise to stay in the here and now. (And meanwhile, he's getting older each day, too :)

Thanks for writing,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My fiance and I got into a very heated argument last night. Many things were said and at one point he pushed me down to the floor. There was no hitting, punching, or slapping of any kind involved and never has there been in the past three years we have been together. He has a very bad temper, however has been keeping it under control and doing a very good job of it. I am concerned and would like to know if I should be or not. We are getting married next May, what do you think I should do?

Dear Concerned,

I don't blame you one bit for being worried. Although your fiance has kept his temper for the past three years, that doesn't mean this outburst should be overlooked. Anybody can behave when there are no problems or stressful situations to deal with. What's important is how he behaves under stress or when dealing with problems. After all, spending your life with someone means there will be lots of problems for the two of you to work out.

Get him into an anger management therapy group. Tell him you're concerned, and go to therapy with him if you can't get him to go on his own. Don't marry a man who has a temper problem and think it'll go away. It will only get worse.

Many men control their tempers until they're married and then boom, they think it's okay to lose it because "you're theirs now." And the first thing you know there is more than pushing; there's slapping, punching, hitting and verbal abuse as well.

You both need to find other ways to deal with problems so that your tempers don't get out of control and you don't wind up saying things that you wish you hadn't. You need to learn to fight fair. That means not bringing up the past, dealing only with the issues at hand, not blaming each other, and learning to compromise and reach agreement rather than yelling and hollering. Work it out before you get married -- it's easier to do when you aren't burdened by children, bills, and other problems of living together as man and wife.

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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