"Ask Dr. Tracy"

9/10/2000 Advice Column

When They Get Mad
Internet Love
Eyes Wide Shut

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I met a wonderful man and we are engaged. I am 41 and divorced for 12 years. He is 48 and had a marriage for 16 years and his last one for 2 about 2 years ago. He lives about 80 miles away and it is hard to be apart.

Sometimes we have communication problems and one example is when he called me at work to tell me that he took tomarrow off and that he will come up to visiit. He left work at 3:30 Had to drop off groceries and feed the dog the fish and water the plants . I asked him about dinner and to call me when he left. I worked until 5:45 and rushed home thinking he would be there. I called his cell and his home. No answer. So I just figuired he had the cell off and had left. He called me at 7;00 and I couldn't believe that he hadn't left yet and said so and than he started telling me all the things he "had" to do because he wasn't going to be home until Thursday(today is Tuesday) I was mad and said, this could of waited until Thursday and that call you could of made here and at this rate it will be 8:00 when you get here and if I stay up until 11:00 that is only 3 hours. He said he was not 5 years old and that I am controlling and acting like a militarian.

I know that he thinks he did all that in a sense for me and the sacrafice he made, because I know how he thinks, but this happens alot with all the things he "thinks" he has to do. I am the one with kids and I spend most of my time there. My kids are 15 and 18. He hung up on me and if I call him and he doesn't answer I won't know if he is just not answering or if he left. He has not called me back.

I realize that I over reacted and my tone of voice changed, but does it have to turn into a conflict and make me wonder if he is coming or not ? He says he is seeing a theorpist in a couple days because he doesn't understand when I get mad and he gets mad when I do and then it has to turn into a big thing? Last time he threw away my love letters and thought if was over, he says when i I get mad at him he thinks I am telling him I want to break up. I tell him it is overcoming disagreements and learning more about each other and yes healing Do I need to seek counceling? Because I think this is disturbing our progress and yes I think people have reactions maybe mine aren't fair. It is like he can't deal with not being 100 percent perfect in my eyes or maybe he feels scolded and that is wrong of me to do. Please tell me what you think.

Dear Mad,

You are way out of line. A man is willing to drive 80 miles to be with you and you can't let him have some time to himself to arrange his life to be away? How could you expect him to leave work at 3:30, drop off groceries which he probably had to buy first, feed the dog, water the plants, drive 80 miles, etc., and be at your house when you got home at 5:45? You had asked him to call you when he was leaving, and he called you at 7. So his cell phone was off and you couldn't reach him for awhile. Big deal.

What's worse than you being unreasonable is that you and your fiance both get mad when things go wrong. Things will always go wrong in life - that's how life is. So if your only responses to things going wrong are to get mad, yell, accuse, hang up the phone, tear up love letters and accuse each other of not caring enough, you are doomed to ruin your relationship.

Remember that men hate the "C" words - criticism, controlling, complaining, crying and correcting. They love "A" words - approval, appreciation, affection, adoring. They hate the "C" words because when you complain, etc., you make the man feel unloved. The man thinks, "If she loved me, she would be happy with me the way I am. She would be happy with herself because she has me." And if you're not happy with him the way he is, he feels unloved.

Since you are engaged to be married, you may be planning on moving in together soon, which would take away the distance problem. However, you will still have the anger problem to deal with, so you and your fiance should definitely seek counseling together. You need to learn to communicate without getting angry over every real or imagined slight.

There are other ways to solve problems. You could negotiate with him and agree on more reasonable schedules. You could allow for contingencies and overlook unimportant things. How big a deal are a couple of hours together if you're going to have the rest of your lives to spend together? And you could learn to assert yourself with humor instead of anger. I recommend you read Daniel Golman's book, "Emotional Intelligence," to learn other ways to deal with your upsets.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Dear dr.Tracy, my name is Tony, I'm 35 years old, never married and I've only had one relationship in the past that lasted about a year. I've always been a very shy person.

Recently I met a girl through the internet. We met each other just last month, only 3 weeks after our first contact on the net. She lives in Brazil and I live in Canada, she was in Canada for three weeks to study English. She liked me right from the start, we get along just fine, I like her a lot too, she's always on my mind. She has been married before and has a 9 year old boy and is 30 years of age. Anyway in december I will be visiting her in Brazil for a month.

Well I Think I'm falling in love with her. I call her every day on the phone. My question is wether I tell her that I love her now over the phone, or should I wait till december and tell her in person ? ( I'm thinking of the latter)

Is it usually the man who says "I love you " first?

Dear Shy,

You've waited 35 years, why rush now? You've had so little experience with women and relationships that I doubt if you're ready to make an intelligent lifetime decision after having been together for only three weeks.

Hold off on telling her you love her on the phone. Yes, it's usually the man who says it first, but a smart man doesn't say it unless he's sure he's in love and unless he's sure she'll be saying it back to him.

This woman with whom you think you're in love has had much more experience in life than you have had. She has been married and has a son. You wouldn't just be marrying her, you'd also be taking on an instant family and becoming a father to her nine year old son.

Relationships that last take time to build. You haven't really spent enough time with her to know your real feelings. You haven't spent any time with her son, which could change the equation between the two of you drastically. Her son could decide he doesn't like you at all, or vice versa. You need to spend serious time together -- not just writing on the Internet or three weeks of time together -- but actually being together for an extended period of time.

Wait until you've been in Brazil for a while. Then decide if you could live in Brazil or if she'd be happy in Canada, assuming you still have the same feelings for her that you think you have now.

It's easy to feel "in love" when you haven't faced any of life's problems or had to deal with any real stress together. Before you decide you're ready to spend your life with someone, it's important to find out how they act when dealing with life's problems.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 34 yr old male, that has fallen in love with a 46 yr old woman. However there are problems in our relationship that makes me afraid that I will lose her if things continue as they are. We have known each other for 6 years and have been together for four of those years. I moved into her house with her children and ex-husband about 3 years ago and have noticed that things are not the way that I was told at the onset of our relationship. I knew that her ex was living with her, but he was supposed to be sleeping on the couch. The only reason that he was there was that he didn't have anywhere else to go and her children didn't want her to leave him. He also never took her anywhere and never paid any attention to her. I have noticed that this is not the case and right now they are at a football game together, because he bought season tickets, but none of the kids wanted to go with him to this game.

Every time I try to talk with her about the situation and my feelings, I either get told to move out or that she is going to break the relationship off. None of the kids or her ex know about our relationship, and I agreed to that. I am not saying that I'm perfect, I talked to another woman, and went out one time without her. She has been out several times without me, going out with her ex. SHe says that she is only doing it to please her kids until they realize that her and her ex don't want anything to do with each other. It makes me feel uneasy about the status of our relationship. Actually it makes me jealous to know that the only time she wants to do anything with me is when she wants to get drunk. Yet she will go shopping, got to sporting events, and to bars with her ex. She tells me that because I was unfaithful, she doesn't trust me, yet how am I to trust her when she spends more time with her ex than with me. some of the other things that I have noticed since I moved in has been that her ex sleeps in bed with her, and they get up together early in the morning and watch TV,(with him having his arm around her). She tells me that she doesn't want a jelous man, but I feel that I have been put into a situation where I have no other choice to be jealous. I can't say anything to either him or the kids, and she becomes evasive when I try to talk with her about it. I can just feel my heart breaking every time I see the things that go on and want to leave, yet my heart keeps telling me to stay.

I really do love her and she keeps promising me that we'll be together someday, and that this is something that she has to do for her kids. I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this and I get mad every time that they do things together. Both her and I are afraid what will happen if they find out as her ex has been physically abusive with her in the past, yet every time this happens I feel hurt and betrayed because these are all things we should be doing together. We don't even talk on the phone anymore, and the way we act together has changed. She says that I'm just jealous and that if I'm going to continue to be that way that she doesn't want to be with me. My heart aches and I haven't really been able to sleep for weeks. They leave the bedroom door open, and I go in to check on them late at night and may find them laying together with him having his arms around her. HELP!! I don't know whether to stay in the relationship or not, she says that she loves me and has gotten jealous about just me looking at a picture of a woman on the internet. I love her very much, yet my heart keeps getting broken, and I don't know if I'll be able to put the pieces back together.

Dear Doormat,

You are really in trouble with this "relationship," all of your own making. How could you be so trusting that you would move in with a woman and her ex-husband and stick around for three years while they spend their nights in bed together? You don't really believe they're just sleeping in each other's arms, spending all their spare time together shopping, going to sporting events and hanging out, and not having sex? If you do, you probably also believe in the Tooth Fairy.

You should have moved out as soon as you discovered he was sleeping in her bed and not on her couch. Better yet, you should never have moved into this bizarre situation. You've agreed to hide your relationship from her kids and her ex and just hang out and take whatever she gives out. That's a sure-fire way to get walked on, and that's what's happening to you. You're her drinking partner and not much else. If you have any self-respect left, grab it and run away with it. Immediately. You're a fool to stay around and get hurt more, and that's what's going to happen.

You are young and have a chance to find someone else to love. But first, you must leave this destructive relationship. Don't wait another day. Don't accept her promises that you'll be together some day. She's leading you on, having her ex-husband and you too. If you ever want to heal your broken heart, you have to have the strength to say good-bye to this heartbreaker.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Submitting a Question to this column

Dr. Tracy regrets that it is simply impossible for her to answer all of the hundreds of questions submitted to this column each week. However, she does read every question, and tries to select the three which are of the most general interest to the visitors here.

Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"

If you can't find your answer in the Library and you feel you MUST have an answer, you can get a personal answer from Dr. Tracy within two business days by availing yourself of her inexpensive private counseling.

You may submit your question to Dr.Tracy's column by e-mail here. (Tips: to increase your chances of having your question chosen, state your age and your marital history, and remember to use paragraph breaks so that your question isn't just one big, hard-to-read clump of words. Also, questions in all caps won't be answered.)

(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
Return to "Ask Dr. Tracy" Home Page

© copyright 1995-2011 Tracy Cabot