"Ask Dr. Tracy"

11/28/99 Advice Column


Getting A Guy
Love Me, Love My Tree
He Calls Her By His Ex's Name




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am recently divorced after 19years of marriage. Not a happy ending and somewhat mentally abusive. Within a month of that I got laid off of my job of 12 years, okay, I'm still not reaching for the pistol, but low and behold my only child who just turned 19 who has been helping out with the house, chores and bills (phone, etc.) has stated that she wants to move out. Okay, so, here I am thinking well, I can't stop her, but I feel a little lost. Just to fill you in, my ex signed the house over, no equity whatsoevrer, 3 big beautiful dogs-also my children, and me unemployed. Now, I know the answer is, get a job. Well, being the H. S. grad that I am, I'm finding that with all my skills in this melting pot sociality, I am kind of limited to pay ranges and jobs. I will get through this I know, but actually I have to throw this in, it's men! Now mind you, I am enjoying my solitude, but I am a heterosexual, and a date would be nice for coffee or a movie, but you know, when a guy comes up to me and shows interest, I literally loose my air!! I feel my face flushing, pulse racing, an overall panic attack which I've never had in my life, and the guy doesn't even have to be interesting to me!! Well, so much for keeping this short. In your overall opinion, please give me some sound advice, things to read that might be helpful, whatever, just be kind, I can't take anymore criticism at this time.

Thank you for your response and understanding.

Dear Flushed,

Are you sure you really need a man to complicate your life right now? Perhaps this is a good time to get to know yourself, to enjoy your solitude and to get your life in order. And it worries me that you only think of a man in terms of coffee or a movie. That may be all you want, but guys want more than that!

The best time to find a man is when you have a job and your feet on the ground. You certainly wouldn't want to choose a man because he offered financial assets or as an escape from your problems or as a rescuer. You need to be free to choose a man who treats you well and who will be a good life partner.

One problem is that you're letting guys choose you instead of you choosing them. That means you can be standing around and some guy walks up and catches you unaware. Then he is calling the terms of the meeting, and you're caught off-guard to make decisions like, "do I like him? Is he nice?" You've had nineteen years of an abusive husband calling the terms - no wonder you panic when a man walks up to you. The solution is to start choosing the men you want. Meet them on your terms, not theirs.

Look at it this way: a twenty-year-old can just stand around a bar and look cute to attract a guy. She's got the physical assets and hasn't developed the discrimination to really pick and choose for herself wisely. You're not twenty. You're a mature woman, with different assets, and you have to use different tactics.

Look for men on the Internet or in the personals. Choose a guy you want to meet and talk to him on the phone first. Screen him to see if you even want to meet. Then set up a meeting at your favorite coffee shop, if he interests you. Mature women today don't wait around to be picked up at odd times by men they don't know. They take charge of their love lives just the way they would take charge of a job-hunt.

The rules have changed. And you've grown up. This may be the first time you've been alone and totally in charge of your own future. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am the girlfriend of a man who hates Christmas. This came from his dysfunctional family and mother who also hates Christmas. They never had a holiday filled with love, fun, caring and laughter. I think it was always a disapointment so they all learned "that it doesn't matter". I had a very different childhood, CHristmas to us was always filled with love, fun caring and laughter. My mom always went out of her way to make it special for all of us. We have been invited to my brothers for Christmas. This involves a 125 mile car trip and a overnight stay(at his brothers house). We did this last year and he got so drunk the night before that here was no way he could enjoy it-he made sure that he didn't. I have lived with this man for 2 years and love him very much. He has told me that he is not going this year-he wants to sit alone in his fish house instead. I know from reading your site for awhile that I should just go, but I want to spend the holiday with him and the family that I love. If I go and leave him here I will feel very sad. If I stay home with him I will resent him greatly for missing my family-I also have a daughter and disabled mother who will be there. He has also said that we cann't have a Christmas tree except for in the garage (oh boy!). Please help me with some of your excellent advice-I really don't know what to do but am feeling that I cann't compromise myself or I will be mad at me which would really suck. How can I share a holiday that is important to me with a man who hates it? Thanks so much for your consideration.

Scrooge's girlfriend

Dear Tiny Tim,

Don't let scrooge ruin your Holiday. He sounds like he comes from a very dysfunctional family, and you should be careful he doesn't drag you down into the miserable hole he has dug for himself.

Go to your family and don't feel guilty. Get a Christmas tree and don't ask. Put it in the living room where it belongs. Hang stockings. Cook turkey. Tell scrooge that if he doesn't like it that's too bad. Stop letting the dysfunctional drunk call the shots. Share what you can, and don't let him rain on your parade. Let him sit in his fish house or wherever else he wants to be. Don't let him make you feel sad because he insists on being miserable.

I'm concerned that you're letting him set the rules in this relationship. Start making your own rules and let him stew with his fish. If he's the kind of man that will ruin Christmas, he'll be ruining lots of other occasions as well. If you're a sentimental type, you'll want to have Valentine's Day, Anniversary celebrations, birthday parties, Easter egg baskets, and Halloween costumes. This man could be a real drag on all the times that other people are enjoying.

Maybe you can't share Christmas with him. Maybe you can't share a life with him. You're not his shrink and maybe you can't fix him. He seems so determined to be miserable. And sadly, he seems to want to make you miserable too. Frankly, I wouldn't want him at my family Christmas.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy




Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been with my boyfriend now for a year. We met through a online classifeds ad. I had been single for nearly 2 years at the time. My previous boyfiend stood me up at the altar. He (my present boyfriend) was in the process of getting a divorce. He had been with his ex for 7 years and in that time they had broken up many times and he had been with other women. Finally, he decided to settle down and "she was the convenient choice" according to him.

They were married for 1.5 years. According to him it was a mistake from the beginning. His family did not like her, her father moved in with them, she never worked around the house to make it a home, she went back to university...only coming home on the weekends and they fought constantly.

He started to date as soon as she had her bags packed. He was determined to find the perfect woman. He went on 100+ dates in a 6 month period before finally meeting me.

We talked on line and on the phone for two months. I then moved 200kms to be with him. We have lived together for 10 months now and of course there are the normal relationship problems. I don't dismiss the fact that we rushed but we are both adults and it seemed right at the time.

I have a pressing concern...whenever he is excited...when he wins at a game or during sex. He calls me by her name. We have talked about this openly and he assures me that he has no intimate feelings left for her. That it is most likely habit.

I did understand in the beginning...her name is Amy and mine is Andrea. Both "A's". We have two sets of friends whose wives names are Amy and my mothers name is Amie. Granted the problem was more prominent whenever we had spent any length of time with them.

My concern is that it has been a year. This is placing an extreme stress on our relationship. He now concentrates on not saying her name so much that he has to even not to say my name. He calls me "honey", "sweetie" or some other term of endearment rather than take the chance he may slip up. Our sex life has suffered...he concentrates on not saying her name and forgets about me ...somethimes he can't even orgasm because he is too afraid of saying her name if he does and he loses all focus on what we are doing.

We are considering having a baby. My biggest fear is that the time of conception will be marred by her "presence".

He has suggested that he is willing to seek help in the form of hyptnotism, etc. I am not as willing...call me crazy if you like but I'd be happier knowing that he overcame this problem because he loved me and wanted only me...that she was not in his sub-concience because of his focus on me. Am I not worth it?

Any insights would be appreciated.

Dear "Honey,"

After being with a woman for seven years, it's understandable that her name would come tripping off his tongue. Especially since your name and the ex's name start with the same letter.

But you're with him, and she's history. Stop making such a big thing of this. You're making him say her name even more. Ignore the whole thing. Or let him go to a hypnotist. Hypnosis often works really well to help people get old relationships off their mind.

Be happy with his pet names for you. There's nothing wrong with being called honey or sweetie or any other term of endearment.

Get back to basics. Let him know your good sex relationship is more important than him saying her name. By taking the pressure off, you'll help this situation to go away. It's not worth ruining a relationship over, unless there are really other issues and you're using this one as the easiest way to blame him for what's wrong.

When a person loves another person for seven years, and even marries that other person, it's natural for the loving feelings to still exist in their subconscious. Memories don't go away just because you're with someone new. You can't erase the past. Accept him and his past. Be grateful that the other woman helped make him the man you love today. Stop feeling competitive with someone who isn't there except in your imagination and his memories.

It's not a matter of whether you're worth it, it's a matter of whether you accept and love this man, his past and his present. Get over it. This is not an issue worth breaking up over. If you can't get over it, don't marry him and don't have children with him. You'll drive him crazy and make yourself miserable.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy





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