Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss


When a Man Says "No"
Something's Missing
Obsessing on a Lover

When a Man Says "No"

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I've thoroughly checked your Love Library, and I can't find anything even remotely resembling my situation, so I thought I would come to you, as I am just stumped.

I'm a 36 year old single woman in love with a 4o year old single man. He is kind and funny and intelligent and financially secure. We met online (of course), and have spent countless hours talking about everything. We finish each other's sentences, and seem to know what the other one is thinking without having to say a word. He is the first person I've ever met who has, literally, all the qualities I've looked all my life to find.

But......(you knew there'd be a but in here somewhere, didn't you) there's just one problem: He has ALS. He was diagnosed 6 years ago, and is one of the lucky few who have a particularly slow moving type. So far, there is only a bit of numbness in his feet and fingers. He can still lead an active, productive life, which he does. But, given the nature of this horrible disease, that could change, literally, overnight. I have done a lot of research, and a lot of soul searching, and I believe that I am ready to deal with things as they come. I would rather have one week with this wonderful man than 30 years with anyone else.

However, he has said that he doesn't want to "drag anyone" into this, and has stopped contacting me. He said once that if he fell in love with me, he would have to avoid me, and I'm sure this is what he is doing. I have spoken with friends of his, who know him in person, and all the information he's given me about himself is the truth, so I don't think he's found greener pastures or made up this story.

With any other guy, it would be simple....I would just walk away. But this situation, and this man, are unique, and I'm at a loss as to what to do. I don't want to cause him any undue stress, but I can't bear the thought of him facing what he must face all alone. (He has no close relatives, etc.)

So...do I walk away? I've tried emailing him, but received no response. I've considered going to his home, but am not sure. Again, this would be an easy call if the situation was the norm, but it isn't. I hope you can help me with this, as I am tearing myself to shreds inside with doubt and grief.

Thanks, Bumfuzzled

Dear Bumfuzzled,

He's totally rejecting any contact with you. The wise thing to do is respect his decision.

Think carefully. What if you're wrong? What if he is using his disease as an excuse to get rid of you? Or what if you show up at his home and discover that he's found another woman to bring love to his last days or years? Or let's say you're right: he loves you and is being enormously gallant, to save you from the horrors of this disease. He may still send you away.

However, I know you don't want to accept any outcome other than your fantasy: that you show up on his doorstep and fall into each other's arms. Maybe that happens. And what then? I'm afraid your "one week with this wonderful man" is an unrealistic dream.

If you really care for this man the way you say you do, one week will turn into two, and so on, and your dream will slowly turn into a nightmare. No amount of research can prepare you for the reality of ALS. I say that from personal experience with two close friends. ALS is unstoppable. You'll be helpless to prevent its ravages, and you'll be trapped with a man who can't breathe on his own, or talk, or eat or move any part of his body. If you can't take it, you'll have to walk away, which will be excruciating.

My advice is to walk away now. I wouldn't say that if you were married to this man, or committed to him, or there was a solid history to your relationship with him. But none of that is true.

Apparently he knows his good years are numbered and that he could easily be in a wheelchair in the near future. It's certainly his privilege to decide how and with whom he wants to spend the limited time he has left for living a normal life. If he won't answer your phone calls or emails, you have to figure he just doesn't want to see you, no matter what his reason is.

Life goes on. Remember him as he was, keep that memory with you, and move on with your life.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Something's Missing

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 27 year old single mother of six year old. I have never been married. As long as I can remember being married was always one of my dreams. I've dated my share of sleaze balls abusive in everyway and eventually after trying to make it right and finally figuring out that it wasn't me I kicked them to the curb.

I searched your love library twice and I just can't figure out what's going on with me. I met this guy Jason i've been dating for five months, he is totally opposite of any other guy I would've considered. We go together like peanut butter and jelly. Same likes/dislikes, same wants, same morals, same views, same religion etc.etc. He treats me like i've always wanted to be treated and he is wonderful with my daughter. She even says she wants us to get married. We are definitely taking the "steps to commitment" that you've listed and discussed the others with serious thought.

But I still have that "something's missing" feeling. It's like all the other guys were exciting, outgoing, had a bit of cocky confidence, funny, and definitely had the Don Juan looks. My guy is shy, to himself, quiet, mushy, emotional and clingy,(Everything i've wanted all of my past Don Juans to be) he's cute but in a "aww look how shy he is" kinda cute. Surprisingly, his mushiness and clinginess make me feel smothered. So now I have all of the emotional and mental stability I have always dreamed of but I don't have that spark with all of the fireworks and like I'm walking in La La Land like I had before with everyone else. We had sparks for about the first month and then it just disappeared.

To try and help you out I met him when I was in one of those "Crazy Love" relationships and he seemed like a nice guy so that's why I started to talk to him as friends and the more interesting our conversation grew I felt different feelings for him and told him about it. We hung out, made out and then he asked me in the dorkiest way to be his girlfriend, but it was cute. I felt kind of on the spot so I said yes, knowing I wasn't even close to being over the "crazy one" actually still talking to him at the time but two days later cut off all communication. It was only fair to both of us. For months I cried over the ex to Jason and he gave me advice that my best friend would give me. It wasn't jealous advice in was genuine and he made me look at myself in a different light then what I saw myself in. I now am able to see my ex with another girl and only feel resentment and disgust for what he did to me for a year and a half . So I think I definitely made some headway there. I went from someone I had to beg to spend time with me and give me affection to someone who practically moved in.

Another thing, I suffer from depression and anxiety and my medication stopped working the past couple months. So now I'm in the process of weaning off of one to start another in about two weeks. Maybe that's it??? Hopefully that's it.

I just don't know. Am I insatiable? He is everything I'd want in a husband but I just don't feel that attraction with him. I feel shallow but this little bit that I am missing seems like alot and it counteracts my emotion and affection towards him and of course that makes for a not so happy boyfriend.

Thank you for your time and hope to hear from you.

Dear Depressed,

Some women just can't accept it when they find a good one, and you could be one of them. You don't feel the same excitement in your current relationship with the nice guy that you felt in your former relationships with the men who were abusive sleazeballs. You're one of those "ladies love outlaws" women. You are mixing up excitement with love.

But with a nice guy, he's there all the time. Sure you feel smothered. You're just not used to being loved. You're used to being used, half-loved and half-abused. That's exciting, but it's not love.

What you're missing is the excitement of the Don Juan who might love you today, but you never know about tomorrow. You're missing the excitement of not knowing if he's going to be in another woman's arms the minute he's not in yours. The craziness of wondering if he's leaving you for good every time he goes out the door. You're missing bailing him out of jail and dealing with his drugs and drinking excitement.

Why don't you try loving a nice guy for a change? Nice guys can be as lovable as a sleazeball. Loving a nice guy isn't that hard and you could end up happy, if not as excited by the wrong things.

You need to think about what you have instead of what's missing. Forget about walking in La-La land, because La-La is littered with broken hearts. Enjoy the time while you're smothered with his love - it doesn't last forever.

When you choose a husband, you choose differently from the choices you make for a fling. You seem to be concentrating more on the little bit that you're missing than the huge amount that you have.

Give this relationship more time. Even if he doesn't turn out to be your future husband, he's teaching what a good relationship is like. You and he are also setting a good example for your daughter. Don't rush into a decision until you get your medications balanced.

Keep your eye on your dream of getting married and only spend time with men who can really take you on that path.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Obsessing on a Lover

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Whenever I start having feelings in a relationship, I start obsessing on that person. It is a constant struggle. I feel sometimes my only alternative is to see several different people so I don't become so obsessive.

I attempted once to not have any relationships but sexually I couldn't toe the line. So I got on one of those websites for adult singles. Being an attractive female, I've found several partners. I'm great in bed so there is always fireworks, but unfortunately I started having feelings toward this one guy. It always happens that I can't just have non-stop sex and keep it all in perspective. Now I feel the obsessiveness coming on. I want to keep focused on my own needs, but I've already started changing my career plans, etc.

What do I do?

Dear Obsessed,

The reason you become obsessed is because you let your lover become the only source of your pleasure. One way to not become obsessed is to have more than one man in your life. Don't give up all others until you're ready to commit and he is too.

Having a relationship that's "just for sex" is not a way out for you. Very few women are able to pull this off because we have a strong tendency to believe that if a man gives us pleasure we love him. We mix up getting a good orgasm with falling in love. That can be really dangerous, because the men who give the great orgasms aren't always the best ones to fall in love with.

What's tricky is to find a man with whom you have great sex and other things too - such as compatibility, shared values, similar goals, education and social backgrounds. You're attractive and sexually adept and that may make it easier to get laid than to get loved. One way to try to combine the two is to make sure in front that the man is one you could legitimately love and who would be a good husband.

Fight the urge to obsess, and certainly if you are obsessing, don't act on it. That means don't let obsessing over a man rule your life. Don't act on your obsessions, because if you do, you'll just drive the man away. And most importantly, if you are obsessing, never, ever let the man know you're obsessing over him.

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)
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