"Ask Dr. Tracy"

9/22/96 Advice Column

Romeo with a darkside,
Love me, love my hair,
Doing it one more time

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hey there!! I've spent time and read everything you have to say here but I can't seem to get my problems worked out. I have been going out with this wonderful lady now for about nine and a half months. We just rencently had our first fight and she doesn't know if she wants to be with me anymore. She loved me more than anything just a week ago and I know that she still loves me. She has told me that she loves me and told me all her feelings. I believe that she is just scared about what happened and is scared that it will happen again.

I am not a violent person in either words or actions but this time I was and I feel bad about it. I have been under a lot of stress from everything lately and I just hit the bottom the other day. My questions is how can I make her understand my feelings towards her and how can I get things back to the way they used to be. I have gone through the 'net for a while looking for this type of answer but I haven't found it anywhere. I have refered many people to your column and they have came back with good results. you have helped me more than anyone. Now there is something that I haven't found anywhere and I would like your help if you have the time. Thanks a bunches!!

- Bleeding Romeo

Dear Bleeding Romeo,

You blew it bigtime. Anybody can have a great relationship when everything's hunky-dory and everybody's lovey-dovey. But when the going got tough, when you had your very first argument, you got violent. That showed her your true colors that you'd been covering up during the courting period. You don't really know a man until you see how he acts under stress. And you failed the test. No wonder she ran like hell. Shows she's smart and has good self esteem.

All violent guys feel bad about it afterwards. Big deal! Then they turn right around and do it again. Perhaps you'll learn a lesson from this and never do it again. Research shows, however, that men who get violent once will do it again. So smart women avoid them like the plague.

You probably need help in learning to deal with disagreements in a loving and productive way. Get yourself to a therapist who specializes in helping men who can't control their tempers. Or join a group. You'll hear story after story of men who really loved a woman and then got violent during an argument. That's a rotten way to solve a disagreement.

Ask her to go with you to work on solving problems in a civil manner at a therapist's or workshop. If she knows you're willing to work on solving the problem, she may give you another chance, but don't depend on it.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I just met someone I've been writing to on-line for a few months. He's been very caring and we seem to have the beginnings of a friendship. We have a conflict tho, because I don't like to attract attention, and that is what he draws. He has hair down to his waist in a wavy ponytail and a long untrimmed beard. Plus, he wears a black cowboy hat, and when he took it off his hair was not even neatly combed and parted underneath. I don't mind the hat so much, but there's so much hair I can't tell if he has a pleasing face underneath. He's in his 40s, educated...and not a musician. He looks like a Civil War colonel, come to think of it.

Why would someone choose to wear their hair in a style that appears unattractive and unkempt? There must be other ways to express oneself and show one's style. The easy answer would be the anti-establishment/adolescent rebellion thing. I'm really not as shallow as this sounds; of course its what inside that counts. But its sometimes hard for people to get past the initial impression, which might be: of someone who doesn't take pride in their appearance, is an aging hippie, who wants to attract attention, who doesn't want to look attractive to the opposite sex... Most of us try to do the best with what we've got, and I can't understand purposely trying to look worse. I don't think there is a chance for romance with his hair this way; doesn't he realize it detracts from any sex appeal he might be hiding underneath? I even like beards, cared-for ones anyway.

I would like to stay friends with this man, and get to know him better, but I am uncomfortable with the attention he draws in public. I can't ask him to cut his hair, either. How do you tell someone there's this huge boulder in the way of getting closer? Is there any solution to this dilemma, or should I just forget about my new friend?

Dear hair hater,

What a petty reason you've chosen to reject this otherwise nice guy. With men who beat mistreat and abuse women (see above), too much hair is a minor problem. Lots of women think men who look like him are sexy, and if you don't, he should go find one who does.

You may have a chance to get him to shampoo all that hair, to fluff it up a little, but I doubt that you'll be able to change his basic style. At 40, he is what he is, and I don't think he's going to get a haircut and totally restyle himself for you.

Why not get to know him better in private? Then you won't have to worry so much about attracting attention in public. The real solution to your dilemma is for you to loosen up a little and not be so self-conscious. So what if he draws attention in public? That's not a big deal unless you make it one.

You can't tell a man that his whole persona stands in the way of your relationship. Women who want to change a man into their image should find someone who already fits it. My article "Developing Realistic Criteria" might help you figure out what's really important to you and what isn't.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

This is not a question, just appreciation.

I just want to thank you for your advice. I think your web-site is so absolutely wonderful that I put a prominent link to it on my web page. I put your picture on the link. I hope that is O.K. I quite frequently tell people about your site.

Thanks to your advice I was able to extract myself from a relationship in which I seemed to be the one doing all the giving and all the loving. I ordered and read your book "Man Power", made an ideal woman list and started meeting lots of women.

Then I met someone absolutely wonderful, set my list and your advice aside and promptly repeated exactly the same relationship mistake. This time the relationship lasted about two months and unfortunately just ended in a furious row. Ms. 'absolutely wonderful' wasn't.

I seem to repeat the same mistake over and over again, and don't get very far, but I'm confident that if I get over my fear of meeting people my range of available choices will broaden, and I can be more discriminating in who I make the object of my affections.

I'm 31, and I've never had a long-term close relationship. For years my friends would say "God will bring the right woman along when you least expect it." I no longer believe that. I'm confident that if I apply your advice to my life my situation will improve.

I'm sure you get flooded with email, so thankyou for taking the time to read this.

Dear did it again,

It's almost human nature that as soon as we identify what we've been doing wrong, we do it again. A woman who has a habit of getting involved with men who are bullies will figure it out and then get involved with one more bully just to make sure.

Many people have to try something one more time to see if it's really the mistake they've been making. We eat a hot fudge sundae and gain two pounds in the morning. Then we do it once more, to double check.

That's what you did. The good news is that this time you were conscious of what you were doing. You recognized the problem. Next time you'll be aware much sooner and you'll hear a little voice telling you, "stop."

Overgiving is a frequent problem for both men and women. We think that because we love, we can give everything to someone. The truth is that giving too much is a way of trying to control someone. Overgivers are insecure about their ability to keep someone without giving too much. Next time, give a little and then stop. Make sure you get something back before you give again. The best cure for overgivers is to make sure you give just a little less than the other person. For more specifics on this, you might want to go back and re-read "How Much to Give and When" in my Library.

Submitting a Question to this column

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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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