Dear Dr. Tracy,
After reading your Love Library articles on relationship and commitments, I have come to realize that I am a commitment phobic person.
I dated Ted for 7 years before he decided to dump me a week ago. I am 25 this year and Ted is a year older. I have just graduated a few months ago. Ted has been working for 6 years and has a successful career. Our story was a typical “When Harry Met Sally” case. We didn’t like each other initially, then became friends and then lovers.
Problems started 3 years ago when Ted began to drop hints about getting married. I would either brush the topic off with a joke or scold him for bring it up. I was not ready to get married and face his tyrannical mother and also have kids. And because of these problems I had about marriage, I would initiate a breakup, average once a year, whenever we’d have a major disagreement.
Throughout my 7 year relationship with this wonderful man I have constantly dodged the idea of marriage, letting him meet my family and having kids. I was afraid to show love and emotions. He wants to marry and is ready for it. I want marriage but I am not ready.
And so, a week ago he dumped me. He said that he was fed up of waiting for me and that I am too far away. You see, I moved back to my home state 8 months ago to be close to my parents. I have been making bi-monthly visits to him, traveling 300 miles each time. I am now actually planning to move back to Ted’s when I have settled my stuff with my parents. I love to be with him. He blamed me for not being affectionate enough, not giving any indication whatsoever that I want to marry him, not being there when he needs me, not accepting his gifts etc.
I have begged him not to leave me. I have even told him that I am willing to put up with his terrible mother and would even give marriage a chance. But he was adamant. Whatever I said wouldn’t change his mind. He was determined to leave me.
I am by nature not a very showy person where emotions are concerned but I do love him. He heart and character is everything I look for in a husband. I never indicated that I wanted to marry him because I was really scared of the commitment although deep down I wanted it. I am terrified of his mother. She is known to be very nasty and she was nasty to me before. We know that his mother will never accept me. I never wanted to accept his expensive gifts because I was afraid that once I started, he would change his perception of me and start to view me as only eyeing his wealth.
He is now treating me like a friend and no longer calls me “love”. It hurts.
He did ask me whether I was willing to marry him (he asked this one day after he dumped me), but I couldn’t answer that. I am not ready to marry. He wants to marry and have a family as soon as possible (preferably by next year).
What shall I do? I do want him back. I have been trying to make him change his decision but he said that we are better off as friends. It hurts. I would want to get married but not now, perhaps before I turn 30. He won’t even want to wait a year for me. He says that its wasting his time, our time. Isn’t there a chance that we can work it out? I really don’t want to let him go.
What shall I do? What shall I say?
Dear Not Ready,
I really don't blame Ted for leaving you. He was with you for seven years and you couldn't give him any kind of commitment. You refused to even take him seriously and brushed off his proposals. Now that he's left you, you're begging him to take you back. But why should he? You're still not sure.
No relationship should go on that long without a commitment. It doesn't take more than three years for anyone to find out whether or not they want to spend their life with another person they're dating.
Not only wouldn't you give him any encouragement, you refused his gifts which had to give him the impression that you really didn't want to be obligated. You broke up with him to keep your distance from him. You yourself say you have been emotionally unavailable and unable to show love and affection. Why would he want to marry you - unless he's a masochist?
And to top it off - you can't stand his mother.
Ted probably did you a favor and you don't realize it yet. You really shouldn't marry someone unless you are mad about him; unless you're able to accept and give affection, emotions and love without reservation; and unless you're even willing to accept a difficult mother-in-law as part of what you have to put up with to have your guy.
He should find someone who can give him the love and affection he needs, who can put him first in their life, and who isn't scared of commitment or his mother. He should find someone who's ready to marry and have children now, since that's what he wants.
You should find someone who is happy with less affection and emotional connection. You should look for someone who can wait until you're 30, since that's what you really want to do.
Ted has every right to be tired of waiting for you. Seven years is already way too long to wait.
Sex Too Soon?
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am 41, have 3 children, been married 2 times, and
divorced 2 times (2 different husbands) I separated from my 2nd
husband in 1999 and our divorce was final in July 2000. I did not
re-enter the dating game until Nov 2000.
I then dated a co-worker for 10 months, who turned out to be an
alcoholic and only spent time with me when he felt like it. I finally
came to my senses and ended the so-called relationship in August 2001.
But, 2 months later I let him get back into picture several times
which was just for sex. I told him a few weeks ago I was not going to
play games anymore and it was over and I felt I deserved more than that.
Now here is my problem: Sex to soon! While this was going on I joined
an on-line dating service and started talking with a guy for about a
month. We exchanged pictures and talked with each other on instant
messenger on a daily basis. A few weeks ago he gave me his number and I
called him, he also lives 2 1/2 hours away from me. We decided to meet
each other and he drove 2 1/2 hours to my town to meet me.. We went out
for lunch, went to the local mall, then ended up renting a movie and
going to my place to watch it.
After spending time with each for only 5 or 6 hours, things got a
little out of hand, and we started kissing and ended up in my bed. He
told me he hadn't been with anyone for over a year. He lost control
before anything else happened. Before he left I invited him
back to my house the next day. He came back the next day and we end
up in my bed again and had sex 2 times,which was wonderful. Afterwards
he stayed for about 4 hours and we watched movies.
He asked me
about visiting me again , and we made plans for the following week, but
then 2 days before, he told me he was offered overtime and was going to
work, I do believe him. I have talked to him on instant messenger
since then, and things between us seem fine and the same as before.
I feel as if I may have ruined this relationship before it even had a
chance to get started by having sex with him the first time I meant him.
I would like to see where this relationship goes but have decided to
back off a little and try to slow things down. I would really appreciate
your insight and advice in this matter. Thank you.
Let's face it, you are a woman who enjoys sex, and there's nothing wrong with that. Your last relationship that was "just for sex" wasn't what you wanted and you wisely got out. Now you have a new relationship that could be for more than just sex and you want to stop having sex - doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
You've been married twice, have kids, and are over 40. You can do what you want, and if it feels right to have sex with a man on the first date, then do it and have no regrets.
You absolutely, positively have my endorsement on having sex on the first date. If you're worried about some silly rule that says "if you have sex on the first date, you ruin your chances of having a serious relationship with a man," forget the rules. Don't give them another thought. They're meant for 18-year-olds who don't know who they are, what they want, or what life is about.
You, on the other hand, are a mature woman who decided it felt right to have sex with a man who had driven 2 ½ hours to be with you and whom you liked. You're entitled to have sex with whomever you want, whenever you want, and as often as you want. Don't let other people's rules rule your life.
A relationship gets ruined if there's no sex, if there is lousy sex, or if the people just aren't compatible for some reason. It doesn't get ruined because you decided to have sex on the first date. I had sex with my husband on our first date and here we are, still together 22 years later. I'm not saying that having sex on the first date will guarantee you a lasting relationship. In fact, it's not a smart move in most cases, but it doesn't necessarily kill your chances either.
Stop beating yourself up over this. You can't put the genie back in the bottle and you can't take back sex you already had.
What you can do is realize that just because you had sex with a man doesn't mean you have to give him your heart and soul on a platter. You can still play it cool and develop the rest of the relationship wisely. That means not being too available, not giving too much too soon (which does not always mean sex), and not putting up with being treated badly. Do those things and you'll be more likely to have a lasting love than postponing sex for three dates or a month or until you're married - which is what some people would have you do.
The best thing you can do now is get back on line and find some more men, so you aren't putting all your eggs in one basket. The sex may have been wonderful, but you're not ready to be exclusive with this new guy. Men have a radar that tells them they're the only one. Just like if you're running a business - you wouldn't want a client to think they're your only one. Don't let him think it either.
A Wife on the Loose
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am a 36 year old man who has been married for 15 years to a woman i adore.
But recently I have been having some doubts as to how much she cares for me.
About 4 weeks ago I logged onto the internet and was immediately messaged
by someone on her contact list ( we share a messaging service) who wanted to
know how she was getting along with "Old Jerkface".
When I asked her about this she just blew it off as maybe i made her mad
before but she didn't know why .I accepted this until she changed the
passwords on our Internet account and the shared messenger .
I am terribly afraid that she has a secret Internet personality that she
doesn't want to share with me. she has several male freinds on the net that
she only talks to when I am not around and has had a couple of them call on
the phone and one come to visit, of course while i was gone.
The man that came to see her took her and some friends out for the
evevning and her friends say I have nothing to worry about . Do I ?
The one who calls always makes sure i am not home before calling ( via
the computer )
Is she just acting out some fantasy? or am I not doing the right things?I
am really upset, cant eat or sleep because of this and am having trouble at
work (my job sometimes takes me out of town for a day or two at a time).
What is your opinion? I am Lost .
You have every right to be upset. Your wife is way way out of line and may be cheating on you.
It's positively not okay for a married woman to be carrying on secret, flirtatious, online relationships with other men. It's also not acceptable for her to be referring to you as "old Jerkface." Don't listen to her friends. Remember, they're her friends and they'll tell you whatever she wants them to tell you.
Start getting on line and writing to these men. Say something like, "If you don't stay away from my wife, I'll break your face," or some such macho thing. Then tell your wife the outside flirtations are over.
You and your wife need to get into therapy immediately. Don't let her put it off, and don't be afraid to insist. A married woman absolutely shouldn't have male friends that she talks to when her husband isn't around -- or even worse, who comes to visit when her husband is gone.
When you go to therapy, work on finding out what your wife isn't getting from you that makes her want to look elsewhere. Then see if you can start giving her more of what she needs, sex, attention, affection or time together. But don't let this go on for another day.