"Ask Dr. Tracy"

9/29/96 Advice Column

NetCrazy Love,
Is There Hope?
Consequences for Lovers

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have been in love with a women on the net since early this year. The problem is we are both married to others.. I know deep in my soul that I love her.

She has also expressed her love for me.. I think of her every minute of every day. I want to be with her in real life, but our situations are such that it may never happen. Are there others who feel this way?

Is what I feel considered obsessive behavior.. If not for her, I would not be on the net any longer. So I know the Net or the computer is not related to what I am feeling. Oh, and I have never seen what she looks like.. But I love her unconditionally. Am I crazy?....


Crazy in love..

Dear Crazy in love,

You and your netlove are the kind of people who give the Net a bad name, stir fear in the hearts of America's married women, and set the Net up for a scolding in Dear Abby.

The Net is not a responsibility-free zone where married men and women can cheat emotionally and time-wise on their spouses without feeling guilty. You are using the Net all wrong. It's to exchange information, develop a sense of community with others who share similar interests, even to find a mate if you're single.

In real life, married people can and do fall in love with each other. This usually causes deep hurt to their spouses and children -- but at least it's real love. You may not be crazy, but you're in crazy love with someone you've never seen who's married to someone else. You may fantasize that she's Julia Roberts; she dreams she's e-mailing Brad Pitt. You may think you know her from the deep, soulful exchanges you have, but you don't know the real person, just the net person. You don't know if she can carry on a real-time conversation, let alone whether she'd snap and turn into a raving madwoman in a stressful situation.

And while you're using the Net as an escape, you're neglecting your wife. Instead of running away from the problems in your marriage by falling in crazy love on the net, you should be in therapy with your wife.

By the way, I'm working on a program for married couples to keep all dating sites off their spouse's computers, just the way parents keep porn sites off their kid's computers.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I read your column, 6/6/96, regarding a woman and her lover's "beasts" of kids. I recently (June '96) broke off an engagement to the kindest man I have met in my 30 years on this earth because of our differences in child rearing and his financial "leaning". We had been together for 2 years and 11 months; I relocated to another state, leaving a great job; we bought a house together; and we all moved in together.

So after moving in together, I found out that my paycheck was what kept us "above water" and able to do the "fun things". But, like many other things, the kids did not appreciate the efforts and I soon became irritaed and angry. It seemed that whatever situation the kids got into, there were no consequences - he would yell, lecture and the it was over. Soon I became anry every day - coming home and finding something to complain about while he would hurry home to make sure everything was "in order" for my arrival. I ended it....it was becoming to painful for all of us to live under these conditions.

After the breakup and moving out into a place of my own, I soon realized that our (his and my) relationship was one I do not want to lose (his is witty, funny, caring, devoted, loyal, giving). But, dealing with his 17 and 15 year old kids has me doubting my decision to "re-light the flame". His kids are not "bad", in fact one is an 'A' student and the other wears his hard on his sleeve. The problems come when actions are not met with consequences; there is a lack of participation in household activities - chores; and our "discipline" styles differ in action.

My question? Am I crazy to revive this relationship and hope that things will work out with the kids? I am 30, he is 37 and the kids will "be gone" soon. I want to start a family and he wants what I want - so he says. Is there hope? BTW - he has worked out his financial hurdles/obligations.


Dear On the Fence,

Yes, there is hope. But not for the kids to get better, they'll probably get worse for some time to come. You're going to be stuck with his kids for the rest of your life. So if you have any thoughts that they're going to leave home soon and won't be in your life, forget it.

You'll probably never be able to discipline these kids the way you think they should be disciplined. Consequenses are hard to give to kids who've never had any. One good way is for you to give them something you get to take back for their transgressions. For instance, you give each one fifty dollars a month clothing allowance at the end of each month of good behavior. Each screwup on their part during the month means you get to reduce some of their clothing allowance. You get to administer the consequences because you're in charge of the allowance. Asking their father to do it won't work. He's already developed bad parental behaviors.

Consequences work. You're right. Before moving back in, I'd set the rules. Have a parent-to-parent meeting with Mr. Witty, warm, and wonderful. Write down your agreements. About parenting. About future children. About marriage. About financial and housekeeping responsibilities. Get it all out on the table and see if you can work out the issues and come to an agreement. Then you'll be moving back in with pre-solutions for the problems you had last time, and you won't have to resolve every problem in the heat of raging emotions.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

My fiancee and I have been good friends for over 5 years. he tried to get us together numerous times but we were young (16 and 17) and over 200 miles apart. Well in February this year we started dating seriously. He told me for years how much he loved me. Well, we got engaged and we had a date set. Suddenly he says that he is too young for marriage (He is 23.) and that he may never want to get married. We work things out and then a couple of weeks later he says the same thing. We have moved in together, but I am becoming concerned though that he may never commit. I don't want to waste my time on a dead end romance... What should I do?

Feeling jerked around

Dear Feeling jerked around,

Just as consequences work for teens (see above), they work for lovers. If you've made a commitment to someone, moved in, pledged a future together, and then the person says he doesn't want to marry after all, there should be consequences. The next time your lover changes his mind, let him know that's not an option, that you expect him to live up to his agreements, and that if he can't you are leaving. That's the consequence, and you have to really mean it and be prepared to follow through.

If he can run hot and cold whenever he wants without any repercussions, you're setting yourself up for a roller-coaster relationship where one day it's on and one day it's off. One day you're elated, the next you're depressed. I'm sure you don't want to keep living your life like this.

Set a date and make sure he understands that this is it. Actually, some people believe getting married is a test of the relationship --- to see if you can survive stress, work together and accomplish a mutual goal. It's a funny way of looking at marriage, but there's some truth in it. If you can't plan a wedding with someone, then you can't plan a life. Read "When to Get Out Of A Relationship" in my Library.

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