Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

Cartoon Kiss

11/16/2003

Kissing Counts
Really Nice Guys
Money Problems



Kissing Counts

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have a question that has not been addressed by your (fabulous) library of advice. I am a single, professional woman in my twenties. My married female coworker and I are very close friends and spend time together outside of work regularly. Recently, while intoxicated, she told me she had never kissed a woman and would like me to kiss her so she feels like she hasn't missed out on the "college experimenting" I and the rest of our friends had all gone through.

The next weekend, she and I did kiss, and afterward everything was fine. We are completely comfortable around each other, and I saw it as a favor I did for my friend and hoped we could leave it at that. Now, however, whenever she has a few drinks, she always seems to want affection from me and another girlfriend of ours--not the full-on kissing we did before, but a lot of kisses on the cheek and saying "I just love you," in a not-just-friendly way, etc. She will occasionally say things like, "You don't think I'm a lesbian, do you?" I usually avoid answering the question, or say something ambiguous like, "Kissing another woman doesn't automatically make you a lesbian." In my case, it doesn't. In her case, however, I actually am pretty sure she wants to be with women but is too scared to come out and say it because she is married. Her husband is the only stable person she's ever had in her life and she has said before that she would feel lost without his stability in her life. While all this has happened, she also often (when sober) has mentioned that she sometimes wonders if she got married too early, even though she loves her husband.

My question is two-fold: How do I tell her that her desperation for affection from me when she's drinking makes me uncomfortable? (When she is sober, everything is totally normal.) Also, because I do think she probably is a lesbian, should I be completely honest about it with her? Is it my place as a friend who really cares to take her aside and say that I think she might consider that she'd be happier if she divorced and found a woman? I know and care about her husband, too, and their marriage is pleasant, but they aren't passionate about each other at all (and they've only been married a year or so). I just don't know that it's healthy for her to repress these feelings during the day, then let them blow up all over her friends (who really only want to be just friends). I also don't want her to feel like she can't be comfortable around me--I'm not mad at her at all, but I do want her to tone down the physical affection a bit. For the record, I have absolutely no problem with my friend being a lesbian--I just want her to be happy.

Help? Thank you, --a concerned friend

Dear Concerned Friend,

Have you ever heard the old saying, “If you turn on the electric, you gotta pay the bill?” That’s what you’ve done. You’ve turned on your married friend by agreeing to a “non-lesbian” girly kiss, just so she could have the experience, and now she wants you to keep paying with more kisses.

Good grief, just because your friend says she missed an experience in college doesn’t mean that it’s your job to fill that void. What if she wants more? Many girls in college did more than kiss. You’ve got to learn to draw the line at what’s appropriate and comfortable for you. Just because you’re her friend doesn’t mean you are supposed to do everything she wants.

Is your friend a lesbian? Not necessarily. Lots of women who aren’t lesbians kiss other women. Some are bi-sexual and some just have bi-sexual leanings. Some just like women a lot. It’s not a big deal unless someone is unhappy about the kissing -- and that someone is you.

So what’s the solution? First of all, stop getting so soused with your girlfriend that you two wind up with lots of kisses and “I love you’s”

Next, have a talk with her. Tell her that you are uncomfortable with the way she’s been acting and be specific. Let her know that you care for her as a friend, but that the kisses and love talk are more than you’re ready for. Tell her when she’s sober, and then if she starts to get overly affectionate when she’s drinking, take her aside and tell her again.

Everyone has to come to terms with their own sexuality. If your friend is a lesbian and secretly wants to be with a woman, that’s her problem, not yours. You don’t want to be responsible for determining how she should live her life. Don’t tell her you think she’s a lesbian and might be happier with a woman. That's not advice you're qualified to give. If you break up her marriage, you’ll regret it and she will be lost without her husband.

Many, many happily married women are bi-curious or even seriously attracted to other women. That doesn’t mean they want to become fulltime lesbians. Don’t try to be your friend’s therapist or sexual counselor. Just be her friend and let her determine her own sexual preference.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Really Nice Guys

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I am a 28 yr old divorced Indian female with no kids. I was married for 2.5 yrs, more than a yr ago and my marriage was very abusive. I have been reading ur site for more than a year now, I also read ur books “Marrying Later, Marrying Smarter” and “How to Make A Man Fall In Love With You”. All this reading has helped me straighten out my perspectives in lots of regards and it also helped me understand why my previous didn’t work. He was an "Achiever" and "Supervisor" both and I had unrealistic expectation (of unconditional love). Moreover whenever we had arguments, we were confrontational and complaining.

Also, I have had a boy friend in the past whom I dated for 5.5 yrs when I was in college, with him also my break off was pretty painful (he was a waffler). He and my husband were both from families with severe dependency problems. Which tells me I have a history of picking up wrong men with unhealthy family values (although family has always been my first priority). I mistook dependency as strong bond.

During these 15 months after divorce, I met some real nice men who treated me with respect and love, but nobody appealed to me that much. Few months ago, I met this guy thru one of the Indian dating sites, he is great to talk over the phone, his pictures weren’t very great but I thought sometime pictures don’t justify the actual personality. I had almost fallen for him before I saw him, when I met him I wasn’t attracted to him at all. But he sounded pretty confident that things can work between us and we can help each other grow. I also came to know that he makes 30% less than what I make. I am not a very ambitious women, but I certainly want my husband to be able to sustain a decent lifestyle for his family when I am pregnant and nursing the baby. And after genuine consideration I felt that both these things are important to me I said a firm ‘no’ to him.

After this he didn’t call me for a few weeks and then he called me saying that he would still like me to think about “us” again. The way he talks he sounds great, he can be a great friend to anybody, and he also qualifies almost all the “Checklist” points under “Qualifying” section. But when I see him, all those feelings wear off. I have told him ‘no’ a couple of times and he comes back every time, with a decent smile and with a couple of laughs.

I am totally confused. Am I am avoiding him (and all these nice men) because I am looking for another jerk or is it genuine to look for a person u r physically attracted to. I have been living in this country for almost five yrs, but my heart is still very Indian and it doesn’t believe in any sexual contact before marriage. So the only thing I can see is looks and appearance of a guy.

Also am I acting mean? When I say my husband must make $X per annum, coz I want to be able to take a break when it comes to raising kids. Please help me straighten out my thinking.

Thanks and Regards,

Dear Confused,

Your problem isn’t just picking abusive men who have dependency problems and unhealthy family relationships. It’s picking men for the wrong reasons.

You say really nice men who treat you with respect and love just don’t appeal to you that much. But these dysfunctional men do appeal to you.

The reason you’re having problems with men is that you’re not allowing yourself to be happy with what a nice guy has to offer. You need to realize that men who are achievers and who make a lot of money just don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to give you unconditional love. They’re busy and have other priorities, like making lots of money and working long hours.

If you want a great guy, you have to stop putting looks and bank account ahead of more important qualities, such as kindness, consideration, and the kind of love and attention you really want. The nice guy who is attracted to you qualifies, but you don’t find him attractive. Try harder. If not, find another nice guy who you do find attractive.

Frankly, I think you are avoiding him (and all the nice men) because you are turned on by the jerks. You like the challenge of a man you can’t totally control, and some jerks can be attractive and exciting. They’re also usually good lovers because that’s how they get women to put up with their bad behavior.

Because you don’t believe in any sexual contact before marriage, you are limiting your search to men who agree with that philosophy, and there aren’t a lot of them around. You’re going to have to really search.

And yes, it’s mean to look for a man by how much he makes. It’s mean and not too smart. After all, a man can lose his money. He can also lose his looks, hair, and health. But his inner qualities will remain no matter what. Look for the inner qualities first and don’t worry about finding a man who makes enough for you to take a break to raise kids.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



Money Problems

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I've put myself in a very awkward situation and I'm not sure how to handle it. I've been seeing someone for four years and have been living with him for 1 1/2 years. We've talked about marriage, however, he seems to only have excuses, but leaves a carrot out there dangling to keep me "satisfied".

Anyway, the situation I am dealing with at present is as follows: Three months ago, I loaned him $5,000 and he promised he would be able to pay it back in full in 1 1/2 months. Three months have now gone by and all he has are excuses and after our discussions, I have made myself feel guilty for asking for my money back. I'm a divorced mother of three and didn't really have the money to loan him in the first place, but felt I could trust him enough to do it for the short time he was asking. I also feel vulnerable in asking him for it back because I live with him. Unfortunately, the worrying has caused some health problems for me. Do you have any answers on how I can approach the situation?

Thanks in advance.

Dear Worried,

No matter what you do at this point, you’re in a no-win situation. If you demand that he pay you back immediately, you’re going to put a definite strain on the relationship. If you let it go, you will feel taken advantage of.

Unfortunately, the time when he was supposed to have paid you back has gone by, and when people don’t pay a loan back when they said they would, they often don’t pay at all. So now it’s time to negotiate, rather than demand.

Try to set up a payment schedule that he can afford. For instance, maybe he can pay you back $100 a week, or some amount that makes sense with his situation. Or perhaps if you are paying some of the household expenses, he would pay those instead until the $5,000 is paid back. Or, if you still want to marry him, you could tell him that you’d like him to put the $5,000 toward an engagement/wedding ring/wedding. He could put that on his credit card and pay it back later. At least you’d have something you really want for your $5,000.

If none of the above works, you might want to totally rethink this relationship. Personally, I think he's a predatory, unethical creep to have taken money from a divorced mother of three who couldn't really afford it. Even if you offered, he should have said no and gotten the money elsewhere.

In the final analysis, $5,000 is a lot of money, but maybe that was the cost of seeing his true colors. Losing the money is cheaper than a divorce and a lot less stressful.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy



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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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