"Ask Dr. Tracy"

11/22/98 Advice Column


Dear Dr. Tracy,

19 months ago I started chatting online with a wonderful man from Sweden. I live in USA. I am 44 he is 40. We are both divorced . This man is the most unselfish wonderful man. (My ex was very jealous always accusing me of cheating)

So as much as possible we fell in love online.. Chatted everyday.. got to know each others deepest secrets and thoughts,and feelings.

Last month we decided we had to move up to a new level and met for real.. I flew to Sweden and spent 8 wonderful glorious days with him.. We were both amazed at how well it worked out. It was really a love connection.. The lovemaking was beautiful too... We also exchanged rings, and made a commitment to each other.. He says we are bound to each other for life... This man is almost too good to be true... I love him deeply with all my heart.

My problem... he is too far away and we can only see each other every 6 months.. Should I try to forget him? or think about moving there?. it would be hard leaving my job and family and friends.. He has the same problems about leaving.

Dear Chatter,

You're up against one of the biggest problems online relationships face -- distance. It seems like the world's your oyster when you're looking for someone, because you can pick out of the entire universe of people. But when you find someone who lives so far away, the problems start.

You want to be together, but distance prevents you. So you start running up huge phone bills and travelling to meet. When you do see each other, it's moments of elation, followed by missing as soon as you're apart.

Of course, meeting in distant lands is always so romantic and so special. You never have to deal with day-to-day problems that real couples face, like paying bills and fixing leaky faucets. Living so far apart is ideal for creating the in-love feeling. Being in love is filled with yearning for the loved one, missing him or her, and fantasizing about where they are and what they're doing.

So, unfortunately, the situation is perfect for encouraging you to feel in love, but terrible for really finding out if you're meant to be together forever. I worry about a man who's too good to be true, and suggest you invest some real time in going to Sweden. Take a leave of absence from your job and family and friends. Move to Sweden for six months or a year and give living there with him a try. You'll be better able to gauge the relationship if you do.

Most people are reasonably nice and well-behaved when they're not facing stressful life situations. Never ever make a life commitment to a man unless you've seen how he reacts to stress. Seeing him on a daily basis will also give you time to find out if he is indeed too good to be true.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I can only hope that you find it in your heart to help me out with this problem. I've been married for 2 years today, but separated for the last 6 months. I married my wife when I was 26 and she was 22. We were together for 4 years before we were married. She decided a year & 1/2 into the marriage that she never had the chance to "be on her own", and moved into her own apartment shortly there after. She told me that she couldn't ask for a better husband and that this had nothing to do with me. She said that she wanted to do this before we were married but she didn't think I would wait on her.

I can completely understand her need to find herself on her own, but the big problem I have is the on-line relationship she developed shortly before she moved out. I didn't pay any mind to the long hours she was staying up at night talking with, let's say "Brad". I happen to intercept a few of the messages coming in from "Brad", and I have to say this guy was one sweet talker. He stated that he was in love with her and wanted to be with her, etc. etc.

To make a long story short, my wife said that this was only a "friend" that she cared about and I should trust her to make her own decisions. I found out my wife took a 1200 mile trip to see her "friend" shortly after she moved out. So I had to do the only thing I could do - I called the guy and gave him an *ss chewing for messing with a married woman. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that she talked with him on the phone as well). This sweet talker turned out to be a 17 year old kid!!! I knew this because his mom was listening in on the conversation and he apparently got into a lot of trouble. Of course this ruined the whole meeting for my wife so she was angry that I called. Once again she claimed that he was only a "friend" and that I shouldn't have interfered with her adventure. It's now 5 months later and she is still talking with "Brad" and plans to take a flight up to see him over the weekend, but only as a "friend" of course.

It really sucks to love somebody who you thought had their head screwed on straight and knew what they wanted only to find out they have a lot of growing up to do. The biggest problem I have is that she says she wants to work things out down the road and I just can't walk away if there's a possibility of that. She says that right now she doesn't know what she wants and is taking things day-by-day. Am I the biggest fool for hanging on to this or what?? Should I believe that this guy on the net is only a "friend"? Is this the worst case of obvious that you have ever seen? Please don't delete me :-)

Dear Biggest Fool,

Of course you're getting the shaft here. It's obvious that your wife and "Brad" are way over the line of friendship. I only wonder why you are denying it and trying to convince yourself it's not what you and I both know it is.

Twentyfour-year-old women and 17-year-old boys can and do make love all the time. Stop being a fool and hanging on here. You dated and married when you were both very young and still developing and changing. Perhaps she's just growing into her personality and becoming someone different than the woman you married.

I can easily understand how she might want to be on her own. However, it's not right for her to be on her own if she's married. Married women live at home with their husbands, not in their own apartments. They don't get loving messages from single men on-line, and they don't travel 1200 miles to meet these on-line correspondents.

Get a grip. Tell her you're not going to just wait around forever for her to decide if she wants to be married or not. Set a deadline, say a month or two, for her to make up her mind, and let her know that if she hasn't made up her mind to be married at that time, you will start divorce proceedings.

Let her know you're going to start dating, and do it. As long as she thinks you're just waiting for her for as long as she wants, she'll take her time about deciding.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Will he like my children, or will my children behave in front of him? I met a wonderful guy about 4 months ago. We met through a jewish dating service (we tell everyone thru mutual friends). Anyway we live 4 hours from each other and spent one weekend together each month. Our 1st date was suppose to be a quick dinner, but it lasted 5hrs., and then he invited me to the beach for Labor day weekend. It was fantastic...and completely out of character for either one of us to just go away with a stranger.

He has never been married, and has no kids. He is disciplined, and independent. I have raised two kids on my own, and at times they lack discipline (they are now 12yrs. and 13.5yrs). He only met them for a few seconds when he brought me home from the beach. I am afraid that they will scare him away. I know he wants kids, marriage, etc. My son also has ADD, and being a teenager growing up with just mom has been tuff. I see a future with this man...and we are taking the relationship slow. I am afraid to have him visit, as I don't want the kids to over misbehave. I don't want to lose him, and I love my kids- I'm all they got. What do I do????

Dear Mom,

Of course you want the man you love to love your kids, and your mother and father and sisters and brothers and your best friends. Everybody does and there's nothing wrong with that desire.

However, I advise waiting until you're more into this relationship, know the man better, and are really sure he's the one, before you start worrying about how he'll get along with your children. Four months is not very long.

Give him a chance to fall in love with you first without the obstacles of two pubertyicken teenage boys to deal with. If he's in love, he'll be more likely to overlook or justify putting up with their bad behavior. In the meantime, just tell him good things about your kids, and try to keep their interactions pleasant and most importantly, brief.

Remember that in five or six years, your boys will be off to college. Even before that, they'll be driving and hanging out with other teenagers so much you'll hardly see them. The man and you will be together a lot more and for a lot longer time.

Talk to the boys and explain to them that you need their help in this endeavor, and if they care about your happiness as much as you care about theirs, they'll behave. And if they do act up, simply shrug and tell your boyfriend it's puberty and they're jealous, and that they'll get over it.

Meanwhile, Get a copy of Daniel Goleman's book, "Emotional Intelligence" and begin teaching your boys the principles in the book -- the importance of empathy, and the appropriate and inappropriate ways of dealing with feelings. Also, think about enrolling the boys in a Karate class, which will teach discipline and help channel their aggressive behaviors.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

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