"Ask Dr. Tracy"

11/24/96 Advice Column

You're Never Too Young,
The Sincerely Lovelorn Elvis,
Don't Scare Him Away

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I have this tiny little problem.It might not be anything but I'm 14 and my boyfriend (tonight) put his hand up my shirt an into my bra.I didn't mind when he wasn't under my shirt and doing it but then when he went under it I didn't know what to say.You don't have to answer or give me advice if you think I'm to young to talk to you(or anyone for that matter).Umm....but if you don't mind I would like your advice.:)Please.

Dear 14-Year Old,

You're never too young to learn to communicate with others. You're also never too young to learn to say no when that's what you mean.

Never, ever let a man get away with doing something that makes you uncomfortable. Learn to speak up and say what you want. In a good relationship, people are not afraid to tell their partner what they want and what they don't want. Ask him to stop the minute he starts something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

If you don't say anything, he'll think your silence means it was okay. Then, next time he'll start out assuming that under-the-bra petting is a "given" and be thinking about making the next move.

Tell your boyfriend that you felt uncomfortable doing that and you'd rather not do it again. Don't wait until he's doing it again to tell him. As soon as the kissing and petting starts, say three nice things first, such as "I really like you, and I think you're really good looking and nice. I'd like us to have a good relationship and be able to communicate openly, so I want you to know that I'm uncomfortable when you touch me under my bra. And when I'm ready for you to do that, I'll let you know by putting your hand there, or taking off my bra. Until then, I'd prefer not to do that."

That way, he won't feel rejected, and he'll have hope of getting what he wants at some future date. Meanwhile, you've let him know that you're no pushover.

I think 14 is a little young for bare-skin petting. Boys at that age, and for a long time afterwards, are easily aroused and can get pushy. It's important that you learn to control them. One easy way is to stay out of bedrooms, back seats of cars and off couches, and don't be alone with him when nobody else is home. Don't give him tempting opportunities.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I recently read, out of curiosity, the "Women: Men to Avoid" section and I must say I take a little bit of exception to one of the choices. I am a musician, and yes, I want to be successful (I don't think you became a writer hoping to fail miserably), but I am not the stereotype you described. First of all, I don't do any kind of drugs, nor do I sleep around with every bimbo who thinks it's "so cool" to be with a musician. I want a partner as much as anyone else does, and I don't see why I must give up any aspirations towards a musical career in order to be a good boyfriend or husband. I mean, what good is going out on the road and working your ass off, and yes it is hard work, if there is nothing to come home to, no one to share it all with, and no one to inspire you, or keep you grounded in reality and normalcy. It's a lonely enough existence anyway, without being told that we're not worth a sincere woman's time. I think it's the same for any career, be it medicine police work, or any other to which a man must devote long periods of time. I know there are sacrifices that must be made, but must we sacrifice the basic need for love, home, and family too? And what would your advice be to a person like myself, who sincerely wants to be a good boyfriend and, hopefully, husband, but chooses a career in rock and roll?

Thanks, "Elvis"

Dear Wanna-Be Elvis,

You aren't the first man who has felt aggrieved by my "Men to Avoid" section. Most are earnest and sincere in wanting love, but somehow fail to see that they're unable to really reciprocate. Your other commitments, for example, leave you without time to devote to a woman and children. You would expect a woman to wait at home for you while you're away, to do without a man around the house, someone to call in an emergency, and the day-to-day comfort a real relationship brings. My advice to a woman is to look for someone who can be there for her, as opposed to someone like you. I'm sorry that falling in one of the "Men to Avoid" categories makes you angry.

Remember, that section is for women, and my advice there is given in their interest. Frankly, rockers and most musicians, except those few who are steadily employed near home with regular hours, make terrible husbands. So do doctors, with a few exceptions. There are exceptions, but in general, men who want to be famous (like Elvis) don't make good husbands. If they make it, they rarely stay with the first wife. If they don't, they're miserable company and nobody ever comes between them and their endless search for fame.

I also have a section on "Women to Avoid" in my Library, where my advice is in the man's interest. If you want some advice specifically in your interest, I'd suggest looking for an independent woman who can look after herself and your mutual family while you're gone, and who doesn't really need a man around the house. Of course, that may not be your fantasy. Or you could redirect your career. A photographer who wants a wife and family doesn't make a career out of traveling the world for many months at a time. He gets a job with a local newspaper, or becomes a portrait or wedding photographer. Surely there is some way for you to be a musician, such as studio work, other than touring.

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Ok, here's the thing: I'm 26, nice-looking, and have a good career. No problem? Wrong! After a handful of unsuccessful relationships with men whom I was just not crazy about, I have found the one I want. I never thought I could feel so sure about anyone, but I am completely sure that I love the man I am involved with.

We've been dating for 4 months. Things are fine. He calls, he does nice things for me (and TO me), and gives me no reason to feel insecure. But I am so scared. I can't get away from the belief that there is no way that this man could actually love me--I could just never be that lucky. Why can't I just let go and enjoy it? Should I tell him how I feel? Won't he just see what an insecure mess I really am if I do? I need some advice from someone objective.

Dear Insecure Mess,

Whenever a woman gets into a great love relationship, fear of loss kicks in. You think he's going to dump you at any minute, or he's going to get run over by a truck, or something's going to happen to ruin everything. This is especially true if you've never found something so good before.

All your insecurities come up when you remember how bad the other relationships have been, and you start to scare yourself. This fear of what "might" happen is obviously self-destructive, because it gets in the way of enjoying the actual happiness you could be having right now.

Use affirmations. Tell yourself, "I am beautiful. I deserve love. (insert name) loves me. I love (insert name)." Say them over and over again like a mantra, maybe while you exercise or clean.

Don't blurt out your insecurities. Just because a man loves you doesn't mean he's secure enough to be a dump for your insecurities. That's your therapist's job. Your job is to be happy (no man likes a whiney woman), enjoy the relationship, and not jump to conclusions about what he's thinking or what the future holds in store.

If you think you want to marry him, then fantasize about your wedding. Give up your fantasies of loss. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it whenever you start to get your nutsy worries. Overcome the fear and enjoy the present, let go and enjoy being loved. Then, he won't see you as an insecure mess, but as a happy woman who's fun to be with.

Submitting a Question to this column

We regret that it isn't possible for Dr. Tracy to answer all of the hundreds of questions submitted to this column each week. Dr. Tracy selects the three questions which are of the most general interest to the visitors here.

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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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