Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am 28 and single. I have been dating a guy on and off for almost 5 years. He is 25, broke and not quite ready to settle down yet. We broke up for a while because he moved across the country to LA to pursue acting. He was gone for a year and I began dating other people.
One of those people was a guy I've been friends with for 2 years. He's 29, very successful and completely in love with me. He wants to get married and have kids and do all the things I want to do. He's easily the nicest guy in the world and is crazy about me.
Trouble is--I don't think I'm in love with guy #2. I think I'm still harboring old feelings for guy #1 and cannot let go. Guy #1 will make me wait at least 5 years (so he says) before we can get married. If I stick w/ Guy #2, he will give me everything I've always wanted, except maybe that fantastic connection I experienced w/ other guys I was crazy about. I am not crazy about guy #2, but keep telling myself that if I let go of Guy #1 and give guy #2 a real chance--I could fall in love. What do I do?--they are both kind of pressuring me to make a decision.
Insanely Confused in MA
Dear Insanely Confused,
No need to be confused. There's no worse choice for the love of your life than an actor. You'll be devoting yourself to him and he'll already have a first love, one that comes before everything - his career. He's already left you once for his chance to make it big in Hollywood. You can be sure he'll do it again.
You realize, of course, that there are endless thousands of wannabe actors are trying to break into showbiz. Even for someone who's good-looking and talented, the odds of making it are remote -- like catching lightning in a bottle. Actors know this but they just can't let go of the dream. Like compulsive gamblers, they think the odds won't apply to them. Their big break or next promising part is always just around the corner.
Making it in show business is like a drug - you can never get enough and you always want more. Actors have a special need. They need to be loved by everyone, not just one person. So your love will never be enough for him, whether he succeeds or fails.
If he fails, which is overwhelmingly likely, it may be many years before he's willing to admit it and give up his dream. At that point, it may be too late for him to build a successful career in another field. And even if he settles down with you after all those years, he may remain unhappy or even bitter deep down about not achieving his dream.
If lightning strikes and he does make it, the situation's even worse for his girlfriend or wife. Woman will be throwing themselves at him 24 hours a day. And he'll be away on location for long periods. Hardly a man alive can remain faithful under those conditions. That's the main reason so few Hollywood marriages last.
You may be confusing longing, and not being able to have someone, with loving them and making a serious decision to spend your life with them. Sure it's more exciting to love someone who's pursuing a glamorous career and is somewhat unavailable. You have lots of time to miss him and fantasize about how wonderful he is during those times he dances in and out of your life.
However, reality is that if you want a real life with someone, you'll choose someone who can give you that. My advice is to give up the glamour and go for the substance. Do what's best for your future happiness. Read my chapters on Crazy Love and why it's so dangerous and give guy #2 a real chance.
Finding An Old Love
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I am 32 and am in the middle of working out the finalities of my divorce after 7 years of marriage. I think my marriage was doomed from the beginning and it was all my fault.
About 10 years ago I met a young woman that I thought could be the one. Due to no small part to my complete shyness it didn't last. We had fun together and had great phone conversations. Unfortunately when I was with her, I just clammed up from fear and shyness. Her plans were to move away and I wasn't going to go with her. So after dating for four months we broke up. She couldn't be with someone who couldn't even speak to her face to face. I never had the courage to even kiss her. So it ended and she moved.
Over the next few years, I dated and eventually found someone (online) in another state. Who helped bring me out of my shell. We talked on the phone for 6 months. Eventually I moved to be with her and we married a month later. At the time I thought I loved her. As the years passed I always had this empty feeling inside and missed the first woman. I never got over her. I kept telling myself to move on over the years and never fully gave all my love to my wife. She always knew that there was something wrong, but I could never say what it was. Now we are ready for divorce.
As I was looking for someone to talk to about my feelings, I decided to try and find my first love. It had been 10 years so I thought it might be nice just to see what she might be up to. I contacted her, only to find she had just gotten married a few months ago. I was too late to start any kind of relationship, but I thought at least a friendship would be nice. As we talked I found out that she wasn't completely happy either. We talked about some of the old times and she noted how the years had changed my character. I am now more outgoing and confident. As we talked, we both found that even though we were apart we both had the exact same interests and similar life experiences.
I find myself attracted to her again and think she may feel the same. She is still committed to her marriage and feels guilty that she has any feeling for me at all. I feel bad I'm maybe interfering with her relationship, but I still want to be with her. If she wasn't unhappy this would be a no brainer, but she is and this makes it a lot harder to say no. We have great talks and we can tell each other anything. I just want her to be happy, but I think we both would be happier together. What should I do?
Stop! You are not renewing a friendship; you are pursuing a married woman, and that is unethical.
Your paths diverged ten years ago. You can't just walk back into her life and pick up where you left off. First of all, you aren't in a position to get into any new relationship until you have gotten completely out of your own marriage. More important, it's not right for you to meddle in her new marriage. If she's unhappy, then she alone must work it out with her new husband. Or not.
What you're doing is deeply selfish. You find it flattering that she's impressed with how outgoing and confident you are now, compared to the timid man she remembers. But while you're getting flattered, you're helping to destroy her marriage.
I don't think you're confused. I think you're just having trouble doing the right thing. The right thing to do is to stop communicating with her immediately. If she later contacts you and tells you her marriage is over, well and good.
But don't put your life on hold in the meantime. Pursuing a relationship with a married woman is bad for you because it keeps you from finding someone who wants you the way you are now. Don't avoid finding love by pursuing someone you can't have.
Disentangle yourself from your marriage and then see what life has in store for the new, more confident you.
Can A Pregnant Woman Date?
Dear Dr. Tracy,
I was married for 15 years and widowed 6 years ago. I am pretty, 42, financially secure and have 2 lovely children aged 12 and 15.
A year ago I met and got engaged to a man, aged 29. He seemed perfect for me/us but I found out, over time, that he was, in fact, a compulsive liar, physically/verbally abusive to me and my kids (according to DMSV he has all the symptoms of a Borderline Personality). Recently I have had him charged with assault and a restraining order as things got so bad.
He told me that he'd had a vasectomy and because of that we had unprotected sex. I am now 3 months pregnant and dont feel its right to get an abortion (he wanted me to get rid of it, hence the last huge fight and police action, to remove him from our lives).
I know its probably a silly question or two I have but...what do I do now? I'd dearly love to have a man's love and support in my life again, as its going to be pretty lonely for me...but can a pregnant woman date? Who would date someone, with another man's child in her belly, except fetish freaks perhaps??? I'm wary of putting out any personal ads, for that reason alone.
I am heartbroken that the child may not know its father and am not sure if (when the time comes) I will have any say over access/shared custody. If he got help for his emotional problems, I'd be happy for him to be a part of the babies life (but not mine as I dont trust him anymore).
I know my first priority is for the health and wellbeing of my kids and this new child. My folks live next door too, so I do have support....just no real friends to go out with. Part of me says that I should just give up on men for the next few years....the other part of me feels that I'd be missing out on love/affection for something I have no control over. He knocked me up and I have to pay for it by celebacy and a child I never bargained for at my age. I know thats selfish....and in a way wrong, as I am happy about the baby (I love kids). I just never envisaged not being married to a man I loved and having a supportive husband by my side to help raise it.
Thanks for any advice you can offer. I looked in your archives and couldnt find anyone in a similar situation.
You have just as much right to date as a non-pregnant woman. Whether you can date or not has nothing to do with whether you're pregnant or not. Almost anyone can date and there's really someone out there for everyone if they just look.
The first thing you have to do now is get real about a man for your future. Don't choose a man who's so much younger than you are. Choose someone older, stable, credible and with no chance of being abusive. How do you know? Time and track record.
Who should date you beside a fetish freak? Maybe a really great guy who's unable to have children of his own and would love to have the fathering experience. Put out your own personal ads (instead of just responding to mens' ads), and be cautious and selective about choosing among those who respond. That way, you get a better chance of finding what you want.
If you don't have friends, this is a good time to make some. Women friends are important, and you shouldn't be looking for a man to fill that void. Men are good for lots of things, but they will never take the place of a good girlfriend or two.
As for whether your baby's father will want to be a part of her life, that depends on lots of things, mostly that he change. Unfortunately, change is difficult, takes lots of hard work, and doesn't always happen smoothly. Usually there are lots of backslides to negative behaviors before positive ones take hold.
You will have to change your vision, both of who you are, what your life will be, and who you will allow into it. If you don't trust the man who knocked you up, and I can't see why you would, then it's going to be very difficult to trust him with your child. You really need to see an attorney to find out your rights in your state.
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