Exes From Hell: Tracie

Exes From Hell: Tracie

"My ex-fiancé, Dan, just won't leave me alone!" moans Tracie. "I broke off our engagement about a year ago, but he thinks we still have a chance to be together."

Dan remains optimistic about their future. "I still love Tracie, and I want us to be together for the rest of our lives," he says.

Tracie worries that Dan's constant attention is getting out of control. "Every day, I wake up to a text message — He wishes I were in his bed, in his arms. He'll call me 15, 20 times a day. He has broken into my house. He has broken into my e-mail twice. He has stalked me!" she reveals.

Tracie filed a restraining order against Dan, but he still manages to stay in her life — much to her chagrin. "He called me a bitch, whore. He scares me. Dan is psycho," she says.

 

Despite Dan's behavior, Tracie still maintains an intimate relationship with her ex. Her ambivalence confuses Dan. "Even though Tracie says she wants to move on, we continue to date and have a sexual relationship. We took a week vacation to Cancun. We wore our wedding rings to pretend we were married, then we spent four wonderful days together for Christmas and New Year's, even though there was a restraining order against me," he says. 

"Why are you here?" Dr. Phil asks Tracie. 

"I need help moving on. I guess it's hard for me to say goodbye," she replies. 

Dan says his intentions are the opposite. "I want us to be together. I love Tracie with all my heart. I want us to get back to where we were," he tells Dr. Phil. "She loved me once. We were going to get married. She still tells me that she loves me. Just three weeks ago, she gave me a card telling me she still loves me and cares for me, and I think there's still hope." Dan has even read Dr. Phil's Relationship Rescue and is doing the exercises in the workbook. "I want to be with Tracie for the rest of my life," he insists. 

Dr. Phil is perplexed. "What part of 'restraining order' do you not understand?" he asks.

"She had already told me before I got served with the restraining order it wasn't going to mean anything," Dan says nonchalantly.

Dr. Phil wants Tracie's side of the story. "You take a restraining order against this guy, but you're still having sex with him," he points out. "I don't get that. How do you go to court and say, 'Smoke this boy off of me,' and then you're sleeping with him?"

"We didn't have sex until about a month after he had been served with the restraining order," Tracie explains. "He was leaving messages. He was threatening me. He was stalking me. He was being completely obsessive with me."

 

Dr. Phil fails to see the logic in her statement. "Why would you then go to bed with him? You've got somebody stalking you, and you say, 'Well, come on,'" he says cynically.

Tracie hangs her head. "I know it sounds bad, and I'm so embarrassed and ashamed about that. After he would do it, I wouldn't talk to him for weeks, or at least a week and a half. Even though he was calling me, he would turn around and say, 'You better deal with me over the phone, or else I'm going to come over to your house. You don't want to deal with me in person. You know I'm crazy enough to go to your house,'" she says. 

Dr. Phil wants Tracie to understand the severity of Dan's behavior. "He broke into your e-mail twice. Got your new boyfriend's e-mail, called him, e-mailed him, said, 'We're still engaged. We're still having sex.' He broke into your house. He's called you an F-ing C — the C word! — a slut, a whore a

nd a bitch, and threatened to not pay you back money that you loaned him in good faith," he observes. "What are you doing still playing footsie with him?" 

"I know, I know," she says sheepishly.

"She still loves me," Dan chimes in proudly. 

When Dr. Phil asks if Tracie likes the attention or being pursued by her ex, she denies it. "You're playing off like a slot machine," Dr. Phil quips. "He called you the most vile name that any woman can hear." 

Dan says that's out of character for him. "These past couple months have not been indicative of our relationship," he explains. "We had a two-and-a-half-year relationship, and we had one argument. It was a great relationship, and she still says she wishes we were married."

Dr. Phil notes that Tracie is engaged in a double bind with Dan. "It's one of the ways you make people crazy. It's where you give them conflicting messages: 'Come here. Stop. Hug me. Don't touch me. I want to talk to you. Shut up!' Isn't that what you're doing?" 

"Not like that," Tracie replies. "He's very convincing. He said he only did it because he loves me, and I do have feelings for him. I do, but I know it's not going any further. It's never going to lead to marriage."

Dr. Phil challenges her. "You said, 'It's not like that. You're missing this. You're mischaracterizing it.' How am I missing it?" he wonders. 

"You're not. My mom says the same thing, and she doesn't understand either. I'm so embarrassed and ashamed of myself," she replies.

 

"Maybe she and I do understand, and it's you who doesn't understand that you're sending these messages and getting exactly what you're asking for," Dr. Phil says. He wants Tracie to see the inconsistency of her actions. "You've got a guy who's stalking you, and you say, 'OK, stalker. We're going on vacation, and we'll wear these wedding rings and pretend that we're married, and I will sleep with you while we're there, and we'll walk on the beach and everything, but I want to be very clear, I want you out of my life!'"

Dan shares some of the blame as well. "What are you thinking?" Dr. Phil asks him. "You're breaking into her house. You're calling her names. You're calling her boyfriends. That's how you win a woman's heart?"

"No, I do other things for her — give her cards and different things," Dan stresses. "I'm definitely confused, but I think she's just as confused."
 
"You told the producers that I said, 'You just have to claim that relationship and don't take no for an answer,'" Dr. Phil points out.

"Well, I read Relationship Rescue, and it says don't take no for an answer," Dan responds.

 

Dr. Phil is incredulous. "You and I both know if you've read that book that that is an absolute and utter mischaracterization of what I say," he admonishes. "And I'm happy to read the rest of that to you from page 163. It says, 'Let me be very clear about what 'claiming' means. It doesn't mean you control this relationship just for your own ends. Your goal is to create a win/win situation. I'm telling you right now in the relationship context, you absolutely, unequivocally, cannot win if your partner does not also win. If your objective is to just get what you want and ignore what she wants, you will drown in selfishness and will not be happy.'" 

Tracie explains why she decided Dan wasn't marriage material. "He looked at porn a month after he asked me to be his wife, and I'm not going to take that," she says. "When he lost his job, he lost all respect for himself — all dignity, all courage and motivation, ambition. He had nothing. And if he couldn't respect himself, I couldn't respect him."

 

Turning to Dan, Dr. Phil says, "Do you hear her say that?"

"I hear her say that, and then I hear the same things later on: 'I still love you. I still wish we were together,'" he maintains. 

Dr. Phil advises Tracie to set boundaries with her ex, and to give her feelings a voice. "Look at him right now — without equivocation, apology or any waffling — and tell him straight up exactly what you want."

Tracie faces Dan. "I told you before, I need you to let me go on with my life. You have to go on with yours. You have to fix your life. You can't even have a relationship with anybody unless you fix your life and are happy with yourself," she begins.

 

Dr. Phil interjects. "You're doing therapy instead of saying what you want. It's not your job to fix him," he cautions. "You know what would have been a real clear message? If you had just simply turned to him and said, 'We gave it a shot. It didn't work. It's over. Leave me alone.'"

 

Dr. Phil asks Dan how he would have reacted to that message, and Dan says he would have gotten the point.