On Smart Dating: The Women’s Responses to Holly’s Story

Wow! I had no idea that there would be such an outpouring of support for Holly from all of the women out there.

Just to bring you up to speed if you’re not one of the subscribers to the women’s newsletter: Holly is my Harvard classmate who was recently divorced and now dating a new guy. Although he was living with her and she was supporting him financially, he wasn’t very nice to her.

It seems like Holly is indeed not alone. And it’s a great reminder of why I wrote The Tao of Dating in the first place.

In spite of all the self-doubt that I had while writing the book, I thought, “Hey. If this book can help even *one* fantastic woman snap out of her sleep and reclaim her power, then the whole exercise will have been worthwhile.”

As it turns out, the issue is far more urgent and pervasive than I had thought.

And for the men out there who are reading this: lest you think that this is a problem exclusive to women, think again.

Guys are perennially getting sucked into and stuck in relationships with women who don’t treat them well. It’s especially the smart, nice guys to whom this happens.

Especially when these men end up with a particularly beautiful woman, it gets really difficult for them to extricate themselves from the situation. “It took me so long to find this one — where am I going to find another?” Or: “I know she’s mean to me, but she’s just so damn hot I can’t get myself to leave her.”

I’ve heard herds of these stories from men, but I digress. This is the ladies’ turn. Here’s a sampling of your responses.

(Oh, and a small favor: henceforth if you could include an approximate age and profession, that would allow fellow readers to better identify with your story – anonymously, of course).

*******Letter from Chris***********

Hi Dr. Alex,

Holly’s story is familiar to me. It never got as bad as hers, I didn’t support him financially, made him pay the same rent he paid at his apartment, but he became verbally and emotionally abusive. I stayed on for years.

He was ticked because I wouldn’t marry him. He’s someone I’d never marry yet would live with. Why? Fear. Dread. Of what? Getting back out there and trying to meet someone, it was comfortable when he was treating me okay, and my self-esteem had really gotten low because of this situation.

I’ll spare you the details of how the relationship went downhill. It did get to the point I went for counseling and was advised I needed to go to Al Anon because he was now an alcoholic. I did go to Al Anon and over time realized how this was destroying who I was and I didn’t like who I was becoming.

It took a year of faithful attendance, going almost daily, and I got up the nerve to say it’s over. He was a very difficult man but he knew this time I was dead serious. As his moving truck rolled away, I got on my knees in a prayer of thanksgiving.

Believe me, as tough as it is sometimes trying to find the right partner, I am so relieved he’s out of my life. I was able to do it by recognizing myself in the stories of other people at Al Anon and accepting that I was always a competent person who had it together and could make it without him.

He’s now living with a recent widow, God bless her, and she’s lonely enough to be paying his way. Now with time and distance I see what a loser this man is to not have enough pride in himself as a man to do this.

Keep up the good work,


*****end letter ******

Comment from Dr Alex: From what I’ve gathered so far from Holly, fear has played a big factor in her decision (or indecision) as well. It’s the idea of losing something that terrifies people – even when it involves losing something that’s burdening you.

Chris did the right thing by going out and finding a supportive community. In other words, she took ACTION. So, dear reader, if you’re out there stuck in a bad relationship, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Friends and family often have a very good sense of whether someone is good or bad for you. Reach out to them, take their counsel and accept their help, no matter how much it bruises your ego. Better bruises on your ego than on your heart (or body), I say.

*****Letter from Margo*****

What’s that aggravating saying? Been there, DONE that …

DUMP him! That’s what boundary lines are for! If we have boundaries they my go an inch over at the most then .. BYE BYE.

Sure do wish I had a system when I was younger setting boundaries, defining yellow & red flags.

AND, why would I not continue to go out again with the awesome man who took me on awesome dates? No sex just fantastic days … Motorcycle rides to the beach, picnics, strolling while serenading me? Yeah I ->was<- stupid! Would rather have an overdose of oxytocin. New catch phrase for ya, “One dose of oxytocin please!”

I missed the call last night. Any way to get a recording of it? Do you have a web dial up for those calls?

I need my Dr Alex fix!

Warm Regards,


******end letter*****

Thanks for sharing that, Margo. And for comparing me to psychoactive drugs, legal or otherwise.

As I understand it, you’re saying that if you HAD had a dose of oxytocin with this guy, pehaps you would have kept on going out with him and having a fabulous time. And that’s the flip side of oxytocin: if you’re NOT bonding sexually with a fantastic guy, you may trick yourself into feeling ‘there’s no chemistry’ and terminate the relationship prematurely.

*****Letter from Nicky*****

LOL Well I do silly things to!

I think the women I know who are successful professionally, tend to make the most mistakes actually. The fact that your friend is supporting this dumbass is crazy. I hope she realizes that she can find someone else out there. Problem is that most of us that are successful get lonely and sometimes it is the guys that give us just enough attention are the ones that we fall for.


Los Angeles

******end letter*****

My comment: Nicky is a very smart professional, so she knows what she’s talking about.

*****Letter from Wendy*****

Dear Dr. Benzer,

I think I can pretty much tell you what’s going to happen with Holly.

Tim is a con “artist” and probably a bit of a momma’s boy.

He can’t make any money because he can’t stick to anything, even his “art”. But any time Holly will get the least bit exasperated by his inability to help out…financially or otherwise….all of the sudden a new opportunity will open up for him, and he’ll just need a little “time” to get it going.

He has little problem using her credit cards and acting as if he is the one taking care of everything. But he hates that his name isn’t on the card and that everyone knows it. So his manhood is compromised. And he snaps at her…avoiding the shame of his own irresponsibility. And to keep her a little off-guard.

He’s charming and fun, and sex is great because that’s all he has to give….in exchange for his meal ticket. But who pays for all the fun?

He doesn’t like that she has other friends, because they just might clue her in about him. They probably don’t like him either.

When her bills mount to the point that she can no longer afford him, he will know it….and will already have his next sugar momma waiting in the wings.

She will be left with all the bills and heartbreak on top of that.

How do I know? Been there. Woke up too late.

Had to sell the dream house that I built (in this bad market), and pay over $100,000 in bills he ran up.

She knows what she has to do, but after a divorce and being a single mom, she’s a little tired and doesn’t want to do it all herself. What she doesn’t realize yet is that she IS doing it all herself. And taking care of TWO kids now.

She’s probably lost a bit of self-esteem from the trials of a divorce, and this seems to be a nice, safe harbor for her….never mind the sharks.

Unfortunately she’s in love with him. So it will take her a long time to figure this out.

Never again.



*****end letter*****

My comment: Wow, that’s an amazing story. Thanks for the generosity to share that with us, Wendy. It’s exactly this kind of story that gives women the power to take back control of their lives.

*****Letter from Betty*****
First of all, Holly and I are on totally different wavelengths as far as…… co habitating with a man who you finanacially support, and are only dating, and letting a man abuse you in different ways.

But…..I think Holly (even though she is currently under the spell of Tim) should immediately cut Tim off of any financial help,

Next…..she should do a disappearing act right out of Tim’s life… after she firmly tells him he will immediately need to move himself, and his belongings out of her house, and then let him wonder what on earth happened to her, while she’s letting that oxytocin clear her system of him along with the abuse. She will need a good support system to help her see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Holly sounds like she’s like to be in control by financially keeping Tim on a string, all the while she *likes* and/or enjoys being treated NOT so nicely by his disrespectful ways….. plus it’s not a good example for her daughter having a live-in boyfriend.

*****end letter*****

My comment: That’s right! You want a boyfriend, or a boyfiend? Shape up or ship out is exactly right.

What all of these letters illustrate is the need to seek outside support when you’re in a situation like this. Sometimes that innate inner strength of the goddess just needs a little boost to get back up and running.

Speaking of a boost to the goddess, thanks to all of you who attended the ‘How to be a modern goddess’ teleseminar last night. The replay is up; you can download it for a limited time over here: taoofdating.com/women

We’ll keep you posted of the developments in Holly’s story. I’ll be traveling to the East Coast for the next week, so I’ll do my best to keep in touch.

The power is within you

Dr Alex

Categories: Dating for Women