Pesach is here and the heady scent of spring is in the air. As tulip bulbs push their beautiful blossoms to the earth’s surface in a burst of color, a sense of optimism takes hold of single men and women who await that special call they fervently hope will culminate in a Chol Hamoed date with their predestined mates.
In the following letter, one young woman bares her soul with regard to her own springtime experiences with promising dates. As she gives voice to her innermost thoughts and emotions, we are made to reflect on the plight of singles whose pain we have the power to assuage in so many ways.
Besides trying our hand at matchmaking, we can offer a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, an invitation for Shabbos or Yom Tov or just because… in short, our heartfelt friendship.
As only the many singles in my age bracket may understand, I hate the holidays. Especially Pesach. Spring is a time of rebirth and awakening, anticipations and what ifs… or do I harbor romantic notions, erroneously perhaps? I hope not. Yet I fear that I’ve hit the inescapable, overpowering, towering, merciless wall.
I’m a single woman in my mid 30s who began dating many moons ago, but this year’s dating experience has been outright appalling. You may be surprised to know that I am one of those positive, energetic, “young” single females who enjoys and appreciates life as is. Well, at least until now. Of the many men I’ve dated this past year, I was involved in a few serious relationships that I’d been under the impression were quite promising.
I’ve characterized the men I’ve dated into two separate categories, albeit both of the disingenuous kind. The first are those who possess an actual DSM-IV [mental disorder] diagnosis. The second are shrewd, non-committal cowards. Would you believe me if I were to tell you that the latter kind is worse to experience than the first? Over the past six months or so, I’ve experienced the two types in their purest forms. The first was a true sociopath, a master of deceit to the ultimate level. (For the record, we “met” on a frum dating site.) He falsified everything — from his age, marital status, occupations, family and friends, rabbis, excuses for lateness and absence, to what he ate for lunch, and with such simple and believable detail.
But to some degree I blame myself, as I only checked references at a later stage in the game. Nonetheless, the relationship that I thought had occurred never really existed; I dated a man who was a true phantom, more like a Jekyll and Hyde, if you will. He lived a double life, appearing to be the most ideal type of man: kind, intelligent, sensitive and sweet, while maintaining a discrete identity and leading an entirely different “reality” — an idyllic masquerade I wasn’t aware of, but boy did I play my part well, without the script.
I’m being kind withholding specifics from your readers. To put it mildly, truth is indeed stranger than fiction. What’s more alarming is that I met another single woman through a mutual friend, one who had suffered the same encounter with this unwell man. She had checked his references during the initial dating phase, but was nevertheless misled to the point where they were making wedding plans!
Yes, a chilling, bloodcurdling kind of ordeal. After I ended my involvement with him, I was hurt, upset and somewhat traumatized, but not distraught because it is easier to get over someone with a disturbing mental deficiency. After all, how much control can he have over his behavior and actions? I just feel for his other victims and fear for those he’s about to cunningly pounce on.
The second relationship only recently ended and has left me heartbroken. The wound is still raw and I haven’t completely made sense of it all. We’re both not young, he approaching his 40s, and I, calculating how many children G-d can mercifully grant me. After close to two months of dating, he broke down and admitted that he was, “as of yet,” not ready to be in a serious relationship.
Apparently we weren’t on the same page, as neither I, nor the relationship, was a priority for him. He let me know he had matters of more importance to attend to, and, in passing, he managed to acknowledge his fear of change. (Don’t we all fear the unknown?) I delicately alluded to Shakespeare’s cowards die many times before their deaths. All the same, he decided he could not add more stress to his already demanding itinerary and needed to take a break. (What in the world does that mean?!)
Please understand, I sincerely like this man and believe him to be a good, solid individual, albeit “unprepared” to settle down. (In another 20 years from now, maybe…?) I just wish I had trusted my intuition when at the onset I felt the topics being evaded by him to be some sort of warning sign. No wonder I am ridiculed for being too trusting, and believing in giving people and experiences a more than fair chance. Was he consciously aware of his unreadiness, or that he’d leave me devastated? I think not.
My purpose for unburdening in this forum is twofold: to warn other women in my expensive yet worn-out shoes to be wary if things are blissful, and to urge those who find themselves in a stagnant relationship not to hesitate to confront him about it. I’d rather have known right off than waited for the inevitable to happen months into the relationship. I can’t afford to defer time.
And so I’ve shared my “winter of discontent” — with the hope that Chag Ha’Aviv will jolt that vigorous pulse so critically vital for my belief system. In one of my favorite books, Garden of Emuna, by Rabbi Shalom Arush, (lately I find myself gravitating towards it too often) it says, “patient endurance, the result of emuna, paves the road to genuine tranquility.”
Fortunately, when I was 15 years old my high-school teacher taught me the most important life lesson, that happiness is a decision. I made that choice back then, only recently finding it to be a bit arduous. And believe me, I’ve endured my lot of pitfalls.
In the past I’ve learned that from tribulations come spiritual aspirations. I feel like a cat with multiple lives — somehow G-d gives me the strength to embark on the dating scene with gusto, ever hopeful of reaching a miraculous conclusion to my saga.
The power of spring is life itself. I think if little buds can swell, my mazal has the potential to be transformed too, no?
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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
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