Dear Dating Coach,
I love your Jewish Press column. Your advice to the lovelorn reflects warmth, intelligence, and a sense of humor. However, I disagree to some extent with your “Risk It” (December 30, 2022 issue) response to a young lady’s dating dilemma. Interpersonal relationships aren’t donuts. Taking a chance biting into a donut that may taste awful can’t be compared to considering dating someone who caused her a lot of mental anguish in the past. The guy is missing the empathy gene. Of course, he wasn’t obligated to marry her, but if he were a mensch, he was obligated to end the relationship in a refined, compassionate manner. He could have complimented her and perhaps even bought her a small gift. Reading between the lines, I gather that he was cold and cared only about his own need to end the relationship as soon as possible. This man is “rough around the edges,” and I would advise this young woman that her main concern should not be whether or not this man will ultimately want to marry her, but whether he is the right person for her. She can date him again, but she needs to feel like she is in control of the situation and it is she who will decide if this is the right man for her. She can’t be desperate and must have the confidence that there are other men out there (yes, the dating scene is difficult and very competitive). But the real issue is not whether or not the guy will eventually want to marry her, but whether this guy is really her “Mr. Right.”
A Reader’s Opinion
Thank you for your letter. It is always fun to hear from readers – especially when they show compassion and care for our daters. Before I can respond to your concerns however, I must address your shocking dismissal of my relationship with donuts. This was highly unnecessary and hurtful. Donuts matter. Jelly donuts are terrible, and biting into a lotus-filled donut can be life-changing. This is serious and not to be dismissed so carelessly. It’s ok, I accept your apology. At first, I donut forgive, but donut worry, we are all good now. (I may have a donut problem. I see that now. Donut Detox here I come.)
Without jest, I hear your concerns. You worry about a girl so desperate to get married that she is willing to look past a break-up that you believe was lacking in respect and decency. You suggest that there could have been a gentler way to move on from the relationship the first time (a gift) and you have determined that this means he was “rough around the edges.” You are in agreement that there is the possibility to date again but only with her feeling completely in control and confident that she must not settle.
I agree. I would never suggest that someone “settle” for someone who lacks mentchlichkeit. I would never want a girl to date someone as a “last resort” or without the confidence to say “no.” There certainly must be a time-limit attached and the dater should only try again once she has done the self-reflection that tells her that this is not an opportunity she wants to pass up, and that she still strongly believes in the connection that they once had. She would also have to spend that time dating with a focus on his middos and on his ability to be a “mentch.” I do not believe however, that he ended the relationship the first time in a way that was callous or with an intentional disregard for her feelings. She was emotionally involved. Any breakup at that point would have been painful, gift or no gift. Furthermore, the offering of a gift may have been more hurtful and confusing; toying with emotions at such a sensitive time.
But most importantly, finding your bashert is always the goal. Therefore, there is no place for ego in shidduchim. There is a place for confidence, a place for self-respect, and a place for clarity. Ego however, is not helpful in shidduchim. What if he is her Mister Right? Should a girl say no to her future because her ego has been bruised? Even battered, our ego must have the clear knowledge that the goal is happiness and a loving partner. We must focus on that always, even if that means swallowing our pride for another chance at a lotus-filled, I mean, joy-filled future.