Dear Dating Coach,
I am the youngest of nine, and all my siblings are married. I have been dating someone for a while and hope to get engaged soon. But the unsolicited advice and guidance from my siblings and their spouses is causing me to second guess every interaction and discussion I have had on my dates. Every sibling has another opinion and freely offers their thoughts on “how I should be feeling, the right time to get engaged, if he is the one, and if they believe we are ready for this next step!” It’s overwhelming, upsetting, confusing, and I don’t know how to make them stop! Sure, we are blessed to be a large and close family, but their “help” is making me feel anxious and unsure of my own opinions. How do I nicely tell my loving family to back off!?”
Things I dislike: traffic, glitter, cilantro and arcades. An eclectic list, sure, but an honest compilation of things I do my best to avoid. When I was little, collecting quarters was my sole mission at the arcade to continue my reign as air hockey queen. Today, not so much. The noise prevails, with constant banging, beeping and sirens that overwhelm. The dark interior and the strobe lights flashing have you reaching for the Advil while you trip and feel your way from game to game. The children and adults at arcades shout to one another to be heard over the din, taking the volume up into overdrive, while crying from those who lost their last cents to The Claw takes it all the way into migraine territory. So, if you are looking for some pain – err, fun, head over to Dave and HeadBusters and enjoy!
It is so exciting to be so close to an engagement with a person who makes you feel special, comfortable, excited, and just right. It is a bracha to be surrounded by a family that loves us when that happens. But sometimes, those who care about you the most can lose sight of their role as they watch you go through the dating process. You feel lucky to have a family rooting for your happiness, but their constant advice and feedback are overwhelming rather than helpful. You don’t want to hurt their feelings, but you want to ask them to take a step back as you navigate your own feelings and emotions.
Take a breath. You are happy with the way your dates have evolved, and may even have appreciated some advice from family along the way. Somewhere, though, boundaries were lost, and solicited opinions turned into a runaway train. Sit down with your parents or one of your siblings and regroup. Ask them to relay to your well-meaning loved ones that their care and concern, though well-meaning, has become too much. Instead, refocus on a small group that you will turn to if needed, such as your parents, the shadchan, a dating coach, or a specific sibling. They will become your dating team. Ask them to respect your privacy should you chose to share with them. Of course, you cannot prevent your siblings and their spouses from speculating amongst themselves, but you can control the flow of information and their access to your dates.
Creating boundaries even among our families and their good intentions can remove the unnecessary confusion that they contribute with their plethora of opinions. This means only sharing with your team, and filtering all questions you may have through them. They in turn will surround you with support and cushion you from family opinion overload. While you certainly love and appreciate every family member, the arcade of opinions; the “noise” and “lights” can make the best of us lose all of our “cents!”