Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

I am an older single and I have been dating the same guy for four months now. While I am so relieved to have met someone and progressed to this point, my family and friends are unimpressed. Yes, there are days that he doesn’t return my calls, times when he has to cancel a date at the last minute, and other small slights. But I think they are being unreasonably tough on him, especially considering my age! These are small details in a larger picture. I want to marry him, and I want their support. How do I convince them to let the little things go?

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Don’t Sweat

 

Dear Don’t,

I strongly dislike when a cook insists that you taste a specific dish. “No, thank you, I really can’t eat another bite,” you tentatively share. “But you must!” they push, waving their arms in distress. “You have never tasted a pecan pie like this!” At this point you start to protest in earnest. “I am not a nut person,” you try. Undeterred, they insist that we are all nuts (point!) and you will regret every decision you have ever made unless you eat their pie. Polite excuses and evasive disclaimers only embolden them and you know that at any moment they will start “baby airplane” feeding you that pie – dismissing every reason and EpiPen that you own. Effectively backed into a food corner, you take a small bite, eyes darting back and forth for a hungry pet, napkin, or EMT. You swallow and murmur an intelligible response as you pray to the vomit sorcerer and your Claritin until they are satisfied. “Aha!” they triumphantly cry – “I knew you would love my pecan pie!” while you slink away, head down, to find the nearest garbage can or Zantac supplier. You know that this has happened to you. And I feel your pain. Literally.

 

In Your Everyday…

Dating can be hard and it can be disheartening. This is especially true for those that have dated for a long time. I am happy that you feel like you have met someone that you can see a potential future with. This is a big deal and should not be dismissed or discounted. You clearly see positive traits and potential in the man that you are dating, as you have been going out for a while. You see the good in him, the connection that you have, and all the ways that you seem to be on the same page.

 

Know One Thing…

That being said. Sure, you are not 20 anymore. You are realistic and perhaps more aware than younger daters that there may be imperfections that don’t ultimately matter. You know that hashkafa, shared values, and mutual goals are important. You have had the time to evaluate the absolutes that will be the bedrock of your future marriage. You don’t stress over his outfit choice, his last name, or the car he drives. You don’t want to ‘sweat the small stuff” and you consciously focus on the ‘bigger picture.’ You want a husband, children, and a successful life that you can build together.

While you may be right in many ways, there is one thing that can never be discounted regardless of age. Respect is the foundation of every happy marriage, and every solid relationship. A husband and wife who don’t treat each other with respect will struggle. A couple that builds their future on their respect for one another however, is strong and secure. Most importantly, a dater can only assure themselves of that inevitable respect, by having self-respect. The self-respect to demand nothing less than respect from those you encounter in your life, and especially from the man that you hope to marry.

 

Self-Respect is Everything.

This man may very well be respectful. Perhaps he has wonderful reasons for his slights. We can imagine that he is a doctor, called away to help a patient in distress, or his grandmother needed him in an emergency, or the neighbor’s cat was stuck in a tree. All plausible certainly. Clearly, however, his behavior has been a cause for concern to your family and friends. Listen to them, and look inward. Do you firmly believe that you have the self-respect to ensure respect from your spouse? If the answer is unclear, then reflect and take the time to make healthy decisions for your future. If the answer is a resounding yes, then trust yourself and your own taste buds. Only you know when to accept that slice of pie, or if it is time to walk away from the table.

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