Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

I am responding to your Dating Decoded column “I Do (Not)” (June 13). I think I should temper your advice to walk away for those dating over one year without getting a commitment. We married just over a month ago, both over the age of 40, for the first time and after we dated for 15 months. B”H we are very happily married. After six months, then nine months and at the one-year mark, we acknowledged that we appreciated the good qualities we liked in each other – and the frustration we both felt that we were not developing feelings for each other. Both our respective Torah advisers and PhD therapists advised us to give it a short period to see if feelings developed and to cut each other loose if that didn’t happen. So, what changed?

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Single Unicorn

 

Dear Unicorn,

I love bat mitzvah sweatshirts. (Yes, I agree. I am probably the only one who does.) I have a bunch of them in different colors, different logos, different messages, same size: one-size-fits-all. This seems to be the go-to size of bat mitzvah swag and strangely they do not seem to fit everyone, contrary to the sizing on the label. On my youngest, they are unfashionable sweatshirt dresses (that’s actually a thing. Make it stop.) and on my oldest, they are crop tops (also something that needs to stop.) Most importantly, however, on ME, they are the perfect size and I wear them proudly. (Of course not in public.)

Thank you for your letter – I will include the rest of your message for our readers:

“On my own, I went through a six-week internal journey in which I had to deconstruct the image and qualities I had always thought I needed in a mate. It was not easy. It was painful at points. But, “I did the work” and we emerged on the other side ready to commit to each other and we are B”H so happy.

This could not have happened at the six-month, nine-month or 12-month mark. I needed the time to grow to feel comfortable with this person, resolve any concerns I had and then realize that I had to do the internal work to move ahead. But I could not have done that work earlier in the relationship. I simply wasn’t ready.

You need to recognize that while you like each other and see promise in a future together, something in one or both of you is preventing an emotional connection from developing to the point that you can commit to one another. Statistically, many long-time daters do not reach that goal and finishing line.

Therefore, unless one or both of you (depending on who is not able to move forward) does the hard, internal work to figure out and overcome their obstacle, you may be going in circles and end up deeply frustrated and disappointed. That said, there are long-term dating couples who did the work – either through therapy and/or on their own – and made it to the finishing line and are happily married. Keep open communication with your dating partner. And daven for siyata d’shmaya.

Mazel tov to you both! I was so glad to receive your letter and to read that you beat the odds. I still stand by my message though, as your story is the “unicorn,” not the norm. Thank you for reminding us that one size does not fit all and that hope and determination are valuable forces in dating.

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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at hennihalberstam@gmail.com to schedule a phone session.