Two years ago, I met someone who had been in a long relationship with someone before meeting me. We started dating, and I wanted to get engaged to her. After a while, she told me that she is not ready to make any commitment. She then suggested me to her friend. At first I was insulted and felt like I was being treated like secondhand goods. Eventually I did go out with her friend, but could not stop thinking about the girl I really liked and had feelings for.
To make a long story short, I ended up marrying and divorcing her friend. The girl I liked—and still do like—never got married. We talk from time to time. I am wondering if I should suggest that we start dating again. We have so much in common with each other, and I see no reason why she should not consider me. It has been a long time since that old relationship, and I am sure by now she is ready to make a commitment.
The problem is that I am not sure how to bring that up to her. Also, I am worried that my ex-wife may have said bad things about me that are not true.
By Baila Sebrow
Why are you so quick to assume that your ex-wife is saying anything negative about you, or even discussing you at all with her friend? Even if she is, my gut feeling tells me that if the girl you like so much is still talking to you and you both get along so well, her opinion of you probably hasn’t changed much, if at all. That said, whatever you had going on during the course of your short marriage leading to a divorce is irrelevant to your current situation. The dilemma now is the relationship you have with a person who is emotionally unavailable to you.
People assume that those who do not want to commit to a relationship—otherwise known as commitment-phobic—are only guys. However, there are plenty of girls, even in our frum society, who demonstrate the same attitude. Your situation is a case in point.
Singles who are emotionally unavailable for a committed relationship do a great disservice when they pretend to be seeking marriage. And how would anyone even guess? These singles go through the same motions as everyone else in the pursuit of a shidduch. They reach out to shadchanim, attend events, and accept suggestions that come their way. These singles date for a while, but then they pull out, leaving the person they dated bewildered and devastated.
There are times when commitment-phobic people will convey signs of their intentions, which are obvious to anyone observing such a relationship. For example, they are not reachable by phone, they may cancel dates, and at times they make the person they are dating feel as though they are doing them a favor.
There are also times when a commitment-phobic person may verbally express his or her ultimate intentions. But, as is natural, people make excuses for the poor behavior of those they like. There are times when those who date such a person may think that they can somehow convince them to transform their way of thinking. From the way you describe your situation, it sounds like you believe that you can somehow change this girl’s mind.
When you were dating this girl two years ago, did you ever find out what happened to that long relationship she was in before she met you? It could be that she had a bad breakup with that guy, and as a result might have built a protective wall around herself. Singles who are badly hurt in previous relationships feel the need to give themselves surety that the same thing will not happen again. What better way of assuring that you do not get hurt than not placing yourself in that position in the first place? Or it is possible that the previous relationship she had may have ended for the same reason yours did, in that this girl is not capable of committing, for whatever reason.
It is common nowadays for singles to suggest people they have dated as potential shidduchim for their friends.This is a wonderful system and should be enthusiastically encouraged. In your case, since you dated this girl for a long time and wanted to get engaged to her, it is understandable that you felt hurt when she passed you on to her friend. She was hoping you would understand that she has no interest in marrying you.
I am sure you did everything in your power to make your short marriage work. But I find it perplexing that you went running back to a person who led you on in a relationship and then refused to marry you. What makes you think that she changed her mind about you, relationships, or marriage in general?
This girl you are so taken with must be someone who is easy to talk to and whose company you enjoy. That is often the case with emotionally distant people. They make wonderful dates, because they are not concerned about leaving a good impression. They do not sit on a date worrying about getting a second or third date. Such people are actually happy when the person they are dating breaks up with them. It makes their ultimate task that much easier.
I am not comfortable advising you to mention to this girl the possibility of reestablishing a relationship. You had no real relationship with this girl to begin with. Even if you somehow receive a glimmer of hope from her that this time around her attitude will change, you are likely fooling yourself.
Oftentimes, singles like the girl you have feelings for believe they could make a relationship work. She is without doubt getting much flak from her family, friends, and community for being single. This girl really wants to change but just can’t seem to do so. Commitment-phobic people do not choose to be this way. They recognize that their lifestyle is atypical. But their issues are too deep for someone like you to handle. I do not think that you are equipped to change this girl’s mind.
Since you already have such a good rapport with this girl, instead of discussing dating her for marriage, why not talk about how people see therapists to help them understand what they need in future relationships? You can tell her that you know of people who gained so much knowledge and were helped tremendously by speaking to such professionals. And if you really want to go for broke, offer to join her on such visits.
I caution you that she might not want to see a therapist. She may think she can change on her own. If you find that she will not even seek help, my advice is for you to break all contact with this girl, lest you end up getting hurt and wasting precious time. Even if you do manage to convince her to get help, there is still no guarantee that she will change in the near future, or that you will be her choice in a husband. Whatever way this liaison plays itself out, I strongly advise you not to sit around waiting for this girl. Please be proactive in seeking healthy opportunities to date others.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
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