I am a 28-year-old guy in the midst of a dating dilemma. About three months ago, I was introduced to a 21-year-old girl. Prior to this girl, I was only dating girls in their mid-twenties. When the shadchan suggested a girl this young, my immediate concern, which I conveyed to the shadchan, was that she might be too young for me. But we went out anyway and really hit it off. We continued to date and enjoy the time we spend together. She is nice, she is pretty, and she possesses fine middos.
This girl, although very sweet and fun to be around, seems naive about certain things and somewhat immature. Aside from being educated, I am also quite cultured and enjoy philosophical discussions, which I don’t think is her thing.
Everyone tells me how lucky I am to be dating a girl seven years younger, and that she will mature with age, and intellectually we will eventually be on a similar level. However, I am concerned that as well as we get along now, if we get married we might both discover that we are very different from each other.
Meanwhile, I am getting pressured to make a move towards an engagement or break it off. I really like her, and am afraid of losing her. But, at the same time, I am also afraid of marrying her.
Is it possible for these differences to eventually work themselves out and fall into place after she becomes a married woman and grows older? Or could these issues realistically become a big problem for us as a married couple?
The Panelists Respond
It is not uncommon for people to initially be attracted to someone very different from themselves, as in the old adage that “opposites attract.” Differences in personalities can be intriguing, which explains the myriad of happy marriages where one spouse is extroverted and the other is introverted. These couples, in a sense, balance each other out in a healthy way.
However, the differences that you and the girl whom you are dating face concern me. You very candidly call attention to her naiveté and level of immaturity.
Other than her sweetness and physical attractiveness, what exactly do you have in common with this girl? After all, you point out that with your education, cultured ways, and philosophical intellect, you need someone who can join you in intelligent discussions. But, as you say, “that is not her thing.” Based on what you are saying, it sounds as though you feel there is very little the two of you can converse about.
I do not believe that the age factor is the cause of your dilemma. This girl sounds like she possesses a fun-loving, free-spirited personality, which you seem to find refreshing and annoying at the same time. You, on the other hand, appear to be of a more serious, deep-thinking type of personality.
Most people know of marriages where one spouse considers himself or herself to be in a higher intellectual league, and they make sure that everyone around them understands that factor, including the children. As a result, the disrespected spouse is always being second-guessed and rarely consulted in family decisions. The less-regarded spouse in such situations eventually loses self-respect.
I do not believe that growing older will make you feel that she is finally on par with you. That is not going to happen. What bothers you about her now will bother you with even greater intensity once you marry her. The reason being that as much as you like her, you do not respect her. That is the number-one deal-breaker in a marriage.
You are afraid of losing this girl because you are concerned that you might not find someone else as nice as she is to marry. That is a highly detrimental motive for continuing a relationship and getting married. To the contrary; for this very reason you need to seriously consider gently breaking up with her.
This sweet young girl, who as you say possesses fine middos, deserves to be respected and cherished for who she is. Under no circumstances should she do anything to change any aspect of her personality. And neither should you. You, too, deserve to be in a marriage of mutual respect.
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.
You get married with the hope that it will last a lifetime. It’s not a decision that should be made based on how a person might change. It’s a decision based primarily on who a person is now, plus how you will both hopefully grow together. But the emphasis is on the now. The only thing that’s a definite is how you’ve experienced this woman in the present.
You say you like her, but the way you describe her seems to me to be pretty “pareve.” Many girls are pretty, have good middos, and are enjoyable. If you don’t connect with her on a deep and vibrant intellectual level, you are missing something crucial to your relationship.
You need to follow your head and your heart, not the advice of those pressuring you to marry her because she’s sweet and so much younger and will hopefully mature into the woman of your dreams.
By the way, I’ll bet there are many younger women who would be interested in philosophy. So, I don’t think this is really an age issue as much as an incompatibility.
My rule of thumb for settling: Don’t settle on issues of character and compatibility. Settle on the small stuff.
Sandy Weiner is a Certified Professional Life and Dating Coach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org v
In each installment of the Five Towns Jewish Times Dating Forum, a question pertaining to contemporary dating issues will be addressed by our diverse and experienced forum panelists. Questions and comments can be submitted to email@example.com.