5 Towns Dating Forum

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Question: Four years ago, I dated a guy very seriously. We were talking about getting married and even window-shopped for a ring. One night, as we took a long walk after a lovely dinner, completely out of the blue he blurted out, “I can’t go through with this.” When I asked him to explain, he apologized and said that although he was hurting me, he could not marry me. I begged him to give it more thought, but he seemed confident in his decision and adamant that he was doing the right thing.

I was devastated. I called my parents to take me home, and they practically had to carry me to their car. It took me many months to get over the pain, but I slowly got back into the dating scene.

Last week my friends took me out to celebrate my 33rd birthday at a local restaurant. Amid the festivities, my eyes caught the stare of that guy I dated four years ago. He was sitting at a table in the corner with a girl who appeared to be his date for the evening.

Later that night he called me. We stayed on the phone for hours. He told me that he never stopped thinking about me and he wanted us to get back together.

My parents and friends are vehemently against my resuming a relationship with this guy. They don’t trust him and predict that he will hurt me again. But I still care for him—in fact, I have been davening all these years for him to come back to me.

Should I listen to my heart and believe that Hashem really answered my prayers, or should I listen to everyone around me who is warning me that dating him again will lead to more heartbreak?

The Panelists Respond

Deena Kobre:

Clearly there is still a strong emotional component here, even after four years. And it seems that it is two-sided. My advice in a nutshell: be cautious, but proceed.

This potential relationship is fraught with questions: Why did he break your heart before? Will he do so again? Has he matured? At this point, you just don’t know. But you owe it to yourself to find out. You and he should meet—not on a date—to discuss what happened in the past and a plan for the future. If his answers are reasonable and sincere, you should embark on what could be a healthy, lasting relationship. If his answers leave you unsatisfied or indicate that he may act similarly this time, you should simply move on, confident that you have at least explored the possibility and that you are making the right decision.

Even if you decide not to date him, having done your due diligence and satisfied your emotional curiosity will allow you to begin a new, healthy relationship with someone else.

Most opportunities worth exploring carry some risk, but, with it, the potential for great reward. Hatzlachah rabbah!

Deena Kobre is a senior-class adviser, Israel guidance counselor, and teacher at SKA High School for Girls. She mentors former students and others through the dating process, and teaches kallah classes. She can be reached at dkobre@gmail.com.

Adina Branfman:

I would like to convey my utmost sympathy for your difficult situation and my admiration for your strength during this time. It is impossible to feel the pain you must have gone through four years ago, despite your descriptive words.

Logic and emotion play by different rules, and it is important that you act cautiously. You cannot simply dismiss what your parents and friends are telling you. Understand that they are looking out for your best interest. You need to recognize that before simply following your heart.

You understand the reasons for rekindling this flame. You have deep feelings for him, you meshed on all of the important levels, and the relationship simply makes sense. In the best-case scenario, he is ready to get married; he might only want to iron out a few details, and you will live the rest of your lives happily.

Unfortunately, the best-case scenario isn’t always the reality. You must understand how you could end up getting hurt just as much or more this time around.

Four years ago he broke off the relationship without mentioning any legitimate reasons. This could mean that there was something in his past or present that he didn’t feel comfortable discussing, that there was something about you that he didn’t like, or that he simply wasn’t ready to go through with it. All three pose difficulties in relationships.

In the first case, there was a lack of comfort. True spouse material should optimally have fully open lines of communication, and that means you would know everything significant about him that you should know. If he did not divulge those issues, then he did not feel comfortable enough with you.

The second case marks a seeming lack in communication. In a successful marriage, there will not be perfection. Spouses must learn to speak out the difficulties and work through them together. If there were certain issues and he did not speak them out, then he simply wasn’t communicating.

The last case is a matter of potential immaturity or newly found information. New information may have surfaced that he found incompatible with his way of life, or he may have simply gotten cold feet.

In all three cases, there is an underlying fourth concern—his abrupt ending.

Ultimately this is your decision. If you feel so strongly about him and you honestly feel, after looking into everything, that this is the right way to go, then I say, “Proceed with caution.” But please brace yourself and understand that there is a significant possibility that this will not have a fairy-tale ending. I wish you all the best.

Adina Branfman is a social worker who has dealt with singles for the past six years. She helps coordinate matchmaking events in New York City, where she resides. She can be reached at abranfman5@gmail.com.

Baila Sebrow:

I wish I could tell you, complete with violin music in the background, to run off into the sunset with a guy who miraculously reappeared in your life while meeting your gaze from across a crowded room. Yet you are not describing the plot of a romance novel; these are real events that caused upheaval in your life.

The two of you dated seriously for the purpose of marriage and, from your perspective, an engagement seemed imminent. But it appears that something scared him off. It might have been the fear of commitment or his uncertainty about spending the rest of his life with you.

Although it might seem to you that his decision was “out of the blue,” I do not believe that to be the case. He waited for the right moment to divulge his decision in breaking off the relationship. Please understand, I am not undermining your pain. You sustained deep hurt and betrayal, from a man you believed would marry you.

If this guy had called without ever having seen you in the restaurant, and had acknowledged that he made a previous mistake in judgment, I would then advise you to consider dating him again. However, the only reason this guy suddenly reappeared in your life is that he was sitting in the same restaurant as you, with a date that held no interest. He took notice of you having a great time celebrating with your friends, and I suspect your appearance matched your mood.

As is natural in such a setting, this guy started feeling nostalgic. In a moment of impulse, he then called you. Not surprisingly, the two of you had a good conversation. Within that frame of mind, on that same evening he professed his feelings for you.

After your long phone conversation, this guy still did not explain why he chose to break up with you, nor did he illustrate how he envisions this renewed relationship to be different the second time around.

Your desire to resume this relationship stems from the lack of closure four years ago. Since the lines of communication are now open, wait until he calls you again. If he does, ask him to specifically home in on that long walk when he broke up with you. You need to hear the details in order to successfully move on with your life.

Based on his previous actions and current disposition, this guy has strong potential to bail out of a relationship again.

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.

Miriam Schreiber:

Timing is everything. And part of timing includes the “time” that Hashem designated for each person to find their bashert and follow through with marriage. People go through a variety of phases and experiences before they feel ready for marriage.

It is a wonderful feeling to feel that you have actually found your bashert and devastating when it is taken away from you. Finding one’s bashert does not necessarily coincide with being ready for marriage. In the more secular/modern world, where kids date in high school, there are many instances where two kids know that they want to eventually marry (they have found their “bashert”) but they simply are not ready for marriage. This same scenario plays itself out in many different forms, but they all share the same element of “it’s just not the right time.”

So, perhaps it was just not the right time. True, it was devastating and traumatic. That is completely understandable, as emotions are our reality. However, because he couldn’t go through with it then does not mean he can’t go through with it now. Perhaps he had an issue that he has now overcome or worked through.

I would suggest proceeding with caution and reassessing whether or not he is indeed your bashert at this time. You should engage the assistance of a mutual friend, rabbi, mentor, or professional—someone who can be neutral and help you make a clear, objective assessment. You should make up your mind beforehand as to how long you are willing to “date,” and discuss your concerns with him to make sure they are not something that will keep resurfacing. Ask him if there was something going on that prevented him from going through with it at the time. If so, make sure he’s worked through it and is ready to proceed. Make sure that whatever got in the way last time is not going to resurface, and make it very clear that you are only interested in tachlis. Set yourself time limits as well.

If he is reluctant to make a commitment to your time frame or to answer questions, or once you find out if there was an issue and whether or not it is gone, you will know clearly which direction to take. This will enable you to detach from the situation logically and permit you to move on with the minimum amount of wasted time and emotional pain. Hatzlachah.

Miriam Schreiber is the publisher of Jewish Image magazine and an event coordinator/consultant who also organizes tours throughout the world. She is involved in shidduchim across the globe and lives in Chicago. She can be reached at monro999@aol.com. 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 5townsforum@gmail.com.

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