I am a 33-year-old guy and have been dating a nice girl for the last two months. The problem is that I don’t feel any excitement when I see her. I also don’t look forward to each date. This girl is very nice, and pretty enough, which is which is why I am dating her.
Last year, I went out with a girl three times. It didn’t work out, for various reasons. But I remember looking forward to each date and feeling excited being around her. With this girl, I don’t have the same enthusiasm.
My parents are driving me crazy that I’m not getting any younger and that this girl is perfect for me. They also keep reminding me that, because I am short and not handsome, I should consider myself lucky that a girl with her qualities is even willing to date me. Do you think that it’s possible for my enthusiasm for her to grow? I see so many divorces happening and am scared that it could happen to me.
By Baila Sebrow
Your relationship with the girl you are currently dating seems to be surviving thus far on mutual compatibility. The chemistry, at least from your end, does not feel as if it’s there. Chemistry on its own can never permanently sustain a relationship. Hollywood relationships, as a case in point, have a very low survival rate, as those relationships tend to be based exclusively on the biology of attraction. There is usually no rhyme, reason, explanation, or even logic to chemistry-based relationships. Chemistry is a feeling that just happens to be there and can rarely be defined.
Ascertaining compatibility is the method used in determining the potential of marriage between two people. Similar backgrounds, personalities, and hashkafah, combined with future goals, are the some of the targeted characteristics that are focused on in recommending a shidduch. Essentially, it is the similarity of the values between a husband and a wife that helps make their marriage successful. Your parents seem to be of that school of thought, and understandably are hung up on that concept.
What I find disheartening, though, is your parents’ frequent reminder of their perception of your less-than-perfect physical traits. I believe that their intention in drawing your short stature and whatever else they find unattractive to your awareness is an unsophisticated technique in motivating you to get married. They might not realize that lowering a person’s self-esteem, particularly one’s child, can lead to depression, which is ultimately destructive to a future marital relationship. Please bring this issue to the attention of your parents’ rav, as their behavior in this respect needs to stop immediately.
It is emotionally unhealthy for you to compare a girl you previously dated only three times to this girl. You are bothered by the fact that although it has been two months into your current relationship, you are unable to replicate the feelings and emotions of excitement, anticipation, and enthusiasm that you felt for that previous girl.
Although you state that there were different reasons as to why that relationship did not work, the major point that comes across loud and clear is that the chemistry you experienced with that girl was not enough to grow into something greater beyond three dates.
According to what you are saying about this current dating situation, your relationship is functioning exclusively on compatibility. So, although you do not feel excited by her, as in a lack of physical attraction, the compatibility factor seems to have maintained this relationship at least till now.
The other issue you have brought to the surface is your fear of divorce. Divorce is a widespread reality that is increasing in alarming rates all over, and has become prevalent in all frum circles. Your concern of possibly falling into the statistics of a failed marriage is valid. From your letter, it seems that you are tying in your fear of divorce into not feeling any attraction to the girl you are dating.
Physical chemistry is not wholly unimportant in a relationship. Generally, married couples who feel a strong attraction to each other have a much greater drive to work through their problems when they arise than those with less attraction. But as statistics have proven time and again, that is just not enough to keep a marriage going healthy and strong.
It would be in your best interests to speak to a therapist to work out any relationship issues or myths that might need debunking. It is also important for you to understand that chemistry has been known to happen immediately—you meet someone and you believe that you are consumed with love. This has led most people to believe that chemistry should always be instant. But in viewing the long-term beautiful marriages around us, we see that this is usually not the case.
Dating can be stressful and, as a result, people often do not come across as themselves. They may be nervous and act awkward, which can take away from their appeal. You may not realize it, but you do find this girl attractive. You are not seeing stars while looking into her eyes, but you state that you find this girl to be “pretty enough” to be dating her.
I do not think that you should cast away all doubts and rush to marry this girl, but I do think that, having dated her for two months, it would be a good idea for you to have a heart-to-heart conversation with her. Ask her to honestly tell you if she feels that this relationship has potential. It might turn out that she feels the same way as you do. Meaning that although the compatibility factor is there, the feeling of non-chemistry might be mutual. In that case, there is no point in continuing this relationship, and it will be beneficial to both of you to terminate it while no one is at the point yet of suffering the pain of loss.
If it turns out that this girl actually believes that, from her perspective, this relationship has potential, it would be fair for you to confess your feelings of doubt. Do not talk about and compare last year’s relationship to the one you have with her, as that will be only hurtful and serve no purpose. Suggest giving it a little more time, but stress that there is no guarantee that your feelings will change. As the lines of communication open up, it will likely add a new dimension to the relationship—which may ultimately change your perspective.
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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