I have been dating someone for about a year. We are both still in college, but we have been dating seriously and talking about marriage all the time.
All of a sudden, he told me that I’ve been stressing him out and he didn’t feel ready to get married. I got upset, and he said that if we took a break, he would miss me during that time and appreciate me more, and when he came back to me our relationship would be much better. He said he does not want to lose me, but is also not sure if I am “the one.”
I spoke to people about it and some think this is acceptable, while others think it’s horrible and that he is unstable.
Since this happened, I have been feeling insecure, and so I keep contacting him. I feel that I have been deceived into believing we are going to get married. And now he says that he is not sure that I’m “the one”? We have been dating for so long; shouldn’t this guy feel like he can’t go for one day without me?
I think he is playing with my emotions. On the one hand, I want to fight for him, because I would want the guy I love to fight for me. But on the other hand, when do I give up? When is it enough already?
By Baila Sebrow
Romance novelists have a propensity for depicting young females as heroines endlessly pursued by their love interests. Even when the female in the story shows no interest in the guy, it only serves to cause him to fight harder to win his true love. As expected in such fiction, they usually end up living happily ever after in matrimonial bliss. At other times, the novel concludes with a catastrophic occurrence that befalls the couple. The story is always maneuvered in such a manner that in the end, the couple will never be separated.
In real life, relationships involving long dating periods are typically saddled with drama. In young dating couples, the drama can be more intense, especially if it is a first-time experience for one or both of them.
When frum couples date for one year, it becomes a given that they will eventually get married. In your case, it was more than just an expectation—the guy actually said so, and from what I gather, on more than one occasion. It does not get more serious than that. So, what happened to bring about his change of thought?
Anyone can contemplate the reasons for wanting a break. One thing is clear: The flame is not there anymore, if it ever was. You are correct in assessing that in a healthy, long-term dating relationship, the two parties would find it difficult not to have contact for even one day. Singles who have been dating for a long time are telling me now, as the Yamim Nora’im draw close, that they dread all those days that they will not be able to see or talk to the person they are dating. When a guy needs or wants a break, it indicates that he does not enjoy the frequent company of the girl he is with.
I am not ready to say that this guy has deceived you all along. I doubt that he invested a year of his own life to tell you things that he did not mean, in an attempt to hold you for collateral. But, to be fair, such things have been known to happen. Sometimes people will hold on to a relationship they are not serious about because they are afraid they may never find anyone else.
I am concerned about what he meant when he said you are stressing him out. During this year of serious dating, did he ever bring up the topic of marriage on his own, or was that something you kept asking him about, and he just agreed in order to hold you in check? There are times when guys are not sure about the girls they are dating, yet continue to date anyway. When the girl asks the guy if they will be getting married in the future, sometimes the guy gets nervous and says yes, out of fear of losing the girl.
However, if this guy did bring up the topic of marriage and now he feels that he needs a break, then those who are telling you that it is horrible and that he is being unstable are possibly correct. Or perhaps he is deliberately acting in this manner because he may want to consider dating others, or for whatever reason has decided that there is someone else out there for him.
If he is looking around for greener pastures, that could explain the logic behind his wanting a break. In this approach, he figures that if he misses you, that will be the determining factor that you are “the one.”
This guy is loudly contradicting himself. He is telling you that by taking a break he will miss you and appreciate you more. But he also wants to make sure that you are “the one.” Did he not already determine that you are “the one” when he said that he would marry you? This fellow is playing with your emotions—big-time.
This is a lot for you to take in. Investing so much time and emotion in a relationship only to have it thrown in your face must be devastating to you. It is no surprise that you feel insecure and are doubting yourself. You are likely rehashing every moment in the dates leading up to this guy’s bombshell of a decision, dissecting every word or expression you might have conveyed during the last few dates. You are blaming yourself for things you think you might have done. It is natural in such circumstances to keep imagining that it was something you did to cause this turnaround in the relationship. Not only that, but in your pain, you are putting this guy on a pedestal and idealizing him. And you would probably be ready to do or say anything that could return things to the way they were. That explains why you keep contacting him even after he told you that he wants out.
It appears that you do not have healthy closure. In order for that to happen, you need to understand the difference between “taking a break” and “breaking up.”
At the end of the day, both statements are one and the same. Taking a break means the relationship is presently over, but there is that one-in-a-million chance of a reconciliation. “Breaking up” sounds permanent, and people who are dating sometimes have a hard time coming out and saying that they want to break up. So they do it in dribs and drabs. It’s their way of planting the seed that it’s over. Hence the term “taking a break.”
The problem with saying that he wants to take a break is that it gives false hope. Yes, it has happened that during a recess in the relationship the one who wanted out comes crawling back. But it is rare, and no human being should ever have to be placed in emotional uncertainty. The time you could lose may be the best months and years of your life. And for what?
I never advise anyone to wait around for someone, especially not in a serious relationship such as you had with this guy.
When is it enough that you should stop fighting for this relationship? The moment such a question even enters your thoughts is when you need to stop fighting. Moreover, you should not have to fight for any guy’s appreciation. Contacting this guy at this juncture is like chasing rainbows in the sky. No one should have to chase anyone. Furthermore, chasing him will only serve to feed his ego. And this guy does not deserve that from you.
Please use this break period to pamper and indulge yourself. Allow others to offer you their shoulders to lean on and arms to support you. You need to believe that you are a beautiful person, capable of giving love and receiving it from the man who truly deserves it.
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
Questions and comments can be submitted to email@example.com.