Last year a girl was redt to me, and we dated for a few weeks. She was really amazing. She was pretty, smart, and fun to be around. But then I happened to speak to someone who knows her family, and this person said something about them that really bothered me. I backed out of the relationship right away without telling the girl why. I basically just called her and told her that I didn’t think it would work out between us.
Lately, I have been thinking about this girl. I know that she is still single, and I would really like to have a chance to try again. But I am worried that she might say no. What would be the best way to go about this?
By Baila Sebrow
You have good reason to believe that this girl would say no at the outset. And why should she not? Her initial reaction will likely be that you are contacting her only because you have not yet found anyone else. Not only that, but her family will likely have the same thoughts, and they might even be proactive in discouraging her from giving you a second chance.
As a disinterested party without emotional attachments to either you or her, I will try to focus on what can ultimately benefit you both.
My question to you is, What did you hear about the family to make you break up with this girl? Was it really that bad? Furthermore, if what you heard bothered you so much then, is it bothering you less now, or not at all? You really need to explore those answers before proceeding further. Based on experience, I have a hunch that what you heard is likely exaggerated or perhaps not even true at all. I say this because I have a feeling that you might not entirely believe what you were told, either.
I do not think that the reason for this girl being in your thoughts lately is that you have not found anyone else. If that were true, you would be thinking about other girls you have also previously dated. Additionally, if you still felt that she is not right for you based on something about her family, you would not have written to me. So, now that you understand that you have hastily backed out of a shidduch with good potential, you would like guidance. But what you really need is damage control.
In order to undo (if possible) the damage created by your impulsive move, and to make sure this never happens again, it is imperative that you understand the psychology of those people who act as do-gooders while really satisfying their vindictive and oftentimes jealous streak.
When it comes to being a shidduch reference, people have been known to play G‑d. These people actually believe that they are doing the world a service by destroying a shidduch. They justify their actions by convincing themselves and others that they are saving someone from misfortune. I am not referring to a situation involving the boy or girl withholding a serious issue, leading someone to feel obligated to reveal the truth. I am talking about a scenario as you just described.
Such appalling situations commonly take place amongst us—while we wonder what we can do to help alleviate the shidduch crisis. People judge others unfairly and eagerly verbalize those thoughts, especially when serving as a shidduch reference. As a result, numerous amazing girls and boys are not able to actualize their potential in marrying the type of spouse most compatible with them. Shame on those people who commit such atrocities!
Not to make you feel worse, but I want to point out where you went wrong after hearing what was said about this girl’s family. It would have been in the best interests of both of you to verify what you heard. Even in situations where the person is a reliable source without malicious intent, there are those who misinterpret what they see. Asking one or more people who know the family well would have been the best route.
But the biggest injustice you committed was in not leveling with the girl. Not only were you mekabel what you heard, but you quickly backed out of the relationship. This girl never had the chance to find out what really happened. She must have been rehashing every date and moment you communicated with each other. She surely blamed herself for something she may have imagined to have done or said. You denied this girl the closure she deserved. You put an innocent person through unnecessary angst.
Your first objective will be to gain back her trust. I do not recommend that you have the shadchan who originally redt the shidduch as the go-between. It is likely that this person can unintentionally mess things up in the chain of communication. That is why you need to contact this girl on your own. Besides, when you broke up with her, you did that alone.
Write this girl a letter and tell her that you have been thinking about her and that you would like to speak with her. Apologize for the way things ended. Be prepared that she will most probably be in shock when she realizes you are reaching out to her. Give her a little bit of time to absorb the new circumstances, but follow up with a phone call. She may not answer your call right away, but try again.
If you find that after some time and attempts to call her she is still unresponsive, you might have to accept that she is not interested in a reconciliation of any kind. At that point, you will need to let it go and stop contacting her, as it would only cause her further discomfort.
If she does respond to your calls, keep the conversation light but ease your way into explaining what happened. Tell her, as you told me in your letter, that you found her to be amazing and how much fun you had while dating her. Inform her that you spoke to someone who said something negative about her and that you instinctively panicked. Stress that you are very sorry for not being honest with her with regard to the breakup.
If she asks you who the person was, you might have to tell her. If you do not reveal who the person was, it will only serve to antagonize her. That is the last thing you want or need at this point. Therefore, please consult a rav, preferably one with expertise in matters of shidduchim, to advise you how to properly respond without violating the laws of lashon ha’ra.
Breaking up with someone is difficult, but being the one who was rejected is painful. It takes a long time to heal from something like that. Your coming into her life now will evoke mixed emotions from her. On the one hand, this is something she might have fantasized would happen, as is natural for some people. On the other hand, she will also be angry that you waited so long to come to your senses.
Do not pressure her to give you an answer right away. If she needs to play hard-to-get for a while, then she deserves that opportunity. After you have expressed yourself, tell this girl that you hope she forgives you and that you understand if she needs time to think about it.
She will likely say that she needs time to think about it or to discuss it with her family—and that is OK. Assure her that she can take all the time she needs. If she really wants you back in the end, do not worry—she will not wait too long. In the interim, there would be nothing wrong in calling her just to check up on her and say hi, or to wish her a good Shabbos.
If it is meant to come about, this relationship will be salvaged, one way or another. And when a relationship does continue in a situation such as this one, it usually ends up being even stronger than before. You will appreciate each other more and hopefully both find greater happiness together.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.