By Baila Sebrow
I once dated someone seriously enough to want to marry her. We didn’t date that long, but after a few dates all we ever spoke about was getting married. It’s funny, because when we decided that it was going to happen, it was originally her idea. One night after dinner, we passed by a jewelry store that was closed, and she stopped to admire the diamond rings in the window. She started talking about which ring she wants, and right then and there I proposed to her—kind of out of the blue.
To make a long story short, everything happened very quickly, and we even had a wedding date set. Soon after, she decided that she couldn’t go through with it; she said that it’s her, not me . . . blah, blah, blah.
I pleaded with her to reconsider. I even offered to postpone the wedding to a later date. But she just wanted out. I was shocked and couldn’t function for a long time. I didn’t even want to wake up in the morning anymore, that’s how bad I felt at the time.
It took a long time, but I eventually got over it and I moved on. Time passed, and I met someone else. She is a wonderful, understanding, and very fine woman.
A few weeks ago, while out with my new girlfriend, I saw the woman I had been engaged to. She was out on a date with some dude. I tried to ignore her, but I really couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She looked great. She must have felt the same vibes, because when I went to the men’s room, she quickly jumped up to go to the ladies’ room. She said hello first, and I didn’t say much. I’m not too good in these types of situations.
The next morning, I checked my Facebook friend requests, and I saw that she requested me. I accepted, and then we started chatting. Since then we’ve been chatting though Facebook messaging. Basically, she wants me back, and she says so.
Everyone is against it—my family, friends, and the people I work with. They don’t trust her, and insist that she will hurt me again. They can’t understand how I could want her back after what she did to me. But in the back of my mind, she was always in my thoughts. I must confess that when she broke up with me I prayed that she would one day come back to me. Could my prayers have been answered? Should I listen to my heart or to everyone else?
If your story was the plot for a movie or romance novel, the author would find some benefit of doubt on behalf the person who did the jilting, and conclude the tale by writing that they ran off in the sunset together and lived happily ever after. But your tale is not the fabrication of a novelist. You lived through the ordeal of a broken engagement perpetrated by this woman. You are relating events that caused disturbance and upheaval in your life to the extent that you were barely able to function. By the grace of G-d, you recovered to the point that not only were you able to get on with daily functioning, but you allowed yourself to get into another relationship. You must be very strong of character to have achieved that under such trying circumstances. That is a huge accomplishment for which you should pat yourself on the back.
If I were to go by basic initial instinct, I would advise you to heed the advice of your loved ones and go running for the hills. But I believe that is not what you want to hear from me, and there are also emotional components to consider. I understand that your feelings for her never dissipated or you would not have taken notice of how great she looked while on a date with someone else.
If you were to disregard her overtures, you would need closure, and you cannot achieve that unless it can be proven to you that this woman is bad news in your life. So let’s review the journey of your relationship with her and how it pertains to your present situation.
Although you make no mention of your age or the age of the woman in question, I feel comfortable assuming that at the time of your engagement you were both mature adults. I will also venture to say that you were marriage-minded while dating her, and she never gave you the impression that she wasn’t. When this woman stopped to admire the diamond rings in the storefront window, and told you what she would like when she becomes engaged, that was likely no coincidence. In retrospect, because some time has passed, it might seem that you proposed to her “out of the blue,” but I highly doubt that. The timing may have been impromptu; however, I imagine that such thoughts must have passed through your mind from time to time during your courtship, even though it was short. Not only that, but the two of you had discussed marriage prior to her apparent hint.
So why did she have a change of heart? Why did she wait until after you had set a wedding date to break off the engagement? If it were a mere misunderstanding, you were ready to straighten things out. You offered to postpone the wedding and pleaded with her to reconsider. Yet she stood firm in her decision. She said that it’s her and not you, which could be a line she used, or perhaps she feared commitment. Nonetheless, this woman betrayed you in a seriously significant way.
So, here is the peculiar turn of events that should puzzle you, as it puzzles me. Up until that fateful evening in the restaurant where you both ran into each other and spoke (quite purposely), you were going about life according its normal routine as you knew it. You make mention of a wonderful woman in your life with whom you shared dinner that night. Where exactly does she fit in to your life now? Have you disclosed to her your renewed correspondence with your ex-kallah? It sounds like, regardless of what happens, she is getting a raw deal here. Think about it. You are dating a woman while communicating with another and also contemplating getting back together with her!
Before I advise you how to untangle yourself from your own web, I can’t ignore the feelings of the woman you are currently dating. Make sure you disclose all that is going on. She might choose to leave the relationship, or she may stick around for you. But allow that to be her choice. It’s the right thing to do, and you owe her that much.
In answer to your query about getting back with your ex, or listening to your family, friends, and co-workers, the decision ultimately has to be yours and no one else’s. But bear in mind that these people saw you at your lowest point in life. They saw how shattered you were when she jilted you, so it is understandable that they can’t trust that woman for fear she may do the same thing again.
Therefore, since you are communicating with her, and she says that she wants to get back together, ask her to tell you the real reason for her change of heart all of a sudden. Was it because she started feeling nostalgic when she saw you with someone else and her date with that guy (or “dude,” as you refer to him) may not have been working out? Was she ever planning to reach out to you if she had not seen you on a date with a woman in the restaurant? And what place is she in now emotionally as opposed to the time she broke up with you? Request that she illustrate how she envisions the renewal of a relationship with you to be different the second time around.
While I typically advise that such conversations take place in person, this is an exception. Hold back from meeting in person, even though she will probably suggest it. You need clarity of mind before you meet her, and I don’t want you to risk melting when you see her and you decide she looks great.
If it turns out that you are not comfortable with her responses, or if she is just playing games, then continue moving forward as you have till now. However, if she is truly sorry for hurting you and expresses those sentiments, then I can advise you to start meeting with her and see where it goes. Do not leave your guard down. Utilize the same strength you displayed when you recovered after she broke up with you. Also bear in mind that despite the fairy-tale manner in which you saw each other again, this relationship may not end with happily-ever-after. Keep your head above water, and tread very carefully. Furthermore, do not lose sight of the fact that regardless of what she promises you, based on her previous behavior, she may have the potential to bail on you 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. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.