I am in my mid-twenties and have been dating a guy on and off for the last few months. He talks about marriage, but I have apprehensions about it.
We were initially introduced through a shadchan. After a few dates we dropped the shadchan and began to communicate without her intervention. This guy has everything going for himself, and I think that he can be a very good husband. But I am concerned by the large number of female friends he has. I’m not just talking about Facebook, where he probably doesn’t even know half of them, but also when we go on dates. It seems everywhere we go, or any female name I mention, he knows them. Not only that, but girls call him all the time for advice or just to talk. I told him that it bothers me, and that’s one of the reasons I can’t get serious with him. But he doesn’t get it. He feels that I am overthinking things and making a big deal out of nothing.
Is it normal for a frum guy to have so many female friends? Do you think that he will actually drop them when he gets married? If I decide to get serious with this guy and marry him, it would bother me to even have these female friends at our wedding, as I am sure he would invite them. Should I just learn to deal with it and get serious with this guy, or find someone who is less friendly with females?
The Panelists Respond
Although it appears that you are experiencing one major issue in your relationship with the guy you are dating, there are several issues tied together that need to be addressed.
With the widespread acceptance of Facebook as a social-media outlet within many frum circles, it is not uncommon to see people who proudly allow other viewers on their page to acknowledge that they are friends with 2,000 people or more.
I am pleased to note that you are realistic in recognizing that there is no way such a high number of people can possibly be anyone’s friend, including the guy you are dating. However, that does diminish from the dilemma that you face, along with many spouses or soon-to-be-spouses of those fixated by this social-media fascination.
If your letter had stated that this guy has a large number of friends, which also include males, my instinctive reaction would be that he is an outgoing, personable guy and people trust his insightful advice. However, your letter distinctly focuses on the fact that his vast people interaction involves females exclusively.
What I am most concerned about is why this guy feels the need to have such a large number of female friends in general. Whether he really is as popular as he thinks, or just imagines himself to be, this guy’s demeanor indicates that he is dealing with needs that stem from something you do not seem equipped to handle. Furthermore, his need to make the familiarity of the girls he is acquainted with known to you, and his boastful popularity amongst females, does not feel right to me.
Whether it is normal for a frum guy to have female friends depends on the customs of his social circles. From the way your letter sounds, it seems that this practice, and in the abundance you stress, does not appear to be the norm in your community.
I do not believe that he will drop these female friends after he gets married. The best you can hope for is that perhaps some of the girls might drop him.
In a healthy dating situation, where concerns are brought out into the open, as you have clearly done, this guy should have discussed the issue with you by sharing his viewpoints, at the same time validating your feelings. Instead he dismissed your valid concerns by condescendingly telling you that you are making a big deal out of nothing. Be proud in your strength of thinking this issue through and not allowing anyone to make you feel as though this is your problem.
This is not just a matter of finding someone who is less friendly with females. This guy demonstrates his specific preferences for females in numbers that you are not comfortable with, and in addition does not convey sensitivity towards you with regard to your feelings about it. In conclusion, no, you should not have to learn to deal with anything when you marry someone, especially an issue that you find distasteful and uncomfortable.
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.
My question for you is, exactly what bothers you about him having so many female friends? Does he flirt with them? There’s a big difference between a man who flirts with other women when he’s dating you, and a man who gives other women advice.
While flirting with others is absolutely not okay, I think it’s a great middah that he is so easy to talk to that women seek him out for advice. He sounds like a guy who is emotionally literate. You’re lucky. That’s a rare find!
You must enjoy talking to him too, right?
Most women would love to marry a man who is easy to talk to and gives good advice to friends. I think this all boils down to figuring out why it bothers you. If it’s jealousy, do you have a real reason to be jealous, or are you projecting something? If it’s fear, what are you afraid of?
Get clear about your feelings, and then talk to him.
Chances are, you’ll process your feelings and be able to just let it go. It sounds like he doesn’t understand why you would ask him to dump his female friends. If you’re not clear about the “why,” he won’t be either. Decide what you want to do from a place of clarity, not demanding that he change because of fear or jealousy.
Sandy Weiner is a certified professional life and dating coach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.