I have heard both men and women discuss the topic of this week’s column many times. It’s about taking time off, taking a sabbatical, or taking a vacation… from dating. Some do it because they are burned out and need to refresh their batteries. Others do it because now their life doesn’t allow for the attention and time it takes to date and get to know someone. And others just think they have been in the parshah too long, have dated everyone, been through it all, and can’t keep doing this to themselves over and over.

How many times do I have to say, “If you’re old enough to date and marry, you should be the one handling your dating life”? Apparently, I haven’t said it enough times, because time and again I’m told that someone’s shadchan is “dealing with the boy’s mother.” First of all, he’s not a “boy” – unless you are referring to the fact that he is acting like a minor child who can’t make decisions for himself. If he is in college/graduate school or is working, then he is a young man, or a man, or a fellow, but not a boy! Boys don’t go on dates and mommies shouldn’t be getting involved either. Even mommies may interject their own feelings and think they are helping their child when they are eliminating many wonderful eligible young women for their sons to date, or they tell the shadchan what they are looking for in a daughter-in-law, not necessarily what their son is looking for in a wife.

I readily admit to being gullible. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it’s not. I don’t like when people take advantage of my willingness to believe them – that they are telling the truth, and then use it to fool me. All of you can decide if this email is indeed true or just someone writing in, trying to get her letter published.

***

Dear Goldy:

I want to tell you that this isn’t a joke or a prank email. This all happened to me, but it’ll sound like a story. I started dating a guy, and then I found out that his “mother” was my teacher in seventh and eighth grade. She was mean and horrible to me. I’m not joking. When I had trouble reading Rashi, she offered to walk me back to fourth grade where Rashi letters are taught, in front of the class. When I worked on a project for weeks and finally brought it in for the Chumash Fair, she told me it looked too good to have been done by me alone and accused me of having one of my siblings or parents helping me. On a class trip, it took me a little longer in the bathroom than the others. When I finally came out, she asked, “Do you allow us to go, or do you need to do something else we have to wait for?”

I honestly hated her. I thought I was rid of her after seventh grade, but then she started teaching eighth grade halachah classes. I did my best to just get through both years. I don’t know what she had against me, but it seemed like she liked picking on me. I guarantee that she was the reason I started having anxiety in elementary school. Everything was fine until I had her as a teacher, but then I was nervous and afraid at night, before her class. I had some nightmares. My friends would tell me that I should ignore what that teacher would say to me and continue doing my work. My parents said the same thing, after complaining to the principal and making the situation worse – if that can be believed.

Recently, I was redt to a guy and we ended up going out. We had a nice time and went out a second time. We had a nice time the second time, too. Then on the third date, he asked me if I knew his mother, who taught at my elementary school years ago. Guess whom he was talking about. Yup, my worst nightmare. I was confused, because the guy and the teacher/mother have different last names. He told me his father remarried after his mother passed away. He and his stepmother are very close. He started to call her “Mom” years ago. I just sat there in my chair. I had nothing to say. What could I say? “Your mother was my worst nightmare?” or “I wished your mother to be slowly tortured countless times when she taught me?” or how about, “Your mother hated me”?

Then I realized that his mother had to know whom her “son” was dating, right? Usually, mothers are involved in checking references or deal with the shadchanim for their kids directly. She must have remembered her least favorite student and didn’t nix the shidduch. Wrong! He said that since he moved out of the house, his parents don’t get involved in his shidduchim. Basically, his mom/”the bane of my existence” doesn’t know that we’re dating.

I admitted that his mother was my teacher but added that she probably wouldn’t remember me. He said that he would send her my regards. I said not to bother, but he said he would anyway. But now I’m terrified. It has been two days since our last date, and the shadchan said he asked for more time to decide. My mind is only thinking that he told his mother about me and, for some reason, she is against this shidduch – just as she seemed to be against me the entire time she was my teacher.

I know I’m an adult now, but even so, just thinking about that woman has me sweating and my heart beating more quickly.

What do you think? Did he tell his mother? If so, do you think she’s trying to put an end to the shidduch? Help me.

Back in the Past

***

Back in the Past, thank you for your email.

I’m sorry to say, but your email does read like a prank type of email. It just seems like the chances of all of these things happening (his stepmother being the teacher you feel hated you, and him not mentioning your name because he handles his own dating life, etc. But he must have known you attended that school, so why wouldn’t he ask his mother?) is a one-in-a-million chance. But some very wacky unbelievable things have happened to me over the years, so I will be “dan l’chaf z’chus” and believe your email is true.

BITP, you are not the preteen you once were. Yes, your memories are very real and I’m sure his mother/teacher is a trigger for you, but are you going to let her win in the end? I don’t know why teachers act like bullies to some students and adore others. What I do know is that while they may not pay much attention to how they treat some students, those students carry those memories for the rest of their lives. I should know; I have my own horrible memories of some teachers.

You’re a big girl. You’re dating! You may even be out of school and holding down a job. Tackle this as you would any other project. Call the shadchan. It was only three dates and committing to a fourth is not committing to a lifetime (yet). If you want, you can briefly tell the shadchan the history you share with the mother and wonder if that may be the cause of his delay in answering; and if it is, you’d like to know. If your teacher still has a vendetta against you or for some other reason doesn’t want her son dating you, then you deserve to know that, as well. But getting back to the fellow with whom you went out: If he will end things because of what his mother may say or may want, it’s very telling about the man he is not. He follows everything his mother tells him to do, and I’m not referring to kibud av va’eim. He doesn’t stand up for himself or what he wants; if he was having a nice time with you, it shouldn’t matter what his mother had to say about the 12-year-old you. The mother/teacher should also know that you are a different person. It’s been over a decade! Would she want to be judged now for things she did or said years ago?

Seriously, would you really want to get involved again with her, knowing she has so much control over her son? I say that no matter how this turns out, you’re going to be fine:

  • It’s not like you had ten dates with him; so you won’t be left with a broken heart.
  • If this woman is stuck in the past and thinks you are beneath her son and not fit to date him, why would you want to get involved with him, knowing you may have to deal with this for the rest of your life if things work out.
  • Do not care about his mom and continue dating him and learn to move past this. (This is a positive outcome. But you may need to find a therapist.)
  • Or just see what happens and not read so much into this - if this is in fact a real-life scenario.

On the off chance that this whole thing is real, take some control of your life back from the teacher who caused you nightmares and anxiety. Ask the shadchan to have the man call you either way. You are both adults. Discuss this and come to a resolution. Or if he wants to call it quits for whatever the reason may be, the decision was made for you.

Hatzlachah to you all.


Goldy Krantz  is an LMSW and a lifelong Queens resident, guest lecturer, and author of the shidduch dating book, The Best of My Worst and children’s book Where Has Zaidy Gone? She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This week, I’m the one with the question. And it was formed over a period of a few weeks, while watching my children as well as my nieces and nephews and some of my friends’ children. Practically all of them have a tablet, iPhone, or gadget of some sort that they either play games on or use watch cartoons/YouTube on. No, this has nothing to do with parenting and allowing kids to use electronic devices, so don’t worry. What I noticed with almost each and every one of those children is that when something comes on the screen that they don’t want to see, a “boring part” or a (GASP!) ad, they skip over it. These kids are always swiping right or left. They want to be entertained at all times. They can’t handle when something bores them. They don’t know what to do.

This article deals with a sensitive subject. I feel it is necessary to include this letter and topic because Orthodox Jews do not live in a bubble. Whatever happens in the secular world, can and does happen in the frum world, only it isn’t spoken about as much as it should be. Topics are seen as taboo when what really needs to be done is to have a discussion with preteens and teenagers about all of this before they end up learning on their own and you have no control over what source their child used or what he or she knows and understands. The more taboo you make the subject, the more teens may want to find out about it. That is why I am giving parents the opportunity to judge for themselves if they want their young children (young is subjective in terms of age) reading my column this week. Personally, I don’t know why it’s acceptable to have a “young” child read a column about dating at all, and if I write about something that is actually happening in the frum dating world, I am told the article was too crass because the Queens Jewish Link is a “family paper.” But I am told that ten-year-olds read my column. It’s not for me to say what another person’s child should or shouldn’t read. I don’t write for entertainment or for laughs. People have genuine questions and there are important topics to discuss.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that contained the phrase “present year.” That phrase has garnered a lot of attention. It was an unfamiliar term to me. When I asked for clarification, I was told (by my niece and her friend, both in the dating parshah) that the “present year” is the year before a husband/chasan attends school, goes to work…after he finishes the year or two, or whatever was agreed upon, of learning. This is the husband giving all of himself to his wife. She gets all of his attention and love, he helps out wherever necessary, they can travel. It is a year dedicated to the wife because it is felt that when the husband does attend school/go to work, he will not be able to spend as much time or attention on his wife, and she shouldn’t feel like she doesn’t matter because he is too busy to sit down for a three-course dinner or take a drive to a nice park to have a picnic.