In my opinion, if you date someone, meaning if you are old enough to be in a relationship, whether you are shidduch dating or in an actual relationship, there has to be a maturity level that you need to possess. You are now caring and possibly making decisions that affect another person’s life, and you have to understand that that is a responsibility. It may be fun, too, but it is a responsibility. It should not be treated as if this is real life, not as if reading a novel or watching a rom-com. Even if you think that it’s only you and your significant other in the relationship, what happens in the relationship has a ricochet effect, and it affects others: your friends, your family, etc. When the relationship is going well, you are happy and may be pleasant to deal with. If the relationship is on rocky ground, you may be irritated and not so pleasant to deal with. But the fact remains, this is real life and there are no cameras following you to capture all the drama.
I have been dating someone off and on for almost a year. Just when things seem to be going great, something happens, we argue, and break up; but then, after a month or two, or even less, we decide to give it another try. I’m getting too old for games and I really want to get married. What do you suggest?
Thank you for your question, Linda.
What I suggest is that you give more details to someone from whom you seek advice. What are your arguments about? Are they about serious life issues, hashkafah, or if the Road Runner is really at fault for all the pain Wile E Coyote has been through for the last 50 years? Do the arguments begin when one of you wants to take the relationship to the next step (engagement) or the fact that one of you does not want to take the relationship to the next step (from your letter, I would think that would be your boyfriend).
You have a pattern of breaking up and then getting back together. What is the factor that keeps bringing you and this fellow back together? Is it that you really do love each other and can live with each other’s differences, or you’d rather not start from scratch with someone in a new relationship? This is important to know. If you keep going back to each other because “the enemy I know is better than the enemy I don’t,” then it’s a crazy, toxic, unhealthy relationship. Then you are staying together just because you don’t want to try to begin new with someone else whom you will have to find, who won’t magically be ready for you and all your quirks and shortcomings like your current boyfriend is. That’s not love. This cycle will keep going. Just because you wear a wedding ring, do you think the fights will stop? You are getting a look into what life will be like with him; but once you get married it’s not so easy to walk away – not that it’s easy now, but marriage makes the situation more difficult. And what if you get pregnant? Now you are bringing a child into this situation. Is it a healthy environment for the child to constantly see his parents fighting, even if they do resolve their issues for a few weeks at a time?
Life is not reality TV or a rom-com or a soap opera. I’m sorry to say it, but even reality TV is scripted. It’s not cute and sweet, and people won’t smile and happily whisper to each other, “Awwww, they made up again. They really DO belong together.” This is life. Your friends and family may not want to be involved with your drama; they may see how toxic the relationship is for you and for the fellow, and I repeat: this is not TV; this is real life – your real life.
Maybe you should consider couples counseling if the two of you want to really make it work and love each other. You can learn new ways to deal with differences other than breaking up and starting the cycle again. Maybe you will find that you are not each other’s bashert and no matter how much it hurts, it is healthy for all to walk away. These are decisions for you and the man you are involved with to make and no one else. Don’t ask your friends or the woman who cuts your hair. Speak with a real couple therapist and you will have to provide more details than you provided me, but be prepared for your boyfriend to say how he feels about the same issues, and your feelings and opinions may be totally opposite.
I know you said that you want to get married. But make sure you are getting married for the right reasons to the right person, and not just get married for the sake of getting married. I can assure you that hundreds will warn you not to go down that road, and what a journey down that road may lead to: trouble, unhappiness, fights.
It’s time to stop the cycle of breaking up and getting back together. It’s time to put your big-girl Spanx on and see if you and your boyfriend are bashert or not. Be prepared for the answer to be no; because if you aren’t, there is no point in going to therapy or even trying, because this will be happening for years – or maybe until your boyfriend decides this is too much drama and he decides to end it. I strongly suggest that you seek out a therapist, either for yourself or preferably for both of you.
Hatzlachah to you all.