There are times when I feel like providing a quick, short, to-the-point response to a dating question. I don’t, because someone took the time to email me. I feel it’s only right to take the time to provide a full answer, even if I’m not going to publish the email or my response. If I’m busy and know that I won’t be able to devote the time to responding in full, I often email the person telling them that I read their message, but because of my busy schedule, it may take a few days until I respond. I know what it feels like when a voicemail or email goes unanswered. I do my best not to make someone else feel the same and think that I don’t care about their comment or question. I never let an email go unanswered.
But I’m going to give myself a little break here. There are some questions involving some situations that are sent to me over and over again. Common questions people have. I don’t like copying and pasting answers, because it may be the same situation, but different people and feelings are involved. Sometimes I can provide a few sentences as an answer and be done with it. I will now publish some of those questions along with a general response that can be applied to most of these situations. I will “cut to the chase” (a term first used with silent movies because those movies usually ended with a chase scene. Basically, skip the boring, unimportant stuff and get to the point and end it.).
Common Question #1: Your friend or relative is dating someone you dated in the past. They asked you “permission” to date this person as a courtesy. It hurts to know someone close to you will be dating someone that you had feelings for. What do you do, tell them it’s fine to date the person, tell them it would be disloyal to date that person or grant your “permission,” but let them know that it hurts you?
Cut to the Chase Answer: As I’ve written many times, refer back to an article about “Bro Code,” it’s nice that they asked you permission, but it wasn’t so much as they were asking as it was telling you this is what they were doing. They didn’t want you to find out on your own and feel tricked by them, so they ask. It may hurt that this person in your inner circle wants to date the person who broke your heart, but unless that ex-significant other really committed some horrible act, you have no business of telling anyone who they can and can’t date. Who’s to say that they aren’t bashert for each other because it didn’t work out for you? Would you want someone, even a friend, standing in the way of you dating/marrying someone? If need be, talk it out with them, thank them for “asking,” and “grant permission.” Move on with your life.
Common Question #2: Dating a co-worker/boss. You work in the same office with someone you like, or attend the same class as someone you like, or the someone you like just happens to be your superior at work. What should you do?
Cut to the Chase Answer: First of all, never use my experience as an example to follow, because there were so many extenuating circumstances. The next “first of all” is to check in the employee handbook or with HR if there is a work policy regarding employees dating each other. If there isn’t, you can go ahead and try your luck by asking the person out. But before you do that, ask yourself what would happen if the person says “no” to the date? Or what if you date this person for a certain amount of time and then things don’t end “happily ever after.” Will you be able to work and face this person every day? How awkward will it be to interact with them in a strictly professional way? Will this impact your performance at work? If the object of your affection attends the same class or school that you do, ask yourself the same questions and keep in mind that the end of the year/semester schedules and classes change so you may never see this person again.
Common Question #3: The beginning of the relationship was great, but now we seem out of sync. We seem to get into arguments a lot. Does this mean we should break up?
Cut to the Chase Answer: This is a question I get fairly often, and I always wonder why anyone would base the future of their relationship on what I say. I don’t know you or your partner, your experiences, your issues, but you want me to advise you about your love life? I don’t publish these questions for a number of reasons, one being the one I just typed. Second, I don’t want to be responsible for any more lives than that of my family. I don’t need someone yelling at me because I advised them one way or the other. But this is what I respond: Of course, everything seemed perfect in the beginning, you were both infatuated with each other and in the honeymoon phase of dating. Now, after time has passed, you start to get to know this other person, see their quirks, learn about some of their annoying habits, and you begin to act like a person again and not someone in love on Cloud Nine. Ask yourself what the arguments are about. Sometimes the arguments aren’t really about what you are arguing about, but are about underlying issues. Figure it out. Also figure out if you can still love this person and move forward with them knowing that this is how they are, how they think and feel about something. If you can, great. If you can’t, then make the decision that will be right for you, but always know that no relationship is perfect. Couples won’t always see eye to eye on every topic. There will be differences of opinions and that’s fine. Open communication is a must for every relationship. The fewer people you speak with about how you feel, the better. Why? You will always tell your side of the story and you will always come out smelling like a rose. I’m not saying not to speak with someone in your inner circle. All I say is, it takes a village to raise a child, but not to be in a relationship. Only two are involved in that.
Common Question #4: When do I stop dating other people and concentrate on who I’m currently dating?
Cut to the Chase Answer: Yes, I receive a question like this at least once a month. Basically, a couple has gone out a couple of times, things are going well, no reason to stop. But a shadchan calls, and you find out that someone else wants to date you. When do you say, “No, I’m involved with someone now?” What I say is: It’s not right to double-date if the other person is unaware they aren’t the only one you are dating. You may think, “But what if the next one is better.” Get that out of you head and concentrate on who you are currently with. How can you give anyone a fair chance if you are dating someone else? Once you commit to someone, refuse all other offers. If it’s meant to be, it will come around again. It is very hurtful to know that you are putting all into the dates/relationship and you find out that the other person isn’t.
Common Question #5: What do you think I should do?
Cut to the Chase Answer: I have written a response to this question and others like it, but let me make myself perfectly clear: Do not ask a stranger what you should do in your relationship. I know nothing about you or your partner or the issue, other than what your short email has told me. You give me too much power. I don’t deserve that power. No one does. Yes, being in a relationship is hard, and sometimes mistakes have to be made in order to learn from them. No matter how many articles or books you read about relationships, none will tell you what you should do in your specific relationship and situation. Generalities are provided. Authors don’t want to be sued or sent hate mail: “I followed your advice, and he/she broke up with me and took the dog.” I can provide a way to think, what to consider when making the decision, but I’d never tell anyone what to do because that would be wrong of me (and any other therapist). And if I write my opinion, regarding how I feel about KGH, for example (how I’d love to live here forever, but because of the cost of real estate, it doesn’t look like a reality), don’t send me emails saying that my article has now influenced others to move out of the neighborhood or I am the cause of the demise of KGH or that I am a “danger to the frum community.” By writing that and telling that to me while on line at the local grocery store, you are giving me too much power. No one should be living their life according to what Goldy Krantz writes in their local paper. What I write are my opinions and how I feel about certain topics. You are free to disagree, but do not come at me with vicious words that are untrue by far.
Hatzlachah to you all.