I have seen and been through a lot during my decades in this world. I thought I was beyond the stage of being horrified the way that some people treat others. Sometimes, the meanness is a reaction to something. You did this; well, I’ll do that to get back at you. It’s a spur of the moment thing. Or the meanness can be planned between a few people. A thought-out calculated plan. Yes, it sounds devious. Because it is. Remember “No soap radio” – a “joke” popular when I was younger? This is how the “joke” worked: Two or more people would get together and plan that when someone else joins them, one of them will say “No soap radio.” Everyone is supposed to laugh. If the person who just joined laughs along (to be part of the crowd), you would ask him what’s so funny about that – getting him to admit that he didn’t understand the statement and just wanted to be included in the fun. Or if the person didn’t laugh, the others laugh harder, because “You don’t get it? It’s such a simple joke.” Either way, others planned to say or do something that would cause another to feel bad about himself – because either way that you answered, you were going to be questioned or laughed at.
I happen to know that the letter is a true story. It happened to my friend’s friend. I have only met her a couple of times over the years and don’t know her well, but I do know her. This story sounded vaguely familiar to me, like something I once heard about years ago. You know, the type of rumor like “Did you hear...?” But this is her story. She and my friend assured me that it was 100 percent true. She asked me to publish this letter so that people remind themselves that they are dealing with real people and real emotions, and they shouldn’t be so cavalier with their actions. When I called her to discuss what had happened, she added that she didn’t want to hear anyone ask why we are still in galus, because if people can be treated like she was, we have a long way to go until Mashiach comes. We need bein adam la’chaveiro. I asked her if I can include that, and she did.
I don’t know if Sarah* (fake name of our common friend) told you, but I am single. I can’t even believe I am saying that, but I have to get used to it. The sooner the better. I had been dating David* (fake name here, but real name in the actual email) for five years. It was like we were married. We spoke on the phone a couple of times a day, went out a few times a week. We were even at the point of attending simchos of the other one’s family. It’s just that we weren’t married or “officially engaged,” but he had promised...
David went to Florida for Pesach this year and invited me to come for Chol HaMoed. I agreed and looked forward to it. As soon as I got there, something felt off; David wasn’t able to pick me up at the airport, so his sister picked me up. We’ve been friends since David and I began dating. The car ride was awkward. We didn’t have a nice flowing conversation. She basically kept quiet and answered my questions with quick answers. I figured it was because she had a long first days with her family. David had told me that he had reserved a room for me for Chol HaMoed because people were come-and-go then, but I now found out that I’d be bunking with David’s great aunt and not have a room to myself.
I didn’t let all these small things get to me. I was in Florida, weather was gorgeous, and I would be seeing David, but he was playing golf with his brothers and cousins. Playing golf was why he couldn’t pick me up at the airport? Strange. I found his family and began enjoying the afternoon with David’s family, people I know and love for years.
When David and I finally met up, we spent the remaining hours of the day together. I asked him about the rooming situation, and he blew it off, saying there was a mix up with reservations and it was lucky that his aunt had a room with an extra bed. I put it out of my mind. Reasonable explanation, right? I would be spending my days with David and only sleeping in the room for a few nights. Now looking back, I cringe that I didn’t see it coming.
The next day after breakfast, we took a ride to a beautiful shopping center. And that’s where he broke up with me. He broke up with me in a shopping center on a trip he invited me on. Did he think I wouldn’t cry in public or be hurt and say how I was feeling? It was like a knife through the heart. I can’t tell you how devastated I was and still am (but I’m getting over it slowly). I don’t want to give the details, but he said the relationship had run its course, and he loved me but wasn’t in love with me anymore and wanted to break things off so we can both move on with our lives. At first, I thought it was a joke, but when I saw how serious he was, I realized this was actually happening. I asked the usual questions: “What happened? Did I do something to cause you to fall out of love?” and, yes, I was trying not to cry, but still crying as I was asking him all this. All he kept saying was the relationship ran its course and we need to move on. I really don’t remember the ride back to the hotel. One minute we were in the car and the next we were pulling up to the valet. And then David turns to me and said that his family already knew we were breaking up and if I wanted, I could stay in the hotel for the next couple of days, but to keep my distance from him and his family. Then he got out of the car. That was it. Bye!
I wanted to crumble. He let me fly down to Florida only to break up with me? And his family knew the whole time? I can’t even begin to tell you how I was feeling or even how I had the strength to walk to my room. The next hour was spent in the bathroom, throwing up, hysterically crying, calling my parents, trying to arrange a flight back to New York right away. It was surreal. Like an out-of-body experience. I texted and called David – no pickup or response. I needed clarification. I felt I needed my say. If he broke up with me, fine (not really), but now that I had time to process everything, I had some things to say to him. By the time I was able to start packing, David’s sister, my (former) friend, came to the room. She didn’t say anything. We hugged while I cried. She helped me pack. She said that her parents are devastated and they love me so much. They couldn’t get David to see that he was making a mistake. She said other things but it’s a blur. She told me that her parents had arranged a flight for me, and it would be leaving in a few hours, and she would drive me to the airport.
I realize now everything was a lie. David planned this all out. He told his family, so when I was spending time with them the day before, they knew the countdown was on. I started to ask questions, “Did David on purpose not reserve a room for me?” His sister said he did reserve one for me, because at the time he wasn’t planning on breaking up, but canceled it when he decided, and then asked their aunt if she’d mind a roommate for one night. “One night?” So David saying that I could stay at the hotel was a lie. His parents had bought me a ticket!
I finished packing, ordered an Uber, and left as fast as I was able to. I needed to separate myself from this and didn’t want her to drive me to the airport. I was so hurt and embarrassed by what had just happened. I spent the flight asking myself questions and silently crying. My mother met me at the airport, and we hugged and cried. For the rest of Pesach, I was a wreck. Phone calls and text messages weren’t being returned. To end a relationship of five years with not so much as a warning, but with an ambush, was too much for me to take. I am going to have trust issues from now on. I just know it.
Weeks have passed and I’m getting on with my life. But I want to ask you, what can make a person do this? He couldn’t wait until after Pesach? He couldn’t do it before Pesach? Did he tell his family the real reason (because I’m not sure what he told me was the truth)? Did they all feel sorry for me sitting there with them, clueless about what was going to happen? How could one person (one I loved and thought I knew well) do this to another and in such a heartless way.
I’ve had time to reflect since the breakup, and I’m brought back to what I learned in yeshivah – V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha. I don’t literally mean that David has to love me like himself, but he could have chosen another way to break up. It was five years! So many memories, good times. I feel he basically threw me out. He just didn’t care, and I can’t believe I could have loved a person capable of doing this. People need to know that dating is real. People and their emotions are real. The way you treat people can affect them for months or years to come. I’ve started seeing a therapist to work through all this, but I come back to the cruelty of people. If he wanted to break up with me, he could have done it like a mentch. For weeks, I walked around like a zombie. Now I’m living again. I can’t even think about dating. But I don’t even know how to “date,” and now how can I trust again?
Thank you for writing to me, Yaffa.
Whoa, that is a lot to take in and process. My saying I’m sorry that it happened will not help. But I’ll try to help with my response.
I will respond in next week’s column.
Hatzlachah to you all!