Newlyweds and even couples married for decades have complaints about their in-laws: “His mother is too pushy. Her father doesn’t think I’m good enough. His mother is critical of everything I do.” But what if your in-laws or soon-to-be in-laws don’t accept the fact that you and their child are engaged? What if they keep collecting resumes and keep calling shidduch references even after you’re engaged, after it has been posted in Instagram, and after the vort has taken place. What then?

Sometimes when you begin dating an honorary member of your family – someone who has always been in your home and accepted by your family already – the lines blur between dating and hanging out.

*****

Dear Goldy:

I started dating my brother’s friend. I’m hoping he may be my bashert. But the issue is my brother. It’s not that he doesn’t like the fact that we’re dating. My brother is the actual issue. My brother still lives at home, like I do. Every time Chaim comes over to spend time with me, everything is fine, but when my brother shows up, they start talking, hanging out together. It becomes more of a hangout, and I feel like the tagalong.

I don’t mind them hanging out, but when Chaim comes over and we’re together, it all changes when my brother comes in. I end up being the unintentional third wheel. I told this to both of them more than once. They apologize and tell me not to take it so seriously (mostly, that’s my brother talking). But there is no answer, because Chaim’s dating me and he has been my brother’s friend for years. He doesn’t want to ignore either of us. We only have alone time when we actually go out. But I don’t want to always go out to a place with Chaim; sometimes it’s nice to be at home for an evening.

Any advice?

 Ilana

*****

Thank you for your email, Ilana.

For a moment, I was scared when I read that the issue is your brother. I thought your bother was against his friend and his sister dating, but that’s not the case. It seems to be “two’s a couple, three’s a crowd” when your brother is home and Chaim is around. Are they talking about topics only “guys” know about, that you then feel like the third wheel? I can’t believe that you don’t contribute anything to the conversation. But I understand, you want alone time with Chaim.

I’m not making light of your situation, but you are past a hurdle many people worry about. “How will my family react to him/her? Will they like him/her?” And this can lead to issues down the road if the family doesn’t like whom you marry. In your situation, Chaim is already accepted and seems loved by your family. But now you feel that your brother is getting in the way of you and Chaim spending quality time together inside. I agree, you don’t have to always have to “go out” when dating. Once married, you don’t “go out” two or three times a week. Life sets in and you both find your rhythm. But that’s not a conversation for now. What’s wrong with staying in and watching a movie together or even playing on Xbox together? Nothing.

I think this is a conversation you need to have with your brother and not Chaim. Chaim may feel that he is the one caught in the middle. He’s been your brother’s friend for years and now he’s dating you. He wants to shower you with attention, but then his friend comes in, it’s the friend’s house. All of you belong there, no one is out of place, so he can’t ask your brother to leave. No matter how close the friendship is, it can seem odd for a friend to say, “Hey, we’ll catch up later. I’m here for Ilana now.” It would just get awkward for all.

Sit your bother down for a quick talk. Don’t make this into a serious meeting. Explain how sometimes you feel as if attention focuses on him when he comes in and starts up a conversation with Chaim, or something like that. Make sure you understand and that you let your brother know that there are times when you can all hang out together, but it shouldn’t be every single time Chaim is in the house. I’m sure your brother will understand. He probably doesn’t want to hang out with his sister all the time either. He wants one on one time with Chaim, too. If you are both in the shidduch parshah, your brother shouldn’t have an issue with this. If Chaim is your bashert, your “brother’s friend,” he will be family and the two of them they have their whole lives to catch a ball game, play cards, or do whatever they do.

Your brother may not understand exactly how you feel because men think differently from women. This is the beginning phases of a relationship, so you enjoy and look forward to time with Chaim and like the way you feel when you’re together. Your brother heard you say, “Please don’t always hang out with us in the house because Chaim’s here for me,” or something like that. He doesn’t understand that your emotions are involved. Your brother may just think, “Why is she reacting like this? I’m not cutting her out. I’m including her. What’s the big deal.” Ilana, don’t make it into a big deal and don’t put Chaim in the middle. When you speak with your brother, keep in mind, that he may be clueless about how deep you feel about Chaim and your time together, and you’d love for all three of you to spend time together, but not all the time. Make sure your brother knows that you don’t blame him or think this is being done intentionally. This isn’t about his relationship with his friend; it’s about your relationship with the man you are dating.

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..

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.

It is great to have one friend or a small group of close friends with whom you can share good and bad times, who always support you and have your back. Some refer to friends as their “Sister from another mister” or for men, “Brother from another mother.” They are as close as close can be. But sometimes a friend has to know his or her place. They may know you as well as they know themselves, because for 15 years you have shared everything with them. But they are not you and you are not them. Even best of friends need to respect boundaries, no matter how good their intentions are.

I’d like to introduce this article by acknowledging that I understand how sensitive this issue may be for some. I know this is a very delicate situation and I did my best not to offend or insult anyone. I did not write as a social worker, but rather as a daughter who lost her mother, who’d like to see her father happy again with someone he can share his life with. Yes, it’s different when the children are in their mid-40s, but I did my best. Neither I nor the letter writer is judging anyone. I published this letter because if one person is thinking about this, then maybe more are. I realize that no two situations like the one written below are the same, so what is good for one family may not be good for another.