By Baila Sebrow
I went out with a guy I really liked, but my parents (mainly my father) didn’t think he was for me. As much as I pleaded with them and asked them to reconsider, my father wouldn’t think of it. It’s not like they gave me any valid reasoning; all they said was: “He’s not for you.”
Sometimes I think about him and wonder what could’ve been. It has already been more than a year and I haven’t gone out with anyone else. I know it would be easier to move on if I went out with other guys, but he has been the only guy that I went out with and that makes it much more difficult on me.
I want to let go and move on, but sometimes I have this little hope that maybe one day we can have another chance. I’m also worried that this could happen again. If I like a guy and my parents say no, I’d be heartbroken. I value their opinion and I know they want what’s best for me, but sometimes I feel like they should be more open to how I feel and willing for me to try it out on my own.
The concern that you have about this happening again is logical. As much as you think that your parents want the best for you, you feel that they failed you when it came to your ultimate happiness. And if it is exactly as you convey, it could likely happen again. Shakespeare’s tales of unrequited love are fictional, but to an extent, they can happen in real life, too. The more control parents have over their child, the more effective they will be in destroying a relationship they do not approve of.
You are disclosing very little information about yourself, the guy in question, your relationship with him, and, most importantly, the relationship with your parents, namely your father. I will try to cover as many bases as I can with the small bit you have given me.
Before I advise you further on your dilemma, I will point out something that you need to keep in the forefront of your mind. There are cases when parents or other family members must step in and do whatever is necessary to stop a relationship from progressing to marriage. There exist situations where a man (or woman)—due to previous negative involvements that were never resolved, or a particular lifestyle that is vastly atypical—would not, in the opinion of caring parents, make a good match for their child.
I will not enter into the topic of someone doing teshuvah for a past misdeed, because I do not know if we are even dealing with such an issue. Besides, there are so many variables with regard to that, especially where it relates to a shidduch. Moreover, people must do their due diligence to ensure that the person they are marrying is already the person they want, rather than expecting to change them into what they want.
But when a man or woman is in love, or even just infatuated with someone, it is common to develop tunnel vision of the mind. They just see what is in front of them and become blind to the other visual fields that are crystal-clear to everyone else around them. Many people have fallen into situations where it was obvious that the match would not lead to a wholesome marriage, yet the person blinded by his or her feelings could not perceive or process such a thought. This can happen to the most intelligent person who is taken in by the allure of someone he or she is dating.
In such a circumstance, I will agree with parents that they must do what they can to convince their child to break off the relationship. However, I always caution that care must be taken to ascertain that the facts they have are accurate beyond a shadow of doubt. Furthermore, they need to make sure that the issue at hand will have an actual impact on their child’s life should the relationship proceed.
According to what you say, you were not given a reason as to why your father was so antagonistic about this guy. Are you also saying that you have no clue why he would stop you from marrying him? Did this guy present as a gentleman who is also compatible with you, and yet for no reason in the world, your father decided that he wants to keep you single (and maybe single for life)? I am not asking you these questions to be sarcastic or because I doubt your facts. These are the questions that you need to ask yourself.
If the story is exactly as you wrote, there could be something else going on. There might be an issue your father is aware of but is refusing to share with you. It could be something he is trying to protect you from, or maybe he is afraid that whatever it might be could be shared with others if he reveals it to you. Even if that were so, it is wrong that you were not apprised of the details. You have every right to know why he prevented the shidduch from continuing.
Perhaps if you knew more, you would not be feeling the way you do, or maybe there would be someone you could ask to look into it for you. There was once a shidduch I was involved in where something about the guy’s background came to light in a way that the parents of the girl were embarrassed to disclose how they got that information. Instead of sharing all the facts, they vehemently stood in the way of the shidduch progressing. The story had a happy ending, as I managed to find out that what they heard was false from what they assumed was a reliable source. But the relationship the daughter had with her parents was never a good one to begin with, and that is why things got so out of hand. So I will say this: the fact that you were not able to get full disclosure from your father is indicative that your relationship with him is on the weak side.
I will put another thing out there for you to mull over. But this is only if your father is being unreasonable for selfish reasons. In a healthy parent–child relationship, the parent loves his child and only wants to provide the best, physically and emotionally. However, there are unfortunate cases where the relationship is dysfunctional and the parent (sometimes it is both parents) refuses to let the child form an independent life. Such parents will go to whatever extremes necessary to sabotage any chance of happiness that the child could have which does not include them.
Those children who have strength of character and emotional support from other sources are able to break free from the chains of that type of parent. But those who do not know how to help themselves oftentimes tragically remain single for the rest of the parent’s life.
I will assume that you are a frum person, and you might have it drilled into your head from early education on that you must respect your parents. I am telling you that when it comes to getting married, you are under no halachic obligation to break up with the person just because one of your parents dislikes him. You have every right in the world to marry the guy you choose, as long as he follows a Torah lifestyle. And if the reason for your father’s interference was based on hashkafah, he would still have no grounds to stand in your way.
You are still thinking about this guy. And why not? You liked him, and your father made you break it off for a reason unknown to you. You are not only dealing with issues of closure, which is probably why you are unable to go out with anyone else, but this guy may very well be the man with whom you are most compatible for marriage—even if he is the only guy you ever dated. The problem is that you never had the chance to find that out on your own.
You do not mention what excuse you gave the guy to end the relationship—or if you told him the truth that it was your father’s idea. But at this point, I insist that you speak to someone your father respects and holds in high regard. Whether it is a rav or any other individual, this person must be someone who will stand up to him and explain that his behavior as a parent is appalling. Depending on how persistent your father is with his fixed ideas, this person should also be there to support your actions in trying to get back together with the guy.
Additionally, you may want to reach out to someone this guy has a relationship with to speak to him on your behalf. However, if you feel up to it, it would be most effective if you would contact the guy yourself to tell him what happened, how much you like him, and that you want to get back together with him.
Even if this relationship is over because he moved on, you will at least in the future have the courage not to heed your father’s irrational attempts to stop you from enjoying the full life that you deserve
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.