I am a divorced woman in my early thirties. A few months ago, I met a very nice man and we have been dating ever since. I come from a chassidishe background, but after my divorce I didn’t want to date the way I dated when I was a young girl. I wanted to meet someone on my own. I felt like the luckiest woman in the world when I met this man who also comes from the same type of home, and who also wanted to date in this manner the second time around.
Lately, I was wondering why he is still going out with other women while he dates me. I was hoping we would get married one day. I discussed this with a friend of his, who spoke to him about it. It turns out that the guy I’m dating likes me a lot, but he has a problem with my teeth.
I wore braces when I was young, but it didn’t help. My parents were told that I needed jaw surgery to correct my problem. But then I got married, had children, and got busy with life.
Now that I’m divorced and dating this special guy, I don’t want my teeth to stand in the way. I don’t want to lose him because of something I can fix. I’m thinking of having jaw surgery, and then maybe he will drop the other women. If I go ahead with it, should I tell him that I plan to have the surgery, or should I just have it and stay away for a while until it heals? What kind of excuse should I come up with if I don’t tell him about the surgery but experience swelling and bruising as side effects?
By Baila Sebrow
Hold the scalpel! Do not schedule yourself for surgery just yet. There are other critical issues that you need to focus on before opting for elective surgery for cosmetic purposes.
My first concern is about your well-being and future happiness. Do you have any idea what you are setting yourself up for? Even if you are in perfect health, cosmetic surgery is still surgery. It will likely involve general anesthesia, which comes with its own risks, and a painful recovery period usually follows such a procedure. Even if all goes well, you are correct in assuming there will be bruising and swelling. And we are not even talking about complications, which no one can guarantee won’t occur.
This is not a change in hair color or nail polish we are talking about here. You are contemplating major surgery. And for what reason? Is it because you are not happy with the reflection you see in the mirror or because your jaw is affecting you in other ways? Or is it only because you think the man you are dating will suddenly feel the urge to make you his wife immediately if you change your appearance?
You have been investing months of your life dating a man who is openly not serious about you. In all this time that the two of you have been spending together, he did not make mention of any impending future with you. He makes no secret of the fact that he dates other women. Typically, when men are in relationships and continue to date other women, it is because they are not ready, or have no plans, to commit to marriage. Other than his background being similar to yours, I do not know much else about this guy. It sounds like he continues to date you because the relationship he has with you feels comfortable. You are there when he has no one else to go out with. If he would be a man of high principles, he would have ended this relationship as soon as he came to accept that he is bothered by your teeth. Instead, this man squandered away months of your dating life.
Furthermore, he thinks nothing of disclosing to this friend the rationale for continuing to date you even though he is not attracted to you. This is a guy you think is so special? I will share a little secret with you: no one is special enough for any woman to put herself through the risks of cosmetic surgery.
The shidduch crisis has reached such heights of absurdity. This is disturbingly reminiscent of those in Hollywood who surgically alter their appearance to attain popular acting roles. Nowadays, it is not about what girls and women will do to succeed in the world of shidduchim. Rather, it is what they will not do to put themselves at the top of the list. There is no end to what those in the parashah are doing, to the extent that girls are starving themselves to be thin, spending thousands of dollars to alter their hair color and texture, and even opting for cosmetic surgery–it does not stop.
I will share an interesting incident that happened during Pesach at a hotel where I was running a singles program. The mother of a 16-year-old girl, nowhere near the shidduch stage, approached me along with her friend to speak to me privately. She then complained about her daughter’s nose. This woman explained that someone had suggested that her daughter should have a nose job to avoid experiencing future problems in shidduchim. She then asked me what my opinion was on the matter.
My first thought was that she was joking. But this woman had tears in her eyes and verbally expressed her fear that her daughter would be passed over by boys who seek a girl with the perfect nose. I was horrified to be a firsthand witness to what is happening in our frum society.
I explained to this woman that although her daughter’s nose may not be appealing to some, there are boys who would have no problem with it. I want to make it clear to those who are reading this article that this girl’s nose was not deformed in any way. Some might consider it slightly large, but she really is a beautiful girl nonetheless.
I further told this woman of a case where a girl, upon entering the milestone of the shidduch parashah, starved herself to be thin. While she thought that she looked “shidduch-date ready,” guys actually found her to be too thin. A girl can change various physical aspects only to discover that her bashert is really looking for someone who may appreciate her original appearance.
And so I concluded with the following advice to this frightened mother. I stated that if her daughter wants a nose job because she–and only she–is not happy with what she sees in the mirror, then she has my blessings and should definitely look into it. However, if her reason for the nose job is entirely based on the notion that it will make her a better shidduch candidate, then under no circumstances should she do it. In the long run, it will be detrimental to her daughter’s emotional well-being to even consider such an idea.
Although your main concern is whether you should tell the man you are dating that you are having surgery, my answer is to please analyze your motivation in wanting to have this surgery. Ask yourself: If you had never met this man, would you still want to have this procedure done? If the answer is yes, then you should do what will make you feel better about yourself. But if you are contemplating something so extreme for a guy who may or may not end up marrying you, you will likely end up feeling bad.
Corrective or cosmetic surgery sounds like an attractive option for those who are not happy with certain features. It is important to educate yourself about the risks and results before you jump into it. If you still decide to go ahead with the surgery, there is no need to tell this man anything about it beforehand. After all, you will be doing it for yourself!
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
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