By Baila Sebrow
I want you and everyone who reads your column to know that it’s the men who have it bad in dating, more than the women. It’s just that we are told to suck it up and “be a man.” We can’t go around crying like the women, so we are made out to be the animals.
I’ll tell you what I’m dealing with, and I’m sure there are lots of men who are going through the same thing.
I’m in a bad relationship right now, though this woman is the best one I ever dated. The woman I dated right before her broke my heart because she was a terrible person. Everything looked like it was going really great. My friends and family were telling me how she was so into me. But I think that she just used me for dinners and jewelry. When she was done with me, I thought she had died, that she was dead somewhere and nobody knew about it. She didn’t answer my calls or texts. I was so worried about her. Her friends and family played dumb. What a bunch of liars. I finally found her, and she was cold as ice, like a different person I never knew in my life.
Everyone is saying that she ghosted me. I was in so much pain from this that I didn’t even care if I lived or died. All my friends told me to just get over it, but that is easier said than done.
After a lot of therapy, I did get over it, and I started dating a woman who is older than me, figuring an older woman would be happy to get a guy like me and that she would treat me better. Also, she is lonely. Her children are married and have their own children, and for a while things were going great.
Then she invited me to her grandson’s bar mitzvah (that she paid for), and her children were as cold as ice to me. I told her after the simcha that I think her family doesn’t like me, and she got all nasty and defensive and has been that way to me ever since. Do you think she is planning an attack against me like the last machsheifah? My friends think her children might be worried that I might be mooching off her money, because she is very close with them, but I make a good living and I don’t need anyone’s money, baruch Hashem.
Do these women even want to get married? And if they do, where do I find them? I’m modern and very open-minded and I’ve been divorced for a long time. I’m just looking for a normal woman.
One of the first requirements that I hear from people of all ages who have been in bad relationships is that they are just looking for somebody who is “normal,” and that they don’t understand why that is so difficult to find. The answer is that “normal” is subjective. What one person may think is normal another might view as quirky and unreasonable. Nobody is perfect, and what one might find tolerable, another cannot handle. If you need proof, look around your community at the married folks, and you will see all types of relationships; one can wonder how some spouses are able to live with one another. It comes down to the fact that nobody is perfect, and when you get married, you accept the person for who he or she is.
It sounds like you are the type of person who does not just walk away even though you feel challenged. Rather, you are realistic and perceptive about what is going on around you, and you are willing to address the issues that are bothering you. What happened to you in that previous relationship is an unusual occurrence. Emotionally healthy people who want out of relationships do not pretend to be into the person they are dating and then disappear without a trace. There is nothing you could have done to prevent that from happening. Your own friends and family were fooled by her. Based on her behavior, I have no doubt she has blindsided men before and will likely do it again.
Ghosting is a despicable act that is perpetrated by cowards of both genders. I will not go into the reasons as to why people “ghost,” because that would give credence to their cruelty, and a ghoster does not deserve that. I know that you believe it is the women who do that, but anyone can be the ghoster. In the twisted mind of the person who is ghosting, she or he assumes that the person ghosted will get the hint that the relationship is over by not responding to any method of communication. I am happy to hear that you were in therapy to help you cope with what that woman has done to you, and that you were emotionally able to move on to a new relationship.
While you had no clue what that previous woman was planning, it is interesting that in both relationships (including the one you are in now) there are things going on behind the scenes. The woman you are now dating invited you to her grandson’s bar mitzvah. I’m not sure why you felt compelled to share that she paid for it, and I think you should give that some thought. At the simcha, her children did not treat you kindly and left you with the impression that they dislike you. The woman did not take well to your thoughts about how her children treated you, and she is now acting unkind to you. Undoubtedly, there is something going on, and you made the woman aware of it and likely forced her to face it.
You say that you chose her because she is older than you, assuming that her maturity would be the driving force in making her a better and nicer person. Where did you get such a notion? People who aren’t nice are not nice when they are young and are not nice when they are old. Age has nothing to do with it. And here’s another thing: Did you really believe that just because she is older, she will be jumping for joy to get a guy like you, as you implied? That is not always the way these things work. Whatever reasons she had in choosing to date you, I am inclined to believe that there were other factors about you that she considered important. And if you chose her because you believed that since she is older she will be less likely to leave you, you might be mistaken. If a person is determined to leave a relationship, he or she will do so, regardless of age.
What could be going on, based on the little bit you are sharing, is that her children met you and, for whatever reason, decided that they don’t like you. Joining an existing established family is a difficult process. You don’t mention whether this woman is divorced or widowed. If she is widowed and her children view her as vulnerable, they might be afraid that you are taking advantage of her, even if you are not doing that. For example, they might know that you commented about her paying for her grandson’s bar mitzvah, and it does not sit well with them. It is possible that they are afraid that if their mother has some money, they will now have to share it with you. That is a very common problem in such relationships. If she is divorced, the same matter could be of concern, in addition to the fact that even if they are married with families of their own, they may secretly harbor resentment that their mother is now with another man and not their biological father. Or it could simply be that they just don’t like you. That does not mean you are doing anything wrong. A person can sometimes have negative chemistry with another, with no rhyme or reason for it.
It’s interesting that there are men who refuse to date women with younger children because they are afraid the children living in the home will not get used to them. But as a shadchan, I have found that adult children who are married are oftentimes capable of creating more havoc in their dating parent’s relationship.
This woman’s children are not outright rude to you, but it sounds like they did everything they could to make you understand that you are an unwelcome visitor in their territory. And she, as their mother, might have been hoping that you wouldn’t notice so she could keep the peace. When you brought it to her attention, she made it clear that just as blood is thicker than water, her loyalty will always be as a mother to her children.
I can understand why this is hurtful to you. Not only are you not being validated, but it sounds like your feelings about the circumstances don’t hold enough value to her. You have two options here. You can walk away (without ghosting) from this relationship, or you can try to salvage it.
If you feel there is enough compatibility between you and this woman to make this relationship work, you will need to have a heart-to-heart talk with her so that she understands your distress. The trick is that she needs to feel that your distress is not coming from a selfish place. You need to make her believe that you feel anguished that her children are not dealing well with the fact that you’re in their mother’s life, and that you want to do whatever you can to improve your relationship with them. You will need to put pride aside and go that extra mile by ingratiating yourself to her children. Furthermore, if she defends anything they say or do, you will need to accept it and go along with it. When entering a relationship with such family dynamics, you need to acknowledge that the children will have to come first and that they are always in the right. It’s not easy, but with time, things sometimes fall into place, and even if they do not love you, they will accept that you are an integral part of their mother’s life, especially if she is noticeably happier since she is with you.
Your last question is of most concern to me. You ask if these women even want to get married. Just as not every man is marriage-minded, the same can apply to women, too. It is not a given that every woman wants a husband. The problem begins when a man is marriage-minded and he dates a woman who is not, because he is under the false impression that she is. If you have not had a conversation about marriage, and you would like to marry the woman you are dating, it is high time that you discuss that with her. If for any reason this relationship does not pan out for you, in the future you do need to ask that question before you start dating. If a woman responds that she is looking for a relationship first, and then she’ll see if she wants to marry that person, that is the wrong answer. You need to hear that the person you want to date is in it to discover if there is compatibility for marriage. You, too, need to make sure that you are giving off the impression of a marriage-minded man, and you must be clear from the very beginning that you are only dating for marriage—if you really mean it.
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. Baila also hosts The Definitive Rap podcast for vinnews.com and Israel News Talk Radio. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.