By Baila Sebrow
I read your column all the time; I should have written to you before things got out of hand. I was dating a guy with a past that I looked past, and everything was going great in the beginning. We fell in love, and he promised that he’s the type of man who, when he loves a woman and asks her to marry him, will stay with her for life. Only if I break up with him will it end. He proposed to me over and over again. We made plans about where to live and all sorts of things. Then he started getting paranoid that I was dating other guys while dating him, and he wanted me to admit it to him. I kept assuring him that it’s not true. He would just pick fights about it out of the blue, even when we were having a nice meal or laughing and having fun on our dates.
One day, after months of interrogating and accusing me, he just ghosted me, and I didn’t know what happened to him. I drove to his house, and I guess he had no choice but to talk to me. This is where it gets nutso. He told me that unless I admit to him that I dated other men, he will never talk to me again and it’s over between us. But if I tell him everything, then it will make him feel closer to me and he would never tell anyone, no matter what happens between us. I told him that there is nothing to tell and that I was faithful to him the whole time we were dating. He started screaming at me that it’s over, and he will tell people things about me unless I admit it. I was so scared, I said, “Fine, if that’s what you want to hear, I cheated.” He was happy and said, “Now we’re making progress.” Then he started asking me the names of the guys. So, I went back to the truth, and I said there were no guys. Again, he said, “It’s over unless you say you cheated.” He then screamed, “Names, I want names!” He started naming guys we both know, and he said that unless I admit to the names it’s over. I cried, but he literally went crazy, screaming, threatening to embarrass me, and calling me bad names. I had to lie and say, “Yes, those guys.” Then he said, “Who else?” And I responded, “That’s it.” He screamed, “You’re lying.” He added, “Think!”
There was nothing to think about, but he said, “That guy you just thought about.” It was nuts because I wasn’t thinking about any guy. He then said, “Admit everything, including that you were with goyim too, or you will see what’s going to happen!” I was so scared, and I said, “Yes, whatever you say.”
Then he said he will stay with me and help me because I have a problem. Finally, it got to the point where I couldn’t lie anymore and say I’m doing bad things when I am not, and I told him that. So he said, “You’re going back and forth, because you are a liar.”
He then called me the next day and broke up with me because he said I’m a cheater and he can never trust me. He called me all sorts of horrible names, cursed me, and blocked my calls. Now he wants nothing to do with me. I tried to fix it and make peace, so I asked his friends to intervene, and he actually had the chutzpah to tell them that I have a problem with immorality, and that’s why he broke up with me. He also called members in my family to tell them I have a problem with immorality, including with goyim!
I don’t know what to do. I promise you that I never cheated on him. I begged him to go with me to a therapist or any third-party person to straighten it out. He refused. I’ve been sending him e-mails but he ignores me. I even tried to call him. I want him to understand that I did nothing wrong to him, and if he wants to break up with me, I could have closure, if it’s not for a reason that’s totally untrue. What can I do?
I have been authoring this column for more than ten years, and although there is always a new phenomenon that’s brought to the forefront, I rarely get shocked. Your letter detailing the mental anguish you have been forced to sustain in that toxic relationship introduces a whole new level of depravity.
When it first became apparent that things were getting poisonous and ill-intentioned, with false accusations against you by the man who promised to love you eternally, you should have walked away from him and not allowed him to ever contact you again. Your first mistake was staying in a relationship with a man who gets obsessively suspicious that you are cheating on him. No good can ever come from that. These things only escalate to dangerous degrees.
However, I can understand where you are coming from. You might have assumed that he suffers from low self-esteem or maybe he was cheated on previously, and you hoped that with time and love, his trust issues would dissipate. Your intentions were probably coming from a generous and sympathetic heart. Here’s the biggest shocker of all: He may have cheated on other women before you, and even on you, so he was probably projecting. He might have a reputation of cheating, and by destroying yours in a smear campaign, in his mind he believes he’s “kashering” himself.
I am not placing any blame on you, G-d forbid, so please understand that what I am about to tell you is for you to understand how this situation grew so out of control. The most lethal error was empowering him by confessing to something you never committed, even if it was for just a short while. You felt emotionally blackmailed, and the fear of losing him was too much for you to bear. This monster put you through a terrible form of mental torture—forced confession.
A forced confession is usually conducted on a suspect of a crime by means of torture or threat. This type of coercion is so vile and abhorrent that it is illegal for any officer of the law to perform, and any confession to a crime that is coerced is considered inadmissible. You must have been under severe mental duress. This monster demeaned you so badly that you were ready to say anything not to lose him or suffer embarrassment. He also made you feel so dependent on him for his love, or whatever else he promised to offer you, that at that point you probably felt like he is the air you breathe.
He was looking to break up with you, but he needed an excuse so that he wouldn’t come off looking like a man who schleps a good woman around until he’s ready for a new fling. You were so in love with him that you would have done or said anything to keep him. Sadly, you fell right into his devious plan to frame you.
What an evil person he must be to play with your head and emotions this way. If he had any semblance of decency, he would have broken up with you in a humane way and could have just told others that it didn’t work out.
Instead, he created a plot to make himself look good, demonizing you in the process to the point of ruining your reputation. He is committing a major transgression of motzi sheim ra. I hope that the people with whom he shared these tales are reading this column.
Whoever this creature is, I’m willing to bet he’s making himself out to be the Don Juan of men. He is rejecting any third party or therapist because deep down he knows that you didn’t cheat on him, and he’s smart enough not to place himself in the position of being called out on his appalling actions by a professional.
Unfortunately, you’re making it easy for him by allowing yourself to fall into every trap he sets for you. These types know how to pick their victims to suit their sinister needs. You must be a sensitive and level-headed woman, and you obviously think that other people are that way, too. You likely think that if things are explained to him properly, he will understand. But that’s not who he is. You got yourself involved with a dangerous person who had evil designs against you for a very long time.
Don’t worry about the e-mails. Any logical person would understand that it’s normal when someone breaks off a relationship out of left field to try to mend what’s broken. It does not make you look bad. On the contrary, it makes you look like a sensible person who is emotionally capable of having a healthy relationship and will go the extra mile to achieve it.
You need to understand that this guy conned you big time. He never loved you despite what you believe and despite the mental bologna he overfed you. He never had any plans to marry you. A sincere, genuine person does not behave that way. No honorable man would ever dare to force false confessions from the woman he loves and is planning to marry, nor would he spread rumors about her. On the contrary, even if a woman did not behave morally and the man breaks up with her because of it, a decent fellow would protect the dignity of the woman he was seriously involved with. This guy is a lowlife, and he clearly thought you were the perfect candidate for his cruelty.
All you can do going forward is to move on. As an upstanding, moral woman, continue living your life the way you always have. Sure, there might be a few people who believe him. But such folks serve no purpose in your life anyway. Stay away from his friends. Why would you even want anything to do with his friends? People gravitate toward their own kind, and anyone who is friends with him must be bad news, too. They will talk about you for a bit, until they either find something else to talk about or they develop their own problems that they will need to deal with.
This will blow over, particularly because the men he’s accusing you of cheating with will find out about it, and this guy will eventually start to look like the monster he is. Contacting family members to disparage you was incredibly dumb. Get their testimony heard by people of authority. Document and hold on to his correspondences, especially threats.
I am so sorry for what you have been through. From a spiritual perspective, know that Hashem has a plan and place for people like him. You will survive this trauma, and one day you’ll be in the position to give chizuk to others. Please try not to feel shame, especially because you did nothing wrong, and do not hesitate to reach out to a therapist or rav to help you come to terms with your ordeal. You are brave for telling the story of what happened to you, as it will hopefully prevent future victims from falling prey.
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, Israel News Talk Radio, WVIP 93.5 FM HD2, and talklinenetwork.com. 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.