ByÂ Baila Sebrow
I’m going through a bad time in a relationship. I’m putting up with it because so far he’s the only considerate man I’ve ever dated. The guy before this one was not a nice person, and he ended it with me in a disgraceful way. He just dropped out of sight. No call or text. When I stopped hearing from him, I became concerned that something bad had happened to him.
When I did finally reach him, he was very cold and didn’t say much. I knew what that meant, because this happens to everyone I know. Guys just dump women. I’m not up on new words, but my friends say this behavior is called “ghosting.”
I was scared this would happen again, so I started dating a guy who’s much older than me, figuring that older men might be more mature and nicer. But this guy has married children, and I don’t think they like me. They never said anything bad to me, but I see them all the time and I can tell how they feel by the dirty looks they give me. My friends think that it’s because he’s rich and his children are worried about the money.
This guy is very close to his children and he thinks they are so wonderful. He says I’m imagining the looks they are giving me.
What can I do? Are there any normal men out there? Do men want to get married? And if yes, how does a woman get a guy to marry her?
“Normal” is a relative term. People may be challenged with atypical conditions, but they will not walk away from those circumstances. Rather, they will choose to deal with it. If you find a particular situation tolerable and feel that you could or want to live with it, that might be normal in your world. That is why you see all kinds of unusual relationships, where both partners have made the choice to remain together. But it sounds like you have had situations and occurrences that are not only abnormal but actually inappropriate. Moreover, it also sounds like you had very little choice in the outcome of your previous relationships. However, the two relationships that you talk about (past and present) both share one common denominator–whatever is going on is mostly taking place behind the scenes.
Having said that, before I address your current relationship and the triangle with his children, I can’t just gloss over the issue of the guy who broke up with you by dropping out of sight.
Because you are correct. Almost everyone who has been in the dating scene has at one time or another endured the coward’s method of terminating a relationship. Indecent manners are nothing new, and men as well as women have committed this low act. The lack of respect people have for one another in all circles has grown so bad that a term for this specific behavior has been coined. It’s called “ghosting,” and it’s despicable.
What does ghosting mean? Ghosting someone does not mean playing a ghost trick on someone. Ghosting in dating means doing a disappearing act on the person who expects to hear from you. Those who ghost seem to disappear into thin air, sometimes with no means of being reachable–similar to how you describe your past relationship, and sometimes even worse.
Why do these people do that? It can be for any number of reasons. The “ghost” may have been dating two people at the same time, and finally chose one, while carelessly disposing of the other as though he or she never existed. Sometimes it’s about realizing that the person is not a good match for them, and instead of ending things in a humane fashion, they disappear. Whatever the motive, those who commit such an atrocity against the emotions of another human being are demonstrating their own character deficiencies.
To the injured party it feels like overwhelming devastation, sometimes compounded by feelings of guilt. As is common, the victim plays over various scenarios that took place prior to the abrupt abandonment, assuming it was something they had said or done to provoke such action. Usually it was nothing they did. But, even if there had been, no one deserves to be treated as if they don’t matter.
I am sorry that this has happened to you. I am sorry that this has happened to others. And I am sorry for every future victim of ghosting. Although he did it in a callous way, that guy did you the biggest favor in the world by ending it. People with this sort of inclination bring intense pain to the spouses they may ultimately marry.
Although you think that being older makes one more mature or nicer, I have to disagree with you. Maturity does not go hand in hand with being a good person. Someone who is downright unpleasant in character will not suddenly morph into a nice person just because he had a birthday or two. It does not quite work that way. Regarding this new guy in your life, I hope you didn’t enter into a relationship with him only based on the fact that you assumed his older age would make him a better prospect.
Blending families, or joining an existing one, is challenging in the best of circumstances. It cannot be easy to be the new person in a household who takes on an authoritative position as stepparent. In such situations, the stepparent is oftentimes faced with the children’s resentment for taking the place of the absent parent. At times, things eventually fall into place and everyone learns to get along with one another. But when that doesn’t happen, resentment can turn to sheer hatred. In extreme circumstances, the children go on a mission to break up the couple. The biological parent ends up feeling torn between his children and the new spouse. And, sadly, many blended families have fractured because the children could not accept the stepparent.
Even adult children–who may be married and have families of their own–don’t necessarily always embrace the parent’s new spouse with open arms. Adult children who discourage their parent from dating will go on a warpath should their parent remarry. It may sound selfish, but your friends may have a point–the motive is usually money.
When you say that his children give you dirty looks, I am inclined to believe that you are not imagining it. People sense when they are made to feel unwelcome. And I have a hunch your guy friend knows it too. But, as you said, he is close with them, and naturally thinks that his children are wonderful, so he is dismissing your concerns. And that is the root of your problem right there.
When the person you are in a relationship with refuses to validate your feelings, he is either not taking you seriously or he feels your points are not substantiated, and therefore not enough of a reason to support you. Or, he may just not care. So you have two options here. You can walk away (not by ghosting) from this relationship, or you can try to salvage it.
There is the possibility that this man is completely clueless about what is actually going on. If he is a man of financial means, his children might be playing their part very well. They might not openly tell him not to date, so from his perspective his children gave their blessings for him to rebuild his life. Or, and I apologize if this sounds hurtful, it could be that his children are not antagonistic about their father having a relationship, but rather they don’t like you. That does not mean you are doing anything wrong. Some people simply clash with one another, and there does not have to be a rhyme or reason to it.
There is only one way to find the answer or at least gain some clue to understand your distress. Speak to him. Don’t be afraid that if you voice your concerns, he will go running away. If he does, then he solved your problem–and spared you future misery.
The best-case scenario you can hope for is that he will reluctantly be driven to admit that there is a problem between his children and their acceptance of you. Will it ever work out to your satisfaction? That is difficult to predict. You need to expect that should you marry this man, you will need to go the extra mile to ingratiate yourself to his children. With time, they may grow to appreciate you–or not. You will need to go into this with your eyes wide open by accepting the fact that he is a father first, and will in all probability defend them as much as he can.
Lastly, I will address your question on how to get a man to marry you. Marriage is a mutual partnership of love, acceptance, trust, support, and respect. There are no secret tricks to convince a man to marry you. His feelings are either reciprocal or not. What can you do? If you meet a marriage-minded man (and yes, they are out there), just be yourself. If you are pleased with what you reflect, the right man will be drawn to you. v
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.Â Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.