I have been reading your articles for quite some time, and I’m in need of some sound advice. My mother passed away three years ago, and it has been an extremely hard road towards some form of normalcy and regular everyday life. My parents had a decent marriage and my father was hit hard by this. I’m in my late thirties, but as his only single child, I decided that I was going to look after my father until things improved. Thus, at that time I stopped dating.
Approximately eight months ago, my father told me that I need to start dating again and make a new life for myself instead of worrying so much about him. By that point, I felt comfortable with that approach. I was set up with a decent guy from a nice family. (His father passed away, and my feeling was that he understood where I was in life.) We went out three times and then he introduced me to his mother, who immediately started grilling me about my father. “Is he dating, is he ready to move on, is he still working?” You name it, she asked it. She then called the shadchan who had set me up with her son and wouldn’t stop pushing until she got the attention of my father, who finally agreed to meet her, after all that pushing.
I have been left out to dry. I spoke to the shadchan to find out if this guy wants to continue dating me, but got no response. I even told my father what happened, and he asked this “wonderful woman” about it. She answered that her son feels he can do better and that we aren’t the correct fit.
I’m so hurt, upset, and confused about the entire matter and wonder to myself if I was set up with this guy just so his mother could get to my father. We had three decent dates. How can he not even send me a message to say it’s not going to work out? Do you suggest I ask my father not to date this person? Even though I am hurt, it is a huge step for him to date instead of sitting home alone. I have spoken to my siblings and they told me move on.
If only it were that easy!
I hope you can guide me in this matter.
Whether or not this situation in which you find yourself now was a pre-planned scheme by the mother of the guy you dated, all the characters in this saga have dirt on their hands. As the devoted daughter and kind person you have proven yourself to be, you need to understand how they each wronged you so that you can move past this ugly episode in your life.
I will admit that when I first read your letter, I did a double take, because this is the type of drama one can expect to watch in a bad soap opera storyline. If the facts as you present them are accurate, then, as bizarre as they appear, I will help you with the advice you seek. However, unless you are not sharing enough details, I feel that there may be inconsistencies in some of the details you are relating.
Why did you place your dating life on hold after your mother passed away for your father’s benefit? There are cases where the surviving parent falls apart emotionally and the unmarried child in the household volunteers to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the family and house. Or the parent may not be physically well, and here, too, the single child will assume full accountability and take charge of all details that perhaps were previously handled by the parent who is no longer alive. If any of that is the case, then I could understand why you made such a heroic decision. But since your father is in a dating relationship right now, things at home may not have been as bad as you thought, or maybe you were looking for an excuse to take a break from dating.
You say that it was your father who suggested that you start dating again, and you felt comfortable going ahead with it. That part seems reasonable. The rest of the story does not. Why did the guy you started dating feel compelled to introduce you to his mother after the third date? That is not typically done in the upper-thirties age range. It’s not even that common amongst younger singles, unless they are chassidish.
Here is where it gets stranger. From the time you left his mother’s home, where she interrogated you about your father, until you reached out to the shadchan to find out why the guy suddenly lost interest, what transpired? Meaning, how did this go-getter of a woman manage to get your father to agree to date her? Who was the shadchan of that shidduch (so to speak)? Are you intimating that the shadchan who introduced you to the guy you dated then turned at the request of the mother, pushed you out of the picture, and made an introduction between your father and that woman?
There is no doubt that the mother of the guy has zero scruples where ethics are concerned, but the shadchan is the one who should be held accountable for her or his distasteful, unprofessional demeanor. Even if one were to play devil’s advocate and say that the guy’s mother made that request, the shadchan should have excused herself or himself and completely detached from this corrupt web.
I have heard of stories where a woman who is interested in a specific man will use his child to get to him. In most cases, she accomplishes her goal by befriending and being nice to the child to tug at the man’s heart in proving how wholesome she is. But what happened here takes the cake!
It seems evident that you were used by the mother, her son who dated you under false pretenses, and the infamous shadchan who made it all possible. All three of them will have much teshuvah to do for what they put you through.
Your siblings are right in telling you to move on. But you are also right in that it is not easy to move on from something like this. You have been wronged and unconscionably betrayed. Additionally, you have not been given the decency of closure. But now forget about the shadchan, the guy you dated, and his mother; they will never come clean. The only person who can help you come to grips with what was done to you and help you move forward is your father. He needs to be made aware that you, his daughter—who sacrificed vital years of her life to help him after he lost his wife—was used as a pawn to get to him by the woman he believes to be “wonderful.” You might need to get a third party involved to explain that to him if you are worried that he will not believe you. Coming from a respected person, it will have more impact.
In answer to your question of whether you should ask your father to not date that woman anymore, I think that approach will backfire. People like her have a mental script prepared for such circumstances. Whoever she is and whatever she has done in her past, she sounds like an expert schemer. If this is not handled correctly, she could succeed in turning your father against you to the point that he will barely have anything to do with you. Such characters are major manipulators who can turn family members against each other.
Your method of getting this woman out of your father’s life needs to be fine-tuned. Yes, you read correctly. I am actually advising you to discourage the relationship between her and your father. Please note that this is not meant to be a revenge tactic. Your father is involved in an unhealthy relationship, and he needs to be convinced of that or he could fall in badly, G-d forbid. Don’t worry that he will be lonely. From what I gather, there is something he possesses that appeals to women. So, after this woman is out of the picture, as long as he is feeling up to dating again, he will soon meet another woman.
It’s a tricky situation to convince somebody that the individual they think is “wonderful” is far from perfect. The person you employ to help you needs to make sure your father comes out of the relationship unhurt. The way to begin is through the third party, because if it is only you, it will seem that it is coming from a personal place of judgment and your father will feel that you are being unfair to her.
The first thing your father needs to realize is that the woman has no tact by telling him that her son, who ghosted his daughter, can do better. Who talks like that? This third party also needs to be straightforward and explain that the way this relationship came to be is concerning, because there are weird ambiguities that point to an organized ruse. Whatever evidence or verification that needs to be gathered should be presented to your father in a respectful manner.
Your father is likely taken by her, and I’m sure he won’t immediately end that relationship. It might be a process, and there is no guarantee that it will work. However, he will understand that if the people around him (hopefully your siblings, too) disapprove, he needs to at least second-guess his choice of dating such a woman.
My heart goes out to you, but I am confident that you will move past this unfortunate attack. Your mission is to learn to trust again. Allow yourself to feel that what was done to you was wrong, and do not question yourself. You played by the rules and did everything that a good person needs to do. Believe that what happened is a fluke and will likely never happen again. Reach out to a different shadchan to introduce you to eligible men. And I caution you that if you meet a man who is compatible with you, as long as your father is still involved with that woman, keep your father uninformed. Also, if finances are not an issue, I advise that if you are living with your father, now is the time to move out. You are entitled to independence and the chance to find your own happiness.
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. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.