By Baila Sebrow
What is wrong with men today? Why do they act like they are crazy about a woman, go through all kinds of trouble to get her to like them, and just when they know they have her where they want, they drop her? They say that they don’t feel it going anywhere, or some other stupid, made-up excuse.
They all say they want to be friends and that they will always be there if we need them. And then when we run into each other at an event or simcha, they pretend they barely know us! Meanwhile, they hit on someone else, get her to fall in love with them, and do the same thing all over again.
I want you to know that this is not just me. This happens to every woman I know. The last time this happened to me, I decided to teach the man a lesson he will never forget.
A man every woman wants was chasing me for a long time; I finally said I would go out with him. He took me to expensive places. In the beginning, I really wasn’t sure if I liked him. And I was honest with him. And then he would go out of his way for me even more. He started buying me expensive gifts. And I started to see him as a generous person, and then I fell in love. Not soon after that, he started cooling off, and then he dropped me because he said he doesn’t feel it.
A few weeks later, I was celebrating the birthday of my friend, and we went out to dinner. Guess who I ran into? That last man who dumped me. He was with a woman I know very well, and I could see they were serious. Later that night, I called her and told her what he is really all about. I gave her names of other women this has happened to. The thing is that the names of those women were just friends who had been hurt by men, but not by this man. Anyway, she believed me, and she broke up with him.
I know I did a terrible thing, but there was something about this man that I can’t get over. My friends don’t know what I did, but I told them that I think he is available and that I want to try to get him back. They all told me to stay away. I didn’t listen, and I contacted him. He suggested that we go out to dinner.
Am I wrong to want him back? What can I do to get him to feel differently about me? I know that he once loved me.
I will first respond to your last statement. You say that you know he loved you. How do you know that to be true? Because he said so? There are two old expressions that are very apropos in this case: “Talk is cheap” and “Actions speak louder than words.” Both proverbs are wise sayings, something to think about.
People can say whatever they want in order to get what they are after. People, especially unscrupulous ones, will say all the right words necessary to tug at someone’s emotions. And those in relationships with such a person are the most vulnerable to be enchanted when they hear an admission of love. Sadly, many men (and also women) will use the word “love” when it is not necessarily how they really feel.
To play this fairly, I have to mention that there are people who think they are in love, yet they are not. They are not sure what they are feeling, and just because they are in the company of someone they enjoy being with, they assume it is love. Others might really be in love, as they say, but have some sort of fear holding them back from bringing the relationship to a more advanced level. Such folks will come up with an excuse to break up with the person to whom they have given (false) hope.
How does one know if the uttered word “love” is sincere or will eventually be of genuine significance? That is where “actions speak louder than words” comes in. A person who is truly in love does not break up because he “doesn’t feel it.”
It is, however, possible to date someone and not “feel it.” But once you declare love for the person, it doesn’t just go away like a minor cold. And even if there is a problem discovered after the declaration of love, those who are truly in love will not just abandon the person like the previous day’s newspaper.
Your letter is a tearjerker that many can unfortunately relate to. Your story is not an isolated incident. The emotional distress that you and others in a similar position have been put through by those who have a tendency to walk away and leave a string of broken hearts is appalling.
However, what you did to that innocent woman is equally immoral. She did you no wrong. Whatever it is that caused the man you loved (and who allegedly loved you) to leave is not a reason to mess up her chances with him. While it is likely that the same thing that happened to you would have happened to her, playing G-d is not something that any human being should ever take upon themselves.
But the point of your letter was not for me to lecture you or to tell you that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” I also believe that at the time you were not in the state of mind to understand that. Seeing him in the restaurant soon after your breakup must have triggered a side of you that I hope is not your real self. I also believe that another reason for your behavior was that you did not have proper closure of the relationship and therefore were unable to make peace that it was time for you move on — as he has.
So now that you think he is available, you felt compelled to call him and he suggested dinner. Great? Hardly. How do you know that he is actually free? How are you so sure that he is not seeing anyone else, and that having dinner with him isn’t just a meal because he enjoys hanging out with you? He did tell you that he wants to be friends with you. Why would you take the chance of placing yourself in the line of fire? He broke your heart once, and now it appears that you are contemplating going back for a second helping of the same treatment.
Do you think now things will be different, that he changed? At this point, you need to evaluate and determine when enough is enough. There is a fine line between proactive behavior of going after what you want and plain old wishful thinking. And I am afraid the result will be your wishful thinking not coming to fruition.
I can appreciate your wanting to do everything possible to get the man you love to change his mind and return to you. It might happen, as anything in this world is possible. But you need to acknowledge that it is unlikely.
That thought process will not happen by itself, because you need closure. And for the purpose of putting an end to this saga, you might actually need to meet with him. Normally, I don’t like to advise a woman to take the initiative in reaching out to the man who hurt her, but here it sounds like it won’t be the worst idea.
Before you meet with him again, you need to mentally prepare yourself. I advise you to be careful not to come across as being in pursuit of him. Giving the impression of desperation and neediness of any kind is usually a major turnoff. And if he is a total cad, he may find it amusing, which is bound to further insult your feelings.
When you do have dinner with him, keep the conversation light at first. Talk about the good things that are currently going on in your life — work or school, family, etc. Do not allow this man who broke your heart to believe that you are pining for him. When you are both finished eating, tell him that you want to put the past to rest and forgive him, but you need to know why he ended the relationship.
There is no guarantee that he will share the truth — or that he even knows what the truth is — but face to face in a nonthreatening atmosphere might give you some inkling as to what precipitated his decision.
I would like for you to understand that as much as you believe every woman wants to date the man you love, it is just not so. I am willing to bet that this so-called Don Juan receives his fair share of rejections, too. So please eliminate the notion from your mind that he is a commodity and in such high demand.
When you are finally ready to move on, the main focus needs to be that history should never repeat itself. The next time you are in a relationship, be extra vigilant about behavior patterns and other clues that are similar to those of the last man who broke your heart. Though it can oftentimes be impossible to predict someone’s intentions, it is best to keep your guard up while keeping your heart open to love again.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for SovriBeth 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.