I haven’t been able to properly focus because of what happened to me. I can’t eat or sleep. Some people can handle this because they are used to it — but not me. I need to understand what happened. How does a man go from being in love, introducing me to everyone as his soon-to-be-kallah, allowing our parents to discuss our upcoming wedding, to just ending the relationship?
For more than two years, I had been very seriously dating a man I met in school. Things were going great, and our relationship was growing stronger. We planned to get engaged right after we both graduated from our program and got jobs. And then one morning, before we were supposed to get together, he called me to say that he needed space and that we should take a break from dating. He also told me that he had spoken to his friend who is a rabbi and told him that he had doubts about getting engaged. This rabbi told him that if he has doubts, he should break up with me — and that in any case, I probably would not fit in the community we would live in if we got married.
But that’s not true. I know all his other friends, and they really like me. This rabbi never even met me! But my boyfriend trusts and respects this person. When I told my boyfriend that this man never even met me, he said, “Well, he’s a therapist and he knows about such things.” That person is not even a real therapist!
I asked him if I should date others, and he got upset and told me to wait until he could speak to his real therapist, who was on vacation. The therapist finally came back, and told him to break up with me since there are things that bother him about me. He called to tell me that it wouldn’t work between us. I asked him what his doubts are, and he wouldn’t even tell me! Everyone has doubts, but you work them through, right?
I’m heartbroken and I don’t know what to do. I feel stuck. Should I just start dating others, or should I try to convince him, or maybe beg him, to give our relationship a chance? One day we ran into each other, and I asked him if he still had feelings for me. He said he doesn’t love me anymore. Is there such a thing? Can someone just fall out of love?
Breaking up is not so bad for him. He broke up with many girls before me; his therapist and rabbi encouraged him to do that. I want to mention that when we first started dating and he told his therapist how he feels about me, the therapist was not too crazy to hear about it.
How can I ever trust another man again?
You ask how you can ever trust another man again. There’s a simple answer: You will trust a man who acts responsibly. But it won’t happen overnight; you need to heal from the emotional trauma you have gone through.
I am very sorry for your pain. So that you can comprehend your situation and properly deal with the closure, let’s begin with this. Take a deep breath and look in the mirror. What do you see? You see a human being staring back at you, a human being who is worthy of not only love, but the most fundamental aspect of any human relationship — respect. Never put yourself in the position of lowering yourself to anyone so that you feel inclined to beg for what you deserve. If he loved you but grew out of it, he did not love you. Whether he told you what you wanted to hear or convinced himself of what he thought he should say, it makes no difference. This man has demonstrated a lack of respect for your feelings.
It’s a terrible shame that you got caught up in something so dysfunctional. Most people will tell you to mentally bury him and move on. But you have many unanswered questions, and you’re probably rehashing every date and conversation you had with him close to the breakup. And you are likely blaming yourself. Stop that immediately! None of that will help you find inner solace.
We have two issues here. One is that your (ex?) boyfriend developed a codependency on the people in his life who have helped him in the past, such as his “not real therapist” playing real therapist, along with his authentic therapist. The second issue is how to deal with this boyfriend of yours, and why you think that he is even worthy of your love.
Some of the biggest shidduch-busters are people who moonlight as experts and recommend relationship breakups without meeting the party they are vilifying. Let’s start with his friend, the pretend therapist. Without meeting you, he determined that you wouldn’t fit in. And your boyfriend bought into that? Are we even talking about an intelligent person here? Your boyfriend then has you waiting around till he receives a final verdict from his real therapist. The therapist told him to break up with you and not work through anything. Not only that, but you have been informed that the same scenario might have happened in the past.
I find it disheartening that the therapist was not happy to hear that your boyfriend was in a relationship when he spoke about you early on. My take is that either the therapist has knowledge that your boyfriend is unstable and cannot handle a relationship, or he has created a situation where he is emotionally attached to this therapist. I prefer to believe it is the former rather than the latter.
It sounds like your main competition might be the people he turns to for advice. Unless you have the patience of a saint, you will be waiting a long time for him to come around, if that will even happen. And why would you want to? Life is short, and every day that you talk about him, you are giving credence to his place in your life. Based on the way he treated you, he does not deserve that.
I understand that you are hurt. You have every right to be. You gave more than two years of your life to this relationship, and in the end you were not given a fair chance. So what is it about this man that you love? He demonstrates no sensitivity to you, and he appears to be an intolerant individual. In addition, according to what you say, he has not had previous healthy relationships. It appears you are dealing with a confused person. Not exactly marriage material for you!
The way he spoke about marriage and being in love with you, only to discard you so easily, speaks volumes about what you could expect if you did marry him. Women married to such men are treated no differently than contestants in a spelling bee. One misspelled word — or misstep, in your case — and you’re out.
You might be the most devoted, loving wife. But if you do one or two things that rattle him, instead of having a chance to work things through, you will become as unimportant to him as last week’s newspaper. There are many divorced women with tales about having been married to such a man. He starts off by appearing loving, but then without warning he turns on his wife and states that he doesn’t love her anymore. It may have started with some minor grievance that caused his feelings to change, but the wife is left bewildered. She may attempt to make peace to keep the marriage intact, but the man usually becomes cold and refuses.
I would not be the only person to tell you to move on and find someone worthy of your love and commitment. But that is easier said than done. You may experience difficulty moving on unless you have proper closure. Only then will you be able to bury the relationship. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like he will give you the closure you deserve. You will have to believe this person was damaged way before you met him, and there is nothing you could have done to fix him.
You wonder whether someone can just fall out of love. In my opinion, the answer is no. You can recover and move on to another chapter in your life, but anyone who has ever truly loved another person will tell you that the love doesn’t go away like getting over a cold.
In the case of this guy, I don’t know what his therapist diagnosed him with or what type of therapy he receives, and he may have become convinced that what he feels for you is not love.
Doubts or issues while bonding are part and parcel of human relationships. If you speak to people in successful marriages, they won’t tell you that no issues ever came up. On the contrary, many will share stories of challenges they encountered, but which they worked through. Nothing brings a couple closer than having experienced a major challenge and overcoming it together. This guy does not seem to be interested in that. He has demonstrated unsuccessful past relationships, and the saga repeated itself with you. Marriage to such a person typically cannot result in a happy ending.
It’s also possible that he felt cooler toward you for a while, but instead of discussing whatever was on his mind to prepare you — and to give you the chance to offer him reassurances or just to air grievances — he continued with you in the status quo you had both established, and it took one person that he looks up to for him to pull the rug out from under you. Another possibility is that he got cold feet, and he may have acted impulsively. You can try to get a third party involved to speak with him so that you can receive more clarity, but expect that you may not gain much from doing so. You don’t see this now, but from the story you convey, it seems Hashem has spared you from an unhappy marriage.
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.