By Baila Sebrow

 

Question

I’m in a relationship with a guy and we really love each other, but I’m worried about how different we are and if it can work out if we end up getting married. We disagree about everything. We fight about politics like cats and dogs. He is such a liberal that it drives me crazy. Some of his views don’t even fit into Yiddishkeit.

I like his married friends, and I even like his single male friends, but not his female friends. His female friends may have been platonic before we started dating, but I know they are hitting on him since they found out that we are a couple. He says they are not. Whenever I say bad things about them, he gets angry at me and even threatens that we will break up because they are his friends. I can’t help saying bad things because they are so mean. What kind of woman would dare to hit on a guy in front of the woman he is dating? The funny thing is that when we get along, he says some pretty bad things about them, and we even laugh about it together. But in the middle of our fights he always tells me that I don’t like his friends. That’s not true; I get along with everyone. I’m even nice to the women when they hit on him.

We are different and so are our backgrounds. He is frum like me in some ways, but not in others. So, what do you think?

Response

There isn’t just one thing wrong with your depiction of this relationship. The whole thing is just wrong.

For starters, I think the guy you are dating has double standards. Not to justify anyone speaking badly about another person, but why does he think it’s OK for him to say what he does about those women, and yet when you do it, he threatens to break up with you? Going one step further, why is he tolerant of his so-called platonic female friends hitting on him, and especially in front of you? Is he that shallow and insecure that he enjoys the attention? Does it make him feel confident about his masculinity when you get upset about it, because it appears that women are falling over themselves for him? Whoever this guy is, he is some character!

I am sorry to tell you this, but based on what you are disclosing about this guy and your relationship with him, I believe he is pulling moves on you and looking for excuses to end whatever it is that you have together. To remove any guilt feelings or responsibility for doing what he wants to do, it appears that he is twisting things into mind-boggling contortions. You say that you get along with his married friends and single male friends. The only people you have an issue with are his single female friends, and only when they hit on him. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this guy you are so in love with is behaving like an ogre.

With regard to politics, these days such topics have taken on interesting dimensions. If he is a liberal and you are not, you probably need a referee in the room when you argue about something relating to a political subject. The way things are today, I have heard about friendships and relationships breaking, and even family members who stop speaking to one another, if one disagrees with the other’s political views. When people inquire about a shidduch, there are those who will even ask whether the person is a Democrat or Republican. The first time somebody asked me that question in relation to a shidduch I presented, my answer was that I don’t know, nor, as a shadchan, do I need to know. That person’s response was that if the one I suggested has different political views than they have, they are not interested. My feeling regarding those who argue about politics is that there is nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. However, if you are dealing with an unreasonable individual, then just saying the sky is blue, when they think it’s gray, will cause a major combustion.

Whenever anybody asks me what I think about people from different backgrounds marrying one another, I typically encourage them if the man and the woman have similar goals, specifically spiritual. When my response is met with skepticism, I then begin referencing our matriarchs and patriarchs, and how different each spouse’s background was from the other, and to never forget that the result of their approach to shidduchim is what set the foundation for Bnei Yisrael and, moreover, the lesson for future generations to acquire.

There are times when people come to accept such a response and will consider the match, but when they don’t, I take it one step further and bring up a painful episode of history — the aftermath of the Holocaust. As most survivors will attest, following the atrocities, those who were of marriageable age married spouses who were diverse in family background and yichus. Not only that, some couples did not even speak the same language! These beautiful people ascended from the ashes and created the tremendous Yiddishkeit that Bnei Yisrael is now able to enjoy.

Here is where I will make the disclaimer. Diversity of the past is fine, on the condition that both are eternally committed to share similar ambitions and future goals in forming a family life together. You say that you are both different, and you specify that his liberal views “don’t even fit into Yiddishkeit.” Adding to that, you say that he is frum like you in some ways, “but not in others.” That is a problem that has the potential to become a whopping one. I don’t see any way that this issue can ever be resolved. Maybe if he was an easygoing type of personality, I would advise you to get a third party involved to help mentor you both. But his behavior towards you and disregard for your feelings tells me he is a “my way or the highway” kind of person.

I frequently come across situations where people who probably should be together are not, due to inconsequential reasons that realistically would have no impact on a marriage. Then there are relationships such as what you are describing, and every fiber in my being screams “red flag!” I am sure that you are just giving me the tip of the iceberg in conveying your issues with the guy you are dating. I don’t know what you can possibly love about him, and I am not so sure he loves you. I have no doubt that you both want to be together for whatever psychological need you fulfill in each other. However, what the two of you share is not enough to sustain a marriage. Love, in this case, is just fluff.

For a marriage to be successful, the glue that holds it together is respect. I don’t mean just paying lip service as in, “Sure, I respect him/her.” It means admiration for the person who is most important in your life. In a healthy relationship, being able to talk openly and honestly about whatever is on each person’s mind without the fear of repercussion, and valuing each other’s feelings and needs, is vital to sustaining the marriage. Respect also means that while one may not always agree with his or her partner, each should still have trust in his or her judgment. It is also how you treat each other on an ongoing basis. Even if you have an argument (yes, arguments are allowed in healthy relationships), you are still able to appreciate each other’s opinions and feelings. There should be no control over the other or the belief that you must win an argument. A couple is one unit, not two people against each other.

When you express to this guy how badly you feel when those women hit on him, instead of validating your feelings and immediately putting a stop to it, he blasts you! Why exactly is he friends with single women who clearly have a romantic interest in him if he is so involved and in love with you? Does he want to have his cake and eat it too, or is he keeping them on the sidelines in case your relationship fizzles out?

I am worried that if you continue with this relationship you will eventually lose your self-respect. Once you lose that, it is difficult to reclaim it, which, furthermore, has the potential to spoil any future relationship. Self-respect is crucial to building confidence and maintaining healthy relationships with all people in your life. I’ll tell it to you straight: This guy is bad news.

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 5townsforum@gmail.com

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