Q: Things had been going great with this dynamo girl I was dating, and it got to the point where I was psyching myself up to pop the question. My parents and her parents became best friends when we got serious, and both families were rooting for us to get married.
My grandfather is a bit of a male chauvinist, and he told me that all women are crazy, but that you don’t know that until you get married. That scared me, so I told this girl that we need to slow things down a bit, and she started to cry. I’m not good with tears and drama, so I told her we need a break and I ghosted her for a while so that I could think and clear my head.
I started missing her, so I called her, and I said that I want to get back together with her. She was very happy, but since we got back together she keeps bringing up our breakup and the ghosting. What’s the big deal now? It’s all in the past, right?
My grandfather was not happy at all when he heard that we got back together and how she is acting now. He said that her reaction to our breaking up for a while shows what she is all about. He advised that if I really want to be sure what she will be like when she is married, I should have a big fight with her and that will tell me all I need to know. I don’t want to lose this girl, but I also spoke to my friends about it and they said that my grandfather is right. I asked my mother what she thinks about all this, and she said that my grandfather is crazy and that he made her miserable when she first married my dad. I don’t know what to do.
A: I will preface my response by emphatically stating that no, not all women are crazy, in the same way that not all men are crazy. If craziness exists, then it can be found in both genders. Unless your grandfather is a mental-health professional who has evaluated every woman around, he is not qualified to make such a preposterous assessment.
Things were going great with somebody you were ready to spend the rest of your life with, and you listened to a person who is, without doubt, a bitter man. You should give him the respect he is entitled to as your grandfather, but he has no business advising you about your relationship with this girl. You should not listen to any opinion he has regarding relationships, as he has proven that his perspectives are skewed.
Moreover, based on what you have shared, I am sorry to say that I do not believe that he has your best interests at heart. He might convince himself that he does, but there is something deep-rooted going on, and it does not come across as nice.
That said, let’s figure out what is going on with your relationship as it currently stands and if any damage control can be implemented to salvage what is left of it. You say that things were going great and both sets of parents have become best friends. If that is accurate, then you were gifted with a tremendous blessing. But, unfortunately, doubts were placed into your head, and you told this girl that you need to slow things down. She cried and gave you some drama? What else did you expect her to do? Say, “Sure, no problem,” and go on her merry way? Had she done that, it would have told you all you need to know—that she does not care about you or what you have built together in your relationship.
She reacted like a person who cares and has no clue why you suddenly had such a drastic change of heart when she expected nothing less than a proposal. Instead of reassuring her, you broke up with her. Telling a person with whom you are in a relationship that you need a break, is, in essence, a break. But that wasn’t enough for you. You ghosted her. Perhaps some readers don’t know what “ghosting” means, so I will explain it. Ghosting is when you break all methods of communication with the person, and you do not respond to their efforts in reaching out to you. It also means blocking their social-media accounts from reaching you, and either ignoring or blocking their number so that they cannot contact you by calling or text messaging. Why did you do something so cruel and painful?
I cannot imagine why she took you back after you called her. Furthermore, it baffles me that she even responded to your call in the first place. Did you really miss her, as you say, or is it that you couldn’t find anybody else to replace her? Ask yourself those questions.
Though you probably may not have deserved it, she did take you back, and you resumed the relationship. But now you have a new dilemma. From your perspective, she should have just reacted as though nothing happened, but, to your dismay, she keeps bringing up what you have done to her, and you just don’t get why she would do such a thing!
I certainly cannot speak for her. But it sounds like you shattered the poor girl’s heart. She took you back because she was broken, and her confidence level and self-esteem had likely crashed. It’s no surprise that she keeps rehashing what you did. She is terrified that you would do that to her again, and, in all probability, she needs the assurance from you that you will not hurt her a second time.
Her taking you back while coping with the fear of abandonment is not enough for you to realize that you should go easy on her? Now your grandfather—and your friends—feel you need to pick a big fight with her to see how she reacts. Worse, she needs to prove that she is not crazy like “all” women.
I’ve heard about this not-so-new fad in dating where people want to see if they can get the person they are dating to become angry. Who dreams up these ridiculous ideas is what I would like to know! It is important to have an opportunity to view as many aspects about the character of the person you are dating. But in actuality, you will only find out as much as the person wants you to know. As you must be aware, there are divorced people who claim that the person they married behaved wonderfully while dating, and after marriage they showed their true colors.
Some people have even relayed stories of confrontational circumstances that naturally came up during dating where another person could have lost their cool, but the person who turned abusive or “crazy” after marriage handled it in a calm, respectful manner. The point is that where it relates to hiding one’s true colors while dating, such folks play Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to perfection.
Those who have been married to “crazy” people will undoubtedly agree that it does not take much goading to instigate anger in such a person. The slightest provocation—from someone cutting them off while driving on the road to not passing the orange juice at breakfast—will set them off. But in many instances, they hide it well during the dating stage.
Still, young daters subscribe to the notion of not getting engaged until they have a big fight with the person they are dating. There might be success stories and positive outcomes where they learned the truth. In my experience, I have found this technique to backfire. The so-called crazy people conducted themselves in a cool, calm, and collected manner, only to reveal a different persona after the wedding. Meanwhile, in the case where a normal person was intentionally provoked, that person went running away from the relationship, thinking that the person who provoked him or her is crazy!
What people should be looking for while dating are signs of controlling and manipulative behavior, verbal put-downs, respecting boundaries, and consideration of another person’s feelings. Additionally, one should be cued in to how the person treats and speaks to other people. Another telltale sign is how the person speaks about important people in his or her life, and whether he considers himself superior to everyone else, implying inadequacy in the rest of society.
I will assume that the girl you have been dating until your grandfather put in his negative two cents fits the criteria of an emotionally well-adjusted young lady.
I encourage you to speak to your mother, who has shared with you her experience in dealing with your grandfather. It sounds like she knows what he is trying to do, and she does not agree with him. There is another factor to consider. Your parents would not be so close to this girl’s parents if they thought there was something about her that is cause for concern to the extent that you need to set her up in a trap. Please do not attempt to do that.
I am wondering about something. Have you ever shared with your grandfather any doubts that you have about the girl you are dating? There are times that a person one is dating might be perfect in every way, but as a relationship gets close to progressing to a deeper level, there are those who just get cold feet. While a change in life can be exciting, it is also scary. And sometimes a person at that juncture might begin to feel that he or she is not ready to get married. In such a case, any negative feedback coming from another person is enough to cause doubts.
You might want to figure out if marriage is something you want and can handle emotionally right now. Whether you speak to a professional therapist, rabbi, relative, friend, or engage in self-introspection, do it as soon as possible.
If you have determined that you are ready to get married, I think that you should date her a little longer. I do not recommend that you get engaged right away and continue from where you left off, because whatever you had with her before has changed. She is in a different and vulnerable mindset now. It is almost as though you are starting a new relationship with a person you already know. You might want to share that with her so that she doesn’t think you will run away again. Date her in the same way you have done previously to give each other the chance to reignite what you have both felt before.
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.