By Baila Sebrow

Question:

I was dating someone for a long time, but we broke up. He was very wishy-washy about everything. He couldn’t plan anything, and while we were dating, we ended up not doing much of anything fun. I thought I needed a man who takes charge of everything. So when I met the man I was dating till now, I thought for sure he was the one.

This guy always planned all our dates to the last detail. At first, I was very excited to have him in my life. It felt great to be taken care of that way. But he never asked me what I thought about anything until after he already booked the reservations or bought the tickets for a show or concert. The problem is that our tastes in food and music are not the same. If he saw that I wasn’t having such a good time, he would get mad. And then I would apologize and say that I’m really enjoying myself, even when I wasn’t.

One day, I was in a bad mood, and I decided I was going to tell him how I really feel. We had a huge fight about our differences, and then I didn’t hear from him. I really like him, so I put my pride aside and called him. He wasn’t too friendly, and he said that he could work around our differences in food, but music is very important to him. He said that music is his way of relaxing, and he needs a woman who can share his tastes with him. Did you ever hear of such a thing? Now I am sorry that I told him the truth.

I’m confused, too, because I don’t know if he really broke up with me or not. Should I call him again to see if he still talks the same way? Or should I just leave it be? I’m so upset about this because I thought this relationship would work out.

Response:

You already reached out to him when you didn’t hear from him. That was your goodwill gesture. Not only was he not receptive, but he justified his behavior by telling you what he needs and wants, regardless of how unreasonable it may come across. You put your pride aside and you acted in a mature way. Your job is done where maturity and taking responsibility in a relationship is concerned. At this point, it would be up to him to contact you and be the one to apologize.

I can appreciate your feelings of disappointment and pain over what appears to be the end of a relationship. It is still too early and fresh for you to realize that, ultimately, the personality that this man possesses is not easy to live with. People who are so intolerant of another person’s likes and dislikes about matters that are only of recreational significance will no doubt voice stronger, more narrow-minded views on issues pertaining to serious life situations.

Truthfully, this guy sounds like a control-freak. He makes plans without consulting you until it’s a done deal and paid for, and he likely sulks when he sees you are not enjoying yourself as much as he would like you to. Moreover, according to what you say, he gets mad. Mad? Because you are not jumping up and down with glee over the stuff he likes? What else makes him mad? Were you walking on eggshells for the duration of your relationship, fearing that you would do something or say anything that might cause him to leave you? Is that why you put up with his tastes in everything else?

A human being can only sustain such treatment up to a point. Your breaking point came when, as you say, you were in a bad mood. It is possible that you expressed your feelings in a harsher manner than you would have if you had been feeling more at peace with yourself. But when it comes to feelings, there are times when you can compare them to a hand-held machine. The machine may not be in top working order, yet it still functions. Drop it on the floor, and the little bit that worked no longer does.

Oftentimes, that can happen in a relationship. When someone puts up with something they don’t like, there can come a point in time when that issue will be added to an argument or will be brought up when someone is in the wrong frame of mind. Depending on the personalities involved, it may lead to the end of the relationship.

There is another facet to this scenario. There are those who may not think much about ending a relationship. Meaning, they don’t take breaking up too seriously. Rather, they view it as a normal part of dating. You don’t say whether he has been married previously, if he has had many relationships prior to the one with you, or even if he fears marriage or divorce. That said, such people feel that rather than working on something worthwhile, they break it off on the assumption that there is someone better or more compatible out there. Ironically, they typically discover that while they may find someone who has tastes that are more in sync with theirs, that person is often lacking in other areas. Relationships with such people are like a revolving door.

Once you are fully over him you will realize that this man was not a good match for you. However, my concern is your choices regarding men you reject over men you want in your life. You started your letter by describing a man you broke up with. And from what you say about him, it sounds like you were looking for the complete opposite. That is not uncommon. When a person is in a relationship with someone who conducts himself in ways that are not appealing, she will oftentimes go radically different the next time around.

You probably feel most attracted to men who demonstrate leadership skills. The problem is that where relationships are concerned, there is sometimes a fine line between leadership and controlling behavior. And it could be that you might have difficulty discerning between the two types. So let’s understand the differences.

A leader leads by example. He has the right values and treats people fairly. A man who is a leader in the dating relationship will express what he would like to do, or an activity he thinks you would both enjoy, but he will not be aggressive about it. He may suggest or advise something, but before he books the event, he’ll ask the woman if she would like to go there. An emotionally healthy leader always leaves room open for suggestions. He will surely not make the woman feel as though it’s “my way or the highway.”

A leader with healthy self-esteem should welcome and value the opinion of the woman he is in a relationship with. And if he is perceptive and senses that there are times that she would like to take the lead in choosing an outing, he should encourage her and ask her to make plans for the date. Relationships are about give-and-take in all aspects. Most importantly, no one should feel that one idea or opinion should win over the other.

There is something else that is very important for you to realize. When people are passionate about something, whether it is music, sports, or anything else, it is not unusual to talk about it a lot. They might also try to make the other person understand what it is about that passion that is so great. However, if they come across any person who does not share the same passion or opinion, that is never an excuse to put others down or make them feel bad about it in anyway. That is what appears to have happened to you. Not only that, but I don’t know why this guy feels that variances in taste of music should warrant a relationship breakup. It is possible that this is how he reacts to anyone else who does not agree with him.

Hopefully, you will one day meet a man who cares more about spending time with you than the particular place he wants to attend or meal he enjoys eating. And if you ever feel coerced in going somewhere you don’t want to, you should never be afraid to politely speak your mind. Please do so early in the relationship. Additionally, it would also be a good idea to make some suggestions to see how he reacts. Of primary importance is that you feel valued and that you are part of a partnership, not a one-party rule.

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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