I got out of a very bad marriage, and I was forced to enter the singles scene. I was hoping that after my divorce, people would make suggestions of eligible men for me. But after three years of loneliness, I realized that I have to do it myself. At first I didn’t mind because I’m a very outgoing person. But the men out there are terrible. I’m not that picky, but the men are all players. I have not met a serious man yet. They say they are serious when I ask them, and then after a while I find out that they also keep busy with other women while dating me, and they end up breaking up with everyone anyway.
I belong to different support groups. Every woman there has the same story in this regard, so I know I’m not doing anything wrong. I want to get married again. I want to build a bayis ne’eman. But how can I do that if the men are not available for marriage? Also, is it possible for a player to ever become serious? My friends say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
You have been through a lot. Coming out of a “very bad marriage” and being confronted with disappointments many times over, you must be shell-shocked, and it is normal to believe that all men are bad. There is no question that there are men who are players. That is nothing new in society, frum or otherwise. But, please, for your own emotional health and growth, do not indict an entire gender because of the experiences that you and other women in your support groups have encountered.
From what you are saying, people have not been reaching out to you in your quest to find a shidduch. I’m not sure why that is the case, but I am wondering whether you have been proactive by informing people that you would like to date. I’m not saying that you haven’t, but there are instances where unless people are specifically asked to do something, they won’t. Nothing in this world is a guaranteed given. But even if people would suggest shidduchim, players can be found everywhere. It’s a matter of being able to detect the player persona. Sometimes the signs are staring you in the face. However, the savvy player knows how to behave in an authentic manner, and those are the dangerous types.
What is a player? You need to understand what that word entails, how it can affect your life, and how to protect yourself in the future from such negative people.
A player in the matter of dating is no different than a player in any sport. A player plays because he is good at it and he enjoys the game. And the more times a player in a game scores points, the more popular he becomes. Not only does he get better at it, but his confidence level shoots up several notches each times he wins. However, a player cannot play alone, unless he plays a solo game, and a true player in a game of sports needs a team and an opponent. The player in love games usually has a team of male friends who egg him on and encourage him. This makes him popular so he can get the ladies he sets his sights on. Who is the opposing team? The women he entraps in his game. Take away the opposing team and he has no one to play against. So, in essence, there would be no game, and his team would disintegrate.
Players come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and statuses in life. Some are easy to spot, and some are very good at faking a sincere appearance, as I alluded to earlier. In most cases, the victims of such men are those who are new to the dating scene. Such women meet a man, and if they feel an attraction for him they will believe whatever he says and sometimes go along with whatever game he plays. Eventually the player gets bored and is ready for a new game, similar to the cat that chases the mouse. The cat bores of the game, and will either kill the mouse instantly or torture it for a while. Either way, the game is over, and history repeats itself for the player.
Can a player ever become serious? If I had a crystal ball, and it truly told the future, I am quite certain the answer would be no. And besides, why would any woman even want to place herself in that line of fire anyway? That would be no different than running into a burning building and expecting not to get burned.
There is an accepted myth that lightning cannot strike more than once in the exact same place. But that’s not necessarily true. The same applies to someone getting hurt by the same type of person in the exact same way. That’s because not all people are transparent, and so a person who is really a player may present as serious about marriage. However, there are times that even a sincere person may give off the wrong impression of being a player. The trick is being able to discern between the good and bad.
You’ve had your unfortunate experiences, and I hope that by now you have grown mental antennae that are in operational mode. At the same time, my concern is that you don’t keep your antennae up so high that you will dismiss a sincere man for fear of past hurts.
Let’s talk about the sincere person who gives a player impression. That is a very important facet to this topic, because I want to make sure that you don’t miss out on a good opportunity should it present itself to you. The player, as everyone knows, is smooth, charming, and easygoing. He typically says all the right lines at the right time, because whatever he says has been repeated so many times that nothing you say will put him at a loss for words. The player is very comfortable in every situation, and he knows how to make the people around him comfortable, too.
The body language that the player exudes is one of deep interest and concern for the person he is with; his confidence is oftentimes misinterpreted as protectiveness. He will typically express his feelings to you early on, unlike the genuine guy who will usually be nervous around you, especially if he is starting to develop feelings for you. The sincere guy may be a bit clumsy in his lines, and the more he likes you, the less at ease he will be around you. That’s why the good guys get declined so often. The women on dates with them usually don’t find them as interesting.
Depending on the player’s financial background, you may even receive impromptu gifts as early as the first date, accompanied by the line that he saw something and instantly thought of you. (There are sincere men who might do that too, but it’s a good idea to be aware of this detail.)
As the relationship progresses, it is interesting to note that the genuine guy will be more eager to introduce you to his family before he introduces you to his friends. If a man is sincere about you, the opinion of his family will matter very much to him, particularly because his plans for you are for the long term. The player will be more inclined to introduce you only to his friends, if he does introduce you to anyone. And even here, there may be some variations.
The points I am making are just a few examples to be mindful of. There is something that every person, male or female, in the dating world needs to be cognizant about. It is of utmost importance to check, recheck, and check again into the history of the person before you date him or her and allow your emotions to take hold. If you are very young and are dating someone in your age bracket, it’s not that easy to do, as young people have not had enough time to develop a consistent pattern. But if you are on the mature side, then you have it easier where references are concerned. If a person has the reputation for playing others, you can expect to be added to his list of conquests.
Some people will date a known player with the belief that, in their case, it will be different. Meaning, they assume that somehow the player will have a major metamorphosis where they are concerned. There have been cases where the person being pursued by the player tells the player that they heard negative information about him or her, and the player will have a rehearsed excuse for each negative report heard. Typically, those who are kindhearted or especially lonely will fall for it and even feel bad that they doubted the person. So if you hear anything negative along those lines about a potential date, politely decline.
There are people who rely on an online search for information about those they date. That is not always such a reliable source, because there are companies that specialize in removing online information for a fee. So, in essence, you might try the online search engines and come up emptyhanded and then assume that the person is on the up-and-up. Go the old-fashioned route of speaking to people who know the individual.
The more mature the person is, the less likely he will change for you. Old habits die hard and usually not at all. So the old adage of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks has been proven true. Don’t ever take chances with your heart. Protect it. That is your right.
I will leave you with this. There are wonderful, caring men out there who are searching for someone with whom to share life’s journey. I hope you will never give up on finding that special someone. Look at it this way: If you plant a beautiful garden, what do you do when weeds pop up? You pull them out. And you continue doing that in order to keep the garden beautiful. Do not allow the weeds that pop up in your life to destroy your garden of happiness.
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.