By Baila Sebrow

 

Question

I’m dating my dream man. He’s gorgeous, generous, and gives so much tzedakah. He is everything I want in my life partner. A lot of people say bad things about him, but he tells me how jealous they are of him and that they don’t like him, and his ex-wife spreads a lot of lies about him. I asked him what happened in his marriage and why he got divorced, and he told me that the problem in his marriage was that he was too good to his wife and he spoiled her, and that’s why she left him for another man.

Just recently, my neighbor found out about my relationship, and he said bad things about this guy. When I spoke about it to the man I’m dating, he said that the neighbor’s wife was after him before she met her husband, and that he didn’t want her. Then he said that she’s a crazy nut-job.

Now he wants me to stop talking to anyone who ever said anything bad about him. He’s right — we keep getting into fights, because every time I tell him what I hear, he says that it makes him feel depressed. Also, he says that if I love him, I would do this. I’m in love with this man, and I feel like he is my everything.

Response

He actually told you that his wife left him for another man because he was too good to her? Sure, that makes total sense — not! He was so good to her that she wanted to spread the joy around and make sure that he would be available for somebody else? Then we have the wife of his neighbor who says bad things about him because she wanted him all to herself but he jilted her, and let’s not forget his diagnosis that she’s a “crazy nut-job.”

It sounds like this guy has all the answers to quash accusations. Well, almost; there are still people out there who are speaking badly about him. But let’s remember that they do so because, according to your dream man, “they are jealous” of him.

It seems that you have no problem. Your dream guy is right there in front of you. So why aren’t you listening to his orders not to speak to his adversaries? Better yet, why you are asking for advice?

In many cases, people who ask for advice already know the answer. They ask because they need to be validated that they are doing the right thing. Deep in your heart, you know that where there is smoke there is usually fire. While it is true that the smoke could be from a different source unrelated to a life-threatening fire situation, it is standard practice that if you see and smell smoke, you cannot ignore it and risk the chance of getting trapped in a fire. You will check it out to protect your safety, and if it looks dangerous, you immediately plan an escape.

More than 50 percent of cases where people ended up in a bad marriage, they were either forewarned or they noticed things they chose to ignore.

Here you have three smoke signals: your man telling you that he got divorced because he was too good of a husband, the rumors you hear others say about him, and the things that your neighbor is saying about him. If you don’t take any of those matters seriously, then, like the person who gets trapped in an inferno, you could end up trapped, G-d forbid, with a man who will mistreat you and claim he was too good to you should you try to leave him, along with whatever else he will say about you, true or not.

Since you are writing to me, you want guidance. You know what you need to do, but you might need some clarity. So we will take this apart and bring it all together.

Let’s start with his marriage. All you know about that period in his life is that his wife left him for another man because he was so good to her that he even spoiled her. If we are to go with that theory, we need to assume that she felt that she did not deserve such a good man, and instead preferred a man who would not be good to her and who would definitely not spoil her. Not only that, but she is spreading lies about such a good ex-husband of whom she felt unworthy. Does any of that make even one bit of sense to you? I believe you already know the answer to that question.

What about the people who don’t like him and are jealous of him? What are they saying that he is denying? Did you research their accusations of him, or are you just buying into his defense of the things they say? Speaking about other people, you say that he gives a lot of tzedakah. Do you know that for a fact, or is that what he is telling you? That should be easy enough to find out.

Regarding your neighbor’s wife who has harsh words to say about this guy, there is much to be discussed here. People throw around the word “crazy” or “nut-job” typically for two reasons. That person may be delusional, or, in most cases, like here, it is done to discredit a disparaging report that could in any way damage the accused.

In news articles where somebody is accused of an offense by a specific person, the defendant will oppose the accusation by stating that the person is emotionally unstable or crazy, and therefore anything that he or she says will not to be taken as the truth.

This woman is your neighbor — do you know her to be emotionally unstable? Has she ever made similar accusations against anyone else she allegedly dated before meeting her spouse? And the most important question is, in your opinion, what would she gain by your acceptance of her story?

I hope you realize that if you were to just buy into the notion that your neighbor is crazy and go about your business as usual, then, forgive me, but there are those who would say that you are the one who is crazy.

So what can you do to be sure that whatever actions you take will leave you with no regrets? You will never know what truly happened in his prior marriage. That is between the two of them, and they each may have skewed perceptions. If she did leave him for another man, that does not speak well of her either, assuming he told you the truth. You are best off allowing his failed marriage to remain buried in his past. Even if he was not a good spouse, it is possible that he learned from his mistake and sincerely wants to have a second chance at happiness.

That there are others out there with negative opinions about him should be a major concern to you, and, as I said, please investigate. The problem is that whatever they say could be difficult to pinpoint precisely; if you do not have a relationship with these people, they may not feel comfortable to be as forthcoming with information as you would like.

I urge you to make an appointment with your neighbors as soon as possible. Ask to speak to both the husband and wife at the same time. Find out if a relationship ever existed between her and your man, and, if so, what happened. Please be mindful to come across as objective and nonthreatening. You want the woman to feel as comfortable as possible so that she will tell you what may turn out to be vital information. Politely ask her to list his wrongdoings in factual detail. Hear what she has to say and watch her expression and gestures as she speaks. Keep track of each claim and thoroughly investigate all allegations. If it means speaking to numerous people to substantiate her claims, then do it. It might be uncomfortable now, but in the end it will most likely save you a lifetime of sorrow.

At the end of the day, the only way to know the truth about any person is by watching how they have lived their life on a day-to-day basis throughout their adulthood. Although people do make mistakes and they can grow from those mistakes to become better people, I always hold by the principle that humans are creatures of habit. Behavior patterns rarely disappear entirely, and every person has their triggers, whether good or bad.

What can you live with? The answer to that question will help you solve this dilemma.

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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