I recently went out with a girl seven times and everything was amazing, at least from my perspective. Everything seemed to be progressing smoothly and I was starting to get really excited. Then, without giving a reason, she said no. I was dismayed, to say the least. Boruch Hashem, I got over it relatively quickly and I’m ready to move on. I’m not upset at anyone and I understand that sometimes it’s just not meant to be.
The one thing that I’m worried about is: What’s going to be next? What should my attitude be going into the next parsha? To keep getting excited after some good dates or to keep it slow? Maybe it’s more realistic not to be so high on someone until you’re a bit further in the process.
Your guidance is much appreciated.
P.S. I just want to let you know that even though the attitude towards this forum among many of my peers is that it is mostly entertainment, I feel that I have learnt a lot from the ideas and diverse opinions shared by the panelists. Keep up the good work!
As the pathway through shidduchim often leads to some degree of rejection, and sometimes, as in your case, it is completely unanticipated, the predicament you find yourself in is quite normal and rather comprehendible.
On the one hand, after an experience of rejection, there is a natural instinct to retract and restrain oneself from getting emotionally involved again, until such time as one is absolutely sure that it is safe to do so. This is simply an example of our innate need to be emotionally protected, and provided no real relationship was cultivated to begin with, there will not be much sense of forfeiture should it be stripped away – even in an ignominious fashion – as one cannot lose what they never had.
Parenthetically, a similar defense mechanism that often develops after rejection is to habitually end relationships on one’s own, at even the slightest hint of disturbance. The idea being, if the relationship is to come to a close, it will feel far less damaging to be the one who does the taking away than it will to be the one who is taken away from. By cutting and running when there is but a tenuous tinge of tension, one has ensured that the termination process remains in their hands, keeping them safe, sound, and well defended against any further rejection.
The sad irony is, though, that even using such a strategy, the pang of rejection may yet prove ineluctable. Meaning, a laser-focus on the probability of being rebuffed, culminating in an unshakable belief that one was inevitably going to be rejected, may be just as acutely painful as actually being rejected, despite one’s success in not technically being labeled as the one who was cast away.
The danger of both of these common, internal reactions – and what makes them so very unhealthy – is that they prevent us from ever entering meaningful relationships. If one is either permanently shut-down, or perpetually on the run, it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to build growing, trusting, and healthy relationships, and equally challenging for others to feel close to such a person, and secure in opening up to them.
On the other hand, as the inquiry alludes, to deny that there is ever any danger in opening up to another person, putting the emotional pedal to the metal as soon as the view looks somewhat promising, is to eternally leave oneself in a state of out-and-out unguardedness, and is almost assuredly asking for more pain. Be it a family member, a friend, or a potential spouse, if there is any real relationship that has been developed, there exists the potential for pain should it deteriorate, and we must be aware of this reality as we traverse lives replete with human connection and interaction.
Consequently, cautious optimism must be employed when it comes to the building of relationships. Of course, the level of caution varies on the relationship and its intrinsic security, and the longer the history and the more that has been invested into the relationship by both parties, the less the likelihood of it falling apart to deleterious effect.
For example, and though there are undoubtedly exceptions, immediate familial relationships carry less risk of depreciation than do friendships, and can handle greater amounts of strain before there would be an irreparable parting of ways, and established friendships carry less risk than does a relationship that has emerged after 5, or 10, or 20 hours spent dating someone.
Accordingly, what I believe, then, to be the appropriate outlook moving forward, is to stick with the middah hamimutzah. There is a lot of room in between an emotional mortuary and soaring to cloud nine. If a prospect is looking good, it is fine to allow for some enthusiasm to build – and it is that excitement and eagerness which nurtures the relationship so that it may blossom in a healthy and natural manner – but it must also be tempered by an awareness that those feelings may not be reciprocated, and even if they are, given the relatively minimal time and energy invested thus far, it may not take an earthshattering disruption for either person to walk away.
As far as how fast or slow to go, or at exactly which point and after which date should one allow themselves to reach “X” level of excitement, that all depends on the people involved and the specifics of the situation. The objective is to refrain from being lugubrious and wholly closed off; allow for connection to build in a manner which is comfortable; regularly and wisely gauge the potential of the shidduch; stay aware of the possibility for a turn in the tides without being paranoid, and based on that, allow for commensurate anticipation and openness.
Now, that is not to say that these benchmarks are always straightforwardly identifiable and readily measureable. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t, and some people are just more adroit at making these assessments than others.
As such, if one is unsure how the other person is feeling, and this apprehension is preventing them from taking the next emotional step, it is time to check in. If it is further on in the process, and the requisite comfort level is there, it can be discussed on date. It requires a sincere conversation detailing why one is stalling, what it is they fear, and what they need to know in order to get back on the road to growth. If, however, the daters are not ready to have that discussion directly, it should be done via the shadchan or another trusted emissary.
Either way, the goal is to gain clarity and ascertain precisely where the person on the other side is presently holding and how they are feeling about the shidduch, so as to remove any ambiguity. The more luminous the picture for each person, the less anxiety there will be about rejection, and the less the anxiety, the greater the capacity for emotional advancement.
Now, is any of this a guarantee that one will evade any angst? No. Is it possible to be both vigilant and impassioned, and still be blindsided by feelings of rejection, or to responsibly check in, explain the need for lucidity, be assuaged by the person one is dating and told that all is well, only to be unceremoniously dumped the next morning? Yes.
What I believe it is, however, is a framework for healthy emotional development and progression during the course of shidduchim. There are few assurances in life, and one can do all the right things, and still land on their head. That’s ok. Time can be taken to recover and regroup, and when we are ready, we try again, with emunah and bitachon that HaKadosh Boruch Hu is always watching and safeguarding us. Such is the trial and error nature of life.
Acharon acharon chaviv, I appreciate your sharing such kind words about this column, and I hope that this reply is as gainful to you as those you have read previously.
May the Racheim al Amo see that all those in shidduchim are spared from agmas nefesh, and buoyed with poise and confidence.