I’ve gone out with a boy a few times. He’s nice and we have interesting conversations, but I feel so stressed when I think about going further, because I’m just not sure if he is someone I want to marry. There is nothing wrong with him, per se, and I don’t even know why I feel this way. Do I keep saying yes just because there is no concrete reason to say no? If so, at what point is not having a reason to say no not a good enough of a reason to say yes?
No Reason to Say No – But Still Not Sure
On the one hand, it is not uncommon for a protracted period of pareve proceedings to be an indicator that the shidduch is not meant to be. It is quite normal to have two wonderful people go out together, take no significant issue with one another, and, nevertheless, have no meaningful compatibility. And when everyone is having a pleasant time, but there is no depth to the relationship, there will usually be an inherent inability to nurture the rapport necessary to yearn for further advancement of the union, concurrent with ambiguity about concluding the shidduch.
Understandably, we expect and desire a clear signal informing us that things must come to a close. It could be unmistakable internal detachment, disparate hashkafos or life goals, absence of physical attraction, or even a disastrous date. We just want something to show us the way out, because no one likes ending a shidduch without being able to articulate a finite reason as to why they are choosing to do so. But, the harsh reality is, there is not always an overt sign in sight. Sometimes, that nebulous impression that the person sitting across the table is not Mr. or Mrs. Right is, in fact, the sign we are so desperately seeking.
Accordingly, the dilemma then becomes, at what stage can that determination be made. Unfortunately, that is an exceedingly hard target to pin down. What I can say with complete confidence, though, is that it is not a matter of having gone out exactly “X” amount of times without sensing “X” degree of emotional attachment. Rather, I believe it is a matter of a person making an honest assessment that they have put their absolute best foot forward in attempting to make the pairing work, and are still just not feeling it. At that juncture, whether it has been two dates or seven, there is a great deal to be said for trusting one’s instincts and appreciating that stagnancy as being emblematic of a shidduch that is in need of wrapping up. It is certainly not a fun place to be, but lymphatically slogging away through another handful of dates, only to end up right back where one had started, is a decidedly less fun place to be for all involved.
On the other hand, it is also not unusual for a shortage of robust dating skills to be the real culprit. And when that is the case, it becomes mission critical to engage the assistance of an expert dating coach to lend succor in bolstering those essential abilities. For if one simply does not possess the capacity to create and cultivate connection, this exasperating position of having no reason to say no, and at the same time, no reason to say yes either, is likely to become a frustrating and repeated pattern. Acknowledging the need for help is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is perhaps the most courageous path a human being can embark upon.
And of course, there are myriad other possibilities lying in the middle ground. For example, while one may have never struggled with making forward strides in their past dating experiences, this discomforting peripetia could very well be the result of facing an unusual or never-before-encountered obstacle which is precluding an impactful and bi-directional alliance from flourishing and growing. In which case, the shadchan may be well-positioned to help the couple navigate their journey through the vanilla and into a more rich and hearty bond. Or, it may be that a more experienced shadchan must be brought in to take over (an oft effective, and not at all atypical, solution to dating woes that do not add up to termination, but which are also not fading away in the current climate). Alternatively, it might be wise to sit down with an experienced rov or employ a talented dating coach for the short term. It is not ultimately about who is providing supplemental support, only that such aid is being delivered as called for.
All that said, lacking the particulars of the goings-on during one’s dates, and absent a comprehensive detailing of one’s dating history, I would find it all but impossible to comment on which of the above scenarios is most plausibly germane to the narrative presented, and correspondingly, what route should be followed. As such, to any who are faced with this rather frequent impasse, it is of the utmost importance to be honest with oneself both with respect to what one is feeling and what their gut is telling them, along with whether or not there is a larger and more global barrier in place which will require the attention of some vital outside perspective, and subsequent skill building, in order to garner the results one is so dearly hoping to attain.
May the Yotzer Hame’oros illuminate for us all the derech hayoshor v’nachon whenever we encounter uncertainty at the critical moments in life.