Dear Emuna,

I have been dating a nice guy, "David," for about a month and a half. We've gone out once a week, and he's always been a gentleman. Last night, we spent time together and he brought up the "where are we and where are we going" talk. This is fine since I'd wanted to bring that up too.

He told me that he was in a relationship that ended in the summer, and that he's still kind of feeling his way. He said that he really enjoys spending time with me, but that at the moment he doesn't feel like he can be committed or make our relationship exclusive. I was surprised, though glad that he told me straight out. We sort of left it that we can continue to spend time together, but....

Emuna, I really like this man. We seem to be on the same wavelength on many things, big and small, and we have the same values. I'm just not sure where to go from here. I'm about to turn 31, and a part of me panics thinking that I can't waste time with someone who might not want something real. I am looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with, not a casual anything.

Serious About Commitment

Dear Serious,

Even though you say that you seem to be on the same wavelength and have the same values, my sense is that is not quite true – in one crucially important area. He doesn’t want to make your relationship exclusive and you do. He’s not prepared to make a serious commitment and you are.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking he doesn’t really mean it. He does.

If I were Dr. Laura, I’d say “Cut your losses and get out – quick.” Since I’m not, I’ll probably try to say the same thing; just slightly more diplomatically. He is being honest with you and telling you “straight out” that he doesn’t want what you want right now. As all the pop relationship books (Like “He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys”) say, “When a guy tells you something, believe him.” Don’t fool yourself into thinking he doesn’t really mean it. He does. Or that he’ll change. He won’t.

So if you can be happy with a non-exclusive relationship, waiting to see where it will lead while he dates other women, stick it out. But if you’re like most of us and you can’t, then I think Dr. Laura’s advice (as I imagine it to be) is correct.

Related Article: Ten Ways to Marry the Wrong Person


Dear Emuna,

I am very confused and in pain. I met the man I believe is my 'bashert' and we have been getting to know each other over the past two months. He is working overseas right now and the natural process of bonding, engagement, and marriage has been severely interrupted.

We both feel very strongly for each other and have matching goals, ideals and interests. We have also both been married before.

The problem is, I feel very insecure. My moods swing wildly from elation to sheer terror. Part of me wants to run away from him, shut the door and feel safe again, and the other part thanks God that I have found someone so special.

How can I regain my balance and sanity without closing off the chances of this relationship leading to a great marriage? I feel extremely uncomfortable a lot of the time, and I don't know whether that will change when he comes back, or whether this is plainly just a wrong match. It is very stressful relating to someone electronically.

Please help.

Yours sincerely,

Troubled

Dear Troubled,

Let’s try to separate your anxiety and insecurity from the reality of the situation. In order to accomplish that, you have to do me a favor and take the word ‘bashert’ out of the equation. You don’t know if he’s your bashert, (soul mate) he doesn’t know if he’s your bashert, and I certainly don’t know if he’s your bashert. Bashert is the Almighty’s domain. Your job is to figure out if has what it takes to make a good marriage – with you.

You say that you have shared goals, ideals and interests. That’s a really important place to start. Many couples make the mistake of not exploring that question.

Since that fundamental piece is in place, we just need to know about the two c’s – character and chemistry. I’m going to assume that chemistry (enjoying each other’s personality, feeling physically attracted) is not a problem.

You haven’t mentioned his personal qualities. Is he loyal? Kind? Trustworthy? Reliable? Does he have most (no one has all) of the traits you are looking for, particularly the more significant ones?

If he does, then I still can’t take away your anxiety. But I can tell you that it’s completely normal and not reflective of problems in the relationship.

Have a glass of wine (!), spend time with your girlfriends and ask the Almighty to help you achieve peace of mind (we could all use that, whatever our situation!), and try to keep strong until he returns. And start using Skype if you haven't already!


Dear Emuna,

I have two children who are very close emotionally; a 15-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy. There seems to be too much fighting between the two of them where my daughter will resort to name calling and my son will then attack physically. How do I impress on my daughter that name calling is abusive and forbidden?

Torn Between Two Children

Dear Torn,

First, stop and be grateful that your children are close. That is a blessing not given to every family and every set of siblings. Next, recognize that fighting is normal. It happens in every family (even the "best" ones). However, I am a little puzzled by your question. Do you only want to change your daughter’s behavior? What about your son’s physical attacks? Are you happy with those?

I’m concerned that you are establishing or perpetuating a dynamic where only the older child is responsible (“she should know better”) and the younger gets off scot-free.

This is NOT a healthy situation. For anyone.

So let’s start with your son. He needs to be taught that, however frustrated or hurt he may feel, physical attacks are not the appropriate or only response. He needs to learn self-control (seven is certainly not too young!) and healthier means of responding, including the option of just walking away. Not every situation has to turn into a fight; not every fight is worth participating in. His sister will not be the only person in his life to ever speak rudely to him and he needs appropriate coping tools. You are doing him a disservice if you don’t provide them and only indulge his complaints.

Try to give her lots of positive attention and love, and hopefully she will be less compelled to act out.

Now, your daughter. Yes, she is older, but younger children can be annoying and provocative. Maybe you don’t notice how your son starts up. This is something to watch out for; I see it all the time. But even if he doesn’t, you have to remember you’re dealing with an adolescent girl, someone who is likely to fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. Find a quiet time to discuss the issue. Make your feelings and position clear but don’t threaten punishment or engage in a power struggle. You will not be happy with the resulting atmosphere.

Try to give her lots of positive attention and love, and hopefully she will be less compelled to act out. She needs to know that her name calling is unacceptable but you don’t want your whole relationship with her to revolve around that issue.

Adolescence can be rough. Go out for a drink with writer #2 and also ask for Divine assistance to help you make it through!