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Dating Maze #238 -  Stuck on Him
Dating Advice 238

Dating Maze #238 - Stuck on Him

Months after break-up, this guy is still at the forefront of her emotional thoughts.

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I'm in my early 20s and have been dating for a couple of years. Although I've gone out with many guys, I never seemed to develop a connection with any of them. Six months ago, however, I met someone and felt a connection right away. He was part of a group of my brother's friends who came over for dinner. After dinner, we sat down and talked for a while, and I couldn't believe how comfortable I felt with him. But, the night was running short and he had to leave with the rest of the gang. Over the next several days, I couldn't get him out of my head!

I finally got up the courage to ask my brother to set us up. He resisted at first, but I asked a few more times until he agreed. When Evan and I finally went out, I found out he felt the same way about me when we met, and that he had been driving my brother up the wall to set him up with me.

Evan and I dated for a while, and both of us really felt we were connecting. I knew that Evan had difficulties in his background. During his teens he rebelled. For a while, he had a lifestyle that was pretty far removed from the mainstream, but he eventually came back. I actually admired this about him, because it takes a great deal of inner strength to do this. I respected him for it, and trusted his sincerity. Although I saw that Evan had some weak points, I also saw that he had qualities other people didn't see, and I felt a strong connection to him because of this.

However, my parents were both unhappy about our going out. They didn't think that Evan was a good person and told me some things about Evan that I hadn't known, which both upset and confused me. Evan and I decided that we had to resolve what was happening, so together we visited someone who seems to give people good advice about dating. She said that we needed time apart and suggested that we stop dating for six months. Someone else got involved and suggested a three-month break, but Evan and I somehow got them down to two weeks. We weren't able to last more than a week, but that just made things worse!

I was so emotionally drained that I fell into a depression I worked hard to get out of it.

I heard about new things that Evan had done recently, and this upset me so much that I became physically ill. I spent hours crying until I didn't have any more tears. And then I decided to put a stop to it all. I went to talk to Evan, and at the end of our conversation he told me, "You decide what to do, because I do not want to hurt you." I didn't know what to think. Did he want to leave me? Without really giving a second thought I said, "I think it's best that you go your way, and I'll go mine." And so we broke up. For weeks afterward, I was so emotionally drained that I fell into a depression I worked hard to get out of it.

Today I am still dating, but he is still in back of my head. I work, pray, try to keep busy. I've tried in so many ways to get him out of my system -- but he is still there! Because of that, nothing comes of my dates. As much as I admit to everyone that I'm fine and I don't care about him anymore, it's not true, because I do.

Are my feelings normal? Should we get together again? What do I do about my inner feelings for him? How can I get married to someone else if he's in the back of my head?!

I know that this experience is a growing process. But why did I have to meet him in the first place if he is really not for me? Please help me understand all this.


Dear Gali,

Your letter describes a common aftermath of an emotionally intense courtship. You became instantly attracted to someone, saw a strong emotional connection develop, but then ran into problems because of a number of issues. Once you broke up, you couldn't stop thinking about whether it might be possible for the two of you to get back together, and as a result, Evan is present at every date you go on.

To help you, we'd like to examine both aspects of your dilemma -- the fact that you fell for someone who wasn't right for you, and the trouble you have letting go.

Sometimes, when a person has gone out with a number of dating partners without connecting to any of them, she's primed to "fall in" to an emotionally intense relationship that isn't right for her. She longs to feel a connection to someone, and when that happens instantly, she jumps into it blindly. "It's taken so long," she thinks. "I never related so well to a guy before." And so, she doesn't give much thought to whether the two of them want the same things out of life, are comfortable with each other's lifestyles, or have similar values. These are criteria she might have looked for all along, but since she feels so connected to this new man, she hopes that these qualities will emerge as they date. Sometimes they do, but often they don't.

If you had looked into Evan's suitability before deciding to date him, you might have realized that even though you had a great conversation with him and were attracted to him, he wasn't right for you.

You made a decision to date Evan based primarily on the attraction you felt when you first met. However, attraction isn't enough to sustain a relationship over the long term, and many times couples who start out with strong feelings for each other find that things don't work out between them. Perhaps one or both of them lack maturity or emotional stability, or they learn information about each other they can't come to terms with, or they have trouble reconciling the differences in their values, goals, or expectations for the future. Perhaps they aren't comfortable with each other's lifestyle choices, or they encounter obstacles to forging an enduring emotional bond that involves trust, openness, and deep friendship.

From the start, Evan didn't have all the criteria you were looking for.

You've given us some hints that, from the start, Evan didn't have all the criteria you were looking for. One is that your brother wasn't eager to set both of you up, even though you each asked him to do so several times. Many brothers are happy to set them up their sister with someone whom they think is appropriate. Did your brother say to you, "Listen, he's got problems, and I don't think it's a good idea for you to date him?" By taking his time in arranging for the two of you to go out, he could very well have been telling you this indirectly.

There's nothing inherently wrong about dating someone who, like Evan, has decided to turn his life around and make a major change in his lifestyle and view of life. Such a change requires forethought, self-awareness, determination, and inner strength. A person who enhances these inner qualities as he goes through a personal metamorphosis often goes on to succeed in life and have a good marriage. However, some people who seem to have turned their lives around need more time to stabilize, or still may have residual issues they have to resolve before they are ready for a relationship that will lead to marriage. Your parents may have objected to your dating Evan because of the fact that he was still battling certain "demons," or for other reasons.

When your parents raised their concerns and you learned that Evan was engaging in behavior that you had trouble accepting, it was natural for you to feel confused. By then, you cared for him, and may have hoped for an acceptable explanation for what was happening, or that the two of you could work things out. But it appears that you weren't able to resolve them, and that's why you decided to break up with him. It was a hard decision, because you felt so connected to him. The depression and mixed feelings you experienced were a normal reaction to this kind of break-up. It takes time to get over something that seemed to have so much promise.

Fast forward to the present: You've mourned the break-up, feel a lot better about yourself, and are dating again -- but can't seem to get rid of the thought that maybe you made a mistake... maybe you really are right for each other... maybe he'll change... maybe you can get back together. Addressing these thoughts is one of the final steps in recovery from the break-up.

We think that you'll find it helpful to compare the qualities you and Evan had, with the qualities that indicate a healthy relationship that can endure. Did the two of you have compatible values and goals, and were you moving in the same direction in life? The things Evan did that upset you may be an indication that the two of you couldn't reconcile some core values. Were your lifestyles and expectations for the future in sync? It seems to us that becoming physically ill when you heard about Evan's recent activities is an indication that your lifestyles were not compatible. Were you both emotionally stable enough to maintain an enduring, caring marriage? Perhaps Evan's recent conduct was an indication that he lacked stability.

Were you able to respect his recent lifestyle choices?

In addition to these qualities, two people who are considering marriage should respect each other. Were you able to respect Evan in light of his recent lifestyle choices? They should also be able to accept each other's flaws. Clearly, you couldn't accept certain things about Evan. Yes, the two of you had many positive aspects about your courtship. You were attracted to each other, cared for each other, admired certain qualities about each other, and had a deep connection called emotional intimacy. However, an enduring relationship needs all of these qualities, not just some of them.

We suggest that you write down your thoughts about what we've said, wait a day or two, and then look and what you wrote. This exercise may help you see your situation more clearly. If you conclude that in spite of all you and Evan had, you lacked many important features of an enduring relationship, you'll be able to move to the last step of letting go.

That last step is admitting that you were not right for each other, and that this fact will not change if you were to get back together again. This is the hardest part of letting go, because it's very easy to imagine "if only" -- "If only he changed... If only I hadn't been so quick to say something... If only I could just let that aspect of his life stop bothering me." It's hard to accept the fact that when a major bump develops in the road of a courtship, it either gets resolved very quickly (either by the couple working it out or one of the partners being able to make peace with it), or it never gets resolved.

There are ways to help yourself admit that this relationship wasn't meant to be and shouldn't be resurrected. Stop yourself from dreaming of him, thinking of possible ways he could change, figuring out ways to bump into him, talking about him with your friends. In place of those ideas, substitute another, more beneficial thought. In addition, find some enjoyable activities that can help you take your mind off Evan. Go away for a few days with friends, take a class you think you'll enjoy, pursue a new craft or other hobby, take some day trips, visit relatives in another part of the country, pamper yourself with a spa day, or join a swim club or exercise class. These activities may have been premature when you were feeling so depressed right after the break-up, but now that you've made a lot of progress toward recovery they can give you a much-needed boost.

We can't answer your question of why you had to go through this painful experience. Perhaps it was to let you know that you will be able to form an intimate connection with someone. Many people who recover from a break-up with someone who was "almost the one" tell us that coming so close gave them the encouragement to know that the right person is out there. Once you stop hurting from the break up and are ready to accept its finality, you may be able to see this. Just give yourself more time -- you've made good progress until now, but it will take a bit longer. You can always see a therapist if you continue to have trouble getting over that last hump.

We wish you success in navigating the dating maze,

Rosie & Sherry

August 25, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 13

(13) Been there done that, June 12, 2012 1:08 AM

What Helped Me

Hi, I have had a couple of relationships that ended and left me emotionally drained and depressed. I couldnt get the guy out of my head. In fact, at this moment, I am still trying to get over a breakup from 6 months ago! However, I will say that what is helping me is to list the qualities that i want in a man and sort of meditate on it for a bit. I try to imagine this man and then compare him to my exes. My exes are clearly NOT right for me at all when I think about it. Also, I try to think about people that I know who have a great relationship and try to hold out for a guy that will enjoy a great relationship together with me. It never happens right away but i find that this way of visualization really helps. It seems that visualization helps with a lot of goals. Anyway, It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders and you definitely can find a guy who will want to share himself with you the way that suits you. Also, when i was working in retail, customers always told me "never get married too early" or "never settle." I think thats great advice. NEVER SETTLE!!

(12) Anonymous, November 30, 2011 9:19 AM

learn from other's mistakes

I have a close friend who fell totally in love with a guy who had "issues" in his past and present and wasn't really suited to her clean living lifestyle. But she was going to marry him come what may and MAKE IT WORK. Well she married him, got pregnant fairly quickly and was happy for a short while. By the time the baby was born, they were no longer living together, then went through an awful messy divorce, then she had a nervous breakdown, moved back in with her parents and the baby (3 years old already) is now cared for by her ex-husband's mother. A total mess. She didn't listen to advice and even she knew in herself that they were never really suited to each other, but she refused to admit it because she so desperately craved his love and wanted to give love back. Now she SOOO regrets ever marrying him and wonders what on earth made her so adamant to do so. All I can say is, if you are not on the same page, no matter how much you love a person, it is most likely to end in heartbreak sooner or later. The relationship is not sustainable in the long term and you just end up wasting years of your life, which is afterwards scarred permantly. As for those that said "too many cooks..." a young person is correct to take advice when she feels out of her depth with a complicated issue. We can all learn from those who are more worldly wise than ourselves.

(11) Sarah, October 10, 2007 5:43 PM


TOO MANY COOKS IN THE KITCHEN. What is this? I say go with your gut. And if it doesn't work out because it's not right and you get hurt, guess what, that's part of life. Stop listening to all of these people. I mean, unless he's a murderer or abusive in any way, who cares what anybody else says? You only live once. Go for it! I see all of these frum Jewish singles strung up on getting married, then getting divorced or feeling miserable or unfulfilled and then analyzing why, why, why. So many frowning faces! Just follow your instincts and actually live your life. Want to make G-d laugh? Tell G-d your plans. Listen, I met a man, fell in love with him and when he told me to move to his country, I just did it! And it didn't work out - he passed away (he had alot of problems I was not aware of, and took his own life). And I don't regret what I did for one second. Thank G-d I have supportive parents who let me go, told me to follow my heart. Had I not gone to him, I would have regrets for the rest of my life. I know, I see so many people thinking "what if". I am now happily married to a wonderful man that is right for me - how did I know? I just knew - there wasn't anyone involved but him and I. Life hurts, life is beautiful, but you have to experience it. It'll all be worth it.

(10) Anonymous, August 31, 2007 2:47 PM

I will always have regrets that I married the wrong

guy, and because I chose the wrong one, that is why I am divorced today, and nursing a broken heart from trying four years ago to get back the "LOVE THAT GOT AWAY FROM ME"! I will always love the man who I threw away studidly in college, and lifestyle issues kept us from ebing able to marry 20 years later. Those issues did not exist 20 years ago, and when I had a chance for happiness I threw it away for a man who had outside handsomeness, but character wise he was inferior to the man who I threw away because I did not think he was good looking enough.20 years looks did not count- I feel in love with the man's character, and if it would not have been for step parenting issues that his kids could not handle if we married- we would be married today. Nothing went wrong between us, it was step parent issue that his kids could not cope with. And today he is married to another- and I am left with nothing but a broken heart, regrets of the past- and still in love with a man I can't have- and no room in my heart to love another. I wish this feeling on no one, and when I commented not to date anyone and think that another can't replace the lost love, I meant a heart must be healed completely to love another person, one can't be in love with a person they can't have, and expect another person to replace them. it takes time to get over a real love, and rebound relationships are selfish, hurtful, and no one wins in them! That is what I meant by taking a breather from dating to give one a chance to heal from heartche, to see if one can love again. I am not saying to never to love again, but to do it responsibilly, and caring of both your feelings and others. I hope both this woman who wrote this letter, myself, and others who are in the same boat, can heal enough to accept love if Hashem sends them our way. But we must be able to have a clear heart to do so to make it work, relationhips are tough enough without this added baggage, one must make decisions for oneself, and not let others tell them what to do.

(9) Anonymous, August 30, 2007 8:10 AM

Stuck on Him

this made painful reading for me. because I had a similar chapter in my liefe 45 years ago, when I was 19. Only this man was totally suitable in every way, from a good family background, good professional prospects attending a top university, all one could wish for. Our families came together in the early 60's and it was a very near thing.
Alas! I sabotaged it. My dad had died suddenly the year before and I was grieving. I should have had therapy, but this did not happen until 30 years later when I became a therapist myself.
I married someone else in my 40's, still obsessed with this man. I met him recently, he never married. we are still in love.
My husband is a god man, but I know I married the wrong man.

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