click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Dating Advice #247 - Magnetic Force
Dating Advice 247

Dating Advice #247 - Magnetic Force

She's so crazy about him -- but unsure whether it's genuine or just infatuation.


Dear Rosie and Sherry,

I dated someone for about a month, but broke up with him because I was overwhelmed with the way I felt about him. I wouldn't call it "infatuation" -- it was actually more than that. I felt an inner drive, as if we were connecting to each other by force like two magnets.

Is that healthy? I'm afraid that maybe it's too much.

I stopped dating him six months ago, because I wanted to see if I was just infatuated with him and if my feelings would go away. They haven't. I don't obsess about him, but I still often think about him.

I was able to open up with him, and have conversations with him that I haven't had with any one else. In terms of marriage, he's the only guy out of so many that I felt I could spend my entire life with.

I'm afraid that my attraction to him will not be based on qualities that can sustain a relationship and a marriage for the long term. I'm concerned that perhaps my individuality will get lost when I am with him.

What do you think? Should I go back to dating this guy again?


Dear Dana,

It's okay to be overwhelmed by intense feelings for someone else. It is certainly unsettling to sense what you've described in your letter -- that you feel a sense of emotional connectivity, perhaps of "destiny," as well as a pull of attraction that are so strong that you wonder if you're driven toward this man for reasons that won't support an enduring relationship. You wonder if the intense feelings are purely "chemical" and will dissipate as time goes on.

We wish that everyone who gets caught up in the rush of an intense start-up would pay attention to the same concerns you have raised. Most of time they don't, and simply allow themselves to be governed by their emotions. The problem is that enduring relationships and marriages cannot be built on these feelings alone. There has to be a lot more underneath.

A couple needs to share similar core values, have compatible goals for their futures and expectations about the routes to get there. Each has to believe that the other person has the character and temperament to make a good spouse and parent. And during the courtship, they should develop the following qualities that they can build upon in the future:

  • Physical attraction
  • Admiration of qualities about each other
  • Acceptance of each other's background, situation in life, and flaws
  • Affection for each other
  • Emotional intimacy (feeling that you are close friends who can communicate well, want to share your experiences and thoughts, are able to trust each other; and are motivated to do nice things for each other)
  • and mutual Respect.

We use the acronym P.A.I.R. to remember these qualities.

People can get so caught up in infatuation that they get to know each other only superficially.

A courtship that beings with intense feelings can burn out over time for two reasons. The first is that the intense feelings always burn out over time. That's what happens to reactions that are purely chemical. The second is that the couple didn't have the prerequisites and never developed the qualities that are needed for a relationship to endure -- either because they weren't right for each other in the first place (he wants a comfortable middle-class lifestyle in the U.S., she wants to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders and work in the danger zones of Africa; or he doesn't have the integrity or seriousness that she feels is a vital personality trait for her future husband), or because they were so caught up in their infatuation for each other that they only got to know each other on a superficial level. That can happen when two people get a sense that they are each other's soul mate; they "understand" each other so well that they don't realize the need to develop depth to the way they relate to each other.

The fact is that most couples who are strongly attracted to each other in the beginning don't stay together for the long term for precisely these reasons. And most couples who end up in enduring, stable, fulfilling marriages gradually acquire feelings and attraction for each other while they are dating, and come to realize they have also developed the qualities that are essential for a healthy marriage.

On the other hand, you can't ignore the strong initial attraction you have for someone else just because you're afraid that the intense feelings are too strong, or can't be trusted. Some couples who begin their courtship with an intense attraction for each other are blessed with the ability to develop all of the qualities that form the foundations for a stable, fulfilling, enduring life together.

How can I tell if the infatuation trap is going to happen to me?

The question you're probably asking right now is, "How can I tell if that's going to happen to me?" The answer is that the two of you should date each other long enough to get to know each other on different levels and to see if you develop the qualities we discussed. One of the most important ways to do this is by talking. The fact that you feel comfortable communicating with this man is very helpful in this regard. We suggest that you talk to each other about many of the topics we've mentioned in Dating Maze #164.

Another way of getting to know this man involves using your sense of observation. Watch how he treats people who are in service professions such as waiters, doormen, taxi drivers and parking attendants. Listen to how he describes other people in his life and what qualities he admires or dislikes about them. Spend time with each other in different situations, such as interactive dates, a couple of longer dates that get both of you tired, working with each other at a charity project or by cooking a meal together, and meeting each other's friends and family.

See how his way of relating to you changes over time, and how receptive he is to his own personal growth. Observe how he interacts with the people he's close to -- because if you get married, you'll be in that position yourself. While there are many factors involved, it's a warning sign if someone who can't get along with his brother or his mother.

We don't necessarily think it was a mistake for you to stop seeing him when you did, since you really needed some time to deal with the intense emotions you were feeling. But now, if you feel that you will be able to develop a solid foundation with him, we think it is a good idea to date him again.

If he agrees to start dating you again, we suggest that you find a married person whose judgment you trust who can mentor you during your courtship. It can be very helpful to turn to someone who is detached from the situation to offer guidance, should you want it, or add a different perspective that may be useful when you make decisions about what to do at different junctures of your dating.

We wish you success in navigating the dating maze,

Rosie & Sherry

January 5, 2008

Submit Your Dating Advice Question (Click here)

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 5

(5) Anonymous, January 9, 2008 7:25 AM

It has been my painful experience twice in my life

that Outside Forces- YENTAS/ WHETHER IT IS IN LAWS, AND OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS, can intefer and ruin relationships. It is very difficult to deal with this type of inteference, and unless one is very strong willed to tell these people to but out, the relationship is doomed. I unfortunately married a "MAMA'S BOY", and this caused me to get divorced after 13 yrs. of marriage. To this day this "MAMA'S BOY"/ MY EX HUSBAND ALLWS ALLOWS MOMMY TO TELL HIM THAT IT IS OK TO NEGLECT HIS OWN SON, AND RUINE EVERYBODY'S LIFE!! AND years ago when I was suppose to marry a different guy, he allowed his family to talk him out of marrying me, all because i don't drive and I am a City Girl not a Suburb Person! If people would just close their mouths life would be so much happier! Then we all would be living with our Basherts, and not feel as though something is lacking in our lives.

(4) Anonymous, January 8, 2008 9:54 PM

Mind over matter

The young woman used her head over her heart. I think she has a good chance of finding lasting love as long as she is not afraid to question her feelings and herself."Feelings are not love." Mutual trust and respect combined with friendship are.

(3) MESA, January 8, 2008 10:37 AM

If you find yourself having intense feelings for someone, it doesn't mean that you have to break up. It just means that you need to get things into perspective. I do think that you did the right thing though, because you took the time and space you needed to really think about it. I just say that you should continue to date and really try to get to know him and make sure that you and he have what it takes to keep your relationship strong even after the intense feelings fizzle out. And they will fizzle out, so you need to have something deeper going on.

(2) Anonymous, January 8, 2008 9:54 AM

no third or fourtwheels here please.

years ago when i was in the market of getting married,i dated a guy in his thirties,an intellectual who claimed he was 35 like all the oldies at that time used to claim,,yes,they did lie like the girls and much more...and he,in the 20 century towards the end of the cntury,in the usa had told me point blank unless i was agreeing to live with his mother as a third wheel,there wont be any wedding bells ringing,of course,my answer was negative,at least he was candid,ladies matchmakers,those third or fourth wheels in a marriage are the plague of the old jewish school,and unless you kick the bucket under their seats it is there to stay.

(1) Anonymous, January 6, 2008 2:38 PM

I felt the way this woman felt twice in my life--

The Intense feelings that this woman describes I felt twice in my life. The First Time was when I was 19, when I met my ex husband in college. We dated three years, and married a few months before I received my Bachelors Degree. I thought that this feeling would sustain us though the trials and tribulations of marriage, but my ex husband's mama's boy, and his parents interference destroyed all the love I felt for this man, and we suffered a great deal in our 13 year marriage. I loved my ex but it was not enough for both of us to fight the outside forces that was breaking us up. So after so much counseling we divorced, and it still bothers me that my love for him was not enough. Then four years after my divorce I dated a former boyfriend, who everyone wanted me to marry instead of my ex husband. We dated 10 months he was a widower, and I was divorced. I was his late wife's good childhood friend. And since I dated him before he met his late wife, and had I not broken up with him in college he would not have ever met her in the first place. When we both were not married, we decided to date, but step parent issues, and relocation kept interfering in our relationship, despite the intense love feelings we had for one another, and in abrupt second my ex boyfriend in a flash, when he and his entire family had the flu, broke his promise to marry me, broke up on the phone, on the third day of Chanukah, five days before my birthday, and nine days after he insisted to take me to a very fancy resturant to settle the fact that we definately marry one day. This man broke my heart that to this day is still hurt. Those intense feelings in both these relationships were shared by both myself and the guys, but were not enough to weather the storms thatr came to destroy these relationships. I say love is important but is it strong enough to endure the bumps that come up? Will this person stay when the going gets tough- will you stay too?
Those are the questions that need honest answers. If one wants only marriages for good party times, that is not reality, life has good and bad times, and a good marriage endures both! And both partners have to be willing to stick it out together. One can't be the only giver- and the other be the taker. In my cases both guys gave to the relationship to a point- but when tough times came they bailed out on me, and that is the hurt that I can never forgive!!
I hope my experiences can help this girl to access what is important here.
Much mazel in whatever she decides.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment