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Dating Maze #257 - Continental Divide
Dating Advice 257

Dating Maze #257 - Continental Divide

Is his goal of moving to Israel a deal-breaker?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I've been following your columns for a while now, and really appreciate the sensitive and smart advice you give others. And now I need your help with my own situation.

I'm good friends with a fantastic young man who has recently expressed his interest in me romantically. I know him well enough to know that he is kind, brilliant, funny, is Jewishly compatible with me, has values and goals similar to my own, and is just generally someone I greatly enjoy and respect. What's more, I'm very attracted to him.

So what's the problem? When he finishes dental school next year, he is certain that he wants to make aliyah. I am certain that I don't -- my career goals, family, friends, etc. are all in the U.S.

He's a wonderful guy and when I imagine building a marriage and family together, think about he could be really good for me, and I could be really good for him. So do you think I should get started and see how things develop?


Dear Tamara,

This sounds wonderful! You like each other, have similar values and goals, get along with each other, you're attracted to him, you respect him, and you list many of his admirable qualities. Someone this compatible doesn't come along that often! If only you could finesse that one big issue of his wanting to move to Israel…

Frankly, we think that incompatible life goal is going to get in the way. And it will become the source of significant heartbreak, especially if you are dating with the goal of marriage.

This has become the proverbial elephant in the room.

That's because if your dating moves forward in a positive way, the feelings that the two of you have for each other are likely to intensify over time. You'll push off any real discussion about this one basic goal that divides you, each secretly hoping that the other will change his or her mind, or that somehow you will work out a way of compromising. If both of you are firm about your position on this goal, however, when you finally have to confront the "elephant in the room," a compromise will not be possible. Inevitably, you'll have to break up, and because your hopes for the future and your emotional connection to each other will have grown, the break-up will be especially painful. Each of you may even come to resent the other for not giving in so that the marriage can take place.

(Even if you were to date without the goal of marriage, we'd still discourage you. That's because many college students who begin dating -- even though they don't envision themselves getting married in the foreseeable future -- will become more marriage-oriented as they mature, and as they see the pieces of their relationship falling into place. So you would still face the same problems we've just described.)

Based on all of this, our recommendation to you is not to start dating this wonderful young man. This advice is not something we would offer across the board. For example, if you had told us that moving to Israel is something you could see yourself doing after graduate school, or that you'd be willing to relocate after you had 5 or 7 years to gain experience in your field, pay off student loans, or save for a down-payment on a home, we'd suggest talking with this guy about his willingness to compromise the time-frame for his goal of aliyah.

If you sincerely believe there's room for flexibility, then go ahead.

Since you're already friends, the best time for a discussion such as this would be before you decide to start dating, or at the very latest during one of your earliest dates. If both of you sincerely believed there was room for flexibility, then we'd encourage you to date each other.

We'd also give different advice if you had been dating a number of years and had finally found a man who might be right for you. In that instance, we'd ask you to look at your goals and see if you wanted to reassess your priorities. At age 21, marriage, career, continued friendships, and family relationships all seem so promising -- it's hard to ask a college student to choose one over the other.

However, someone who's achieved some of her life goals, and has re-evaluated other goals based on life circumstances, may be more willing to change some of those goals in order to achieve the priority goal of marriage.

We know many women and men who have decided to move to Israel, or relocate from Israel, so that they can marry someone who is right for them. They have decided that at this point in their lives, for the sake of marriage, they are willing to rebuild their careers, have a long-distance relationship with their parents and siblings, maintain long-term friendships over the telephone and in cyberspace, or adjust their financial expectations.

We wish you success in navigating the dating maze,

Rosie & Sherry

May 24, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 13

(13) anonymous, July 9, 2008 6:38 PM

a week before this article came out i summited a summary of what was going on in my life, and the summary above fits my description with a few details changed.. my heart is still set on this boy even though we officially broke our long distance relationship, since he is now still in israel for a few more monthes. i really do love israel so much and i would love to live there but i dont want to leave my family . i come from a very tightknit community and it would be very hard to leave the whole community behind as well. now my question is since there wasnt anything wrong with our relationship besides for the main dilemma of where to live, i am having a very hard time getting over the situation. im trying to date others but they certaintly do not compare to him or how i felt with him. does anyone have advice as to how i could get over him more easily? it really still hurts me when i think that we can never be together. any suggestions, thanks!

(12) Stephanie, July 3, 2008 8:10 AM

I agree

its hard but waiting is worth the while.

(11) Jerry Lindell, June 12, 2008 12:59 AM

Aliyah is like joining Golds Gym

Every January Health Club membership swells. By July most newbies are gone.

I lived in Israel 4.5 years. Most Olim (newbies)are gone within 18 months.

We have images about Health clubs and Israel. Reality of both doesn't meet expectations.

So this Lady should be at his side when he moves to Israel and then back
to the USA.

(10) Rose, May 28, 2008 5:56 PM

How come you state that your goals are the same?

Your goals are obviously not the same if he wants to live in Israel and you don''t. What goals were you two discussing anyways? The primary goals that a couple should discuss before getting married usually are ''how should we raise our kids?'',''Where do we hold ourselves religiously?'',''How do I/we want to make the world a better place?'' - Each of these questions are so totally based on where you plan on planting yourself and your family that I don''t se e how the two of you have the same goals. I have seen two friends of mine get married and divorced where the other spouse ''promised'' to move to Israel if they married them. Both are divorced. My husband and I however discussed living in Israel on our first date. For me, it was a deal breaker. In fact, I never went on a second date even with guys I really, *really* liked because it wouldn''t have worked out if he wanted to live in the US and I wanted to live in Israel. You will find someone else that will love you and have goals more similar to yourself. It is probably best if you two do not marry, at least that''s my advice.

(9) Dvirah, May 28, 2008 9:19 AM

Rosie and Sherry are correct

I had a boyfriend who I''d met in Israel and who then returned to the States. He actually flew back to Israel to propose to me, promising to live here if I''d agree. However, after only a few days it was clear he would not be comfortable living in Israel and since I feel uncomforatble in the US, obviously the marriage wouldn''t work. So we parted friends and I sincerely hope he now has a good life in the US (we''ve lost touch). If we had gone through with the wedding we would probably have ended up hating each other.

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