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Dating Maze #381: Letting Go of Love
Dating Advice 381

Dating Maze #381: Letting Go of Love

Should I move to Israel to reclaim my love or am I chasing a dead end?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 22-year-old Jewish woman. About a year ago, I met an Israeli man while we were both traveling in South America. I had been in relationships before, but this was unlike anything I ever imagined. We spent days together in fun and deep conversation. I got to know his friends and, even with the slight language barrier, it was like we’d known each other for years.

I thought things might end when their group had to move on to the next city, but he stayed behind with me until he had to catch his flight back to Israel. He said he loved me and promised that one day we’d get married. If anyone else had said that it would have sounded absurd, but with him it felt right.

After staying in touch long distance and talking every day for five months, I visited him in Israel and had one of the best experiences of my life. We were together constantly for almost a month, and I never got tired of him. It only confirmed for me how compatible we were on so many levels, including what we wanted for the future.

I saw how compatible we were on so many levels.

I have never felt so supported by someone, and he was the first person in my life that never disappointed me. For example, he always kept our "dates" on Skype and he gave up a summer internship so I could visit him.

That's why I was shocked when, about a month after I returned from Israel, and seven months since we met, he broke up with me. He said he still loved me, but that not knowing when we would be together again was too depressing for him. It wasn't something we could easily resolve – he was starting college in Israel, and I am finishing school in the U.S.

I didn't take the news well. I became very depressed for months, but I was able to get better partly by becoming involved in the Jewish community at school. I tried to tell myself that he was brought into my life so I would become closer to Israel and Judaism, but I never forgot the feelings I had for him or how happy I was when we were together.

After about seven months, I started developing feelings for another man and thought this was a sign that I was moving on. However, this new relationship only reminds me of what I am missing. I am worried about my romantic future, given the knowledge that I found my soul mate and lost him.

Should I contact him and express my feelings, or will that only make things harder for both of us? His options are limited since he is in school in Israel for three more years. Yet I am graduating soon. If I am going to make a life change for him by moving to Israel, it may as well be now. I am afraid I am being naive, but I don't want to regret losing him forever, either. What do you advise?


Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

Rosie and Sherry's Answer:

Dear Abbey,

It's hard to move on from a break-up with someone you believed was "The One." Even when you think you're moving forward and are ready to start dating again, memories of that former love break through from time to time, and remind you of what you once had. What you are going through is a very common experience and a normal part of the mourning and recovery process.

So was the difficulty you had accepting the decision to end this relationship, the depression you went through, and your conscious effort to move past it by finding a reason why he came into your life and channeling your energies in an enriching and productive direction. In fact, what you chose to do is a good model for others who have gone through a similar experience.

Even though you've done all of this, you're still not over him, and you wonder if this means that it's a good idea to try to resurrect the relationship. You have a lot of good reasons to want to try – you had everything going for you, except for timing and distance. Now that moving to Israel is an option, you wonder what to do.

We think that the situation is much more complicated that it appears. It seems that you and this man were relatively young when you met – you were in college, he may have been on a post-army trip. Young relationships are beautiful and full of promise, but they often don't last because one or both people still have a long way to go before being ready to commit and settle down.

He said it was too hard for him to deal with being apart for so long, but there could have been other reasons he didn't share with you. Seeing each other every day, all day, may have overwhelmed him, and he needed to process his thoughts and feelings afterward. He may have decided that he needed more life experience before knowing if you were really "The One."

He never contacted you, or left the door open to reconnect in the future.

Alternatively, he may not have wanted a long-term relationship. He didn’t leave the door open for reconnecting in the future, even though he knew you were finishing school in a year. And he hasn’t been in touch with you to tell you he misses you or that he might be changing his mind. It seems to us that, for him, the relationship has really ended and he expects you to move on.

That’s why we believe that even if you moved to Israel and eliminated the problem of distance, he still would not want to get back together. In addition, in the intervening months, you've clearly grown in some areas of your life, and he probably has as well. It's possible that even if his other reasons were resolved, you might find that you've outgrown each other or no longer want similar things out of life.

We suggest that, as painful as it is for you right now, you focus on moving on with your life. We hope you continue to connect more to Judaism once you finish school and begin looking for a job or planning for graduate school. Stay connected to your friends, make new ones, and explore ways to develop your creative side. Live a normal life and find ways to make it enriching, interesting, and fun. This will distract you somewhat from the pain of missing this man, and it will also help you gradually view life from a more positive vantage point.

It sounds to us that you're even ready to date, even if you aren't yet completely over this man. We say this because you started to develop feelings for someone else. It was a sign that you are moving on, even though you still have a way to go. It takes a while to get over a deep, loving relationship, especially your first love, and part of what you experienced will stay with you for a long time. But it will gradually fade, and we hope that in time you will resist urges to compare the person you are dating to this other man, and be able to focus on building something new with a person who has promise.

Remember what you told yourself when the wound was really fresh – that he was brought into your life to encourage you to form a deeper connection to Judaism. Try carrying this thinking a bit further by asking yourself how this relationship has helped you grow as a person, what you learned about yourself, and how it may have helped prepare you for when you meet the man you will marry. Perhaps you found out you could connect to someone deeply, you learned what trust and mutual support are about, you found yourself giving in ways you never expected.

We hope that, in time, you won't feel compelled to reconnect with this young man, and that you'll also find the right person to spend your life with. You may in fact decide to move to Israel – if so, base your decision on a well-informed and serious desire to make aliyah for your own sake, not for another person. You could work with Nefesh B'Nefesh to help make a good transition to another land, culture and language.

We wish you success in navigating the dating maze,

Rosie & Sherry

May 18, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 10

(10) Anonymous, August 20, 2013 7:15 AM

Oh come on!

Get over it it and move on is he best advice you can give her? How do you know he has not contacted her or what have you over that time? It is HARD to have a long distance relationship not knowing if the other is ever coming back! ow do you know he did not brea k it off BECAUSE he loved ehr enough to let her go??

I know, it happened for four years for me, and he died! I still feel the heartbreak of that love lost 10 years later. I still wish I had gone back.

You have one life, and if your lucky love will enter it. If you think he might be the One, then Go, go see him, see if it is still there for you both, and make it happen if it is, otherwise you will always ask yourself, what if, like you are doing now.

(9) Marion, May 31, 2013 11:24 AM

One last try... maybe?

A beautiful ex boyfriend of mine asked me to get back together with him years ago. I wish I'd taken him up on his offer, but... alas, I was with another man by that point. However, I will never ever forget his bravery and the sheer beauty of his soul. Another point: A wonderful, intellectual friend of mine said the other day that it is better to make a mistake of action than a mistake of sloth. My suggestion: If the thought of him is torturing you emotionally that much, call him. Express your feelings, and tell him you are willing to move to Israel for him. After all, wasn't distance the reason he gave for the breakup? Also, Remember, there is a Dutch saying: "If you don't ask, the answer is always no." However: At the same time, write a list of everything in your life that you have to live for apart from this man. He may be wonderful, but believe me, no matter how wonderful he seems to be, he is NOT worth dying for, or even becoming depressed over, if he says he's no longer interested. Good luck and God bless :)

(8) scott, May 26, 2013 7:09 AM

What about the guy who is actually with you right now?

Look. Everyone has the one that got away. The relationship that could have been if it was a different time or different place. I still remember my high school crush and in my twenties I idealized her. She was perfect. Beautiful...she had these eyes like a deer and this smile....And no one-even my wife at the time measured up. Then I grew up. Reality is difficult. There are no "soul mates" the way one dreams as a child. People that you actually love...they disappoint you. They are grumpy. They look like heck in the morning. They want things from you and they do things for you. People who you love and who love you put in their time. But most important...they don't break up with you when you are gone for a month and leave you alone because it's too inconvenient. I'm a facebooker. Last year I found that high school crush. She's pretty. She's accomplished. And she's-from the pictures I saw-happily married with three beautiful kids. I'm sure that she never looks into the distance and wonders what could have been with me. She looks like she's having a life, not living a fantasy. Me I have a wife and a child and I have an amazing amount of love in my life. Real love. I lost nothing. I have it all. I didn't settle. I'm not saying you shouldn't contact this guy. I'm just saying that it's a waste of time. He decided to move on with his life and now-it seems you have too. You have a guy you're involved with...are you going to tell him that you're contacting an old flame to see if there's something better out there? Me I'd probably move on if a girlfriend told me something like that. I don't want someone to settle for me. I'm worth more than that. If the old flame thought of you the same way-you wouldn't have to call him. He'd call you. I'm a guy...that's what we do. You and the love you have to give your life partner are worth that Real love can cross an ocean...but it usually doesn't have to.

(7) Aryeh, May 23, 2013 4:04 PM

It is important to know

I agree with those that encourage you to contact him. It very well may be that he has moved on or is not interested or ready. If that is the case I hope he does not string you along. He will hopefully tell you the truth. But you need to know for yourself so you can move on. Although, I hope it works out for you.

I had a similar situation and it was important that I found out for myself that she was not for me. If not, I would always be wondering.

(6) Yehudit, May 23, 2013 7:11 AM

One last try

You have nothing to lose, try one more time to contact him and let him know how you feel. You are willing to make a move for him, that gives him something to react to. You will at least know you tried and will have no regrets. One suggestion is that if you both decide you should make the move:: try to line up employment or Hebrew classes , accommodation etc so that you are not reliant on him, which could cause strain on the relationship. Be independent. There are MANY mothers like myself who would love to help a young American like yourself with regular babysitting housekeeping employment!!!!! A few ads on local groups should show you what a demand there would be for your services if you are willing....

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