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Jessica #31 - Forging the Relationship Bond

Jessica #31 - Forging the Relationship Bond

Professor Higgins had a point: If women were more like men, they'd spend a lot less time analyzing relationships.

by

My mind reels every time I write a check: 2001???

I remember a day in third grade when I used my new subtraction skills to figure out how old I would be at the turn of the century: 27. It had seemed so old at the time, beyond comprehension. I'd lazily dreamed of the life I'd have at 27. At the time, I thought I'd become an anesthesiologist, a profession I'd probably settled upon simply because it surprised and delighted adults that an 8-year-old knew of such a vocation -- and could pronounce it.

I'd vaguely assumed I'd be married, since all my daydreaming of adulthood included a shadowy spouse figure, the man of my dreams patterned after "Apollo" on Battlestar Galactica. Most other girls liked the flashier pilot (Starbuck?) who was played by an actor named Dirk Something-or-other, who went on to star in "The A-Team."

Funny how one returns to one's roots when you're ready to settle down. I guess I've always liked "nice guys."

Now, a year beyond that incomprehensibly far-off date, I had become the A*D*U*L*T of whom I'd dreamed so vaguely -- minus the starship pilot significant other. To an 8-year-old, adulthood looks secure and defined. It promises, above all, control. The tyranny of bedtimes and no career advancement options beyond fourth grade fades away, the child's mind believes, replaced by a life of self-dominion and glamour. But oh how poorly adulthood measures up against an 8-year-old's daydreams.



Funny how one returns to one's roots when you're ready to settle down.

Sometime during college, I'd noted the irony of how the once-loathed nap had become a luxury. You know, that daily hour of consciousness that I as a child believed was snatched away by adults who frolicked in infinitely exciting ways whilst I slumbered. Now, as an adult, naps had become stolen indulgences. Not exactly the way in which little Jessie had imagined asserting her self-determination.

Those checks with the date "2001" reminded me of all the times some kind, knowing woman had smiled at me when I boldly declared that I was 8, or 9 or 12, but couldn't wait to be 14 (to go to high school), to be 16 (to drive), to be 18 (to vote)...

"Don't wish your life away," the ladies had clucked over the years. "Soon enough you'll be an adult and you'll wish you were young again."

I'd scoffed, but like so many similar annoying adult observations, their words were ringing true in my ears now.

Now year 30 doesn't seem so far away, and somehow even though I set my own bedtime and can decide where and whom to "play with," that dream of control and self-determination still eludes me.

I set my own bedtime now, but that sense of self-determination still eludes me.

It was Sunday morning and Rick was playing pickup basketball with some friends of his, a biweekly ritual. He'd brought me along for the first time. I was vaguely conscious that this represented some sort of step forward in our ill-defined relationship. I was playing good friend and had provided Snapple and orange wedges, and dutifully allowed his friends' wives and significant others to give me the once-over. I'd cheerfully repeated a half-dozen times what I did for a living, how we'd met, and how long we'd been dating.

-- "He definitely likes you a lot," the wife of one of Rick's friends was smiling at me, apparently unaware that I had completely spaced out and hadn't been listening to her at all. This had been happening a little too frequently of late.

"I really like him," I replied a tad self-consciously. I was inwardly relieved not only that he "likes me, really likes me," but that he likes me enough to talk about me to his friends.

There's some sort of chasm of understanding between men and women, I reflected. After a few months of dating, Rick seemed totally secure in my feelings for him. Even if I felt like I was all over the map, crazy about him one second and barely interested in another, he seemed to ride my vacillations out with relative ease, confident that whatever was bugging me would go away soon enough. Meanwhile, I found myself thinking "Uh-oh. He's losing interest" if he didn't send me 40 e-mails a day.

It was a pattern I'd seen in almost every male-female relationship I'd observed. What was it about the female nature that compelled us to examine and re-examine the words and behavioral nuances of men, reading and re-reading them for hidden meaning? It drives men crazy -- though I wonder if they don't secretly love all the attention.

What is it about the female nature that compels us to re-read the behavioral nuances of men for hidden meaning?

It could be that women have more of a primal need to forge the relationship bond. So we are more obsessive about ensuring its development and survival.

As I ruminated, I caught Rick looking at me. I laughed when a ball comically whizzed by him as our eyes locked. His friends razzed him and I looked down, blushing with pleasure.

What is that about, I wondered?

I hated that I needed the reassurance that he "liked" me that I was important to him. I smiled to myself, since every time I entered a relationship, I loathed anew how seemingly dependent I became on the assurances from beau d'jour . Stranger yet is that I am regarded as "low-maintenance" amongst my gender!

"It's normal," Rina had promised me when I remarked upon my neediness months ago when I'd noticed the pattern while I was dating Harris. "Try to remember that you're female."

The feminist in me recoiled at her assertion that most women simply need to be loved. According to the theory, men need to feel needed and respected.

"They're tendencies that aren't true of every man or woman, but are generally true as inclinations," Rina had explained further. "Men approach the relationship more simply. Don't fight your nature. It will only make you miserable."

The feminist in me recoiled at her assertion that most women simply need to be loved.

Coming out of my reverie, I focused back on the game, cheering when Rick made a 3-point shot. Then I heard someone calling my name -- but from behind the court. I turned and looked into a crowd of people watching a softball game. My eyes settled on Sarah, Rina and Steve's little girl.

I'd forgotten that they'd mentioned that Steve was playing in some charity softball game between two synagogues. Just my luck -- of all the schools in the Valley of the Sun, Rick was playing basketball at the same field.

Rina was running over, Sarah on one hip and Ari in tow.

A smile froze on my face. Well, I guess Toto has pulled back the Wizard's curtain, and Rick and I are now out of the dating closet.

Published: January 20, 2001


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Article 31 of 66 in the series Jessica's Journal

Visitor Comments: 11

(11) , January 31, 2001 12:00 AM

Stop the assumptions

I am not as much writing regarding the article as I am writing in response to the comments below it. I am in a long-term relationship with a Jew and I am not Jewish. I am frustrated and hurt by the assumption that I am a threat to his Judaism simply because I am not Jewish. Quite the opposite is true. I go out of my way to make efforts to learn about Judaism, the Jewish way of life, and so forth. I attend services with him and just last week attended a Learner's Shabbat service on my own. I encourage him and make him more aware of his Judaism by my comments, questions, and thoughts. Some of our warmest moments are those spent sitting at his kitchen table, flipping through his mother's Jewish cookbooks and having him coach me as I painstakingly learn to recognize the Hebrew letters that begin the Shabbat prayers. This Christmas his family and my family sat together at the table and after dinner we watched his family light the menorah and my old Catholic grandmother commented how beautiful it was. I am not affiliated any more with a religion, though my family is. And maybe that is what makes the difference. But his grandparents don't know about me and that is painful. It hurts me and discourages me to see comments such as those sometimes posted here and to stumble across websites advertising how to guides regarding stopping intermarriage. Why isn't there more of an effort to encourage or at least support me as I contribute to my boyfriend's Judaism and learn for myself? I look up his Hillel's activities and suggest that he go. I encourage him to read the Torah portion each week if he doesn't make it to services. I seek out opportunities to learn and encourage him to learn and through forums such as these I begin to feel that it is pointless, since I will always be labeled as a threat and a problem rather than a positive force in my boyfriend's life, both in a general and religious sense. Can we please move away from assumptions and generalizations and see each situation for what it is? I am tired of being labeled, hidden, and attacked for something I did not do: destroy a Jewish boy's faith and Jewish life.

(10) James Klien, January 29, 2001 12:00 AM

Dont step on it.

Ok, I am new here, but be careful..it sounds like you may loose alot if this continues. Certainly it is up to you, but others seem to want you to be careful....so?

(9) Anonymous, January 28, 2001 12:00 AM

But will he convert?

It seems as though his religious inclinations are not as strong as yours. When he realizes that you are not going to be making cheeseburgers for his Super Bowl party, will he still meet you under the chuppah?

(8) , January 28, 2001 12:00 AM

Jessica, don't you see that the longer you keep this up, the harder it'll be for both of you when it has to end. He's not Jewish, and there's nothing you can do about that. If you were to marry him, you'd lose whatever Judaism there is in your life, and you can't afford to do that.
There are plenty of great Jewish guys out there for you, but you must let go of Rick. It'll have to end sooner or later, and the longer you stay, the more pain there'll be for both of you when it does end.

(7) Anonymous, January 23, 2001 12:00 AM

DUMP THE GUY!!!!

For the love of god, dump the guy already!!! Life has too much stress in it to begin with. Now, you want to compound that stress by getting serious with a gentile? I'm sure you'll be very happy for the rest of your life putting up his christmas tree in your house and celebrating easter with your in-laws. Oh yeah...true happiness there. I know I'm not a personal friend, but I'd love to receive an invitation to your kids' baptisms. I'm sure you'll be very proud then.

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