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

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Private Pain, Public Remarks

Private Pain, Public Remarks

Why do people think my private dating life is up for public discussion?


I sometimes wonder if people realize that a slight comment can cause so much pain. Why is it that just because your plight is well-known, people assume they can ask you anything about it, in public? Couples who are childless, people who are sick or disfigured, someone who is having business trouble or going through a divorce; the list goes on.

Being single in a marriage-minded world is my public experience of pain.

I cringe at the thought of so many people being aware of my challenge (in the community I live in, being single is viewed as a major life challenge). I’m forced to speak about very private things and answer questions I would never ask someone else. The ease with which people talk to me about dating and my private life is so hurtful and throws me off guard.

I have started grading painful words on a scale of 1 to 10; it makes me feel better and helps me reframe people’s idiocy into “what were they thinking?” so I can have a laugh. Yes, everyone means well, but if I hear another one of these expressions again any time soon…

  • Each date is bringing you closer to the right one.
  • This will be the year.
  • I just don't know anyone good enough for you.

At a Shabbos table, small children look up at me and ask if I have a husband and why not. Last week in the kosher grocery store I was cornered by a loud busy body who heard there was a guy in my age range in town. I was going to ask her if he had a pulse or should I just jump at it because in this market a gal shouldn't be picky.

“What should we say?” The answer is most often, “Nothing.”

Words are powerful. People don't mean to throw stones and cause pain; they may really be concerned and caring. People want to know, “What should we say?” and the answer is most often, “Nothing.” The key is to think before you speak. Evaluate if it could possibly cause any pain. If the answer is yes, then don't say it.

We like to know all the news and be involved, but it shouldn’t be at someone else’s expense. If a painful topic comes up perhaps recognizing that you don’t have anything to say and admitting it is a show of support. You don’t have to have all of the answers.

No one means to say things that break your heart. They just don't realize that when you say goodbye to them you want to lie in bed and cry. I have spent a lot of time wondering why I was the recipient of so many of these “concerned comments.” I really believe God is teaching me to be more sensitive. When I see someone in a situation I don‘t understand or cannot relate to, I have to stop myself before I speak. I don't know how they feel. I don’t know what will make them cringe and want to hide. Maybe what I am about to say will really hurt them.

Perhaps God has made me the receiver of so many "sticks and stones" so I could be more careful with others. When I want to ask an inappropriate question with no real reason I think twice. Sensitivity seems to be a real exercise which requires lots of training. God gave me the opportunity to have a lot of training, and if it means I can prevent someone else from hurting, doesn’t that make it a blessing?

October 31, 2009

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: 67

(67) michaltastik, August 29, 2011 10:45 AM

They care soooo much... BUT

My parents and grandparents have passed. I recently graduated college. No one came to my graduation and I did ask... when holidays come, it's so uncomfortable, but you bet your sweet sugar people care about personal things like my dating life, my job search and such. I feel like if people care, they should be around when I'm alone Odd cog, "Oh, I dont' know... why don't you have tact??" LOVE IT!!!! I will use that!!!! Aaron (4am) umm... see that's the problem.. the men don't even want to get married. Why should they? THEY aren't made to feel uncomfortable all the time. "WHY you are single is no one's business but yours." furthermore, I'm not sure we even know. I mean, I guess I'm living my life and time slips away but it doesn't seem like guys want to get married. Or so, they all say they aren't looking for a relationship... unless they are so bad I want to hurl and I would feel mortified to be in public with them.... Agreed about #6 wait til they tell you how great and NORMAL a guy is and he shows up to be 30 years older, "volunteering" (no job), wasteful of his money and mentally retarded... "But I think most pple don't want others to feel isolated, " then they should have you over for a Shabbos or holiday, not pry into your personal business. "I prefer not to discuss that, but thank you for your concern" I have been screamed at for not wanting to tell things I consider personal... LIke people asking my last name at a Shabbos meal and they aren't even the hosts. They don't need that information. Also, it doesn't work. People keep asking...

(66) Anonymous, March 17, 2011 7:01 AM

Oh boy! Can I relate...

The one that gets me is "you have to put more effort into it, man..." Wow!!! That one is really really gets to me. Here is the thing, just like you said, people don't realize how #(*&$)(*&_ their comments are. And they don't mean to hurt you. On the other hand, you are not a punching sack, and there is no need to just take it. So I don't get upset, I just mention, hey dude, that is a really stupid thing to say, do you have any idea how hard I tried? Why would you say that? I'm going through a hard time, so think before you talk. That way this silly person will learn to be less (@*&^$)#(*@)(*& Wishing you much success

(65) César, February 22, 2011 3:34 AM


I want to thank for this article, it was so revealing, and for myself who has being in some similar matters is refreshing. I'm not a Jew (not yet.. i still looking for conversion) but I familiarize with the concept of awkward questions... and most of the time.. impossible answers.. Shalom

(64) anon, August 10, 2010 7:23 PM

what happened to good manners

isn't it rude to comment on people's lives?

(63) Anon, August 10, 2010 7:14 PM

to no. 1

First of all, I want to say, genuinely, thank you for caring. In response to your question, this is my experience. I had to tell some of my friends who care, but drove me crazy with their caring, to stop. They asked me what they can do. My response was if you want to do something, you can daven for me and suggest suitable men. Please understand that a single Jewish woman receives these comments many times a week. It is very tiring, and it is not alleviated by the speaker's good intentions.

See All Comments

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