26 May Dating and Relationship Advice
Dear Rabbi and Shira,
I hope you and your family are doing well. I am in my late twenties and was finally dating a woman that I honestly could say I loved. She is kind, fun, smart, and witty. Despite social distancing, things were going well and we had begun to talk about marriage. Everything was great, so I thought. A month ago, I received a phone call that after 4 months of dating, she wanted out. I was dumbfounded as I thought everything was going smoothly. She explained and I quote “Its not you, it’s me.” (Whatever that means). I am obviously heart broken. I have been praying daily that she changes her mind and that the phone will ring again, this time with an “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Let’s make this work.” But the phone has been dead silent. I am extremely lonely now. COVID-19 has only exacerbated my loneliness. My family and friends keep telling me to accept her decision, move on and start dating again. My question is how do I know when I’m ready to move on? How do I know I am ready to start dating again?
-Dumped in Ditmas
This must be such a difficult time for you. It is truly heartbreaking when the person you love disappears from your life without much of an explanation. Although there is no set time for when to start dating again, here are some guidelines that will help you determine when you are ready. Although it has been a month, and you are in your late twenties, you don’t need to jump back into dating. It seems that you need to put some more time between this experience and your present situation. It sounds to us that you are still in mourning over the loss of your relationship. The wound is still too fresh. After a serious break up, a person needs to take time to grieve, and to learn to hope. Remember, where you are emotionally right now is precisely where you belong. You should see your reactions as normal. Our brains and bodies are wired to have powerfully painful reactions to rejection. The break-up of a relationship can trigger a rush of chemicals that make you feel lonely, depressed, and worthless—especially if you see the rejecter as “your bashert.” You are not crazy. You are acting the way Hashem designed you. It’s important to face your grief. It can be tempting to avoid grief. You may be fearful that it will be too painful, especially because you’ve lost someone and something precious. But avoiding, or repressing your grief can lead to obsession, suppressed immune system, depression, anxiety and chronic despair. Feelings are like waves of water. Trying to bottle them all up, merely builds up pressure inside of you, and those feelings will come out in another way. It would be beneficial to your healing, if you can start to make a roadmap, envisioning moving forward. Moving forward means not staying stuck in the same place and fixating on the same thoughts. That’s going to get you nowhere! Take stock of what you have learned from this relationship. Even though your relationship did not work out, there are still things you can learn from your relationship with her. Your likes, your dislikes, personality traits that work well with you, and parts of your relationship that challenged you. Your interactions with her brought up things about yourself, that you might not have thought about. We also recommend that you spend time taking care of YOU, i.e. exercising, reading a book, going outside for some fresh air following social distance protocol, and eat well-balanced meals. Make sure to socialize with friends and family even if it is via zoom. Once you have accepted the end of the relationship and the feelings which came with it, and have taken the time for your personal self-care, then you can begin dating again.
Hatzlacha Rabba, Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack