Finding Your Zivug (Mate)
"Frus-Dating" - Mismatching & Self-Sabotage











[All stories are based on true events. Names and some non-essential facts are changed to protect identity. Some stories are composites of several similar stories or have been otherwise modified to make the meaning clear or to make the story suitable for public presentation. Some are very precise renderings of the actual story. In all cases, stories have been selected for their instructive value and represent important and true messages.]




In this internet site we have talked about many issues central to effectively finding a mate who one may reasonably expect to keep. We've discussed how to meaningfully date, what goes into compatibility, how to check a person out, how to tell who the "right one is," how to halachically seek or give information and how to tell if your judgement is reliable. This is all empty unless both parties are equipped for a happy relationship and a lasting commitment. A major problem in today's "singles situation" is that many young people are not psychologically equipped for a stable, intimate and committed marriage relationship. There are many causes and manifestations of this and they each generally require considerable serious and sustained counseling to remedy. Since many people enter into marriages in which one or both partners may not be equipped to give the relationship they promise to the other, I will write two installments about representative psychological conditions which can interfere with the entering into, sustaining or succeeding in a marriage relationship.

If the single saw a bad marriage in his/her parents (e.g. anger, violence, fighting, strife, divorce, spite, confrontation, domineerance, infidelity, abandonment or punitiveness); this puts into the single's mind frightening associations and thoughts that marriage will automatically cause anxiety, pain, shortchange or failure. The person may not be consciously aware of this fear of commitment, and may even feel a longing to be married, but that fear will work powerfully upon the mind and behavior of the single. If a parent was a survivor of and traumatized by the holocaust, or was emotionally abused or neglected by his/her parents, a pattern of emotionally injurious behavior may exist in that family. A professional exploration may reveal psychological and behavioral similarities or linkages between the single, one or both of his/her parent(s) and/or relating partners.

If one or both of the parents were hurtful to the single as a child, a fear of vulnerability or entrapment can develop. If a parent was domineering, stifling, cold, aloof, emotionally or physically unavailable, critical, abusive, punitive, exploitive or demanding; such becomes generalized and associated in the young person's mind with all close relating, never mind when "stuck" in a commitment. The single may not have been emotionally nurtured; may be untrusting of having another's approval, love, understanding, appreciation, compassion, respect or commitment. Closeness may be unmanageably frightening and threatening. A person may mistreat or avoid others to keep them distant. A woman, desperate for feeling loved or approved of, may be promiscuous. A man or woman with a broken self-image may do unreasonable, excessive or self-deprecating kindnesses and favors (at unhealthy levels) or allow him/herself to be used like a "shmata (rag)" for the approval or acceptance of others, in or out of a close relationship. But, it is never real or close relating.

A dysfunctional background affects what a person is attracted to and how one chooses and disqualifies partners. On a deep subconscious level, relationships must always fit into the person's emotional needs and conditions, and into the mold of the person's inner psychological situation. The person develops "antenna" for partners who feed into neurotic needs and patterns. The person may have an intellectual list of ideals to look for, but the person is motivated and driven on the emotional level and pursues relationships which hit the emotional "hot buttons." The ideal "list" is abstract and meaningless. THE ISSUE IS NOT LOGICAL, IT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL.

The person can engage in self-defeating and self-sabotaging patterns in relationship after relationship, repeating the same basic problems and patterns. An intense emotional and committed relationship can be frightening under the best conditions; all the moreso with complex and unhealthy issues in one or, very often, both partners. Marriage requires enormous maturity, responsibility, unselfishness, humility, flexibility, giving, discipline, sacrifice and will power. BEING LONELY OR SENTIMENTAL IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH BEING READY TO GET MARRIED. Two incomplete halves cannot add up to a complete whole. ONLY TWO REASONABLY COMPLETE HALVES CAN ADD UP TO A COMPLETE WHOLE (even though imperfect, they both must at least be functional and non-harmful). Both partners must be in, what I call, the "FUNCTION-LEVEL BALLPARK." Being emotionally scarred from childhood or a terrible previous marriage can severely impact subsequent marriage.

If a pattern occurs time after time, it always does not work, it is "always the other's fault" and you are repeatedly attracted to the same pattern or type of person; then there is a contradiction between what you want and the fact that it does not work. Generally, this requires considerable work and unraveling with professional counseling for this to be resolved and for life to "get on the right track."

If a relationship drags on for more than a few months and does not escalate to marriage, or it escalates to marriage and then becomes stormy, my counseling experience shows that often something intrinsic and fundamental is missing. Both have some profound and unhealthy need, dependency and/or lacking. The relationship offers something that the parties would like to have received from one or both parents in childhood, which affected the single with deep emotional and mental impact. The relationship provided some form of needed emotional comfort, convenience, relief, sensation or (imagined) safety. Ironically, when very neurotic, such a poisonous relationship is often hard to break. As it gets worse, there is more intensity, sabotage, provocation, blaming, punishing, hurt, instability and fighting. Both might be surprised that something that was once so beautiful degenerated to such a low point. But the trouble was there from "day one," if not childhood. These are types of troubles which need objective and professional exploration to obtain resolution.

Never marry someone on the basis of expecting or demanding psychological or religious change. The person may not change, may revert back or may change in ways you never anticipated. My advise is to gently but firmly say, "I am seeking a relationship with this (psychological or religious) characteristic. If you change yourself, and this can be validated by your (counselor or rabbi) and I am still single then, you may contact me in your changed form in the future. Barring that, we must be through."

Real relationships should meet and fulfill real and healthy needs and promote real, steady and significant good for you, your spouse, your children and the world around both of you. Both parties will care for and respect each other, relate to the entire other person (including needs, shortcomings and concerns), be supportive and communicative, help and appreciate each other. A happy person can make a relationship happy, but an unhappy person can't depend upon a relationship to make him/her happy. We now continue by discussing specific destructive relationship manifestations and patterns.



One representative practical psychological manifestation of fear of commitment is called "Approach-Avoidance." The person may start relationships, even sweetly, but, as they grow closer ("approach"), the drive for distance sets in ("avoidance"). An intimate relationship is assumed to be unacceptably adversarial, rejecting, futile, faulty, risky or injurious. The person 1. may provoke the other (with sadistic, abusive, unreliable, contemptuous, repulsive or other irrational "off-putting" or upsetting behavior) into behaving explosively, defensively or unreasonably; so that the person can have an excuse to run away ("You are evil, crazy, impossible...I can't stay with you!") or 2. may provoke the other into running away. Either way, the single remains "psychologically protected" from the expected hurt and disappointment that comes from a close, and therefore vulnerable, relationship. The once-sweet person has become irrational, unstable, irresponsible, shrewd, explosive and/or unbearable. To the untrained eye, it can seem a big surprise.

Another manifestation can be attraction to the unattainable. This performs the psychological service of enabling the person to feel (s)he is going through "normal motions," or "is normal." The other person could not commit or be available to him/her, so it is always the other's fault that no relationship can work out. A person with a faulty, broken and/or dishonest personality or character seeks to place blame everywhere but on him/herself. The truth hurts.

In the case of poor self-esteem, the person will keep others away for fear of it being "discovered" that the person is "nobody," fault-ridden or "worthless." This is the "truth" that the person with poor self-image assumes about self. The person keeps distant, aloof, a facade or compulsively busy so as to never make meaningful relating possible. It is a frightening prospect for this "truth" to be "discovered" because this "certainly" will eventually result in pain of rejection, failure and verification of being "nothing." Intimacy and commitment force a person to reveal what (s)he perceives of self. Further, a person with a crippled self-image will often develop contempt for relating partners because 1. "there must be something wrong" with anyone who could be interested in such a deficient person as him/her self or 2. the person is conditioned to view it as normal that everybody is worthless and contemptible.

Some insecure people choose relationships not for what they ARE but rather for what they REPRESENT, e.g. someone good-looking, wealthy, professional, with status, etc., to make him/herself feel like a "somebody," like one who finally "made it." The relationship is for the impression or symbolism, so it is not a relationship for the person's true self, and therefore not truly a relationship. The person rejects valid candidates and healthy relationships. The person may have unrealistic or grandiose expectations. The person does NOT have real or sustainable relationships.

Another manifestation is to be fault-finding, picky, critical and perfectionistic. Allowing a relationship with someone imperfect means (in the individual's mind) that (s)he is bad or dirty, or that the person's numerous or intense needs will not be satisfied, or that something better may be precluded. The person may have compulsive habits and drives psychologically designed to 1. make the person feel clean, superior, desirable or above criticism; or 2. to keep the person too occupied to face faults, pain, fright or anger within.

Another manifestation is to be controlling, steamrolling, demanding and/or manipulative, to keep the relationship delivering what is needed. The person uses the other person and tends to be very rigid, abusive and one-sided; and the partner is reduced to essentially being an object. To "win" the partner, the person may start out as sweet, charming and personable. Upon becoming secure with the relationship, the individual becomes tyrannical.

Another pattern is the "rescuer." If the person chooses relationships with others who have worse problems, the person: can be saved from feeling inferior, has what to offer (and can be "validated"), does not have to fear rejection (the person can feel important, helpful or needed), can feel control and security ("I can do the rejecting, if rejection is necessary," or "If I get rejected, it is only rejection by this problem-ridden misfit").

When married and single people come in for counseling, their position often is that they are fine and the other person in their present or past relationship is wrong or crazy. If that is one's stance even before marriage, especially when rigid about this, the prospects for a compatible and happy marriage are crippled. One of the best things singles can do in searching for their mate is to take control over their own part in it. The single is the only element which is in his/her control. The as-yet-unfound mate is not even there, any relationship partner is not in your control and, for sure, Hashem, the Ultimate Matchmaker, is not in your control. The main advice that I can give any single seeking his or her mate is to be the best and most marriageable mate you can possibly be - but in a very real sense. The more you are ready to be the spouse G-d wants you to be, the more likely He will let you be a spouse.




Bracha went with her mother to the matchmaker. They specifically wanted to convey who Bracha was and what she was looking for in a husband.

Bracha was attractive, bright, talented, tall, slim, principled, a student in a master's program. She wanted a guy who was a mentsh, "put together," professional, strong of character, tall, slim and whose life stood for something meaningful. She was prepared to give. She had a lot to offer. She didn't want any mismatch. She and her mother described Bracha and what she was looking for clearly, thoroughly and accurately to the matchmaker.

Bracha was eager to meet this evening's date. The matchmaker said he was "adorable." She and her parents were waiting in the livingroom when the doorbell rang.

When the door opened, Bracha and her parents had to fight off showing that they all were overcome with shock.

Mendel's pants had blotchy stains. His allegedly white shirt, which was half hanging out and half tucked in, was yellow from wear. His hair was wild, sticking out in several directions. He smelled like he hadn't taken a bath in "who knows how long." He was four inches shorter than Bracha was and he was pudgy. He was slow, shleppy and spoke in a squeaky voice. He was the opposite of everything the shadchan was told that Bracha wanted. This would not be a date. It would be a "nesayone (test from Heaven)."

Her mother astutely said, "Bracha, please remember that your father and I need to go out at eight o'clock and we need you back to watch the baby."

It was after dark. When they got to Mendel's car, he tried to put the key into the door to let Bracha in. He dropped the key. He tried looking for it. He was fumbling around her feet. She stepped aside, in awe that this was really happening. He found the key. It had rolled a bit under the car.

Bracha normally would not want to go to a movie on a date. Since she didn't want to be seen publicly with him, she asked him how he'd feel about going to a movie, where it is dark. He said it was OK, as if he would have said OK if she asked him what time it was, where he studied or what his name was. Something wasn't all there.

When they got to the theater, there was a line and Bracha's only thought while waiting was her hope that no one she knew saw them. When they got to the ticket window, Mendel said, "Gee, I thought I brought a twenty. I guess I forgot to bring money."

Bracha was almost fit to be tied. Keeping in control, she said she had money. She offered to pay. After about three quarters of an hour in the movie, Bracha said to Mendel, "I have a bad headache. I was even thinking before the date to cancel but I didn't want to hurt your feelings. But, it really has gotten bad and I have to get home anyway to babysit. Do you think you could take me home. I'm sorry."

After she got home, Bracha's mother called the matchmaker. "How could you do this? How do you call this boy 'adorable.' How can you set Bracha up with this boy after how explicit we were about what she's all about?"

The matchmaker replied, as if supplying a brilliant answer, "Bracha came to me with her mother. The boy came to me with his mother. That's something in common. Bracha's mother is pretty. The boy's mother is pretty. That's two things in common!"


Feigy's family belongs to a chasidic sect and lives in a community heavily populated by that sect's chasidim. When Feigy got to marriageable age, her parents approached a shadchanis (lady matchmaker) to make a match for their eligible daughter. The matchmaker had "a good boy from a good family." Feigy's family approved of the match and Feigy was agreeable, so the couple married.

For the first several months, the marriage seemed to be rolling along alright. On one occasion, the couple was invited to a wedding. Chasidic weddings typically proceed late into the wee hours of the night, so it was a little out of character when, relatively early, her husband told Feigy that he wanted to leave. She asked him why and he evaded explaining. She told him that it would not be appropriate to leave so early without just cause and she wanted to remain. Her husband was basically silent, but his face was disappointed. She went back to the festivities and didn't think about it.

An hour or two later, there was some commotion. A man was going wild, carrying on, screaming out of control - and a crowd was growing around the spectacle. To her horror, Feigy found out that it was her husband. It turned out that her husband had a severe psychiatric condition and took pills to control it. He neglected to bring his pills to the wedding. When he asked his wife to leave early, it was time for his pills and, since he forgot to bring them to the wedding, he wanted to go home so that he could take his needed medicine. When he hadn't had his dose, his condition came out and he had gone wild.

She was so infuriated that she was deceived - she was never told that her husband had a severe psychiatric condition by the shadchan (who knew about the condition) or the man when she was considering marrying him - that she demanded an immediate divorce. She had the full and angry support of her entire family. Just at about the time she gave birth to a baby, she received her divorce ("get"). She lives alone with the child.


I wrote an article entitled, "Responsible Matching," which was published by a Jewish magazine [most of it is reproduced in the "Responsible & Meaningful Matchmaking" portion of this site]. A reader wrote a letter to the editor in response to the article, from his personal experience. I will share the letter (except for material which would identify the writer and magazine, and for reference to an unrelated article).

This true case is a good example of a person being pressured to marry because of the shadchan's self-interest. The shidduch ended in divorce, with two children caught in the middle of ongoing and vicious court battles for custody. The children keep shuttling back and forth to live with a different parent at different times, and their lives are burdened by psychological instability and by ongoing active hostility between their parents. The causality for all this damage is blockheaded matchmaking, which included intentional cover-up of the ex-wife's psychological illness. When asked, after the marriage failed, why they made the match, their defense was that the groom didn't seem so normal, so the couple should have been a perfect match! Now, relevant excerpts of the letter.

January 7, 1993

Dear [Editor's name]:

This letter is to tell you how I reacted to your last issue. I...liked the article about Responsible Matching. I hope that Shadchanim [matchmakers] read the article. I myself am registered with a number of shadchanim who just give me phone numbers and leave me to go on my own from there. They fix me up with nice girls but they don't guide me as far as my feelings after I meet them. I am very sensitive. I am easily influenced by whether the other person likes me instead of whether they are what I need. I am divorced and consider the first matchmaker to be a complete blunderer who pawned me off to an unsuitable girl. I feel that I relied on the Shadchan heavily and was paid back miserably. I feel very wary about trusting a Shadchan again, but shadchanuss is a system that I want to use. Singles events are risky because of interest based on physical attraction. Friends fix me up infrequently and generally as a courtesy without enough consideration. The problem is that a Shadchan seems like a job people take without any training. They only make some matches in order to stay in business, and nevertheless they can be messing up the lives of many of their clients. I therefore feel that there should be more classes, articles and books about how to be a competent Shadchan. The rabbi who authored your article seemed very knowledgeable on the subject, and I noticed he is teaching a class at [name of synagogue] about marriage. Maybe he can write more in your magazine or give lectures or write a book. Please tell Rabbi Forsythe that I would welcome such ventures. Please continue the good work. Yours Truly, [Name of writer].

[This case is an example of frequent complaints by singles that matchmakers treat them with rudeness, arrogance, blame, disrespect or condescension - popularly called "singles bashing".]

Mrs. Becker sponsors a weekly Torah class in her house. A large number of young single women of eligible ages attend. Over a number of years, Mrs. Becker has gotten to know a good hundred or two hundred young women through their regular attendance in her house. She "looks out" for the girls and does some matchmaking. However, she has a rather rigid and narrow view of religiosity and imposes her views in her matchmaking. Although some of the things with which she was concerned are reasonable and conventional in Yeshivish circles, her intensity and judgmentalism were striking.

Word got to Yerucham that Mrs. Becker does matchmaking. Yerucham is a very nice fellow who learns Torah with a fair degree of regularity and accomplishment. He is a gentleman and is particularly respectful of women. The right girl would be thrilled with him. He dresses in a more modern way than the typical yeshivish fellow but is religiously on the yeshivish "wavelength." He called Mrs. Becker and they made an appointment.

Mrs. Becker seemed to have had a set mental questionnaire and Yerucham felt like he was being thoroughly grilled in an F.B.I. investigation. His Yiddishkite was scrutinized. He was asked for references. He was asked about personal habits. His less than perfectly conventional appearance made Mrs. Becker interrogate him with what progressively developed into a condescending, suspicious and rejecting tone and attitude. Her questions grew painful in detail.

When she got to asking him about what "zmiros (shabos songs)" he liked to sing at the table, he answered that he was not a singer and he wasn't "into" zmiros. When she heard this, she gave him what amounted to an arrogant "harrumff," stood up, started walking him to the door and said, handing him his coat, "None of my girls would want you."

Yerucham couldn't help wondering where she got this "my girls" from. Does she own them? Would not even one of them be interested in "trying him out" at all? He is into learning. If the girls come to regular Torah classes, they would appreciate his Torah. Mrs. Becker never got to find out about his individual personality and qualities as a human being. And is someone who isn't "into zmiros" supposed to not get married and not be spoken to like a human being? He was quite hurt. The "punishment didn't fit the crime."

Yerucham is a very frum and a very sweet fellow. He would make a superb and devoted husband. You would never know it from
Mrs. Becker.

[Many matchmakers go by externals or by their imposition and projection of their values, interests and/or conceptions upon the individuals who they are making matches for. One matchmaker told me that she sets up people based on the eye color, height and similar physical features that people say they want (she only asks external questions so that she, naturally, thinks that's all that singles want). A dissatisfied client of a certain matchmaker came to me saying that the other matchmaker sets people up based on how similar the wealth levels are in a couple. A happy, strong and lasting marriage is predicated on the qualities of the heart and on the competent linking of two hearts. They project onto you what they think you should marry. There could be no connection whatsoever to what you indeed should choose in a mate. From such a matchmaker, RUN. This true story tell of how one matchmaker made superficial notes on index cards and made matches based on the index cards]

The matchmaker told Shimon that Matilda is "into midos" and according to her INDEX CARD, the match "sounds good ON PAPER." On the phone, Shimon told Matilda, who lives on 86th St., that he finds driving and parking in Manhattan burdensome...would she mind if he came by subway? She said, "fine." After eating at the 84th St. pizza place, she asked Shimon to get his car so they could go to midtown and do something. He said that he specifically asked if she would agree to his coming by train and she had agreed. Her face twisted with fury and screamed at him, "You didn't bring your car? YO-U-U-U-U'RE RIDICULOUS!" He was stunned and after two minutes frozen in place with shock, he calmly said, "I don't think there's any potential here," and silently walked her home. Shimon, by the way, never returned to that matchmaker. He doesn't want a marriage that's good ON PAPER or a spouse whose midos are good ON PAPER.

Carol was still in her teens when she got married. The matchmaker promised that the fellow was an outstanding Torah scholar and a wonderful fellow. On their wedding night, as he was beginning to retire, he unscrewed a wooden leg. Horrified, she wouldn't let him near her and she demanded an immediate divorce. Carol was traumatized by the
misrepresentation/omission. She now is 41 and has not yet been able to trust a matchmaker again. Through no fault of her own, she cannot accept the risk of a repetition of vulnerability to the matchmaker's (and the fellow's) false or substantively incomplete representations. Tragically, she has never been able to marry.

Although common and taken lightly in matchmaking contexts, lying is evil and potentially destructive on a very practical level. In this case, the matchmaker's gross and unprincipled misrepresentation/omission traumatized Carol to the extent that she may never have the happiness of marriage or children. It would not be enough for the matchmaker to cutely say, "I never said he DIDN'T have a wooden leg." Who thinks to ask, "By the way, he doesn't have a wooden leg by any chance, does he; and would you take a lie-detector test about your answer, just in case, please?"


The shadchan assured Reuven that Shirley was "a sweet, kind girl."

Reuven had a date to pick Shirley up at 6:30. On the way, there was a massive, parking-lot style traffic jam. He arrived at 6:50. There was a note on the door saying that Shirley waited till 6:45 and then had other things to do and left; maybe Reuven could come back tomorrow evening at the same time. After that aggravating traffic jam and justifiably insulted at the profound contempt, upsetting selfishness, inconsiderate rudeness and appalling midos that Shirley exemplified, he simply wrote on the bottom of her note, "No thanks. I'll pass."

[The following depicts a fellow who displayed immaturity, irresponsibility, thoughtlessness and instability in many ways. He would be silly at times that were serious, repeatedly not show up for appointments (with no call or notice of any kind), bounce from job to job and take on mounds of debt which he could not conceivably pay back. He behaved compulsively so you never knew what he would do next. Compulsivity is a personality disorder which is psychological escapism from an unbearable underlying emotion, such as intense pain or fright. The person is pressed to be unnaturally and uncontrollably busy so as to block buried feelings from having an opportunity to surface and to be experienced. For example, one time I was on the phone with him having a confidential conversation. All of a sudden, without a word of warning, he made a three-way call to a friend, who had nothing to do with our conversation, and made a social arrangement with the third party while I was on the line. He had invented new heights in the art of interruption.

His upbringing was very rough on him. He was pressured into a destructive and unhealthy marriage by a shadchan. He came to me for counseling after a highly charged divorce which terminated a marriage that stemmed from one of the most imbecilic, destructive and irresponsible examples of matchmaking that I ever heard of. Neither party was anywhere near marriageable. Together, this couple of two "ultra-neurotics" was "dynamite." The shadchan must have believed that two broken halves add up to a whole!]

Yaakov's parents divorced when he was an infant. He has no memories of his parents being together. His mother's parents divorced when his mother was very young also and his divorced grandmother was an alcoholic. On many levels, and for many generations, his background was dysfunctional. There was very little in the way of stable family structure. He grew up shuttling back and forth between one parent and the other. Each parent married several times. There were new sets of step-parents and step-siblings coming and going, from time to time.

Extraordinarily sensitive - to others as well as within himself - the absence of a stable atmosphere impacted him. The trauma of his early life hit him very hard, destabilizing his personality. This sweet, soft, talented and brilliant boy was painfully lonely and confused.

As a child he noticed that he got attention and approval from classmates by making jokes and funny noises. Because he obtained ongoing positive reinforcement, he always had to be a comedian.

When the drug era came, he turned to drugs. He met a rabbi who influenced him to go to yeshiva at about the time he graduated high school. He was given some attention and concern at the yeshiva. He traded-in his drugs for a gemora, becoming a baal tshuva.

He switched yeshivas because the learning did not fulfill him. He spiritually grew at the second yeshiva. Deemed ready for the plunge, he was set up by a shadchan who Yaakov described to me as incompetent and pushy. The shadchan pressured him into a destructive marriage.

There were signs before the marriage that the girl was imbalanced, but between youthful naivete, the shadchan's pressure, and being used to the unstable as the norm, Yaakov married.

The girl had tantrums, called the police for unjustifiable complaints, claimed he didn't support her. On one occasion, she forcefully tripped him, and when he was down, she pulled his head by the hair to hit his head onto the sidewalk. They separated, reunited briefly, saw that it was not going to work, and divorced. When the fellow was awarded custody of their children (as the parent who is more fit), the ex-wife psychologically wrecked them by constant court battles over custody, sick "mind games" and her putting them in the middle. The "kishkas" of everyone involved are tense and torn.


[This case tells how judging by vague, meaningless and unsubstantiated generalizations stood to destroy a worthy match, which was ultimately made because Hashem Himself structured events to overcome the unjustified failings of the matchmaker.]

Shmuel and Libby Leibowitz are chasidim who live in Jerusalem. They had a son of marriageable age who had come very close to engagement. Ever since the shidduch failed to go through, both parents - extremely sensitive people - longed very much for their son to marry.

On one occasion a shadchan named Mr. Friedman proposed a set-up with a girl. The Leibowitzes started the standard investigation on the girl - her family, background, character, education, etc. The information came in. They heard some bad things. The conclusion was that their son would not call the girl. They phoned the shadchan to say that there would be no shidduch.

After rather high expectations of the canceled shidduch, Mrs. Leibowitz cried and decided she would go to the kosel (Western Wall) and pray that her son find his zivug. She was praying with such emotion, piety and sincerity that she attracted the attention of a modest, sensitive young woman. The woman came over to Mrs. Liebowitz and asked if there was anything she could do for the obviously sorrowful woman. A conversation started. When describing herself as a member of her chasidic sect, the young woman asked, "Do you know Shmuel and Libby Leibowitz, who are from this same chasidic sect?"

Mrs. Liebowitz was caught by surprise that this stranger "happened" to ask about her by name. Mrs. Liebowitz didn't answer the question, but rather asked the young woman to tell a little more about herself. The conversation progressed and the two women, neither having said their name, developed a close personal sense of connection. Mrs. Liebowitz saw clearly that this was a woman of warmth, kindness and fine character. After a while, Mrs. Liebowitz asked the woman why she had asked if she knew the Liebowitzes from her chasidic sect.

The woman explained that a shadchan named Mr. Friedman had proposed a shidduch for her with the son of a Shmuel and Libby Liebowitz. The family said that they would need some time to look into the information. That's the last the shadchan told her. It had been a while, and she herself was trying to find out about the Liebowitz family in general, the son in particular and what was going on. She had come to the kosel to pray because the girl wanted to get married to a good boy from a good family. Not having heard from the shadchan for some time, the young woman had grown concerned and felt the need to pray for Hashem's help.

Mrs. Liebowitz emotionally told this very obviously sweet and pious girl that she was Mrs. Libby Liebowitz.

Because she told Mr. Friedman that she was calling the shidduch off AND because Mr. Friedman had not yet managed to call the girl, both women felt compelled to come to the kosel to pray to their Father in Heaven! G-d answered their prayers simultaneously by having them meet. Through this, the shidduch went through!

It turned out that the Liebowitzes received false information about the young woman - hearsay, vague generalities, unsubstantiated objections which amounted to slander. She was indeed a very fine young woman. She married the Liebowitz's son and, after several years, they are very happily married.

Two lives hung in the balance because someone glibly and irresponsibly reported false "facts." It took a literal miracle to establish the real facts about the girl and to remove obstacle to the shidduch caused by frivolous misinformation. We see how important it is to be honest, careful and accurate in verifying and conveying all information about a person in a shidduch - for both good and bad "facts."


Zelig was getting so burned out with the dating scene that he was simply losing the energy and motivation to go out on superficial, ill-chosen blind-dates, set-up by ineffective well-meaning people.

At one singles event, he met Rabbi Lieber. They got into a nice conversation, they seemed to have a pleasant rapport and Zelig took Rabbi Lieber's phone number to keep for reference.

Zelig had occasion to phone Rabbi Lieber soon thereafter. Although the evidence has it that Rabbi Lieber was entirely well intended, and even sincerely concerned about Zelig's stagnant social life, the good rabbi's method backfired.

Rabbi Lieber is not a congregational rabbi. He is the owner of a successful industrial business. He engages in community projects as his way of expressing his "rabbinical self." He personally was one of the sponsors of the non-profit singles event at which he met Zelig. He sincerely wanted to help single people get married.

Upon hearing that Zelig was not going out with women anymore, Rabbi Lieber went into "lecture mode," right at the start of the phone call. He said to Zelig, "I'm a technician and a businessman. I know how to get things done. I'm going to get you married within six months. I know nice girls. I'm going to set you up with ten girls. If you don't find one that you want yourself, you'll take the best one of the ten and just get married. I guarantee you: you'll be happy."

Zelig gently replied, "But your giving me ten set-ups is artificial. There's no guarantee that I'll want any one of them. I want to choose someone who I want. I want a human relationship. Your method is impersonal. You can't say that you can send me ten set-ups and guarantee I'll find one I'll love."

"I promise you that you will have love. You're not getting any younger. You've got to have children while you still have the energy for them. Yitzchok didn't didn't see Rivka before Eliezer brought her to him, and Yitzchok loved Rivka."

Zelig, remaining gentle, but displeased with the way he was spoken to, replied, "You're not Eliezer [a Biblical saint who had Heavenly help] and you're not giving me a Rivka [a Biblical progenitor of the Jewish people]. You can't guarantee I'll be happy with someone chosen in a such a technical way."

"I'll tell you what. You have nothing to worry about. If it doesn't work out, I'll pay for your divorce!"

Feeling demeaned, drained and disheartened, but remaining gentle and well-mannered, Zelig said, "No thank you," and felt even further away from dealing with people who were bent on getting him married. And, he never spoke to Rabbi Lieber again.


[In this case, the shadchan's perverted sense of "truth" caused her to "stab" with her mouth, being literally abusive and cruel.]

Laizer had been referred to Mrs. Weiss, a shadchan. After speaking to him, she described a girl to him as being "big boned and not thin."

"Does that mean she is fat? I really am not attracted to fat girls. I'd rather go out with thin girls. I've been set up with too many people who I haven't been attracted to and I know I won't be attracted to someone who isn't thin."

"They're a very fine family. They're fine people. Don't close your mind. She's not fat, just big boned."

"I don't think so."

"I think you should meet her. I know these people."

"If you know these people, you can get a picture. I'm willing to look at a picture."

"I don't have a picture."

"If you know them so well, you could get one."

Mrs. Weiss said that she would try.

After that meeting, Laizer referred his friend Feivel to Mrs. Weiss as a shadchan. Feivel made an appointment with Mrs. Weiss. Mrs. Weiss said that she had a possible girl in mind for Feivel. She would speak to the girl and speak further with him subsequently.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Weiss had occasion to go over to the house of the family and spoke with the girl and her mother. She asked for the girl's picture, explaining that Laizer Berkowitz wanted to see what she looked like before he would consider going out with her. The girl was offended. Her mother said, "I'll tell you. Another shadchan mentioned this same fellow to me. If two people mention the same guy for you, there's probably something to it. I didn't want to go out with your father till I saw his picture. Let's give Mrs. Weiss the picture." The girl agreed.

Mrs. Weiss called Laizer and told him of the meeting with the girl and her mother. "You mean you told her my name and you said that I didn't want to go out with her because of her build? How could you say that? You'll smear my reputation! You hurt the girl!"

"I speak the truth!"

"But truth has to come with kindness and discretion. You don't just say things like that to people!" Laizer refused to have anything further to do with Mrs. Weiss.

Feivel called Laizer and, in speaking, mentioned that Mrs. Weiss was working on a shidduch with a girl from a certain location and in a certain profession.

Laizer asked if it was so-and-so.

"Yeah! How did you know?"

"I'd gone out with her and I recognized the description. It was an OK date."

Mrs. Weiss called Feivel. She said the girl refused to go out with Feivel because he was too short.

Feivel called Laizer, saying that he was hurt by Mrs. Weiss telling him that the girl refused to see him because he was "too short." Laizer said, "Mrs. Weiss could have said the girl was dating someone else. Did she say why she hurt your feelings?"

"Yes," Feivel replied. "She said, 'I speak the truth!'"


[The following anecdote tells of a blatant, intentional set up by a matchmaker, who said to a man that the woman was what he was looking for. The girl was nothing of what the man described as what he wanted and everything of what he didn't want. Although an extreme case, singles repeatedly complain about inadequate care or judgement by matchmakers, which results in aggravating or painfully dull blind-dates. The response by the man on the date was not particularly mature, but he was pushed beyond endurance.]

Sam specifically told the matchmaker that he wanted a girl with "college level intelligence," i.e. she need not necessarily have gone to college, but she should be smart enough that she could get in if she would have wanted to. This was Sam's way of saying he needs a girl with a mind. The shadchan's face beamed and he enthusiastically exclaimed, "This is a gift from Heaven! You can go ahead now and print the wedding invitations!"

Sam was learning in a yeshiva and lived in the dormitory. He phoned Gwendolyn from a yeshiva pay-phone. She literally spoke like New York's roaring '20's Governer Al Smith ("Toidy Toid Steet and Toid Avenoo" and "radio" rhymes with "Daddy-o"). Will the East Side ever live it down?

She promptly steered the conversation to making arrangements to meet (no trace of personality, tact or "human connecting"). "So, when ya wanna meet?" They would meet the next evening for dinner. When the call was interrupted by the phone company, to ask for more money to continue the call for another three minutes, Gwen just said "Bye" and hung up. Other girls would ask if he had more change or offered to take the number and call right back to the yeshiva dorm pay-phone. Sam was struck by how she showed no personality and how not up to college-level her intelligence seemed.

He picked her up at work and they ate at the legendary Bernstein's-On-Essex. All she literally talked about was that it was raining that evening and that there is a lot of traffic in Manhattan. She had nothing to say and she said it plenty. By the end of the meal he couldn't take it. His nerves were racked with unmanageable boredom and frustration. To whose wedding was he supposed to already be printing invitations? Certainly not their's!

Normally a very good-natured and generous soul, Sam walked her a block and a half to the subway and, drained and aggravated beyond endurance. He told her to get herself home from Manhattan to Brighton Beach, he got into his car (parked 20 feet from the subway entrance) and drove home, nearly shaking. He didn't even phone back to the matchmaker, figuring that there are no lines that connect with Mars.

[This story shows how meddling can be destructive to the creation of a match and how hurtful it can be to a single.]

Marty is a very presentable match. He is a professional, sensitive, concerned about personal growth, sincere about his religiosity, and he is clearly marriage-minded. You would think the right girl would "jump at the chance."

The shadchan set him up with a girl, let's call her Nancy, whose father was a businessman and Talmudic scholar. When Marty showed up for the first time at Nancy's house, her father sat him down and spoke with Marty for an hour. The way Marty put it to me was he felt that he was being interrogated. The father pounded him nonstop with all sorts of personal, grueling, intrusive questions.

When he passed muster enough, the girl was finally permitted to materialize. As it turned out, Marty and Nancy really liked each other and a relationship developed which presented prospects for "the real thing." In religious circles, dating is exclusively for the purpose of exploring marriage. If you get past a few dates, the direction is serious.

On every occasion when Marty would come to pick Nancy up for a date, her father would sit them down and talk with them for an hour. He was very controlling and domineering and would push to impose his views. Marty had to really push to get to where he could leave with Nancy for their date.

If the reader will recall, I differentiated in chapter one between faults which cause harm and faults which cause no harm. Marty had a fault in the second category. Occasionally, when he had a head cold, his nose would twitch a lot.

They continued dating regularly for several months. When Marty came to pick Nancy up one time for a date, when the relationship was at a serious level of development, her father, as per his custom, said that he wanted to sit with them, and he did so for an hour. Marty had a cold at that time. During this hour, his nose twitched a few times.

Nancy's father asked what this strange gesture was and Marty straightforwardly and innocently told him.

The next morning, Nancy's father called a son in medical school (who, of course, knew nothing of Marty or Marty's medical condition) to find out "the real story" behind such twitching. This "expert" said that it could be any number of things, including what Marty said, or he could be on medication or it could be mental instability. The father went back to Nancy to report of his "findings." During the course of this conversation, he said to his daughter, "Of course it's possible he MAY be normal, he MAY never beat his wife."

When Marty next called Nancy, she was strangely and extremely cold and distant. It was a very awkward, uncharacteristic, uncomfortable call. Figuring it would be wiser to continue at a later time, he concluded the call. When he called her later, she abruptly said, "I'm breaking up with you."



I repeatedly see, in workshops and matchmaking, significant signs in singles that they are not equipped for the roles and responsibilities of marriage. As I often say in lectures, "being lonely or romantic is not automatic readiness for marriage." One has to be responsible, functional, mature and stable. Further, matchmaking is an art and responsibility. Very often, matchmakers are inept, indifferent, incompetent, sneaky or down-right crooked. Although many are sincere and well-meaning, matchmakers are not "trained professionals" nor adept at discerning personality qualities which make or break compatibility or readiness. A single's dysfunction or immaturity; or a shadchan's ineptitude, lack of principle or lack of diligence in checking into the single to a reasonable extent; can be destructive. I have seen countless cases where the single and/or the matchmaker has been the cause of a miserable or doomed marriage. I want to take several installments of this column to bring true case histories in which the behavior of the single or the irresponsibility of the shadchan brought clear relating problems or obstacles that could be seen at the dating stage. From this we will gain insight into the failure of marriages which managed to sneak past the dating phase.

After the shadchan arranged the set-up, Leib phoned Gitty. On the call, Leib asked Gitty where she would like to go to eat on the date. She said that she was open to what Leib would want. Leib said that he'd like to go to Heimee's Hamburgs. Gitty said that this is a fast food kind of place in which there is no privacy to talk. She felt this was unsuitable for a first date. She made a point to say that she didn't need the place to be expensive but she asked that wherever they'd go, she'd like it to be conducive to a first date and to be in good taste. Leib said, "Okay. I'll think about it."

When they met, Gitty asked Leib what he came up with when he thought about where to eat. He said that he hadn't thought about it. He asked her what she wanted. She was a bit perturbed that he hadn't given the matter thought as he said he would. She remained calm and said, "How about Canton Kalman's?" He said, "Nah, I don't want Chinese."

"How about Dovid's Deli?"

"Nah, I don't think so."

She tried a third time. "How about Pinchas Pizza?"

"I'd rather not."

"Do you have a suggestion?"

"Heimee's Hamburgs. Would that be alright?"

She was upset inside but didn't show it. She remained calm, dignified and ladylike. "I told you what my feelings are. I'll agree to whatever you like."

While eating, Gitty mentioned that she would be traveling abroad for an upcoming vacation. Then, the conversation got into the subject of kashruss. "What?" screamed Leib. You would eat XYZ? You're not kosher enough! As long as you plan to travel abroad, you'd be better off spending your time in Israel in a yeshiva learning! You should spend your vacation there and do something with your time!"

"I can't take the luxury of traveling that distance or for such a long time. I have a responsible job. I'm content with my religious level."

Then, Leib started bringing defenses and proofs for his religious ideologies. He started challenging her ideologies. He demanded substantiations for her positions. His speech was driving and intrusive. Gitty felt tense, more like she was on a debate than a date.

Gitty told the matchmaker after the date that Leib is "off the wall" and rigid. The matchmaker agreed that his not thinking about where to eat and his being inflexible about the Hamburger place wasn't nice of him; that he was presumptuous in admonishing someone he didn't really know, loudly, in an unprivate location and in an order-giving manner; and not knowing how to differentiate between a chavrusa and a woman. He may have been religiously sincere, but his relating approach was abrasive, tactless, alienating and out of line.


[This case describes a scene which occurred about a decade and a half ago. The woman, projecting her fault and inadequate self-esteem onto others, is still single today and near the end of her child-bearing years. Everything that she said about the man applied to her and the man was good in every way that she said he was bad. Her criticizing and delegitimatizing came from her own failure to look into her own shortcomings and inner unhappiness.]

Mordechai has been described as a dynamic personality. He is the head of a vibrant business. He has a brilliant and active mind. Since childhood, he has stood out as a lively, creative and friendly person - the last guy you would think of as a "dud." Today he is happily married and has a family.

When he was dating, he was set-up with Yocheved. Yocheved was described to me as a dull woman who didn't have much that was interesting to say. However, she thought of herself as having an A-1 personality.

On the date, Mordechai was rather quiet. He saw nothing about Yocheved that evoked any particular response, so he said relatively little and demonstrated just about no personality.

After the date, Yocheved complained to a friend that Mordechai is real "nothing type of guy." Actually, she had given Mordechai a "nothing type of chance."


A shadchan set Harriet and Max up and shortly after the "go ahead," Max phoned her. Harriet felt that the phone call went OK and was looking forward to the date, set for 8 p.m. a few evenings later.

Shortly before eight o'clock, Max phoned to say that he didn't have a car and would be delayed till he could rent one. Harriet did not require fancy treatment and a down-to-earth friendly walk in the park would have suited her just fine. "Please don't bother. Just come and we'll do something on foot. It's quite alright, really."

"No, No, Harriet. I want to make a nice impression and show you a nice time."

"I just told you that I would be impressed and have a nice time if you just show up on foot, on time and we'll do something simple."

"Don't worry. I know I'm running a little late but I'll be there soon. I'll just go to Alef-Bais Rent-A-Rechev. Catch ya later."

Harriet was a little disturbed. She though that she would phone Alef-Bais, which was not too far away, try to catch him, and ask him to just come over. She got a message machine which said that the business hours were until six o'clock. What was going on? Is he a liar? Is he a kook?

About an hour later he called again and just quickly said that he still was behind but that he was coming. Before she could say anything, he hung up. She was all dressed up, waiting and waiting. She was getting exasperated. About another hour later, her phone rang. It was Max again. "I'm just letting ya know I'm still coming. Don't worry." He hung up, again giving her no time to get a word in edgewise. "What's his agenda? What's his problem?" she wondered.

About 10:45, nearly three hours late, the doorbell rang. He pointed to the street to indicate the nice chariot which he had arranged for. She forced a polite smile. In marched Max, flowers in hand, and announced, "I'm taking you to any restaurant you like. Let's make it something nice. I want to show you a nice time."

Her first thought was that it was too late for that. Maybe if it would have still been eight o'clock. She was frustrated from waiting three hours and she was getting tired already. "No perhaps we'll just stay in and talk." The rest of the family knew to stay out of the livingroom.

"Absolutely not! I want you to have a nice time."

She thought to herself that this guy is in a world of his own and that two minutes with him was already beyond endurance. She forced herself to remain polite and civil. "Given the hour, I'm really not prepared to go out to a restaurant now."

"You've got to eat!"

She thought "I've got to sleep. I've got to escape. Where were you at eight?"

"You'll be going first class. Look at the car I have!"

Forcing herself to keep composure, she said, "No, it's really quite OK. Let's just talk here."

Max was stunned. How could she refuse to let him be impressive?!

They talked for about forty five minutes. All the while she was privately jittery and wanted it to end. He made in impression on her, alright: he doesn't know how to listen, relate or communicate. When he left, around 11:30, she was near shaking.


It was five hours. That was a nice length for a date. The last several dates had run only an hour or two each, and they all turned out to be classic duds. Her mother was starting to think that this guy today must be the basherte that her daughter was hoping for. She was expecting her daughter to come home smiling ear to ear.

Shaindl came home and found her mother eager to hear how it went, complete with an excited facial expression. Before her mother had a chance to blurt out, "Nu?" her face turned to stone...upon seeing Shaindl's expression.

"Mommy, I feel like giving up." Shaindl was on the verge of crying. "These guys are too much. I don't want to date anymore."

"Boobala, what happened?" her mother asked softly.

"We went to Manhattan. We walked around. The whole time he talked about himself. Every other word out of him mouth was 'I.' It was never conversation. It wasn't two-way dialogue. He never asked me to say a word. I couldn't get a word in edgewise. He talked about what he wants to do. He talked about his past. He told me he fell in with a bad crowd as a teenager. He told me he has a 'dark past.' Why should I want to hear about that? If he's OK now, why do I need to hear about it, especially when he's making his first impression? If he's still into anything no good, why is he dating frum girls? He was totally wrapped up in himself.

"He never offered me even a soda. At the end I told him, 'If I don't get something to drink soon, you can take me to Beth Israel Hospital instead of home.'

"He apologized and said, 'I'm so sorry. I guess you'll never want to date me again.' Why should I? He wanted me to see him again, too. Do you believe it? He probably needs a psychologist more than a shidduch. He spoke about himself for five hours and doesn't know how to treat a woman. This is what the shadchanim want me to marry?"


People come to me to ask me if, in my experience, I might have met someone who might be a shidduch (match) for them (or for someone they are concerned about).

After one of my many presentations at Rebitzen Esther Jungreis' world-famed Hineni Heritage Center on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Goldi asked if she could speak to me. She said that she is in her forties and is looking for a shidduch. She asked if I could help her.

In speaking to her I found out a little about her. It was relatively brief and in a public place, so my information on her was rather incomplete. I took her name and number.

About a month or two after, in a workshop I was giving for singles in Queens, there was a fellow who asked to speak to me after the public session. He said he was having trouble finding a mate. He told me about himself and that he would like a nice girl. He was in the low fifties. His nature struck me as compatible for the woman I spoke to at Hineni.

I phoned Goldi. When I had her on the phone I told her I needed to find out more about her because I have a guy in mind, but I need more information to make an assessment about whether or not the two are "candidates" for each other.

One of the things that came out in that conversation is that Goldi still could have children, but she does not want children.

I told her that she said to me that she has been observant all her life. Central to the Jewish value system is having children. You would figure that a woman who is from an observant Jewish upbringing and background wants and values children. Here is an observant man in his low fifties who has never had children.

I asked her, "Do you know that in Jewish law, the first priority in getting married is to have children. It is a commandment for a man to marry and have children. This obligation is not fulfilled until a man has at least one viable son and one viable daughter. If you're telling me that you don't want children, and given that you say you can, and let's assume that you really can, do you realize that I cannot set you up with a man, in Jewish law, because his first obligation is to get married and have children. In Jewish law a man who is capable of having children and who has not yet had at least one son AND one daughter may not marry you. You could only be set up with either a man who already has children so as to have already fulfilled his obligation, such as someone divorced or widowed OR the only other alternative is to set you up with a man who knows that he is not capable of having children, so that having children is not an option for that man. Those are the only two options you've got. You want a Torah observant man and you want him to be unable to have what the Torah tells him to get married for."

Goldi told me, "You know, I never thought of it that way. That's maybe one of the reasons I'm having difficulty getting married. Men go out with me and they want children and I'm not ready to provide them with children so they reject me. You're making me think that I have to reassess the way I'm going about looking for a mate. It hasn't worked all these years."

Goldi has been inviting rejection. She has been defining herself in a way that makes her ineligible when going out with

men for whom she wants to be eligible.


Menasheh hadn't been seeing anyone at the time and had grown bored with his social doldrum. He and two of his friends decided to go out together for dinner one evening in order to have company. Before the end of the meal, Gila walked into the restaurant. One of Menasheh's friends had dated Gila. On the date they decided that they were not for each other but they had a friendly time, so, when his friend saw her walk into the restaurant, he called Gila over to say hello. She caught Menasheh's fancy and he made a point to talk with her. They seemed to get along quite well. Menasheh asked her if she would be interested in going out together. He hadn't finished his meal and she hadn't eaten. He offered to take her to another eatery where they could both have "a something," more as an excuse to make a date than to make culinary sense. She agreed. They excused themselves from the two other guys.

At the other eatery, Menasheh asked Gila if she'd like to go bowling. He really wanted to spend time with her. She was open minded and said it would be OK. When they got to the bowling alley, the place was very filled up. Menasheh said he didn't want to wait around so long. It was getting late and he had work the next morning. She was agreeable again. He was really impressed with how nice she was about everything. He took her number and said he would call her.

A few days later, he phoned her and asked her out. On their date, Gila was entirely pleasant and easy to get along with. Menasheh felt that he should be feeling happy, because this was someone who he could find no fault with. But, instead of feeling happy at having a lovely date, he felt scared and nervous inside. They agreed to see each other again. Owing to their respective schedules, they basically fell into a pattern of meeting regularly once a week, when they both had available time, like clockwork.

After about two months, Gila started throwing out clear signals that she was expecting Menasheh to be serious with her. Menasheh was in a dilemma. He couldn't put his finger on why he felt ill-at-ease and he couldn't find words with which to articulate to Gila that he was not sharing her marital inclinations.

The relationship came to a stagnation and coasted at the same level for another couple of months. Gila became more and more assertive and adamant. She was expecting Menasheh to marry her. He was comfortable to have the relationship but he was not finding any sympathy for her aspiration nor interest in a marital development. Her response was to get progressively more assertive, his was to evade the subject as aggressively as she pushed it. This transformed the pristine and sweet rapport into a tense relationship. They were used to each other and neither wanted to break the relationship off. But, it was at an untenable and irreconcilable impasse.

One time they had a date and Menasheh just didn't show up. She waited loyally at the meeting place till four in the morning. He didn't even phone her family or the place where she was waiting.

The next morning she called him, assuming a benefit of doubt, and asked what happened. He said he was delayed somewhere and didn't expect that she would wait too long for him. She good-naturedly accepted the excuse and trusted it to be true. They made their next date for the next week at their regular time. He didn't show up again. She had a harder time finding a "benefit of doubt attitude." It was now twice in a row. She struggled to keep her composure when asking what happened. Torn within, hurt and nearing the limits of her patience, she decided to accept his excuse but she said, when making their next date, "You're not going to fail to show up again are you?" He said, "No, I'll show up." They made their date.

Menasheh failed to show up the third time. They didn't speak to each other again. He had never learned to communicate about feelings, to empathize with someone else's feelings or to adapt his behavior to accommodate someone else's feelings. He could be happy so long as things were on his terms. He didn't know how to handle terms, needs or demands which didn't suit him. He wasn't prepared for a relationship to require that he give of himself.

A family member heard about me around the time Menasheh ended his relationship with Gila. Concerned that he was not getting married, the relative encouraged Menasheh to call me for counseling.


Nechama had just about everything going for her that you could name. She came from a good family that stemmed from a Chasidic rebbi. More important, she was a wonderful and sweet person. She was very frum, very human, very normal and worked on herself very sincerely. She was a baalas midos (superb character qualities) and a baalas chesed (actively and constantly kind and good-natured). She was a true "catch" for the right boy.

When she went away to seminary, she boarded with a family. This family, as it turned out, was also of special quality - kind, frum, "Torah-dik," "midos-dik," refined. She and the family took to each other and she became unusually close with this family.

When Nechama came to the age of shidduchim, the father in this family took over as her "shidduch manager." He occupied the role that any girl's father would occupy if he weren't as far away as Nechama's father was. He was as caring and diligent as any father would be, he was on the lookout for a superb boy, he screened the boys no less than he did for his own marriageable daughters.

Yechiel passed muster. He appeared to be nice and doing well in his Torah studies. A date was set up.

Upon meeting Nechama, Yechiel made a presentable first impression. He picked her up in a taxi and instructed the driver to take them to a fancy restaurant. Although Yechiel seemed quite the gentlemen with her, he seemed condescending in the way he spoke to the driver. Being the master of good midos, she figured it was her misinterpretation and forgot about it.

During the ride, Yechiel was pleasant company, polite and an interesting conversationalist. She was starting to figure that, after all, this was a real nice fellow. When they got to the restaurant, he got the car door for her. He really was proving to be a gentleman. Then, when he settled the fare with the cabby, he was rude again. She decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

When they went into the restaurant, he held the door and seemed quite nice again. When the waiter came, Yechiel was arrogant to him. During the entire meal, Yechiel kept going back and forth between being lovely with her and nasty to the waiter. Now the documentation was inescapable. It was too many times. Yechiel was able to show niceness selectively. But, as she put it so well after the date when she got home, "If he's not nice to everybody, then he really isn't nice."

Shortly thereafter, Nechama ended up marrying a grandson of one of the previous generation's greatest gedolim (Torah leaders). Her husband is nice to everybody - and a Torah-great in the making. They are two beautiful people who have a beautiful marriage.


In one of my presentations, I addressed the subject of what goes into a happy marriage. I was speaking about such topics as giving to a partner, respect, true love, trust, etc.

One man abruptly, tensely and angrily started interrupting. "That's all on paper. That's not reality. I've been married and divorced. I know the truth. Women are all gold-diggers. All they want is to take a man's money and kill him. You know the snake killed Adam. Women are the snake. All they're good for is killing a husband. That's all they want. This business about love and happiness is all nice for talk. But in real life, baby, it's nothing but junk. Women don't want love. They want to take a man's blood out. Just take 'em for all they're worth - that's all a woman wants. You have no right to go around telling people that it's possible to have love and happiness. That's not true. Women make me so angry. They just want a man's money and then his death. That's all. This stuff is not reality."

I started to cite sources which show how a Torah marriage yields bondedness and happiness. Then, incapable of hearing anything that he didn't want to hear, he angrily marched out.


After a presentation at the Sephardic Education Center on Manhattan's East Side, a woman came to me to ask if I could speak to a relative who was having a difficult time finding a husband. This relative, let's call her an Aunt, is married, somewhat older, considerably mature and concerned. She sat in quietly during the meeting.

The young lady, let's call her Marsha, was in her late twenties. To be unmarried at this age in religious society, is a matter of concern. She spoke to me for a good while to tell me what she is looking for. She told me that her family is not well connected and to get a match you have to be well connected in your community. It didn't sit well with me that this should be the whole story. There had to have been more.

I asked Marsha what she was looking for, what would it take for a relationship to work, the kind of things I would need to know in order to make a responsible set-up for her. I asked her a number of questions, some of the answers to which were worrisome to me. One question I ask people in order to get a sense of the person and how the person handles such a question is, "What are your shortcoming that have contributed so far to your not being married?" I tell them that I am asking for a constructive purpose. For someone to be able to realistically live with you, they have to be able to work with your problems, live with your shortcomings, have strengths that can help you work on your shortcomings or be able to tolerate your shortcomings. I also have to discern if any shortcomings can hurt another person. Angels can get along with angels and human beings have to get along with human beings, realistically, practically and effectively. I want some insight. If a person hedges or plays games, that turns me off to them and makes me less interested in helping them. I don't set up angels. If someone claims to be an angel, I only know human beings and can set up only human beings. If I find out shortcomings, I can find out what makes the person ineligible for whom, or what they have to work on realistically and honestly, or I have a sense of what strengths in another could compensate and constitute an eligible match.

Some people are very honest. Marsha said that she doesn't have any shortcomings other than that she's sensitive so that if she's not accommodated with what her feelings are, she might feel very badly. That, to me, was an avoidance of the question because she is trying to make it sound like she has a good attribute (sensitivity) that is her one negative fault. She was doing this because she doesn't want to say that there is anything wrong with her. If she says that she has any imperfections, she supposes that I probably would not set her up. What she didn't realize is that I probably wouldn't set her up if she has NO imperfections. I only set-up human beings. True, if I discern that any single would be ill-equipped for, or destructive in, a serious relationship I would not help them marry. All people have shortcomings. A real marriage requires that two people can tolerate or complete each other's shortcomings. A real match, therefore, requires diligent investigation of what shortcomings in A can B live with, and vice-versa.

Marsha gave me the feeling that the sensitivity that she reported was probably more self-directed for her own benefit, and less available for the benefit of others. She gave me the sense that she is probably being too picky and sensitive and looking out for getting too big and unrealistic a list of things that she wants and wants and wants. If a guy wouldn't have the whole list, she wouldn't take him seriously or give him a fair chance.

The second thing that concerned me was that within her list of things that she wants in a husband was a contradiction that is next to impossible to find in one person. I would be surprised if she would find someone who could manage it and I told her so.

She said she wants a guy who, on the one hand, is a go-getter who is driven, ambitious, hard-working, who will earn a good living, have a career, be strong out there in the world. Marsha also said that he should be a family man, home-body, caring, sensitive and warm. I said to myself, "This is silly. This is so unrealistic." I told her, "You want two contradictory things. You want a guy who is out there in the world and striving hard. You want a guy who is a home-body, sensitive and a family man. I always see these as being mutually exclusive. It's always one way or the other. These are two separate types. Make up your mind. If you had to get off the fence and decide between the guy who's strongly ambitious out in the world versus a sensitive home and family value guy, which would you force yourself to choose if you had to choose one over the other? The two in one person is basically a contradiction. It's not realistic." Her aunt silently but emphatically shook her head, "yes."

Marsha wisely said that if she had to, she "Would choose the guy who would be home and sensitive and is for family-values, who would be warm and devoted to his wife and kids."

She basically had an unrealistic expectation and was more concerned about receiving a check-list that was fairly extensive and elaborate, and contained so many things that some of them were literal contradictions to other items that she demanded from a guy. Marsha is a religious-from-birth woman in a religious community, getting older and older. Her idea of what she wants, needs, deserves or expects is not capable of working.

It's more realistic to work on not wanting the impossible than to keep striving after the impossible. Striving after any unattainable, for whatever the reason, is one of the best ways to keep from getting married. Pursuing the unattainable allows the person to keep thinking, "I'm making effort, I'm doing my part, there's nothing wrong with me." The person does not find someone who is attainable. This "system" for being unmarried works exquisitely.


[Some of the case histories reported in this "Frus-Dating" series represent scenarios which, in my counseling and workshop experience, occur repeatedly. They are as much patterns as case histories in that I see essentially the same story played out more than once. I am starting these case histories with one such scenario that I see time after time repeatedly, especially in my workshops or pubic presentations which allow for audience involvement. This is probably the scenario which, in my workshop experience, has repeated itself the most times.

The general theme starts with the subject of: the crucial and fundamental role of giving, so as to please a spouse. I speak, in the lecture, from Talmudic and Torah sources, how giving builds love for another within a person. I describe the widespread mistake of expecting love to come first, followed by giving, and how unless giving comes first, lasting love cannot be developed. I describe how the more that love is NOT built from giving AND NOT accompanied by respect, the more the love will degenerate and end.

Someone in the audience (sometimes more than one person) invariably raises a hand. Almost always, the person is a female in her late thirties or in her forties. On rare occasion it is a male or another age group. The person is either divorced or, if not, has had some one-sided and strongly emotional relationships which, in the end, were very unhappy.

Let's say I'm doing a presentation or workshop for singles. A woman in her early forties raises her hand. Let's say her name is Devorah. The following script, more or less, recurs time after time after time.]

"Yes, Devorah." The subject matter already has her face a little emotional, perhaps longing or bewildered. I can see it in the eyes.

"Rabbi, you said that giving builds love. I was in a very close relationship. More than once. I gave all the time. I'm a very sensitive person. I feel for a guy and I want to have a happy relationship so much. And when I give, all the guys do is take advantage. They take what they want, but they don't give back. They're ingrates. Sometimes they are downright nasty [or angry or selfish]. How does that go with what you're saying about love and giving?"

"Devorah, never lose sight of the fact that giving is always a two-way street. Failing that, you have the contemporary high divorce rate and so many singles not finding a happy relationship. People wind up disillusioned, lonely and sad. A stable, loving relationship entails reciprocal giving. Your ATTITUDE has to be one of 'I want to give and not ask to take from the other.' But, the other person has the same exact responsibility. The other has to give the same ATTITUDE back also. The other person has to give also."

"But, rabbi, they never do," she said with hurting emotion in her voice.

"Devorah, I'm going to tell you something very deep. I want you to think about it very seriously, because it will be the foundation for answering this.

"The way a person views and relates to and chooses a relating partner is an extension of your deepest inner-personality. It is not true that people never give back. However, we live, today, in a very selfish, materialistic and psychologically deficient society. Takers are common.

"What I have to ask you to explore is: what is it within you that causes you to choose the relating partners that you select? What causes you to choose relating partners who don't give, who are mean and self-oriented? What attracts you to them, especially if repeatedly?

"There's some thing in you that settles for, or may be driven after, relationships that cause you pain and dissatisfaction. We choose relationships that are extensions of our inner psychological reality and our self-concept. There is something in the type of men you select that stimulates you emotionally. You associate something about them with something under the surface in your emotions. That determines what you see as normal or axiomatic. If these underlying 'realities,' that you've been conditioned to operate by, cause you to expect hurt or rejection; or cause you to feel that you have to give of yourself in order to 'buy' love, approval or emotional security, then you will go after relating partners who match your internal psychological axioms, expectations, needs or 'reality.'

"Ask yourself if you notice any pattern or similarity, in regards to this, between the men you've chosen as relating partners, or in your relationships. If you can't get to the bottom of this on your own, perhaps a professional will help.

"The way a person chooses a relationship or partner is an extension of the inner self. If you elevate your standards, axioms, emotions and practices, you will gradually grow more sensitive to giving, reciprocity and compatibility as the 'reality' in choosing, cultivating and conducting relationships. Getting along, love, respect and giving will be 'normal.' Anyone who doesn't operate this way, anyone who can't reciprocate, becomes irrelevant. They won't measure up. You won't relate to, be attracted to or value a person unless he shares the same axioms and behaviors.

"When you get to that point, it will be normal to only choose and cultivate a relationship with a partner who can give back. Much of this will take care of itself. You may then need some skill development, fine-tuning or behavior modification. But if you can re-orient yourself to see BOTH RELATING PARTNERS AS WORTHY OF, AS WELL AS PROVIDERS OF, GIVING, and practice this and develop consistency in this, and get a bit of coaching, things will gradually get better. If you make a mistake along the way, that can be expected, so don't let it get to you. Correct it and just keep on going.

"You obviously are a person with a lot to offer. I see that you are a sensitive and substantive person. Don't stop giving. Don't be discouraged. Don't drop your standards. BRING YOUR SELECTION CRITERIA UP TO YOUR OWN STANDARDS! Don't settle for a guy who abuses your standards. Establish your standards as a basis for constructive and mutual exchange. Then when you give, it will cultivate the deep and fulfilling love that you are looking for. It's not that giving doesn't build love. You need two 'players' who 'play' by the same 'giving rules.' When a man or a woman gives, and chooses a relating partner who also gives, together you can build a happy and serious relationship. If you can build this into your foundation, all the pieces will then fit together. No one gets shortchanged. Both are fulfilled. You will both give and you will both share love."

Devorah smiled with warmth and reassurance.


[The following case depicts how an individual may think he or she knows what he or she is looking for in a mate and is in control of relating patterns, even though the patterns repeatedly do not work. This case depicts a young woman who was protecting herself from hurt by creating an obstacle to a serious relationship. Part of her defense was

* "coming on strong,"

* acting self-assuredly,

* projecting one's own fault onto a relating partner,

* fear of and separation from true feelings,

* acting in opposition to one's true nature and

* holding onto and justifying behavior that doesn't work.

In essence, many of these case histories depict how singles create obstacles to getting serious or married. Also, this is a case in which the beneath-the-surface-reality of a single is where the relating patterns are determined, beneath conscious awareness, and would go over the head of your typical matchmaker.

This case is unusual in that it accomplished in one session what normally takes a much longer therapeutic process. Since the person involved is a trained psychotherapist by profession and had the integrity and courage to "take the bull by the horns" with unusual directness and rapidity, the case as it actually happened is condensed and to the point. Therefore, it serves unusually well to present a type of defensive pattern that I have seen in some form or other in people who came from cold and emotionally negligent parents, or who had been married to and divorced from a cold and emotionally negligent partner. The people are carrying deep emotional pain, which is typically buried beneath conscious awareness, and which powerfully manipulates and drives their lives, particularly when seeking a serious relationship].

I received a phone call from a woman with a strong but sweet voice. Let's call her Tamar. She heard that I do matchmaking and that I believe in an in-depth approach, which appealed to her. Right away, her description of herself suggested that she is a substantial person.

I asked her to give me a preliminary description of herself and what she was looking for in a mate. I do this when I get a phone call from a single who I don't know, because if I don't know a prospective match who is in the caller's "ballpark," it's not fair to me or to the caller to spend time in a futile full-length in-person interview, especially if the person is travelling a distance to get to me, as Tamar would have. I'll tell the person to call again in a few months to see if I've met anyone who could be a "candidate." If there might be something practical, I'll set up a more in-depth meeting with the single then.

She said she is a therapist in her early thirties and wants very much to find a serious relationship.

Right away, I could tell from her voice that there was some kind of conflict within Tamar. It was something subtle and I could not put my finger on it, but if I could get to the bottom of it, something that was holding her marriageability up could be eliminated. She sounded very human, very substantial. She seemed to have a basically healthy and self-aware personality, yet she spoke in an ever so slightly choppy fashion, just enough to signal, given my psychological training, some kind of separation from her emotional self. Instead of each syllable flowing from one to the next, it seemed like there was a very quick stop between each syllable and the next. It was a bit as if she were on the other side of a door and after each syllable, the door would close then open again. She sounded like she could be emotional but was clearly operating from her intellect. She was intellectualizing her feelings, which I know from my psychological training is a defense mechanism, an unconscious internal psychological maneuver to protect the individual from an anxiety-producing situation.

She started by saying, in a very strong voice, "I have a very strong personality. I intimidate some men. I'm not a demure female. I need a guy who isn't intimidated. I'm very giving and I find it hard to find guys who are able to give back."

Right away, I sensed that this was relevant to the inner conflict that her voice indicated. But, I did not yet have enough data to draw any conclusions. I sensed from a pleasant element in her voice that Tamar was an honest and open person, so I explored further. I was very impressed. She handled herself with integrity, courage and sweetness that is rare in such a potentially psychologically threatening interchange. Since we both are trained in psychology, since she is basically a good neshama and since she sincerely wants to get married, she handled herself like a trooper. What follows evolved spontaneously on the phone. The actual conversation continued for about 75 minutes. Even though the rapid flow of such a conversation is not representative (what was accomplished here could take weeks, if not months or years in conventional counseling), the process of getting to realization of a marriage-blockage will be valuable for the reader.

"So, you're saying that you need a guy who is both very strong and very giving, is that what I'm hearing, Tamar?"

"Yes. Very strong and very giving."

"Tamar, I wonder about this business about wanting a strong guy and a giving guy. I need to know more and I need to know why and how what you're looking for hasn't worked to date. Tell me about your personality, religiosity and life direction and goals, Tamar."

"You're right. Something isn't working. Hmm. Good questions. My personality, eh? Okay. I'm self-assured. I'm in the world. I'm a psychotherapist and I work in a clinic. I see it all. Violent crime victims. Abuse victims. I know what's going on in the world. When people in dating or social situations ask me about my work, and I tell them, they can't take it. For example, several shaboses ago I was at a family I know for one of the shabos meals. They had several guests at the table. Someone suggested we go around the table and say what we each do. When I said what I do, the person who said to go around the table cut me off in the middle and told the next person to start speaking. I've recently learned to simply say that I'm a therapist. If they want to know more, they can ask. I answer any questions briefly and to the point. If they want to know more they can keep asking and I'll answer to the extent that they keep asking. But I don't like when people ask and can't handle when I answer. I want a guy who can let me talk about my work or about my day. I need to be able to talk about what's on my heart and what has happened during my day.

"I recently went out with a guy. It was a blind date. He was big like a football player. You could see that he was a strong personality. As soon as I opened the door, he picked up on my strong personality and he said to me first thing, 'I don't intimidate easily but I get alienated by a girl who makes me feel like I should be intimidated'."

I replied to her, "You talk about a giving and a tough relationship. Can you tell me how that works? I don't hear giving and toughness coming too readily together. How is it - tough and giving at once?"

"Well, when I'm in a relationship, the tough and the giving are not at once."

"Oh? Not at once?"

"What I mean is, I start out tough. If I a guy proves himself..."

"What do you mean 'proves himself'?"

"If he's not intimidated by my being strong, my saying what I have to say and his being there for me as I need, I warm up, and become very giving."

"Then that's not toughness. That's insecurity. A giver wants to give from the start. I can tell that you're not a taker. Your intrinsic nature wants to give. You want a giving exchange all along but you can't trust that your real inner needs will be given to. You see giving right away as threatening. You'd be vulnerable. A giving guy would relate givingly. How giving do you find the tough type of guy to be?"

"Not really giving. Rabbi Forsythe, I thought that I knew what I needed in a guy. But in your getting me to talk about it, I see that the date with the guy who wasn't intimidated at my door didn't work. It was a pretty bad date and I thought he just wasn't for me. But in thinking about it, I don't think it was capable of working."

"Tamar, it sounds like there was a wall between the two of you. It also sounds like you're in conflict. There's something conveyed by your voice like the proverbial person who is tied to two horses who are whipped and run in opposite directions. You sound like you're being pulled in opposite directions. Your voice sounds very intellectual. You're talking about something that should bring a person to considerable emotion, yet there's a noticeable absence of feeling. You're obviously a sensitive person but where is the mass of emotion that goes with a sensitive person in your situation?"

"Rabbi Forsythe, you're on to the right things. When my supervisor at the clinic does reviews with me of my work, he also says that I talk about things that happen - which should make one have emotions, like seeing a crime or trauma victim - intellectually. He asks me, 'I heard what you THINK about it, now what do you FEEL about it? Where are your feelings?' I try to work on myself. I'm working on feeling. I have feelings."

"You're not accessing your feelings. You have deep feelings. How has this conflict impacted relationships with men? It would seem that if you're as giving as you say you are, if I may be frank..."

"You may."

" would seem that you select men who are strong, macho types. True?"


"How are strong macho-type men when it comes to giving to you?"

"Pretty bad."

"You come on tough. You set up toughness as an axiom of relationship. You make it of paramount importance. It doesn't work. You say you are a giver. You're a giver and a toughie, right?"


"How can YOU be a giver AND a tough cookie at the same time? You say you are toughness and giving together. I hear more of that subtle conflict in your voice and, besides, I don't believe you."

"I'd like to know why you don't believe me, Rabbi."

"You're sensitive. I believe you when you say you have a giving nature. You're handling yourself very generously in speaking to me. I'm being blunt with you because I discern you really want to overcome your conflict and you sincerely want to get married."

"I sure do."

"And, I discern that you can work constructively with the truth and that you know to take my straightforwardness positively and you are working with it commendably."

"Well, I am a therapist."

"Tamar, I've seen therapists get explosive, when it comes to them. You're impressive, believe me.

"You said that you'd like to know why I don't believe that you are BOTH tough and a giver. The answer is in the Talmud. In one place the Talmud says to be soft and bendable, in another place the Talmud says to be gentle. The giving part of you clearly shows that you have a soft, very human inner essence. This happens to be the natural state of a Jew, especially once a mature adult. You can't be soft and tough together. It's a contradiction. You are defensive, not tough."

"You have to be tough in life."

"Tamar, a soft person who is healthy knows how to be tough on those rare life occasions when toughness is called for. Part of being healthy is balance. The Hebrew word for personality trait is 'mida.' Mida, translated literally, means 'measure.' Every trait has to be possessed in appropriate measure so that you have it in 'inventory' for the appropriate time and place. But the healthy person's general demeanor through the majority of life is humble and gentle.

"There is something in you that, deep inside, hurts. You've put up a protective wall around that inner hurt. In a relationship with a man, you have some psychological association with the cause of that hurt. And, you will put on the tough front to keep potential attackers away, and keep that hurt place in your heart safe. You want to approach a man as tough so that he'll be signalled to not hurt you. You're being 'strong' is broadcasting that you are not one to mess with. If anyone's going to do the hurting, it's you. You want a giving relationship because the intrinsic you, beneath the hurt, wants a warm, human, close and secure relationship. But you choose men who should tolerate your toughness, because you consider yourself 'safe' when they accept your toughness. They won't hurt someone tough. But, they are shoved away by the tough way you present yourself, so it can't ever escalate to a serious, giving relationship. Is there anything in your past or family that could have caused you such deep hurt that can cover you heart with a protective wall?"

"Well, both of my parents."

"What do you mean, Tamar?"

"They are both very stoic, unemotional. The most striking sign of this is that I never once saw them fight."

"Even behind closed doors? Late at night?"

"Never. No emotion in my house. Not even anger. I remember, too, that my grandparents were not emotional. Everything was on the surface. The whole family. I remember that if I ever wanted approval, I had to show how smart I was or how excellently I could achieve. That was the only way I got lo..., I can't even say 'love.' Approval." She paused. "You're right. I have never been loved. I can't feel loved."

"How does that make you feel?"

She paused. "Your right. It hurts."

"Are you afraid to hurt?"


"You really want a loving and giving relationship, don't you?"

"Very much."

"Do you think you're going to get it from a tough guy or a soft and giving guy."

"Soft and giving."

"You called me up in my capacity as a shadchan. You said you knew what kind of a guy you wanted. You were sure. You said you were self-aware. Does the typical shadchan set you up on the basis of the face-value of what you say?"

"Oi vey."

"What impact has that had on your dates?"


"If your life would be analogous to a book, you call a shadchan and say, 'I'm on page 196,' when you're 'on page 2.' If you want your life to be 'readable,' what do you suppose you have to do?"

"Work on myself more."


"I don't know, Rabbi."

"Would you consider therapy."

"Do you think it would help?"

"Tamar, as a therapist, you know it would. Do you know why you asked if it would help?"


"Are you afraid to hurt?"


"Might not therapy bring up hurt?"

"Facing hurt is a part of therapy."

"Imagine if you were diligent and courageous in facing your inner pain? Your situation is subtle. If someone were actively abused, there would be much more clear-cut hurt. Your hurt comes from your sensitive emotions never having been nurtured and loved."

"That's very true."

"That makes it harder to see clearly, especially by yourself. Don't you expect you will gain with professional help? I may be too far away from your location to do it for you. What effect would you expect if you mustered up the courage to address this diligently?"

"I could get in touch with my feelings, learn what my motivations are and what doesn't work in looking for my husband."

"Are those goals that you would like to achieve?"

"Very much."

"Well, Tamar, for it to work, you have to really do it, really be diligent and stick with it, really be brave and honest in facing your inner self. But, you know what?"


"Your true inner essence would make the right guy very happy, and make him very happy TO MAKE YOU VERY HAPPY. You'll have to get access to your inner essence before a man can access it. That inner essence that you've been covering and protecting is just what the right guy is waiting for, is yearning to meet and exchange with. That's the inner you that he wants to relate to, to be impressed with, to give to and to love. But, he'll need you to let him."

"Rabbi, thank you for your time."


Nachum dated Leeba for about four months. When they started seeing each other, Nachum told me that he had some doubts, but his rapport with Leeba was pretty good and she really was interested in him. She tried very hard to be nice. He wanted to give it a fair try. Yet, something was bothering him and Nachum couldn't quite put his finger on it.

He was on the "religious track" - enjoyed going to Torah classes and working on his spirituality. Although Leeba said that she also was interested in spirituality, he noticed after a month or two that she would talk about it, but did next to nothing. She didn't report that she was going to classes except very rarely. He started discerning that she wasn't showing signs of spiritual growth or sensitivity in real-life situations.

One time, they went for a day trip to the country. Leeba was in need of leaving the date at three o'clock in order to get to a special evening shift at work that needed her participation. While in the country, Nachum ran into an old friend, who he hadn't seen in several years. She agreed to let him speak to the friend alone, since she had to take a little time to get her stuff ready for the return trip, anyway. The plan had called for her meeting Nachum at the parking lot in several minutes, after he finished speaking a bit to the old friend.

When Nachum got back to the parking lot he found a brief, scribbled note in Leeba's handwriting which said that she met an acquaintance while waiting in the parking lot. The acquaintance was headed to the area where she worked so she grabbed a ride with the other person.

Nachum had done his best to cut short his conversation with his old friend and hurried to the parking lot to take Leeba to work. He arrived punctually at the agreed-upon time. He was very hurt and aggravated by Leeba's having left with another person. He considered it to be selfish and very rude.

It occurred to him that what he was bothered by in Leeba was a theme of "looking out for number one," an overall spiritual insensitivity, with a pattern of doing what it takes to take care of herself. She was nice to him and gave lip service about spirituality because that's what it would take to get Nachum. But in real-life, on-the-spot situations, she wasn't "delivering."

Nachum said to me, around the time he was working up the strength to break off with Leeba, "I'm moving spiritually 100 miles per hour, she's going 5 miles per hour. When we first started going out, it was harder to see the spiritual differences between us. In the few months I've known her, the gap has widened so what I couldn't notice several months ago, I see now."

Parenthetically, another fellow spoke to me (the same day I wrote the above) about a relationship that he was in. He also couldn't put his finger on it but the relationship that he was in also had an unclear disparity. He also was in "spiritual motion." The girl he described was more religious, personable and considerate than Leeba, but her religiosity was lackluster. There were no drive nor feeling in her spirituality. It was a variation on the above anecdote, except that this girl was on a higher spiritual plane to start with but she was stagnant. This second fellow had trouble seeing what didn't add up about their relationship. I told him that he was in motion, she was standing still. Over time, the difference had grown more pronounced. When I put it into perspective for him, he saw it clearly and saw why this girl offered him no shidduch. She was at zero miles per hour. He not only was in motion, he had clear-cut spiritual "destinations." He needs a wife who can move with him and share his goals.


[Like the item about the workshops in which I speak about giving, this is an amalgam of several similar cases. I have heard many similar scenarios from several women, from matchmakers and from an organizer of singles get-togethers, who have all reported cases of men who are not going anywhere with their life and who are not equipped to be providers, yet who come to shadchanim or singles events ordering up a wife like something to be had from a menu.]

Berel came to a shadchan and asked for help in finding a shidduch. He is in his mid 30s. The matchmaker asked him about what he does. Berel said that he was out of work. Times are hard. The matchmaker gave benefit of the doubt. The matchmaker asked Berel what his profession is.

"A few things."

"What does that mean? Do you have several degrees? Did you change professions because of technological changes? What does 'a few things' mean?"

"Well. Um. I was a clerk for a while. The boss didn't like me so we didn't get along too good."

"What are you telling me? You left?"

"Well, he fired me."

"What was his reason? He must have had a reason."

"No. He just didn't like me."

"You mean you did your job OK and he arbitrarily fired you?"

"Well, he said I didn't do my work fast enough and I wasn't always accurate, so he let me go."

"Did you work more slowly and less accurately than what the job required."

"I don't see why he should think so. I really tried."

"Hmmmmmm. What about the 'few things.' You said you did other things."

"I worked doing stock in a warehouse. That was OK but the economy, ya know."

"You mean because of a drop in business they cut back?"

"Uh huh."

"Why were you let go? Were there no others who could have been dismissed? How come you?"

"Last hired. No seniority."

"Does that mean you weren't there for too long?"

"Few months."

"How long since you've been out of yeshiva?"

"Fifteen years."

"Have you held a steady job in those fifteen years?"

"Lot's of 'em!"

"How many?"

"Eight, nine, maybe ten."

"How long were you on any given job at a time?"

"I was on one job for a year and a quarter."

"One job for a year and a quarter."


"How long were you on the others?"

"Other what?"

"Jobs, Berel. Jobs."

"I don't remember exactly."

"On, average, Berel."

"Few months."



"What do you mean 'mostly?'"

"Some were shorter."


"Coupla weeks."

"You've had about eight or ten different jobs for a few months or weeks each, over fifteen years. Is that right?"


"This reminds me of the guy who said it's easy to quit smoking, he must have done it a thousand times."


"Never mind. Do you have any goals? Maybe I just haven't caught on yet. What do you do in your spare time?"

"I relax. I hang out."

"Berel, do you learn Torah, go to classes, are you working on any kind of projects, are you building anything with your life? Where are you headed? Are you working towards anything in particular, anything for the long run?"

"Well, I'm tryin' to get a job."

"Berel, let me ask you, how do you plan to support a wife a family? What do you expect a girl to respect you for? I would understand if you were working towards something: a career, a profession, a skill, kollel, a degree, an apprenticeship, a meaningful project, something. But how is a girl going to feel if I tell her that in fifteen years you've floated and drifted?"

"But I'm a real nice guy."

"I can see that. But a woman needs stability and security. She has to look up to a man. One of the things that helps a woman look up to her man is achievement, or at least steadiness, in his work. One of the things that helps a woman feel secure is a steady income. How is a girl going to feel if I tell her that you haven't shown that you can produce things that she would depend upon you for?"

"Um. From what you're saying, sounds pretty shaky, huh?"

"Well, does it make sense to you? I don't want to sound harsh, but I think this is something that's in your way, especially since you really want to get married."

"Um. Gee."

"Berel, why don't you take some time and think about it."


[A "flip side" of the above scenario is the growing trend among women, as reported by people who do matchmaking. More and more women want accomplished professionals who are making a good parnossa "livelihood," basically demanding men who can take care of them "in style." Their focus is on taking, materialism and on externals. In Jewish values, this is sad. This goes against both the practical potential for a real or good relationship and the central Torah principle of emuna - faith that G-d runs the world and apportions materialism to each individual as He sees fit. The essence should be sharing a life of Torah and mitzvos, and the quality of the marriage bond in conjunction with a husband's reasonable and responsible hishtadluss (practical effort). The outcome produced by that effort is from G-d and the Jew believes that all that G-d does is for the best (Brachos 60b-61a) and that true wealth is being happy with what G-d gives (Pirkei Avos chapter four). One matchmaker, fed up with this repeated demand by women for guys with money, gave one woman who came for an interview more than she bargained for. Let's call him Rabbi Ganzfried and let's call the young woman Ruchama. She has just told Rabbi Ganzfried that she wants a professional who is making a very good living.]

"Ruchama, why is it that you say you want only a man who is making big money?"

"It costs a lot of money to live today. Yeshiva for the kids costs a fortune. I want to live in a nice house with nice furniture. If the house needs a new carpet, I want to be able to have it. I want a car of my own. When I need new clothes, I don't want to have to think twice. I want to be able to go away for Pesach. If I need help around the house, I want to be able to get it."

"Ruchama, I know a woman who spoke just like you before she was married. And you know what? She got a wealthy guy. She thought she was set for life. He gave her all the luxuries she wanted from the first day. You'd suppose it was a 'custom made life,' wouldn't you? She had it made! A year and a half or two years into the marriage she had a baby. The baby had Downs Syndrome. All of a sudden, the life of ease and fun was all over. You see, she left out of her thinking the Ribono Shel Oilam. She forgot all about Him. Look what He did to remind her that He figures in the picture and that He calls the shots. Look what it took to wake her up. It was a very humbling experience, and her life was never the same."

Rabbi Ganzfried's face and tone progressively grew more dramatic as he continued. "Another woman also came to me saying that she wants a guy who's going make a guaranteed good living. You hear this? She wants a guarantee! I set her up for a date with a doctor. She told the guy that she wants this guarantee! Thank G-d he had a backbone. Do you know what he told her? 'You want from me a guarantee!? Then you're going to have to give me a guarantee also! You guarantee me that you have inside connections with G-d that I always keep making a fortune. There are, believe it or not, doctors who don't make money. It's not in the mazel. They're good doctors. People are satisfied when they go to them. But there's no guarantee that a stream of people flow to them. You guarantee there'll never be a stock market crash. You guarantee that there will never be too many other doctors flooding the market so there's less business for me. You guarantee that there is never any change in technology that makes my practice obsolete. You guarantee me that you never wrinkle. You guarantee that you never get fat. You guarantee that you never lose any teeth. You guarantee that my first child is a son, that my second child is a daughter and that after that you guarantee to give me a son every eighteen months for the rest of your childbearing years. Guarantee me that you'll never get sick. What are you guaranteeing me? If you get one wrinkle, you broke your guarantee and you get out. Is it a deal? Guarantees work two ways. Let me hear your guarantee to me! I want to marry a girl because I like her, not because of what she can do for me, and I'd like her to marry me because she likes me, not because of what I can do for her. If I decide to learn half a day, would you leave me? Will you guarantee to like me unconditionally?'"

Ruchama was stunned. She had no answer.


Mr. Bernstein, a fabulously wealthy man, went into a yeshiva and asked to speak to the Rosh HaYeshiva (head dean). He said that he had a daughter of marriageable age and wanted the best-learning guy in the yeshiva for his daughter, Chaya. He would give the couple a fortune of money so that the fellow could continue to learn Torah. The Rosh HaYeshiva said he had just the boy, who was excellent in learning. The boy, Shmerel, was called in and given the proposition and he agreed.

At the wedding, the rich father-in-law, true to his word, presented to the couple an enormous sum of money. Just when Chaya gave birth to their SEVENTH CHILD, the money ran out. Shmerel said to his wife, "If I have to go work for someone, let me work for someone I love, not you," and he divorced Chaya promptly. He had gone after the externals. Mr. Bernstein went after the fashion of judging a boy by his intellect, without regard for the important qualities. Chaya was caught in the middle; together with seven perplexed, broken and abandoned children. And there never had been any heart. There was nothing of any substance there. We see from Shmerel that even if one is brilliant in the mind, if one isn't also brilliant in the heart, one can be very stupid in how one uses one's brilliance.


[This case describes a woman who is certain that she is devoted to working on herself, is fine - if not superlative - and she "just needs a special guy who is good enough for her." I have heard this theme, especially from women, many times. True, there are a lot of men with, let's call it, "room for improvement." Some complaints by well-adjusted women about men who are "out there" are valid. But I have often heard women with "room for improvement" say that "there are no good men." They claim to be flawless and wonderful, and every last man is a loser or bum. Such universal complaints by members of either gender against the other gender typically indicate need for more self-scrutiny. The following "blemishless" and defensive woman grew downright abusive.]

I spoke with a certain woman in her mid-thirties several times. Much of the subject matter surrounded her experience in seeking a compatible man. She told me that a major part of the difficulty of finding a match is that people don't take to working on themselves enough. She told me that she introspects frequently and seriously. She works hard on her midos (character). She is a "deep" and refined person. Shallowness and boorishness are far too common. It is hard for her to find a man who similarly works on himself. She needs a "very special" guy. She has developed the ability to communicate and express feelings and she wants a man with whom she would be able to communicate and who can express feelings. She stressed how important it is to be a fine human being.

After about seven cumulative hours of talking, over several sessions, she evidently became comfortable with me, and her guard was not on alert.

She told me about a relationship she had. The fellow was quite chivalrous and loyal. He brought her presents and flowers with regularity. He was supportive and communicative and patient with her. These were all valuable qualities to her. One time when her car had broken down, he came out in a rainstorm to save her an hour away from his home. But, he didn't have financial prospects or motivation that suited her. She claimed that he was not able to hold a steady job, so she told him that she was through with him, after a year and a half. She said that he pleaded with her and professed sincere and serious love for her. I was struck by her description of her abrupt conclusion of their relationship. She said with no emotion that she ended by saying to the man, "That's it." There was a callous, blindly unempathetic rigidity, which is, in my professional judgement, an indicator of emotional problem in her that she runs from facing.

I can understand her not feeling secure with a guy who had not held steady work for a year and a half. But her way of dumping him was extremely abrupt and callous, especially after a year and a half of giving her generous and devoted treatment. She was only working part-time and I believe she had anxiety about money that she was taking out on him somewhat. I have some reason to believe that she grew up in a non-affluent home. She told me that her family was not able to engender security about money and that presently they were not supportive, either emotionally or financially.

She was too defensively preoccupied with not having gotten from the relationship what she wants from one. I think that she was not nearly as "worked out" as she would like to have one believe. She doesn't need a guy who, as she said, is so special. She needs to be less needy.

She told me about some of her work. She felt very emotionally involved in her work. She casually mentioned that she had been criticized by other religious people for a certain aspect of her work. I mentioned that facet of her work seriously violates Jewish law. She called me, "Stupid," and told me that she was too tense to continue talking with me.


[This shows how a person can get caught in a web of conflicting values and in immature self-interest that can wreak havoc on a relationship THAT THE PERSON WISHES TO BE A SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP.]

One of the series that I did at Lincoln Square Synagogue on Manhattan's Upper West Side was a six-week version of my man-woman relationship course. At one of the presentations I spoke about dealing with fights and anger. At the end of the session, about a half dozen people came up to the podium and surrounded me to ask personal questions.

One woman, I'd estimate in her mid-thirties, had a dilemma. She and a medical student were seeing each other fairly seriously for almost two years. She had grown up in fairly affluent style in a wealthy suburban environment. Her beaux was living in poverty and was interested going into medicine to help people. He had a number of years to go till he could be employable and was not, anyway, motivated to exploit medicine for material gain.

They would fight like cat and dog about materialism - her needs for it and his repulsion to it. They didn't want to fight and, otherwise, their relationship was serious, loving and caring. She started crying while talking to me, even though it was in front of the four or five remaining people who were huddled around me to ask their questions.

They obviously had strong and conflicting values, expectations and goals. I did not suspect that she was open to breaking the relationship off even though they were stagnating and suffering for so long a time, so I couldn't recommend a break-up. Marriage would be, as things stood, a disaster, so I couldn't recommend that. I told her to get professional help to see if the couple could work out a mutually agreeable compromise. Give it a reasonable but finite amount of time. Do not think in terms of either breaking up or of getting married in the meantime. Note whether there is progress and at what rate it comes. It has to get to where both can define and accept a unified plan for life.

My personal opinion is that the girl, based on what she told me, was too unable to give up being a pampered and spoiled little girl and there would be no lasting or mutually agreeable resolution unless and until she would give in on the immature and excessive need for materialism. Show was torn by her natural feelings for a man and her strong tie to a life of creature comforts. If the human elements of the relationship were that strong, then she is separated from her heart - her human qualities - if materialism could block her from marrying a guy who she has loved and who has loved her steadily for two straight years.

Be that as it may, the thing that struck me most deeply about this is how classic an example this is of a single in "commitment block." She is losing precious time and youth. You would think that at her age she would prioritize marriage to a guy with human virtues enough to make it happen. I stress that the human ingredients, the love, the bondedness and two years of serious involvement were all in place. You could have a thousand reasons to marry someone. But it only takes one "killer obstacle" to block it.


After having attended a couple of my public workshops, Binyamin came to me for private counseling. He had been married and divorced twice. Both divorces were very ugly. I asked him to describe his parents relationship. He told me that they had a good relationship and he gave me an idealized profile that would seem to constitute a role model and inspiration for him that would set the stage for choosing and conducting a marriage successfully.

The story did not match. When Binyomin told me about his marriages, there was extreme incompatibility between what he said was his role model and the way he conducted the choosing and conducting a man-woman relationship.

I told Binyomin that his idealized role models and his gut-twisting relationship-track-record was analogous to someone coming over to me, bleeding, purple with bruises, hunched over from massive beating, moaning in pain with wounds, ready to fall down, looking like a bunch of brutal muggers in a dark alley had a field day on him.

Although his every-day facial expression was heavy with emotional drain and detachment - indicating considerable emotional disturbance and pain - he said he's fine, he feels great, he's healthy. But he's ready to fall over. If the purple, bloody, swollen, shaky, wounded person (who was mugged and is ready to topple over on the floor and faint) told me he felt fine and is in great shape, it wouldn't fit. The "cause and effect" didn't add up. Two rocky divorces and a beleaguered facial expression that advertized emotional brutality did not match his story. He would not see how deeply he deceives himself.

Binyomin said to me that he is attracted to women with bad midos (character traits); emotional problems; are selfish, materialistic, rigid and non-communicative.

In my opinion, because of that which was emotionally missing in the home during his upbringing, he is attracted to relationships that cannot work.

I told him that he has got to work on these emotional conditions and motivations within him. Only that will unify the story of the guy who looks like he's been mugged with a recounting of having been severely beaten. Only this way can he be reality-based about what is going on.

Binyomin said he wanted to make a list of the faults in the woman he has been attracted to, then make a list with all the opposite virtues. Instead of bad character - good character. Instead of rigid - adaptive. Instead of self-absorbed - mature.

I said to him that what is going on is deeper than what is on the surface. He can make his list if he wants, but it's an abstraction. He will continue to be attracted to the kind of woman he'd been attracted to. He can make this list all day long, but he is going to be uninterested - on an emotional level - in every woman on his new list. It's on the emotional level where responses, attraction and behaviors are motivated.

Until he works on the underlying internal emotions that had been effected by the deprivations, shortcomings and hurt in his upbringing, nothing will change. He can make a list that is perfect and ideal, but he won't have any feeling or attraction to any woman on that list. He will still emotionally pursue only woman who relate to the emotional condition that exists internally. Only then will he unify the story, so as to unify what he is emotionally responding to and the practical situation that he is actually in.

Binyomin is still looking for his list. Not for his wife.


[This case history depicts how being emotionally stuck in a finished relationship can take a person "off the market".]

After a presentation for single and married people about building a loving marriage, a young woman came up to me and asked if she could speak with me privately. I gave her my phone number. What follows is a digest of what actually was eight or ten conversations (which spanned about two months), each of which was about an hour in duration. Let's call her Rivka.

A few months before she attended my lecture, a young man broke off an eight month relationship with her. It was at a point of development that suggested to Rivka that they were on the verge of getting engaged. She loved this fellow deeply and considered him to be perfect for her. He respected her. She was sensitive and he was very giving - both materially and emotionally. He was a gentleman. He was serious about Torah learning. She admired him and his just-about-perfect list of qualities.

It seemed as inexplicable as it was sudden. He told her that they are not for each other. Since they are religious, they have no business having contact since there is no further prospect of marriage. She is not to call him or have contact with him ever again.

She went to pieces. It wasn't enough that it hurt so much. It was so final, so abrupt and so incomprehensible. And about seven months after his break up, she was no less shattered than when the sky fell on her with the news of their break-up.

She said that she tried to call him, even though he said not to. Didn't he owe some explanation? Maybe if they talked it out they could resolve whatever it was. Maybe he could at least exhibit some consideration for her deep and aching feelings.

If this would have been all that her calls to this man represented (especially if she would have been strategic to make the approach through an intermediary who the man respected), I would understand and sympathize. But that was not all.

She kept on calling the man for an explanation and resolution. He was hard, brief, consistently abrupt. It was over. There is nothing to talk about. They have no business having contact. It's not appropriate to talk to each other anymore.

Rivka would talk and cry for forty five minutes at a time about how this man was so perfect for her, he had everything she needed, she loved him. What struck me was how incessant her emotional involvement was. There was no let up nor relief.

Since they lived in the same neighborhood, she would see him occasionally in the street or on Shabos in synagogue. He would look away. She would hear from common acquaintances that he was seen dating another woman or socializing at someone's home or event. The fact that he was moving on - and therefore emotionally separated - added salt to her wound.

I told her that if he was perfect for her, and she perfect for him, he'd have proposed instead of disappeared. I don't know him. I never spoke to him. I told her that FROM HER SIDE OF THE STORY he didn't sound so perfect. I did understand his religious position that once the relationship is over they could not have contact. But it did sound like he was abrupt and mean in the way he cut it off with no explanation. If it would have been destined to be a marriage, it would have happened. It obviously was not.

She couldn't take hearing that he dated some other woman, or could be so "perfect" for her and "not see it," or that she loved him so much and could not see that he had to want her, or that someone who could be such a gentlemen could be so mean and detached.

She kept crying over and over again. She needed emotional support and could barely receive it when given. Any time she heard he was seen by an acquaintance, she cried uncontrollably. She kept repeating given things over and over ("we were so perfect," "if only he would talk to me," "he was seen dating someone else," "I love him so much," etc.).

Rivka couldn't provide any substantive reason why he wouldn't want her or why he cut off so sharply, after such "dream developments" with her. I kept wondering what he would say if I could find him. It was very incongruous. About a half year after the break up, she was holding on and pained like it was only yesterday. Rivka was holding on tenaciously to what the man represented, which corresponded to a deep need.

I believe that when a person is so incapable of letting go of a finished or destructive relationship, the relationship relates to some deep, unresolved psychological issue and need. Unless and until it is addressed, e.g. with therapy, the underlying, buried emotion which is evoked by the other person still is in there. The individual is desperate for that which the other person hopefully stands to emotionally offer. Often, it is illusory or unattainable. And, all the while that a person is "stuck" on someone with whom there is no relationship, it takes the individual "off the market" to seek someone else for a real relationship. Possibly, as long as the underlying inner difficulty is not resolved, the single will not be able to have a viable relationship with anyone.

Along a similar line, another woman was in a relationship with a man who she would not let go of. Her father had been very nasty and emotionally abusive. To emotionally cope, her mother and she developed a very deeply entwined co-dependent relationship. The mother passed away and she latched onto her relationship with this man. She was very emotionally needy and loved him very much. Although she sincerely tried to give him a loving relationship, she constantly pressured him to supply intense emotional needs. After a few months with her, he felt drained and depleted. Occasionally he blew up at her excessive demands for his time, energy, reassurance and emotional support. He broke it off two times. She pursued and promised to change. My advice was to work on herself and release and resolve the unhealthy and desperate needs before expecting a lasting relationship that could satisfy normal needs.

Nature abhors a vacuum. I've seen similar unhealthy, persevering tenacity in holding onto the finished or the destructive relationship in many cases. To vary what I wrote at the end of the case above, you can THINK or WISH you have a thousand reasons to marry someone. It only takes one "killer reality" to block it.


I received a phone call from a woman who heard that I do lectures, workshops and shabatones for singles and that I do matchmaking. Referred by a friend, she called to describe herself and asked if I might have a man for her. I asked her to give me a preliminary description. If I felt I had a possible "candidate," she could continue with a more elaborate and extensive description. As it turned out, I had no one "in her ballpark" so I simply told her to call back and try in a few months. She called a second time and I still had no ideas, so I kept it short because my research, writing, counseling, public presentations and workshops are time-consuming.

As it turned out, she called a third time about a month or two later. She said she had called Rabbi Meir Fund (the same one in the story above) who referred her to me. She took the liberty of calling again. I sensed that there was something more here than a simple mate-quest. She was very diligent and driving. Superficially I could have seen it as pushy and obnoxious, but it wasn't exactly that, so I stayed on the line to explore. Something more was going on. We spoke for what turned out to be about an hour. Let's call the woman Chavi.

Rabbi Fund told her that I do singles programs and matchmaking. She is a divorcee in her forties with two children who both live on their own. She is very lonely. She wants a man in his fifties, who is "normal," who will be emotionally supportive, who likes classical music or good art. She then said very strongly that he has to make a good living. She won't have one of these guys who stays in bed till 11:00 expecting her to support him.

It struck me how her tone changed and she said her stipulation about a good livelihood with a steamrolling, pushier tone. I have heard gold diggers before. She wasn't expressing greed. It was defensive. Having psychological training, I could pick up that it was something beneath the surface.

Plowing further, I asked her what weaknesses she has that a man would need to be able to live with to get along with her. She basically said "none." I asked her what attracts her about a man. She said she wants someone artistic.

I said to her that it was no wonder that she's not married. She has a pure taking-orientation and she is putting up an obstacle to obtaining the man she wants. "You just want a man to be there for you and you want to relate on the basis of superficials. Art has nothing to do with a man's goodness or character. Everything that you've expressed demands that a man care for you and you are flawless. Your emphasis on the man is too defensive. There's something more to it. No religious man sleeps till 11:00. He's got to go to shul at 7 or so in the morning to pray. You're grouping all men into a category that no religious man fits into. To want a responsible provider who is a mentsh is an appropriate goal for a marriage, but your attitude is too hard and what it means to you emotionally is too much. There's more to this than you're saying on the surface."

She started crying. She said that her first husband was an alcoholic. He never worked. He never did anything. She had to work, take care of the house and kids. She had to do it all. She got nothing emotionally from him. She doesn't want to let it happen again. She's painfully lonely. She doesn't want to be alone. She doesn't have friends. She yearns to be married and cared for.

I told her that a relationship is two people giving to each other. When two people have a giving orientation, choose each other, and relate to each other so as please the other one, you can have a lasting marriage. Her past hurt her and put up a protective wall around her. She is desperate to not have the negatives of her drunkard "ex," and to grasp the positives for which she feels the proverbial vacuum which nature abhors.

I told her that the way in which she would get the responsible, compassionate, supportive provider that she wanted was to give up the compulsive pre-occupation with defending, grabbing, demanding and pigeon-holing her needs. She's too rigidly on the lookout to take her needs and to protect herself from her scarring past mistake. She chose an artistic man who attracted her who turned out to be a bum. She's running her life around protecting herself from "another him," rather than being a vessel to receive a "non-him." Because she is so busy protecting herself from the pains and disappointments of her past, she is not allowing herself to have the joy and fulfillment that she longs for in the present. She was "looking at the present through past-colored glasses." I told her to focus in-depth on the painful emotions that this marriage put into her to face and resolve them, rather than spending her life trying to evade them. Those emotions, and their grip on her behavior, won't go away by hiding from them. I told her that only when she ceases to be on a campaign to control acquisition of a non-him and ceases to construct her need list on a taking basis, will she find a relationship that gives her what she wants.

I told her to keep herself busy by making more girlfriends. I told her to try what I said for a month. Face her feelings and fill in lonely times by seeking out girlfriends. Choose and value all relationships on the basis of heart and character.

I made a point throughout to speak softly and with emotional supportiveness. For the first half hour or so, she spent much energy justifying and clutching onto her views, but gradually started seeing that what she was going after hasn't been working and contained contradictions. After a difficult hour she said she would try to widen her horizons. I told her that she could call me back in the future to report how it was going.

These things can go either way. Some people make stunning changes, others stagnate for years. It is hoped that readers will learn all that is possible from these recountings. The fourth chapter of Pirkei Avos tell us, "Who is wise? The one who learns from every person."