Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Right Choice

I'm a big fan of games. Board games, video games, computer games, and...
mind games.
Even more so, I'm a fan of "if you HAD to choose..."
Some of my friends and I joke around -- like "if you had to choose between having 2 noses or 4 ears, which would you choose?"

Sometimes, a serious one pops up. I remember my best friend and I having that discussion many moons ago. It was an externally quiet night, but if my inner-turmoil could be heard, the noise would be pretty deafening.

We were taking a walk and decided to sit down on a nearby bench and spill our hearts out to each other. We were both overcoming messy break-ups/relationships and were just...
miserable. Heartbroken. Forlorn.
She was thinking of her mister, and I was thinking of Mr. Sir (if any of my long-time readers remember him from previously deleted posts...yep, it's the same Mr. Sir.)
My best friend and I looked into each other's eyes. Our heads slightly bent to the side. One of us popped the question: "if you had to get married & spend your life with one guy that you know...any guy that you know - who would you choose?"
Ironically enough, she chose her mister, and I chose Mr. Sir. A decision made despite both of them doing the salsa, cha-cha, and macarena dance all over our hearts and leaving us to suffer.
"Why would you choose him?" She asked.
"Well, I suppose out of everyone I've dated, he's the one I've felt most secure and comfortable with, and I was & still am very emotionally connected to him."
She nodded in agreement. And we sat in silence for a while.
I've had happier evenings.

Yep. It was gloomy. I remember the feeling so vividly...the feeling strikes me inside, somewhere...maybe my neshama. It's like this stinging feeling combined with cringing and butterflies.
If that makes sense.

FFWD to many moons later...AKA now/not too long ago.
The same question came up in my mind. Except, my outlook is different, and therefore, my answer has changed.
Mr. Sir is gone. Thankfully, he's not a motivating factor for much in my life anymore. I've come to realize that my reasons for choosing him were entirely self-centered. I felt secure. I felt emotionally connected. I felt comfortable. But what about him? A relationship can't be based on one person. It takes two. As cheesy and cliche as it may sound, nevertheless, it takes two to become one.
And so, I started thinking about the list: out of all the guys I know and dated, who would I choose?
And so I thought...
and thought...
and reminisced...
-the rich ones
-the physically attractive ones
-the very frum ones
-the intelligent ones
-the rebellious ones/bad-boy-types

and I realized...NO. I wouldn't choose any of them.
The one I'd choose is the one who had amazing middot. Who was kind, understanding, giving, caring, sensitive, warm, and friendly. The one who treated me like a person and respected me, and as a result, made me feel comfortable. He was interested in me...for me. He genuinely appreciated me. Not for artificial reasons.
The one I'd choose would be that one. The one who every time he sees me, he stops to say hello and wishes me well. The one who I'm 100% sure prayed for me, regardless of the fact that I was the heartbreaker who (perhaps, prematurely) ended the relationship.

For all the singles out there, I think it's beneficial to ponder: who would you choose? And why?
Your reasoning is very important because it'll help direct you with prioritizing your "list". It'll make you realize what really counts in a spouse, and what you should really be focusing on when you're dating.


  1. Hello Sefardi Gal!

    You began on this track:

    "I've come to realize that my reasons for choosing him were entirely self-centered. I felt secure. I felt emotionally connected. I felt comfortable. But what about him? A relationship can't be based on one person. It takes two."

    And then you moved away from that - but I think you nailed it very well. The reasons we choose a partner are self centered. And they absolutely should be.

    We each have needs and wants -things to be fulfilled that cannot simply be done ourselves but require a parter. If a person cannot or does not give us what we need, why would we choose them?

    I do believe that wants can be compromised on, particularly when thinking about dating and marriage. But needs -those things we truly need -we cannot compromise on them and be happy.

    So I believe the art of knowing what to look for is the art of knowing what we need, and how to see that in another person.

  2. I've gone out with a couple of guys that I really liked. They did not return the compliment.

    Did I think I was being self-centered for thinking wistfully about them? No. If they did not find me maritally appealing, it was because they were accommodating their own priority list.

    Mine has always had middos at the top. Never looks, since I am attracted to men who behave rather than a handsome guy is just that - simply handsome.

    Rejection hurts, and it does take time for the pain to ebb. But it does lessen. And then one can focus who is good for them, rather than who they think is good for them.

    Soon, bezras Hashem, you and I and all the lovely ladies and great gentlemen out there, as well as the guys who dumped us, will find the one that leads to mutual adoration.

  3. Ish Yehudi - welcome to the blog :)
    "The reasons we choose a partner are self centered. And they absolutely should be."
    Hm. Well that wasn't quite the point I was getting at. A relationship should only be self-centered only for the sake of being able to fully give of yourself to the other person.

    It's true that we all have needs, and those needs should be fulfilled. However, that doesn't mean that our only focus should be on OUR needs.
    Step 1:
    Can this person make me happy? Can he meet my needs?

    if he can, then...
    Step 2: can I make him happy? Can I meet his needs?

    So, it's a two way street.

  4. English Major -
    oish, it stings. My friend once shared something with me: "dating is often difficult because the ones whom you like, don't like you back. The ones whom you don't like are the ones who are crazy over you!"

    "Mine has always had middos at the top. Never looks, since I am attracted to men who behave rather than a handsome guy is just that - simply handsome."
    Good for you! That truly says a lot about your own middot and priorities :)
    There's no bigger turn off than a guy with cruddy middot!

    B"H for time being able to heal. I've experienced it firsthand where rejection (particularly when it's done by someone you like, already discussed wedding plans with, and dream about spending the rest of your life with....) definitely stings, but overtime, the sting goes away and life is nearly back to normal.

    "Soon, bezras Hashem, you and I and all the lovely ladies and great gentlemen out there, as well as the guys who dumped us, will find the one that leads to mutual adoration"
    AMEN! I hope so.

  5. Sefardi Gal,

    I differentiate between how I approach choosing a partner and being in a relationship.

    The reasons I choose to be with someone are still primarily for my own needs. My choice is about how I feel and my needs being met.

    No matter how well I can give to a partner (and I do think it's important to work on this as early on as possible), I won't stay with them long term if my needs are not met. That's the idea of a person being with someone who treats them well, and where middot are important.

    However, I do believe in generally showing respect and treating people well. But once in a relationship I like to focus on giving, particularly the way my partner/spouse needs and not just what *I* want to do for them. It's about listening and being sensitive.

    It's a big investment and a lot of work. So I'm not just going to do that with anyone. I'm careful with whom I give so freely and openly.

  6. It is true that a person must always know that a relationship has two sides and that he/she must constantly be giving to their spouse. As we all know, Rav Dessler says the source of love is to give, since the root of the word ahavah is hav, to give.

    But at the same time one can't go into a relationship completely for the other person. There must be some selfish part to this puzzle. Otherwise, later on, after you have given and given and not gotten anything back, you will begin to regret the giving. Then, you will begin to despise the giving. After all we are only human.

    There is a mashal I heard back around Tisha B'Av time, from Rav Dovid Orlofsky. I think it was on the Chofetz Chiam video.
    A little boy watches as his father comes home on erev shabbat with a dozen long-stemmed roses, and sees the happiness on his mother's face as he walks through the door.
    The boy decides that he too, wants to bring his mother flowers for Shabbat. The next week the boy walks into the garden and finds some dandelions, he picks them and runs with much excitement to bring them to his mother. His mother, seeing his excitement take them and places them in the vase on the middle of the Shabbat table.
    Each week without fail the boy comes in on erev Shabbat and gives his mother some dandelions. As time goes on the boy no longer sees this as an exciting way to make his mother happy, but rather as a chore he must do.
    One Friday afternoon the boy is playing ball with his friends. As the day gets later he forgets to get the flowers for his mother. He remembers in the middle of the game and quickly runs out pulls out some grass and drops it on the table saying "here, these are for you." Then, he quickly runs back to get back into the game. The mother says to herself 'if these don't mean anything to him, then they definitely do not mean anything to me." And she throws the grass away with tears in her eyes. The message from Tisha B'Av was that we are the little boy and Hashem is the mother, and the flowers were our korbanot. They went from being something we did out of love for Hashem to a chore that had to be done. So Hashem said 'if it doesn't mean anything to you then it definitely does not mean anything to me." So He destroyed the Beit Hamikdash.

    So we must remember that our giving is not a chore. But, human nature is that giving is becomes a chore over time. Therefore, at the beginning of a relationship, it would be foolish to not be somewhat selfish, otherwise you will be hurting yourself and your spouse.

    As I said, a relationship has two sides and one must focus on their side. But deep down, we expect the other side of the relationship to reciprocate the favor.

    I would love to say that it is possible to be 100% giving, but at the moment it just seems highly unlikely.

    Sorry for the very long comment.

  7. This is a great post.

    Using the "would you rather" game for many things in life can be thought provoking and help you prioritize realizing what is truly important, what is a need and what is a want. It can really be an eye-opening experience!

  8. If you know what your top 10 priorities when looking for a spouse... you'll probably end up getting the top one... maybe top two...

    making a list of top ten attributes you think are vital to a marriage...
    and trying to remember to have your top 3 in the forefront of your mind when dating is helpful.

  9. Azriel Tzvi - beautiful (and heartbreaking) mashal. Well said.

    Devorah - thank you! Yes, hm, I actually didn't think about that -- but that is a great idea! I should play the game more often :)

    JV - I have the top 10 list, except, I can't really choose a top 3. All of the things on my list matter to me...
    it's simply too difficult to compromise on them.

  10. Ish Yehudi - yeah, I hear that. No need to give unconditionally to somebody BEFORE you're in a serious, committed relationship with them but I agree -- one must respect each individual, especially the person (s)he is on a date with.

  11. Sefardi Gal,

    I also forgot -and please forgive me for the lateness -thank you for the blogger's welcome!


  12. I-Love-This-Blog.

  13. Ish Yehudi - you're quite welcome :)

    Tivkareva - I love that you love it! :)

  14. The combinations of character traits that women want in the men they marry are as unrealistic as the combinations of physical traits that men want in the women they marry.

  15. Mr. Cohen - I disagree. First off, there're so many women in this world, and each has a different "list" of characteristics that make up the "ideal" man.
    Secondly, there are picky women. And there are picky men. Picky isn't always bad; the question is what you NEED vs. what you WANT. If middot tovot are a NEED, then there's nothing unrealistic about that.