July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

How Do I Make Amends for a Very Imperfect Match?

Dear Navidaters,

I recently tried my hand at being a “shadchan.” I’ve never set anyone up before, but I’ve thought about it and know how important it is and what a big mitzvah it is. Also, one of my closest friends is single after a divorce and my greatest wish was to be able to find an eligible man for her to go out with. So, when I met Mark at my cousin’s bar mitzvah, who was also divorced and interested in meeting someone, I thought my opportunity to change two people’s lives had finally arrived.

Honestly, I have to tell you that I didn’t do too much investigating into Mark. He seemed nice enough and my cousin Saul worked with him for a number of years and had nothing bad to say about him. They seemed to be of a similar hashkafa and were both dealing with the stresses of being divorced and being single parents. As far as I was concerned, it was a possible match made in heaven.

Looking back, I made many mistakes. First of all, I was told that Mark was 52 years old. My friend Toby is 56 and I encouraged her to lie about her age. I had heard that many women fudge about such things and that there was time to tell him the truth about her age later on, once they hit it off. Toby thought lying was a really bad idea, but I felt Mark would never even pick up the phone to call her if he knew she was older than him, and I kind of forced the issue. Also, I heard that Mark was divorced twice, rather than just once, but again, I felt if I told Toby the truth she would be suspicious and not agree to the date.

In my desperation to make this shidduch, I probably fudged about a few other details as well. Long story short, they went out and it was a total disaster. Toby is not talking to me anymore, and my cousin Saul thinks I’m crazy, and my good intentions really backfired. I realize now that I don’t have a knack for being a shadchan, and I’m going to leave it to the professionals! In the meantime, how do I make everyone understand that I wasn’t looking to hurt anyone and that my intentions were good? How do I repair my relationships and my reputation?

The Navidaters Respond:

We all mess up and make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes have serious consequences, like yours. Your friend Toby isn’t speaking with you and your cousin Saul thinks you lost your marbles. Before we can address your question and get into problem solving and game planning, I think we have to address why Toby isn’t speaking with you.

Yes, you lied in your altruistic attempt to see her happily married. I don’t know you and I don’t know Toby, so bear with me as I attempt to decode your letter, read between the lines and look for a deeper understanding of the situation. Most people make mistakes, and most reasonably healthy friendships can withstand a lie, especially when it is well-intentioned. So, unless Toby is completely irrational and has a history of stonewalling her friends (unlikely the case), there may be a piece here that you are overlooking.

At least from you email, I’m not getting any sense that you feel remorseful or truly sorry for how you made Toby feel. You may, but it didn’t come across. Here is the evidence for my case:

“Looking back, I made many mistakes.”

“In my desperation to make this shidduch, I probably fudged about a few other details as well.”

“I realize now that I don’t have a knack for being a shadchan, and I’m going to leave it to the professionals!”

I have no doubt that you understand that what you did was wrong. And that is a huge first step. But there is more work to be done if you want to repair your relationship with Toby. I didn’t get any sense of how you feel about what you did. “I feel terrible.” “I hurt my friend so deeply.” “I worry that she will never forgive me.” If you didn’t include these sentiments in your email, I’m wondering if you didn’t include them in your apologies to Toby, Saul and Mark either.

Maybe I’m going in too deep or making a mountain of a molehill (I have to go with my gut here, because I don’t have the ability to communicate with you or feed off your responses), but I am naturally wondering if apologizing is something you have had a hard time with in the past. A true apology consists of several parts: Acknowledging I have done something wrong (check, you’ve got that covered). Expressing that you have done something wrong to the offended person (check, you’ve got that). Expressing your remorse, and validating the offended person’s reaction. I don’t think you’ve done that part. Without the last two steps, it’s all about you. And if it’s all about you, your friend can’t feel safe with you. She can’t trust you. I have worked with individuals who have difficulty apologizing. Some people grew up in fear of their parents, and so apologizing means they did something wrong. And when they did something wrong, an outrageous punishment would follow. They became conditioned to not apologize. Too scary! Others believe they are wonderful, perfect creatures who truly never do anything wrong. And others are too ashamed to face the offended person.

Pick up the phone, or, better yet, write a beautiful, heartfelt letter (put it in the mail; there is something much more beautiful and personal about a handwritten letter) with a true apology to all parties involved. Remember the four-step apology. Here are the four bullet points you want to include:

I messed up.

I’m sorry.

I understand that I caused you pain.

I feel terrible that I caused you pain.

Throw in another I’m sorry. (I guess that makes five bullet points.)

I hope your friend can forgive you. But if she can’t, you’ve learned some invaluable lessons that you will carry with you into your other relationships.

Sincerely,

Jennifer

Disclaimer: This column is not intended to diagnose or otherwise conclude resolutions to any questions. Our intention is not to offer any definitive conclusions to any particular question, rather offer areas of exploration for the author and reader. Due to the nature of the column receiving only a short snapshot of an issue, without the benefit of an actual discussion, its role is to offer a range of possibilities. We hope to open up meaningful dialogue and individual exploration.

By Jennifer Mann

 Esther Mann, LCSW, and Jennifer Mann, LCSW, are licensed, clinical psychotherapists and dating and relationship coaches working with individuals, couples and families in private practice in Hewlett, New York. To set up an appointment, please call 516.224.7779. Press 1 for Esther, 2 for Jennifer. To learn more about their services, please visit thenavidaters.com. If you would like to submit a dating or relationship question anonymously, please email [email protected]. You can follow the Navidaters on Facebook and Instagram for dating and relationship advice.

 

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