Dear Dr. Chani,
My dating life had been pretty uneventful until I met Miriam. Until recently, the girls I dated did not even give me a chance. They said no to me after only one or two dates. It was quite a relief to finally find someone who liked me. Miriam and I have been dating for a month and a half. She is very sweet and kind. I have been told that she has a heart of gold. She seems content to do whatever I plan on our dates and she is always very polite. But the person who set us up recently told me that Miriam is not sure that things are going to work out. It came as a complete surprise.
When I asked the shadchan if Miriam gave her any idea why she is not optimistic about our future, the shadchan said that Miriam said she feels like we have no relationship. I felt punched in the stomach. Here I thought that our relationship was progressing so nicely, yet Miriam felt like nothing was going on. I had hoped that the shadchan could explain to me what I should do to change Miriam’s mind but she said, “Sometimes things just are not meant to be.”
I understand that there might be things about me that Miriam doesn’t like, but I would really love to have the chance to work through whatever her issues are. Am I wrong? Is there more going on behind the scenes that I cannot fathom? Does it make sense that I need to just wait for her to break up with me when we never had a face-to-face conversation about how we feel?
Please help me to make my best effort to get my relationship with Miram back on track. I feel like we have something special even if she doesn’t realize it yet. What can I do to convince her that there is hope for us?
Thanks so much for your help!
It can be very confusing to get feedback indirectly from the person you are dating. It makes sense that you felt thrown for a loop when the shadchan revealed to you that Miriam feels like you have no relationship. You might have thought that if Miriam had something on her mind she would have given you some impression about it on your dates. You are left wondering why Miriam would feel this way, especially if it runs counter to the way you experience your dates with her.
Without speaking to Miriam, neither you nor anyone else can know where her feelings are coming from. As you indicate, it might be a good idea to speak directly to Miriam to discuss how you both feel. Yet, before you rush in to ask Miriam about what she meant and why she shared her feedback with the shadchan, let’s explore some possible reasons why she might feel this way and what you can do about it.
Your impression of the way things were going between you and Miriam before you received this shocking feedback was that you get along well together. You observed that Miriam is polite, respectful and kind. These are important qualities. At the same time, it sounds like you noticed these qualities about Miriam mostly from the way she behaved on your dates. They did not come from discussions that you had with Miriam, but from what you observed about her. If these are the characteristics that come to mind when you think of Miriam, it might indicate that you aren’t having that many conversations on your dates that lead to you getting to know her. You can know a bit about her, and still not know her.
Productive dating conversations allow each partner to get to know the other person. Knowing someone else means getting to understand some of her opinions, reactions, thoughts and feelings. When you converse about those things, your knowledge of the other person grows. That is beneficial to you because you can understand her and appreciate her. It is also important for her because then she feels that you are taking an interest and that she matters to you. Without that framework, Miriam, or anyone you date, will feel that you are just skimming the surface and being prim and proper without getting to know each other. Like a glider on a still day, the dating relationship will soon run out of momentum.
It might be helpful to contemplate the words you wrote, that you “have been told that she has a heart of gold.” After more than a month of dating, you might wonder why you are relying on the opinion of others. Have you experienced Miriam’s heart of gold yourself? Has she shared stories or things that have happened in her life that might demonstrate her heart of gold to you? If she has, why are you still attributing it to others? If she has not, it can indicate that you don’t really know each other, which is why you are relying on what others say. It sounds like there might be truth to Miriam’s observation. Your relationship has not necessarily progressed during the time you have been dating. Although you have dated for a month and a half on the calendar, your relationship might not have deepened during that time. On the emotional spectrum, your relationship is still in its nascence.
A related point to think about is how much Miriam knows you. Have you shared some of your thoughts and feelings about your life? When you talk with someone, it can be easy to stay within the realm of facts. “I do this during the week,” “I went there in the summer,” etc. Those can be interesting facts to share and can help the conversation continue. Yet, they don’t let the person connect with you. We create relationships with others when we add our feelings to our conversations. Feelings consist of your thoughts and emotions about the facts you are discussing. If you describe your summer vacation, it can be just a group of facts. Yet, if you share what you liked most and why, you are expressing your feelings. The more feelings you express with each other, the more you can feel connected. If a relationship doesn’t have an exchange of thoughts, opinions and feelings in its conversations, it is likely to wither and die, no matter how nice the people are.
Another idea to keep in mind is that when people are dating, after a while, it is natural to wonder, “What does the other person see in me that makes him continue dating me?” A great way to let Miriam know what you like about her is to have an open conversation where you share what you appreciate about her. Try to allow yourself to genuinely compliment Miriam, even if you don’t know how she feels about you or the direction in which the relationship will go. If you would like to put your best foot forward to draw Miriam back into the relationship with you, have a real conversation where you express several qualities that you like about her. Hearing genuine, thought-out compliments from you can help Miriam sense that you understand and appreciate her, which may help her to feel more connected to you.
As you move forward, keep these ideas in mind. I hope that you succeed in actualizing the potential you see to develop a wonderful relationship with Miriam.
Wishing you much success,
Dr. Chani Maybruch is a social psychologist and relationship coach, specializing in teaching emotional connection and communication skills for over two decades. She coaches individuals and couples, and teaches online courses to help you create your ideal relationship. Get free relationship resources and contact her at www.chanimaybruch.com