Am I Engaged or Disappointed?

You know when people say that when they met their spouse they “just knew” from the first date? I’ve always been a little bit skeptical about that knowing. I mean, how many times did they “just know” with people they didn’t end up marrying? Does anyone keep track?

All you have to do is tune in to any FM radio station to hear that very often one party “just knows” while the other sees things completely differently. I had a hard time believing that “just knowing” about someone you’ve only just met really works.

So I vowed, for the sake of scientific inquiry, to keep track if I ever “just knew” about someone I was dating.

Except, it’s never happened.

Most of the time I was disappointed by the caliber of men I was dating. Where were the confident, competent men? The ones with foresight and enthusiasm and all that good stuff? Was it too much to ask that the guy I marry be at least as good at Life as I was?

My father despaired that I was being too hard on men.

When I did find myself dating someone competent, I would often realize, in horror, that I could potentially marry this person and live a perfectly contented life. Horror, yes. Because when I asked myself if I was willing to give up my independence, my hair, and my nongravid state for a merely contented life with this man, the answer was always a vehement “no.”

My mother despaired that my priorities were all messed up.

And sometimes I wondered if she was right. Was the purpose in life to get married and have kids, like good Zeldas and Tevyas? Or was I part of a new generation that could demand just a little bit more?

I self-doubted.

But then I met a guy and just knew. It wasn’t hearts-in-the-pupils love. But I respected him so much that I just skipped over the questions about hair and independence straight to the question of how we could effectively merge our lives. He was smart, competent, funny, and I wanted to be better so that I’d deserve him. I had never felt that way about any guy I dated before.

So, my mother was wrong. The people who were right were the ones who said “You just haven’t met the right guy yet.” And now I’d met him.

Except for one problem:  We broke up at exactly the same point as I had with all the competent guys. For the best.

Oh well.

At least I got a datapoint out of it.

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24 thoughts on “Am I Engaged or Disappointed?

  1. I love this and love your blog. Good attitude. Keep living the life you want to live. If u get married it happens. If not u r happy, employed and loving life :)

  2. Despite the fact that I actually give fellas too much leeway, “I knew” only a few times. Keep in mind I am no romantic, and my adoration usually stems from your same position: respect, finding his company pleasant in that he has smarts and wit.

    The thing is, they didn’t return the compliment.

    Then I tell myself, it isn’t possible that I can “know,” when I don’t even really know him. A few dates, less than ten hours in each other’s company?

    So baddaboom, as you say, datapoint. But following is a comfort that I am not incapable of finding a man (as opposed to a “boy”) appealing enough to share my savings with.

  3. its easy to look back once you pass the engagement checkpoint and convince yourself that you “knew” – yeh, in hindsight, if you look for signs, you’ll find them…

  4. Bubble buster- I didn’t know by the first date. I definitely knew by the third. And its not hindsight because I told my parents after the third date that its the one. I had no doubts and 5 years later still have no doubt that I married “the one”.

  5. Maybe you haven’t ever “just known”. Maybe when you meet the one you will “just know” so strongly that you will wonder how you ever thought your earlier just knowings were anything more than a fleeting thought.

  6. Following Ben’s idea, if you ditch the guy you “just know so strongly” is “the one”, maybe there will come another one, and with THAT guy, you will REALLY just know so, so, so much more strongly, that even the guy you knew “so strongly” was “the one” will just be a “fleeting thought”.

    You should try it, ad infinitum. Just to make sure you get the one who is really, really, really, really, really, really etc. the one.

  7. Yes, tesyaa, that is why I am dating all the girls in the world, and then I’ll go back to the one that I give the highest rating to.

  8. Nooooo. Bad4- I actually also had a similar type experience. Except it was more “love from afar.” Never even got to step one… But I definitely think I know the feeling you speak of. Sigh.

    And wow- can we talk about Jg’s comment? Who agrees? It’s getting me thinking…

  9. Chavie – I agree with Jg, but someone just told me recently that being single ought to hurt, since this drives you to want to get married. Respond in 100 words or less.

  10. *raises hand* Can I respond to the “being single ought to hurt” statement?

    I’ve always hated the idea that unmarried people should (deserve to?!) be constantly in pain. But I think a person looking to get married should be comfortable with the thought of letting go of aspects of their single life (including, yes, elements of independence). Otherwise, every guy is competing against “Well…but…do I *really* want to give up spontaneous trips/late nights with the girls/etc.?” It’s a separate question from “Do I want to marry this guy?” and a decision that should be made independently of whatever hearts flash in your eyes or birds tweet around your head.

    Ha! 100 exactly.

    So, I’ll be that guy: what happened between you and Mr. Just-Knew?

  11. PS Ben, no offense but AUGH. No no no. We’re grownups and our feelings are really-real true-blue feelings. I did have real, meaningful connections *even before* I met my husband.

  12. i “just knew” a few times. they’re all happily married to other people. i think you remember where i was when it happened for real- went on a second date because there was no reason to refuse, 3.5 weeks later he proposed and i ignored him, 2 weeks after that i “knew” and sent myself into an anxiety attack, and 5.5 weeks after that i calmed down and we got engaged. but there was definitely a lot of “but i’m comfortable being single- is this really what i always wanted? am i giving up all the comfort for this?” and “yeah, that is the life i want and i think he can make me happy”.

  13. Our moderator writes:
    Most of the time I was disappointed by the caliber of men I was dating. Where were the confident, competent men? The ones with foresight and enthusiasm and all that good stuff? Was it too much to ask that the guy I marry be at least as good at Life as I was?

    Now for my question and analysis::
    Since you are assuming that the man must be Confident and competent is it wrong to say you are?
    Let me point out to those who understand psychology,that Henry Ford did not become a successful person starting from being illiterate and low self confidence to the most powerful businessman without his forming a bond with his wife Mrs Henry Ford. This quiet unassuming woman literally built him up from scratch by blending her mind with his. [see LAW of Success by Napoleon Hill].
    You take a man and either you build him up or you tear him down – you choose.
    Start by seeing the man’s good qualities and gradually you”ll see a major improvemert. Take him by the hand and encourage EVERYTHING he does to try to please you and he’ll redouble his efforts. Many a football game has been won by the little lady sitting in the third row encouraging her man by her mere glance in the middle of the 3rd quarter.
    Hashem put two people together who are opposites together to help each other grow into a bond with love.

  14. I thought I would “know,” feel something different, when I met the man who was my soulmate. On my first date with my husband, I just felt like he was a stranger. Because he was! I said no because I didn’t feel anything, then changd my mind the next day :), when suddenly I was desperate to go out with him. Thankfully, we did, and it only took until the end of the second date to “feel” that feeling. Anyhoo, I’ve learned that people’s dating experiences follow all sorts of different routes. Being married now, I definitely undervalue the idea that you have to be head over heels to get married. That feeling dies down after a while, anyway.

  15. i think i had the “just knew” feeling once. we had deep intellectual conversations late into the night, there was a way he looked into my eyes, we had the same birthday…

    and he was! he was the one! he was the one whose on-again, off-again, never-quite-have-my-act-together, always-let-you-down affections made total havoc of my life for the next two years approximately, all because i had convinced myself that he was the one and there would never be another.

    very different with the guy i eventually married. not only did i not know, i was convinced for at least the first 8 months that the next date was going to be the one where i figured out why it didn’t work. we were so different. he was so not the type i typically went for. i was not his type. there were no signs, no sense, long odds. but eventually he just became the person i couldn’t live without. all without me noticing.

    point is: just know, my foot. i think you will be surprised by the person you end up marrying.

  16. David Aharon Lindzon, it seems your post can be summed up in a few short words: behind every successful man is his wife and he probably was not so successful before the wife. Hence, do not write off a date because of “caliber and competence”.
    However, as a happily married lady (and a psycho-babbler by trade myself) I would hesitantly disagree. Yes, there are cases like Henry Ford or football-hero-at-last-moment-in-game-as-my-wife-smiled-at-me. But those tend to be few and far between.
    There must be a mutual sense of trust and respect. You must like and respect them for who they are at this point in time, rather than who they might be. People cannot force change in others but are able to sometimes bend a flexible joint. Without respect and trust the future odds are quite murky as one party may feel resentful, disrespected, unappreciated…. the list goes on.
    This is garnered not only from textbooks and book knowledge, but actual cases and clients I have worked with in the past.

  17. This “knowing” isn’t real. When I met my boyfriend, I thought “Too cute to be more than a 3 month thing,” but it’s almost a year now. My engaged friend will be marrying a shorter, wider guy than what her type before him has been. My parents would have never dated if they would have known each others’ ages.

    Maybe it’s better to not know. If they don’t physically repulse you, talk to them and if they’re single and like you also, get coffee with them. Yes, it sounds like a huge waste of time, but is this way so much better?

  18. Hi. We met once and ate ice cream in Borough Park. I’m the girl who likes nerdy guys.

    I once knew that I had met my bashert. I was positive. When our paths crossed, it seemed that my whole life was leading to that very moment. He was my one and only. It felt like I had discovered something very fundamental about myself. It was almost surreal. We dated for around four years, then broke up.

    He is now married to somebody else and I am dating a guy who really makes me happy. My ex and I shared a very special bond, but he was definitely not the one. I am starting to suspect that “just knowing” is a bunch of malarkey.

    I wanted to let you know that I’ve been there.

  19. Re: Psycho Babbler’s remarks:
    While I quote a certain author, this particular author, Napoleon Hill has distinguished his works in that he interviewed thousands of people and spent 25 years researching this subject before writing his book. He was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to prepare such a book. Every Success motivational speaker and self help author has used his books and has used his writings, which are based on our tradition as well You will find he echos.it from Mishle and other mussar and chassidus seforim as well,

  20. bad4, I rarely follow up on peoples’ blogs these days, but I check yours out every once in a while because I’m so so SO hoping to read that you found the special guy who is worthy of you.

    For whatever it’s worth, I had two times when I thought I met “the one.”
    With the first one, I “knew” from the first date. He ended up doing the cha-cha all over my heart, and it took me over two years to get over the heartbreak.
    The second time, I “knew” some time after the 10th date. I lost count which date it was because it was so frustrating.
    I’m married to the amazing knew-after-10th-date guy. Not the knew-after-1st-date dude.
    (Who, by the way, is still single and breaking hearts.)

    Hang in there. keep up the tefillot. I know you’ll meet him some day soon!

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