As I noted in my previous post, the Hebrew word for faith is emunah. Having emunah is something that I struggle with in general. I want to feel like I am in the driver’s seat when it comes to my destiny and making big (and little) decisions. I love being under the illusion of control.
So when it came to dating, emunah was an area that was especially challenging for me.
In my early twenties, I put my heart and soul into spiritual growth; working on my character traits, as well as growing in my dedication to my religion. I put myself out there, going to singles’ events and getting set up by friends. I dated seriously, wanting to find someone compatible for me long-term and not get caught up in short-term romance.
Four years later, and no sign of my hubby to be found. In fact, I hadn’t even gotten a long-term relationship out of it.
That was when my emunah began to dwindle. Or perhaps it was more like it got pushed off a cliff. I had put in so much effort, did everything the right way, with none of the desired results. I felt helpless and frustrated. So I went back to earlier patterns of dating guys who I was attracted to, who clearly were not my long-term life partners. I changed the rules of the game from, “find your life partner,” to “give up, it ain’t gonna happen, just live for the moment and have fun!” Each time I dated in this way, I told myself: who knows, maybe this could turn into something long-term and real. But I was fooling myself, rationalizing why it was ok to be investing so much in someone who I barely knew. Did I have to go down this road of unfocused dating which only wore down my soul instead of building it up? I’d like to think not. I’d like to think that if I had had more emunah, I could have stayed on a healthier dating track. Then again, berating myself for it now (which trust me, I still do!) is the antithesis of self-love, and I rather work on learning from my previous experiences and cultivating self-forgiveness.
That being said, looking back, I can confidently confirm that if I had lived by the two following precepts which my clinical social worker friend mentioned in our aforementioned conversation (see previous post), I would have had stronger emunah and made healthier decisions, better for me in the long-term. (After all, I have been married for a year-and-a-half and I still think about my past dating experiences—proof that ‘living for the moment’ isn’t a great strategy because these ‘moments’ don’t really ever leave you and cannot fully be erased, just healed—but as I mentioned in my book, that is a long, painstaking process…)
In one’s dating journey, there will be twists and turns and periods of instability. “Life has a way of stabilizing out for a while and then at times gets crazy again. It’s part of the path.”
If I had known that struggle and instability were part of the plan, perhaps I would have mentally prepared for that. Instead of interpreting a dry spell in dating or a bad dating experience as proof that I would never find my lifelong mate, I would have been able to ride the waves of uncertainty more skillfully, knowing that it was only temporary and they would smooth out in the future. Also, I wouldn’t have blamed myself and judged myself as unattractive because of it.
“Don’t be jealous of others or see others in unrealistic ways. Only G-d knows what people are really going through. We are tempted to think we know, but we don’t know. As humans, we think we can analyze, figure out, follow the clues or evidence, but how many times in life have you been blown away by realizing your perspective was completely off? Because people are complex and only G-d knows all of what’s inside everyone. Comparing is pointless.”
Now, if there is one thing other than weak emunah that I struggle with, it’s social comparison. Heck, I think social comparison is at the top of the list, in all aspects of my life. So this resonated with me a lot. Seeing others get married earlier in life added to my feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. I would have benefited from constantly reminding myself that I am on my own path, and not to compare myself to the apparent success of others.