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Dating Advice #168: Up, Up and Away

May 9, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

If she's planning to move to Israel, should she wait to find a husband?

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 25-year-old woman living in America, and I am hoping to move to Isarel within the next few years -- so obviously want anyone I date to have similar expectations. However, I often question the "value" of dating someone in America, knowing that having never yet lived in Israel (outside of touring), I'll need an adjustment period for myself and may undergo personal growth, let alone what my future spouse will want to do.

So I wonder how ideal it is for me to date someone in America, if I may not know myself, before marriage, as completely as I would hope to. I feel like my "life" will look much different in Israel. What would you recommend?

I also have another question: You have previously discussed the difference between "love" and "infatuation." I feel like my emotions are stuck in between the two: For 10 years, I have felt an attachment to someone whom I met in ninth grade. We never dated, but I suppose you could say that I "admired him from afar"-- we had a few classes together and were casual friends. I wondered if it was simply his appearance, or if there was something beneath the surface, something more enduring that I was attracted to. I began to question if he was "The One.”

I have tried to find him in recent months, via internet searches, but have been unsuccessful in obtaining any email address for him. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I feel stuck -- unable to move backwards 10 years, and finding it extremely difficult to totally let go of the thought that he might indeed be "The One" and move forward. What do you advise?


Dear Marci,

Let's start with the first issue. It's a dilemma that many people who would someday like to move to Israel face: "Do I start dating now, possibly meet someone who is otherwise right for me but doesn't share my dream, and face the possibility of giving up on the dream, or do I wait a few more years, taking a chance that when I finally get to Israel I may have a hard time finding the one who is right for me?"

To us, the answer is simple. But it depends on what is more important to you. Is it more important to find the right person and build a life together, or is moving to Israel so important that you have decided you could never be happy anywhere else? In large part, these two scenarios are mutually exclusive -- because statistics show that there are many more American women in their 20s who dream of living in Israel than there are men in their 20s with similar dreams.

So if you want to marry and have a family, and it is an important priority for you, we believe this is what you must concentrate on at this point in your life. Take some time to clarify your values and the direction you would like your life to take -- in terms of career, religious growth, creativity, family life. You're right that your orientation will change slightly over time, but it does for everyone. However, once you reach your mid-20s the changes tend to be gradual and they are often the type you can make together with your partner.

Instead of limiting yourself to someone who wants to move to Israel on a timetable that is similar to your own, we suggest that you open yourself to different possibilities. Someone who will entertain the possibility of moving to Israel someday is also a good candidate for you to consider. You cannot know what the future will bring. We know of so many people who have been planning aliyah for years but their dream hasn't yet been realized, others who moved there and returned to their home country, and people (like the two of us!) who got married without ever expecting to live outside the U.S.A. and ended up making aliyah. For all of these people, having a partner to share their life with has been more important than where they live.

Our answer to you is different if living in Israel is so important to you that it consumes you, has been the motivating force behind all your life choices, and you feel you could never be happy living anywhere else. In that case, we suggest that you accelerate your plans to move, as well as start dating people in America who plan to move to Israel in the near future. You could also arrange for long-distance dating with men living in Israel.

No matter which of the two is your priority, we believe that you must actively pursue your goal and begin to do so now. We know how difficult it is for many people to find someone with whom they would like to build a life -- the longer you delay your search, the fewer people who will be available and the harder it will be.

As for your second question, it seems to us that you are stuck at a point 10 years ago and have now engaged in "magical thinking" rather than moving on. The boy you once felt might be "The One" has gone through a lot of personal development in the past 10 years, as have you. Even if your personalities were compatible back then, they may not be now, and your goals and value systems are considerably more developed.

Yet, you are still consumed by the idea, "What if." Maybe your thoughts of this boy take you back to a time where you felt comfortable and safe. When you think of the possibility of actually meeting him again, 10 years later, you'd rather escape into fantasy again (getting his e-mail address and using it in the "near future") instead of confronting the issue head on (inviting him for a cup of coffee and reconnecting right then and there). Maybe by retreating to the images of the guy who was "safe," and hoping he will come your way again, you can avoid something about dating that frightens you or makes you feel uncomfortable.

There's a concept in Jewish thought called "hishtadlut." It means the normal human effort each of us should make to try to accomplish a goal. We do our hishtadlut and the rest is in God's hands, to arrange things as He sees fit. In your case, you still haven't found your old friend. It's time to move on.

We hope this has been helpful, and wish you the best of success,

Rosie & Sherry


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