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Private Pain, Public Remarks

October 29, 2009 | by Rachel Davids

Why do people think my private dating life is up for public discussion?

I sometimes wonder if people realize that a slight comment can cause so much pain. Why is it that just because your plight is well-known, people assume they can ask you anything about it, in public? Couples who are childless, people who are sick or disfigured, someone who is having business trouble or going through a divorce; the list goes on.

Being single in a marriage-minded world is my public experience of pain.

I cringe at the thought of so many people being aware of my challenge (in the community I live in, being single is viewed as a major life challenge). I’m forced to speak about very private things and answer questions I would never ask someone else. The ease with which people talk to me about dating and my private life is so hurtful and throws me off guard.

I have started grading painful words on a scale of 1 to 10; it makes me feel better and helps me reframe people’s idiocy into “what were they thinking?” so I can have a laugh. Yes, everyone means well, but if I hear another one of these expressions again any time soon…

  • Each date is bringing you closer to the right one.
  • This will be the year.
  • I just don't know anyone good enough for you.

At a Shabbos table, small children look up at me and ask if I have a husband and why not. Last week in the kosher grocery store I was cornered by a loud busy body who heard there was a guy in my age range in town. I was going to ask her if he had a pulse or should I just jump at it because in this market a gal shouldn't be picky.

“What should we say?” The answer is most often, “Nothing.”

Words are powerful. People don't mean to throw stones and cause pain; they may really be concerned and caring. People want to know, “What should we say?” and the answer is most often, “Nothing.” The key is to think before you speak. Evaluate if it could possibly cause any pain. If the answer is yes, then don't say it.

We like to know all the news and be involved, but it shouldn’t be at someone else’s expense. If a painful topic comes up perhaps recognizing that you don’t have anything to say and admitting it is a show of support. You don’t have to have all of the answers.

No one means to say things that break your heart. They just don't realize that when you say goodbye to them you want to lie in bed and cry. I have spent a lot of time wondering why I was the recipient of so many of these “concerned comments.” I really believe God is teaching me to be more sensitive. When I see someone in a situation I don‘t understand or cannot relate to, I have to stop myself before I speak. I don't know how they feel. I don’t know what will make them cringe and want to hide. Maybe what I am about to say will really hurt them.

Perhaps God has made me the receiver of so many "sticks and stones" so I could be more careful with others. When I want to ask an inappropriate question with no real reason I think twice. Sensitivity seems to be a real exercise which requires lots of training. God gave me the opportunity to have a lot of training, and if it means I can prevent someone else from hurting, doesn’t that make it a blessing?

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