You actually know who I am, so I am not going to reveal too much about myself, because I don’t need you or the whole world knowing that this is me and that nothing is wrong with me. I know this is a very weird way to start, but you’ll see as you read – and feel free to publish if you want.
In a nutshell, some of my family members and I have a medical condition that is absolutely positively nothing to worry about. We were just born with it. My mother, aunt, uncle, and a few cousins have it. My grandfather had it. It came from his side of the family. I don’t want to be elusive about it, but it has to do with our blood. That’s it. One of my sisters has it, but my brothers don’t. If you have it, there is a 50 percent chance of passing it along to your children. That’s it. It kind of gives us a yellow complexion, which I like to refer to as olive-toned skin, but that is the gist of it. My mother told my father about it right away when they started to date and that was it. My parents continued to date, got married, had children, and some of us have it and some don’t. It really doesn’t affect my life. Yes, I have a hematologist whom I visit once a year for a blood test, but, baruch Hashem, everything is fine.
Now that I am in the shidduch world, and I know how things are, I tell shadchanim right away. I even give them a little printout off of a medical website that explains this condition. To this day, I have not had an issue with a shadchan trying to find dates for me. I also try to work it into the conversation on a first date about this medical condition – “condition” and “diagnosis” make it sound bad, but it isn’t. It is just the way we were born. Some people are lefties, some people have blue eyes, some families have a weird uncle/cousin that they try to keep mum about; my family has this. What I’m saying is that every guy I go out with knows about it and I’m up front and, so far, it hasn’t been a problem until…now.
A while back, I was redt to a really nice guy I will call Avi. Avi was told about it and still said yes. We went out for three weeks. We had a great time. We spoke about “it.” He asked questions, I provided answers and that was it. We had a few more dates after that. Then we spent almost seven hours together on a date. It was great. But the next night, the shadchan called and said that Avi said no because of “it.” I guess he got freaked out by “it” when he started thinking that we may really be heading somewhere and he got scared. The shadchan said that she was on the phone with him for almost an hour. She told Avi what websites to visit to read up on it – that there isn’t anything to really worry about, but he should educate himself on “it” if this was the reason was he was saying no. But he wouldn’t budge. I was heartbroken but understood, sort of. He was saying no to something about me that I couldn’t control for the fear that if we got married our children would have a 50 percent chance of having the same condition I have. When I told my parents, they were upset for me. My parents even went so far as to call the shadchan and give her the name and number of my hematologist and told her to pass it on to Avi. The shadchan said that she would pass it on to his mother, because she felt that this was a decision that his whole family needed to know about and discuss with the hematologist – if this was indeed the reason for saying no, speak with my medical professional – who is respected in his field and has written in many medical journals…
A few days later, my parents received a call from his father (the shadchan provided his parents with our number). His father told my father that he, his wife, and Avi spoke at length with my hematologist twice. They asked every question imaginable. His father said that my doctor was very kind and explained everything to them. After speaking with my doctor, the guy was even more confused. He “was split.” So the parents took him to speak with a rav who deals with shadchanim and “issues.” To make a long story short, I am no longer going out with him. The point of Avi’s father calling was to thank my father for being so forthcoming with information and providing the doctor’s phone number and how kind he was. His father even went so far as to say that he and his wife urged Avi to go out with me again, that the medical professional and all the websites he visited said that same thing: There isn’t anything to worry about. My parents and I think that Avi’s father was a mentch by calling and thanking us and really did feel bad, but there was nothing that could be said to Avi that would change his mind.
I am so frustrated. Before Avi and I even met, he knew about this and agreed to date me. Did he agree to go out with me thinking this would be a one- or two-date thing? Did he not actually think we may like each other, and one thing can lead to another? We spoke about this and Avi continued to date me. Now that things may have started to get serious, he uses this as an excuse? I don’t get it. Maybe he needed an excuse and used this. Maybe he just wasn’t sure and used this. I just never ever had to deal with this before. I never dated someone for so long and then had this be the reason we stopped dating.
What are your thoughts?
Nechama* (fake name)
Thank you for your email, “Nechama* fake name.”
First of all, any medical condition is a medical condition. A diagnosis is a diagnosis. I’m talking about a diagnosis of asthma or whatever “it” is. You can’t really blame people for how they react. Now that that is out of the way…
If this medical condition you are referring to is spherocytosis, then I know more about it than you think. I’m the 50 percent chance of my family that does not have it. For those who don’t know – and why should you, it’s not that common – “Spherocytosis is the presence in the blood of spherocytes (red blood cells) that are sphere-shaped rather than bi-concave disk-shaped as normal” (footnote cred to Google for this).
This may not be what you are referring to, but everything that you wrote leads me to believe that it could be. And I side with you: It’s not fair that Avi stopped going out with you for something you have no control over; but if you marry, your children have a 50 percent chance of getting it. My mother had it, my father didn’t. It just so happens that my parents had two children and 50 percent of them ended up with spherocytosis. My aunt and cousins also have it. Even if spherocytosis isn’t what you are referring to, it’s sad and unfair, but that’s the way it is.
First of all, kudos to you and your parents for being upfront about something that “doesn’t really” affect your life in a medical way, according to what you wrote. I will just refer to your letter and not try to think of what it may be or what you are not telling me (or what some readers may be thinking of as “things she conveniently left out of her letter”). I think that it’s wonderful that you are very open about this. Again, I will not get into any discussion about families not disclosing mental health issues to a shadchan or those they date, but this situation is different; your family provides information because they want full transparency.
Truth: I don’t know if your medical condition is the real reason Avi said no to you, as you wrote, but from what you wrote that his father said they spoke with your hematologist twice and then spoke with a rav, it probably is. To be honest, I don’t think all rabbanim should be giving shidduch/marriage advice to people; having s’michah doesn’t mean you have a s’michah in everything, and relationships are tricky. But I will trust that the rav that Avi went to is very knowledgeable in shidduchim and “issues.” I agree with you, you were being broken up with because of something you have no control over, but it still happened. I don’t know if that makes the pain less or worse. I also don’t know if Avi had given your diagnosis real thought before he agreed to the shidduch. But I do know that Avi’s father seems like a mentch in that he called your father because, after weeks of dating, Avi should have been the one to break the news to you and not take the coward’s way out and have the shadchan do it. It was probably a hard call for him to make. Whether or not you had dropped the shadchan by that time is irrelevant; in my book, if grown mature adults have dated more than three or four times, the shadchan should be dropped and they should act like the mature individuals that they are.
We don’t know what Avi is or was thinking, but we do know that he gave this a lot of thought. He would not have called your doctor twice or spoken with a rav if this was an easy decision. I don’t want to tell you to hold out hope that maybe Avi will rethink this and give it a second shot. I will not give false hope to you or anyone. But should he call you again, I would get to the bottom of this. I don’t want to say it, but sayings like “he cut and run,” and “when the going got tough, he got out of there,” come to mind. But I may be way off the mark; I don’t know your situation, Avi’s feelings, etc. But if he does come calling again, maybe ask if this is a character trait of his. It would be very telling to know how he reacts when there is an emergency or a real illness.
Again, let me repeat: I do not know what your family’s medical/genetic condition is. I can’t put myself in Avi’s shoes and say, “When faced with this situation I would stay because…” Medical situations, be it mental health or physical health, are very sensitive topics for many. With this situation, you know that you can live a “normal” life with the condition, but Avi is now faced with something he never ever dreamt of, and it may have shaken him or made him reevaluate things.
I see both sides of the coin with this one. But you wrote to me to know what my thoughts are and you wrote that we know each other, so I can’t give you some bogus therapeutic answer because you would see right through it (but please tell me who you are and if I’m right about the spherocytosis.) Nechama* fake name, yes, you are hurt. As you said, you never got this far in a relationship and had this be the reason for the break up. But now it is and here you are. Cry a good cry. Listen to music. But don’t dwell on it for too long. Get back on the dating horse. As you said, the condition hasn’t kept shadchanim from finding young men for you to date. Go out and date. Yes, it hurts. But you knew Avi for a month? Six weeks? Think of it as a brachah that it wasn’t months and then he pulled out. Yes, that may be a therapeutic way of thinking about it, but it’s also the truth. There will be someone who doesn’t let it stand in the way of things. Your parents are married (and I’m guessing some of your cousins and uncles are). Nechama* fake name, go out and don’t let Avi live in your head for too much longer; but yes, we always think about the one who got away.
I know that many of my readers will disagree with the advice I’ve given Nechama* fake name, and that is fine. Maybe my family history of spherocytosis has clouded my judgment, but I don’t even know if that is what Nechama has. Feel free to drop a line and let me know how you would have answered someone asking for thoughts – and remember, apparently I know Nechama, so I couldn’t give her a Hallmark card type of answer.
Hatzalachah to you all.