As many parents of young children find themselves doing on the long summer Shabbasos, I too pray that it shouldn’t rain so that hours can be spent in the “Shabbos Park,” watching your child run from apparatus to apparatus in the hopes of them tiring themselves out and going to bed with minimum “tantrumming.” Like many parents, we compare our youngster to the Energizer Bunny. She keeps going and going. It was this past Shabbos, at one of the parks in which we were spending time, that I sat down on the bench when I overheard two women near me speaking. Before anyone starts judging me, I was not eavesdropping. They were standing near where I had chosen to sit and were speaking loudly. One woman was telling the other how her brother wasn’t seeing the girl he had been dating anymore and was very depressed about it. I don’t know if the fellow was actually “depressed,” but I’m sure the woman meant that her brother was down in the dumps about it. She told her friend that her brother did everything the girl wanted, and he made himself “m’shuga” so she’d like him, and now he can’t understand why the girl doesn’t want to see him anymore.
My heart went out for this fellow whom I didn’t know, because I have heard the story so many times, but it still makes my heart hurt. In a nutshell, the story that can be generalized to many couples is: The couple was dating, and everything seemed to be going fine until one party of the couple blindsides the other party by calling things off. You can add in names and details to fit every story, but these are just basic common threads that all the stories share. The woman who was speaking said that her brother didn’t want to start dating anyone else. He wanted to continue on with this girl who “dropped him,” and was hoping that if he waited long enough, the girl would call him and tell him that she has thought things over and would like to give the relationship another try. She told her friend that it was excruciating to watch her brother go through all this pain.
I have spoken with many singles and received many emails about this exact type of scenario, and I myself have even gone through such a scenario. When speaking one-on-one to a hurt single and looking into her eyes and seeing her pain, it only makes me want to hug them and tell them it’ll be all right. I want to say that they will find someone who will want to date them and marry them, but I don’t know when that will be. What I can’t stand, though, is when singles say, “but I changed for him (or her)” or “Why don’t they like or want me?” If the person they were dating liked something or looked for certain character traits in whom they were dating, this other person would do their best to be the person that the other one would want. Meaning, they would change who they are for that person. That is where I draw the line. I can’t condone bending over backwards to be someone you aren’t only to continue dating someone whom you feel wouldn’t like you acting like your true self.
I am not referring to wanting to be a better person and attending more shiurim or going out of your way to do chesed. I’m not referring to watching sports or something else that you can’t stand just to appear more appealing to the other person. I’m talking about changing your personality: not being so outspoken, or changing the way you dress, whereas before, you didn’t think there was anything wrong with the way you dressed. I’m talking about making big changes for the person and then, for one reason or another, that person ends the relationship. It may hurt for a bit of time, but after a while I hope you can pick yourselves up and start looking for the person who will like you for the person you are. I never understood why people run after someone who has said by his or her actions that they don’t want to date you, especially after you have bent over backwards to accommodate this person or to make yourself look more attractive and appealing.
You don’t need to change. You are wonderful and great just the way you are, and there is someone out there who will like and love you just for that. They will like the way you always have a bit of ketchup or coleslaw in the corner of your mouth when you eat. They will adore the little dance you do when your favorite sports team scores. They will find it quirky and endearing how you know the answer to all their miscellaneous trivia questions. They will love that you always insist in wearing at least one shade of blue in all you wear. They will lovingly laugh when you constantly mispronounce the same word over and over again. Basically, they will like you for being you. To borrow a line from the Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” And that’s the truth. If you don’t believe me, believe what a rebbetzin once told my class in high school (I forgot which rebbetzin, though. Sorry!): “I wake up every morning, look in the mirror, and say, ‘I have a beautiful neshamah.’ And I do. There are people who like me for being me. And they will like you, too.” As in dating, high school is a very trying time in a person’s life, and your ego and self-esteem may take some abuse; but just remember who you are and that you are beautiful inside and out, and Hashem likes you just the way you are.
You don’t need to change for someone to like you. Changing for someone is almost as if you agree that you aren’t good enough for that person to like, so you try to conform for them. If you want to change, then change for yourself! You may begin resenting the person you are making the changes for. After a while you may say, “Why wasn’t I good enough before? This is so much better?” You don’t need this. Life is hard enough without changing who you are for someone else. Love yourself enough to say, “This is who I am!” There is someone out there for you. It may not be the one you are dating now, but he or she is waiting for Y-O-U, not you who is pretending to be someone else. Remember when you were younger and your parents would tell you that you will have friends and be surrounded by those who love you for you? They weren’t wrong. You need to be strong enough to know that, and not give up your identity to please someone else. I’m not saying that a break-up won’t be as sad or heartbreaking, but you won’t be asking yourself what this fellow (the one from the park) is asking: If I changed so she liked me, why did she break up with me?
It’s tough out there! Hatzlachah to you all.
By Goldy Krantz