Author Topic: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)  (Read 7414 times)

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AlephReish

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2012, 12:45:13 PM »
I want to convey to Lawrence that I think he has been duplicitous in his behaviour. More importantly, though, I want to know how to politely tell him to 'back off' the relationship if there is not a commitment behind it. For example, now that he has expressed that he does not want to be in a romantic relationship, I will not go out for dinner with him, have him over 'to visit', etc. How do I explain that all the things he likes about our 'friendship', the things which he does not want a romantic relationship to 'ruin', will be going away anyway? And how do I politely decline his invitations? (I think it would look bad to say "I'm sorry, unless you ask me to be your girlfriend, I will not be available for brunch on Saturday. hee!)

In terms of expressing how she feels he's been duplicitous (which, by their rules, he may have been), this is when she should talk to her rabbi/rebbitzen and discuss it with them. In those communities, 4 months of that level of interaction is seen as the step before an engagement. She may not be able to tell him that she feels wronged, but a community leader would be able to have a talk with him about the right way to go about courtship.

Talking to her rabbi/rebbetzin may also help her to clarify what she wants and how best for her to get it within the rules of the community as well.

RingTailedLemur

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2012, 12:52:51 PM »
I want to convey to Lawrence that I think he has been duplicitous in his behaviour. More importantly, though, I want to know how to politely tell him to 'back off' the relationship if there is not a commitment behind it. For example, now that he has expressed that he does not want to be in a romantic relationship, I will not go out for dinner with him, have him over 'to visit', etc. How do I explain that all the things he likes about our 'friendship', the things which he does not want a romantic relationship to 'ruin', will be going away anyway? And how do I politely decline his invitations? (I think it would look bad to say "I'm sorry, unless you ask me to be your girlfriend, I will not be available for brunch on Saturday. hee!)

In terms of expressing how she feels he's been duplicitous (which, by their rules, he may have been), this is when she should talk to her rabbi/rebbitzen and discuss it with them. In those communities, 4 months of that level of interaction is seen as the step before an engagement. She may not be able to tell him that she feels wronged, but a community leader would be able to have a talk with him about the right way to go about courtship.

Talking to her rabbi/rebbetzin may also help her to clarify what she wants and how best for her to get it within the rules of the community as well.

Excellent idea.  Just talking through her feelings with someone who understands but isn't going to get upset or offended on her behalf might help.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 02:53:48 PM by RingTailedLemur »

TurtleDove

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2012, 12:59:16 PM »
Talking to her rabbi/rebbetzin may also help her to clarify what she wants and how best for her to get it within the rules of the community as well.

POD.  I think this situation is outside the norms of etiquette.

MommyPenguin

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2012, 01:14:06 PM »
I think she needs to be upfront with him that, if he isn't interested in continuing the courtship, she isn't going to be able to continue spending all that time with him.  She'd rather invest it in somebody who is considering marriage.  It might be that he took four months to decide that she wasn't right for him, and that's the point of courtship, but she should also make it clear that  courtship is intended to lead towards marriage, and if he isn't interested in taking it there, then she's not going to let him have his cake and eat it too by being his convenient friend.

strangetimes

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2012, 02:15:13 PM »
It sounds to me like he's behaving inappropriately.

If he's not ready to get married, he shouldn't be leading her on and interacting with her in a way that makes it seems he was interested in her. And now that he's made it clear that he's not interested in marrying her, he needs to leave her be.

And to a previous poster- Attraction is considered very important in Jewish marriages. They would be discouraged from getting married if they were not attracted to each other.

She needs to speak to her Rav or Rebbetzin and in the meantime- she should stay away from him.

Yvaine

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2012, 02:17:04 PM »
And to a previous poster- Attraction is considered very important in Jewish marriages. They would be discouraged from getting married if they were not attracted to each other.

Sorry, I missed the part about Judaism and thought it was part of the Christian patriarchy/Quiverfull movement.

Shoo

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2012, 02:17:24 PM »
I have a question.  If they were to get married, would he be intimate with her, or would they have a completely platonic marriage?

LEMon

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2012, 02:25:11 PM »
I'm still a little confused about what he said.  It sounds like he both said 'I could see myself marrying you' and yet then said 'no romantic relationship'.  I think she needs to ask him if he sees this relationship progressing toward marriage in the future, or does he just see her as a friend.

(It may be he wishes to keep the emotions down while they continue to move forward toward marriage, and it maybe that he was trying to go back to just friends.)

bopper

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2012, 02:45:36 PM »
Lawrence may like the idea of courtship because one does not have to be romantically attracted to the other person before starting courtship. Maybe he feels he doesn't have the skills or desire for that.  Perhaps he wants the social status of a wife and a wife who will do things around the house for him, but he doesn't want to be "romantic", whatever that means to him.  Maybe he is just socially pressured into getting married, but doesn't really want it. Maybe he really isn't attracted to your sister but does not know how to call it off.

So your sister should realize that the point of courtship is to see if you would be compatible...she has found out that she is not compatible with Lawrence. They have different views on marriage and what it means. She wants a partner.

Bexx27

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2012, 02:46:09 PM »
He then told me that he doesn't want a romantic relationship, but hopes we can continue on as  friends, because he is afraid adding a romantic element to the relationship will ruin it.

[...] I want to convey to Lawrence that I think he has been duplicitous in his behaviour. More importantly, though, I want to know how to politely tell him to 'back off' the relationship if there is not a commitment behind it. For example, now that he has expressed that he does not want to be in a romantic relationship, I will not go out for dinner with him, have him over 'to visit', etc. How do I explain that all the things he likes about our 'friendship', the things which he does not want a romantic relationship to 'ruin', will be going away anyway? And how do I politely decline his invitations? (I think it would look bad to say "I'm sorry, unless you ask me to be your girlfriend, I will not be available for brunch on Saturday. hee!)

Honestly, I don't necessarily think Lawrence has been duplicitous; I think he's trying very kindly to tell Maya that while she's very nice, after getting to know her more closely he's decided that he's not interested in marrying her.  He's telling her honestly that he doesn't want a romantic relationship with her, and she should believe him.  If I'm right, she won't have to find ways to decline his invitations, because he's already telling her that it's not going to work out.

If for some reason he's saying one thing, and then doing another by continuing to invite her to get together one-on-one, she should simply treat him as a friend with whom she's not courting:  group get-togethers are fine, but just decline any one-on-one invitations.  No long explanations are necessary.  "I won't go out with you unless I'm your girlfriend" sounds weird, yes, but how about "Sorry, you told me you don't want to pursue this relationship anymore, so I'm not really comfortable spending time with you one-on-one."

It hurts terribly, I know, but I don't think there's anything to be gained by trying to tell him how hurt she is by his not pursuing the courtship further, or how much he's missing out on by choosing not to be with her.  If he actually thinks he's still going to get the benefits of hanging out with her, simply let her actions show him otherwise.  If he's actually confused or conflicted, her best bet is still to believe what he's telling her and consider the courting relationship over, withdraw with dignity, and let him realize he's made a mistake and pursue her again.

My sympathies to your sister.  It hurts, but she also deserves to find someone who really does want to be with her, and I hope that she finds that person.

ITA. It sounds to me like he has decided he doesn't want a romantic relationship with her, for whatever reason. In his attempt to be "nice" and let her down easy, he's sending mixed messages. I am inclined to interpret "you would be an awesome wife, but let's just stay friends" as a version of "it's not you, it's me." It's time to write him off and move on.

If he does ask her to get together one-on-one, she can just say she's not comfortable with that now that she knows they're not heading toward a romantic relationship. She might even say directly that she needs to distance herself from him to work through her feelings and is not interested in being "just friends."

I won't say anything about whether she should talk to the rabbi because it's not clear to me whether he violated the norms of their community. In mainstream dating, there's nothing wrong with changing one's mind and it doesn't necessarily indicate leading someone on. In any case, it's better to find out his true feelings now than later.

(((Hugs))) to your sister. The situation sounds heartbreaking.
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. -George Washington Carver

DavidH

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2012, 02:52:26 PM »
I think DigitalPumpkin and others have made great suggestions.  I wouldn't approach it as he's been duplicitous or I'll only go to dinner with you if I'm your GF, instead just let it go.  It takes time to realize that someone is right to marry and it sounds like they both invested the time with good intentions and that when he knew it wouldn't go in a romantic direction he told her.   Similarly, the I'll say yes if I'm your GF seems like it encourages hiim to misrepresent what's happening in the relationship.  Instead, just saying, I'm sorry you feel that way, but I want to devote my time to meeting someone who I'll eventually marry and since that won't be the case here, I must decline is more fair.

I must say, the combination of saying I could see us happily married, but I don't want the relationship to become romantic seems very conflicted.  I'm not sure how I'd interpret it.  In other circumstances I would think it meant I don't want to become physical until after marriage, but doing so is inconceivable in this setting. 

One alternative is for her to be equally candid and say that he is sending a very mixed message, is he saying he wants to marry her but not have a romantic relationship or that he doesn't want to marry her or that he wants to marry her in the future, but just not now.  If he is just confused, she might suggest that he talk to the rabbi to help him clarify his feelings and then proceed from there.

NyaChan

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2012, 03:04:58 PM »
I was actually in a similar position to your sister - we have a similar system of courtship in my religion, and I had been in a courtship of sorts for almost a year.  At that time, we had been talking so long that by our system, we should be able to tell whether we would get married or just part ways.  That was when the guy basically pulled the same lines as the one you described here.  My family was more upset than I was, but it was particularly bad because the length of time he had continued to speak to me implied that this would end in engagement and if it wasn't going to go that route (which judging by the reasons he gave he would have known it wasn't) - there was absolutely no reason why we should have been speaking or meeting alone.  I also found out after the fact that he had been engaging in a similar courtship process with another girl whilst talking with me. 

Now I'm not saying this guy is a jerk like the one I met.  But he knows how things work in his community - meeting with a girl alone implies that you are interested in a marriage one day.  Perhaps for him an ideal marriage doesn't include romance, but if he wanted a marriage without romance, he could have said that.  Instead he implied that he just wants to remain friends.  For him to continue trying to see Maja without the intention of marriage is taking advantage of her and prevents her from having the opportunity to wholeheartedly pursue other relationships that might actually go somewhere.  I lost a year in that process which I could have used to get to know other people, and she shouldn't have to miss out on that time.  I think she should explain that as their relationship is not going to end in marriage, there is no reason for them to meet alone and that she feels it would be inappropriate.  If I were her, I'd attend group settings even if he was there and act as if nothing bad had happened.  If he regrets having closer access to her, then you have to give him the opportunity to miss that access.  If he doesn't care at all, then she gets to save her pride a bit.   

Searcher

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2012, 03:11:12 PM »
Yeah, this seems to me to be a variation of "It's not you, it's me."

Regardless of his intentions, Lawrence hurt Maya and I think it's totally reasonable for her to want to convey that in an acceptable way and also express her desire for distance between them.

She could say, "Lawrence, given this disclosure, I'm afraid that there needs to be some boundaries and distance between us because unfortunately, I developed feelings for you which you claim you don't share and I find that hurtful.  We can't go back to being 'just friends.' With that in mind, I have to require that X between us cease and desist."

JoyinVirginia

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2012, 03:58:29 PM »
He is not going to marry her, for whatever reason. I agree with pps that sister should not.be alone wwith him, and decline any invitations. He is still young at 22

Editeer

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Re: Maintaining Boundaries? (asks my sister)
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2012, 04:05:17 PM »
Perhaps she can express it to him in terms of the religion's definitions of courtship.

"Lawrence, since you've made it clear that you don't see our relationship leading to marriage, I will no longer engage in courtship behavior with you. That means no dinners alone, no long private talks [or whatever]."