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Learning an Important Lesson from your Heartbreak Experience

Dear Rabbi Bernath,

About a year ago, a new guy started working in my office. Several months ago we started talking, and over time I felt like we had a very deep connection. We got along so well, I started to develop very strong feelings for him. I didn’t think he felt the same way, but I thought that as our friendship grew, and he opened up to me more and more, eventually he might want to explore being more than friends. We are both Jewish, and although I am observant and he isn’t, that wasn’t an issue for me at all since I loved him for who he is, and wouldn’t want him to change.

Recently he found a new job and gave his notice, so I decided to tell him how I was feeling, but he said he doesn’t have feelings for me. I respect his feelings, so I accepted the situation. I love him so much that I want him to be happy, even if it’s with another woman. But I don’t understand why he wouldn’t go on a date with me to see if maybe he would develop feelings, since we get along so well.

I even asked him this, and he said that even when he starts dating someone, he feels a certain spark, and can envision a possible future, but with me he didn’t. (Although he did add that he can’t predict the future, and maybe things would change.)

It’s painful for me because in my eyes he is the most beautiful soul I have ever met, the most precious gift I have ever received. I also know that he needs a woman who is nurturing, and I love and care about him so much, I would never hurt him. I told him that no matter where life brings us, I will always be there for him if he needs me, and he’ll always be in my heart. Here’s my question: is the reason he feels no spark for me due to God not putting those thoughts and feelings in his heart and mind? If so, why did God put those feelings in my heart and mind, only for them to not be reciprocated? Also, I am completely heartbroken. How can I heal and move on?


Dear Ashley,

Wow. What an amazing, heartbreaking story.

The answer to your second question (how to heal) is to find an answer to your first question. If you can understand a bit about “why” this happened, it will help you move on.

The truth is that we don’t know why anything happens. So I’m not even going to try to explain that. But we are obligated to learn a lesson from everything, so here’s yours:

When we imagine the relationship that will turn into our marriage, we imagine all kinds of things.

Some of us imagine the way he/she will look; the way it will feel; the way we will connect.

Most of us end up being wrong.

When we date, we meet all kinds of people — wonderful people, in fact. (By the way, you wouldn’t need to go out on a date with him to test the waters. You’ve already been dating him for months, unknowingly — but I digress.)

So we meet these amazing people, and we can form all kinds of bonds with them. We can have deep feelings, even fall in love with the other person.

It doesn’t mean that they’re our soulmates. Just because this is the way we imagined it would look and feel.

Your feelings for him do not necessarily translate into a long-lasting, healthy marriage. As a matter of fact, I think you admire him — too much. It’s almost unequal — he holds all the power.

So I believe that you can take an important lesson from this painful experience, and use that lesson to propel yourself forward: if this isn’t what the soulmate relationship looks like, what does it look like? Consider this a wake-up call. Meet with your mentor to explore what a marriage-worthy relationship would really look like, for who you really are.

Rabbi Yisroel Bernath

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