I really need help. I was set up with a guy last year and we dated for two months. We clicked really well, and then he suddenly ended it. I was crushed.
I have been doing my best to get over him, but I find myself checking up on him all the time. In fact, I find myself practically stalking him now that I found out he is dating someone seriously. I feel like can’t stop!
What’s wrong with me?!
Dear Shidduch Stalker,
The relationship that you two had—that you “clicked so well”—is not something you just felt in your heart, but actually affected your brain chemistry. (This is true for all brains—even the male variety.) When humans connect with another, their brain gets showered with oxytocin, a chemical that does some pretty magical things to make us feel good. We make it when we are near loved ones. It can have a calming effect, soothing and lessening our stress. So of course it hurts to let go of him.
I am not one to chide you or sell the virtues of self-respect while ignoring the pain you are going through.
But why can’t you get over him? If it feels like you are in withdrawal from an addictive substance, that’s because you basically are. Oxytocin is also believed to help our brains produce dopamine. Dopamine activates the same electric connection in our brain that is activated by—are you ready for this—heroin and cocaine.
With all of that in mind, it’s pretty understandable that you are stuck on this guy.
But all these neurotransmitters don’t give you an excuse to hack into your best friend’s Facebook account to stalk him. You’ve got some hard work to do, my dear.
But I do get it: The dating experience is a world of uncertainty with high stakes.
Nobody likes hoping the ticket to marriage is around the corner, just to find themselves… waiting. I know the situation: Finally, the shadchan contacts you with an offer. Next thing you know, you receive a call from the potential man you hope to be opening a joint bank account with. The big date-day comes and you are looking good. You even get a compliment from your apartment mate, who is eight months older than you. The doorbell rings. You take a deep breath. You reach for the doorknob. And (sharp inhale) he’s an ‘ehh.’ (Slow exhale.) He continues to be an ‘ehh’ throughout the next five hours as you order the same penne that you always do (much better on lip gloss than fettuccine), making small talk about really big things that won’t apply because he is not earning a second date.
When this entire process goes on to bear some fruit, and you have a guy whom you see a future with, it feels like you’ve won the lottery before you hit your sixth date!
You’re starting to feel more secure that you have a concrete idea of what your life will look like (and not just because you don’t have to find shidduchim anymore). You’re almost at your goal and can move on to the next step life has in store. You can be treated with respect in frum society because you will be married (shame on us, frum society for that one). Plus, your friends think he’s really cute.
Your heart keeps a little flutter, and you find yourself day dreaming more often. Tra-la-la! I don’t have to speak to a shadchan again until I am ready to marry off my future children, you know the children that I am going to have with my Dave and Buster’s buddy?
Then one fine day, he dumps you. Just like that, bursting your bubble of hope. No more dreaming of proposals. Back to yucky stuff.
So of course you are still stuck on him! And to think that now he may actually propose to someone else?
Wait, that wasn’t a rhetorical question.
Seriously, what would it do to you if he proposed to someone else?
I am guessing you may experience feelings of not being good enough, rejection, being out of control, and possibly hopelessness. Whoa. These are big. Coupled with all that brain chemistry stuff mentioned before, this is tough.
So we’ve got to pull you out before we have to bail you out for stalking someone else’s husband.
We’ve got to make you remember why you are good enough. We’ve also got to pump more oxytocin in that forlorn brain of yours. Schedule some fun dates or even a weekend getaway with friends or family.
Further develop yourself—now is the time to sign up for that class that always sounded fun. Engaging in new hobbies or career advancement courses can focus your drive while helping you fall in love with yourself.
Because he is not coming back, and you need to be okay. Whether someone else comes along or not, you will be okay. In fact, you will be more than okay.
And you will make sure of that.