Should I Keep Dating Him Even Though Religion Might Tear Us Apart? (Part II)

young couple arguing because of religious differences

Evan, I am a non-Jewish girl dating a Jewish guy. He is the first real guy I have been in a relationship with. I am 22 and he is 27. We’ve been together for several months and I can sense his hesitancy about me…and I am also hesitant of him. He still logs onto JDate every now and then, and I know because I am spying. Yes, I shouldn’t but I want to protect myself.

What is the likelihood a Jewish guy will leave you because you are non-Jewish? I cannot risk getting hurt. I do not want to keep being with him if down the line he will just leave me for a Jewish girl. His parents are rather conservative I believe, and he is a daddy’s boy. He may be stringing me along because you have said ‘any sex is better than no sex.’ His two exes were Jewish. He is an Atheist, but culturally Jewish. He also likes to please his parents. So….

Should I bail? Or stick it out? I have not met his parents or anything. We are also each other’s first (sex). I am a pain avoider as you have described in one article. I am falling for him every time we have sex, and it will hurt me tremendously if this man decides to leave me because I am not Jewish. I do not deserve to be used in this way. I would like to know if I should walk away now before I invest too much. Thanks. Love your articles. —B.

There are two different questions being asked here.

One is whether you should keep dating this guy.

The other is whether religion can tear you apart.

Let’s dispense with the first question first.

75% of marriages that begin under the age of 25 end up in divorce. Don’t be another statistic.

You’re a 22-year-old girl who is casually dating a 27-year-old guy who is not serious enough about you to take his JDate profile down.

This tells me all I need to know:

a) He’s just not that into you.
b) You’re too young to get married.

It is possible that he’ll come around, but it’s exceedingly unlikely. And even if he did, you need to gain some valuable life experience before you have to worry about what the Jewish in-laws might think.

You can date, be exclusive, and fall in love. But you’re putting the cart way before the horse. 75% of marriages that begin under the age of 25 end up in divorce. Don’t be another statistic.

Your more interesting question, though, is about Jewish families. For once, I’m uniquely qualified to answer something, so I’m not going to miss this opportunity. So…

The question, ultimately, is whether he’s the kind of nice Jewish boy who will put his parents needs above his own?

What is the likelihood a Jewish guy will leave you because you are non-Jewish?

There is no statistical evidence on the reasons Jewish men break up with girlfriends. There is statistical evidence on how many Jewish men insist on marrying Jewish – and that number is around 50%. Which means that 50% of Jewish men marry outside our faith.

I did. All of my cousins did. My closest college friends did.

But that’s half of the population — which means that Jews — and Jewish families — are far from monolithic in their beliefs and preferences.

As far as what’s unique to your guy… well, it’s not all that unique.

He’s an atheist? Yeah. Lots of us are.
He’s culturally Jewish. Identifies with the tribe. May go to services once or twice a year. Has a keen sense of humor. Enjoys family holidays, Seinfeld, and education? Yep.
He’s a parent-pleaser? That’s pretty much in our DNA.

The question, ultimately, is whether he’s the kind of nice Jewish boy who will put his parents needs above his own?

And, honestly, you can’t necessarily tell those things from the get-go, much less when the chips are down.

You don’t know that his traditional family will be closed off to you. Maybe he spends three years with you and falls in love with you. Maybe you’re open to converting to Judaism. Maybe you don’t need to convert, but you’re open to raising the kids Jewish.

There are a lot of possibilities, and each intermarried couple comes up with its own internal compromises.

But until this guy takes his profile down, declares himself your boyfriend, and tells you he loves you, I don’t think you have very much to worry about, my dear.

Join our conversation (21 Comments).
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  1. 2

    The writer “B: can’t be “used” if she takes herself out of the mix. If she is looking for a long term relationship, which it appears she is, and he is still checking JDate etc, I would assume that he is not exclusive with B. He could be looking for long-term but he does not appear to be looking for that with her. Evan is right on, as always. 🙂
    So B needs to move on.   Good luck and enjoy dating for the great journey that it is!

  2. 3

    I was always wary of dating non white and/or non- Christian men because I had these awful experiences with men wanting to stick to their own kind, who rejected me for not   being the right culture (i’m mixed so there’s no clearcut fit for me) I stayed away from Jewish men, as a Christian. However, I recently gave a Jewish guy a chance and was amazed to discover how open minded he was and how well we got along. But it’s reasonable to feel wary about this issue. Why set yourself up to get rejected over something you can’t even control?  

  3. 4

    I actually think the most important sentence in this letter is “I cannot risk getting hurt”.
    B, You are young and inexperienced, but at the end of the day there is no sure-fire predictor regarding what anyone is going to do in a relationships.   I guess it depends what you expect to get out of this relationship.   Evan telling you that getting married under 25 is a high indicator of divorce, but I would say that is because both individuals are immature.   You can probably gain maturity through dating.   
    I’d guess he is with you because he is looking to gain sexual experience.   If he genuinely lost his virginity to you at 27 after only a couple of months, it (a) doesn’t mean he was holding out for marriage, but (b) no one else has given him the chance OR he didn’t feel comfortable dating girls more sexually advanced than he was.   Marriage is probably far from his mind, but this is just a guess.
    Either way, you need to let go of the idea that you are unwilling to get hurt.   You won’t love anyone until you can accept that love involves a certain amount of risk.   A broken heart is something you will recover from more easily than regret.

  4. 5
    sandra b

    Makes me sad to say: 22 years old. Having sex with someone who is still looking is too painful for most females seeking a genuine relationship. Unless you are the type of woman who can do the same, I would advise you to be thankful for the good memories, but don’t linger in the current situation, if this is not what you want. (And clearly it is distressing you.)

  5. 6

    Yeah I’ve been there.   Believing a secondary issue I had with the relationship was the main problem, while there actually existed a core problem with the relationship itself and I was not ready to face it.   Thinking it was the secondary problem helped me to avoid the real problem.  

    Evan is right on the money with this one.

  6. 7
    Valley Forge Lady

    Once the honeymoon of initial attraction has taken a back seat, in any relationship you are dealing with the issues of compatible cultures.   You will come into any relationship with your culture and the other person will have theirs.
    Look at what happens in the relationships of your partner’s family.   That is his culture.   Is that what you want?   That is what he is accustomed to.
    At your age or anyone else’s age I strongly reccomend waiting 2 full years after meeting someone before getting married.
    It sounds like your guy likes your company but if he is on JDate he is shopping in his own culture.   There is nothing wrong with him doing this.
    You need to create some space from this guy to examine what you want.   You deserve a guy who is all in and not shopping elsewhere.
    You have choices to make and there are a lot of men to date.   This is not your last chance.     Take this guy off the pedestal.
    When I was your age I went through a bad break up.   I can remember shopping for lingerie thinking   that no one would see me in my dainties.   I am laughing.
    You are going to be OK!!!!!       Happy New Year!

  7. 8

    Unfortunately the wisdom that sticks is often learned the tough way.   The only reason I didn’t learn that lesson at 22 is because I was just about to get married.   I sure learned it later.

  8. 9

    I think B should move on.   She’s lucky.   She’s only 22 and have a lot of time left.   
    Of course, it might be true that 10 years from now, her guy stops looking for his female clone and settles down with a nice Catholic girl like Evan did, but he’s not there yet, so she should look for a guy who acts like a boyfriend and isn’t just using her as a “Miss Right Now.”
    This is a no-brainer.   He’s not even being cryptic about what he wants.   So believe him and take yourself out of his equation.   Let him find a Jewish girl to date.

  9. 10
    Karl R

    B. said: (original post)
    “What is the likelihood a Jewish guy will leave you because you are non-Jewish? I cannot risk getting hurt.”
    Will it hurt less if he leaves you for a completely different reason?
    My first serious girlfriend cheated on me (with her ex-boyfriend). That experience taught me a valuable lesson about relationships:
    If you’re having a relationship, you’re risking getting hurt. (And the likelihood of getting hurt in the long run is close to 100%.)
    If you can’t risk getting hurt, quit having relationships until you can. I don’t recommend living life in a bubble, but you have to be the one to decide that you’re willing to take the risks inherent with living your life.
    In the short-term, there’s no reason to stick with your current boyfriend. As Evan said, he’s clearly not invested in the long-term. But if you want to pursue a long-term relationship, you’re going to have to rethink your entire attitude.

  10. 11
    Karmic Equation

    To OP,
    I think this blog post is very timely for you:
    At 22 you’re entering your most eligible years. Don’t waste them.
    That said, I think 22 is too young to actually marry or be seriously considering or worrying about marriage. And, to be honest, if that is already in your head, you will probably scare away a lot of guys. Take these years to become the best person you can be, so that when you finally meet “the one”, he won’t be able to resist you.
    You should spend your early 20’s dating and getting experience (not sexual, but interaction-wise and life-wise) — and using those experiences to formulate in your mind the guy you do want to marry someday, so that when you meet him, you’ll recognize him.
    I just finished reading this book (title is cheesy, but the content is good — I agree with one of the commenters that the book should have been “Matched Opposites” instead) … I think you will find it helpful about setting your attitude and participating in activities that will help you find your “matched opposite.”
    Good luck!

  11. 12

    Since he’s an atheist, I’d say it’s (once again) not a matter of religion keeping them apart. It is, however, completely possible that he only wants to marry inside his cultural/ethnic group. I’m 3/4 Jewish, from an atheist family, so I have a general idea of how this works. I married an ethnic Russian and some of my relatives reacted like I’d married a woman, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Everyone was shocked and puzzled, and I couldn’t for the life of me see things their way. Basically the way I see it is, there are two kinds of people in this world (c). Those that only want to have relationships/marry within their cultural niche, and those that don’t see it as a factor. Personally I’m of the second group, so I know that someone from the first group would not work for me, even if we are of the same cultural background, because our mindsets are completely different. Say you’re a Jewish girl from group 2, you marry a Jewish guy from group 1, all is good in your world. Then 30 years down the road, one of your kids decides to marry out of his ethnicity or race. All of a sudden, your husband completely loses his shit, and you cannot even understand what the big deal is. Do you want this kind of problems? Nah, I say let people that want to stick to their own kind, stick to their own kind. And I don’t just mean “their own kind” in the ethnic sense of the word.

  12. 13

    I have to say I really like the way you put that Goldie.   And since she’s not even of his cultural group if we assume (which is safe) that his opinion on this matter won’t change, she is really wasting her time.
    B, just b/c you are 22 and have many years to ponder marriage and kids doesn’t mean that you should waste any on someone who will not consider you a real option b/c you are not from his cultural background.
    Please save yourself the trouble and either accept that this will always just be a fling or walk away and find a real boyfriend.

  13. 14

      Good luck to you, B.   I feel the pain in your message and hope that you make the decision that is best for you.
    Really great advice, Evan.  
    As a liberal Christian female, I’ve dated several Jewish men since I’ve been single and this has been a concern of mine.   Some of them have hinted about me possibly converting.   This seems like an uncomfortable topic to bring up because it could be construed as assuming a future together, but I think the sooner you both communicate your bottom lines, the better.   If you both are parent pleasers, neither of you are probably willing to disappoint your parents.   However, you’ll end up hurting yourself if you fall in love and then later realize that neither of you is willing to yield on the religious issue.
    The older I get, the less this seems to be a problem because most of the Jewish men who are interested in me aren’t looking to have children together and, as fellow liberals, we usually have more in common with each other than a person who might belong to one of the more conservative branches of our respective faiths.   If raising kids together is off the table, it seems like most of the other problems that go along with interfaith marriage are relatively easy to navigate.   Hey, no common religious holidays to negotiate with extended family!
    I also recently joined JDate and acquired a shill account.   If the guy I’m dating/considering dating is on there and he specifically states that he is only looking for Jewish women,   I will enter that relationship with eyes wide open or not at all.   I would assume he falls into Goldie’s Group One.   
    A general comment about marrying outside of your faith, specifically to Jews or Catholics:   I can’t quantify this generalization with data, but my years of experience lead me to believe that Jews and Catholics might take their marriage commitments more seriously than others.   Of all of the long lasting marriages that I can think of, most of them are Jewish or Catholic couples.   I mention this because it might seem like a huge inconvenience to convert or get an annulment, but the flip side to that might be that you end up with a man or woman who is fully committed to marriage — as well as a religious community who will support you in that union.   This is something to consider if you are involved with a great partner, but he wants you to take significant steps to be acceptable to his faith.
    @Goldie – “not that there is anything wrong with that” –   ;-D

  14. 15

    @sarah…people refusing to get divorced doesn’t mean they take marriage more seriously.   
    There are many, many DIVERSE cultures and faiths around the world that frown upon divorce and that leave women especially in a lurch if they attempt to get one (they lose their kids, their families disown them or worse, they cannot remarry).   The religious and cultural backgrounds of people in the US vary widely depending on where you live.  
    I’m also not sure why that is anything to envy.   People who do not see divorce as an option b/c of what others in their community think find a lot of unsavory ways around it. One of my friends found her co-worker, who is not from either group you mention but from a group most could say ‘doesn’t believe in divorce’ on a dating website.   So his version of ‘taking his marriage seriously’ is to cheat. As much as he can.    Don’t let appearances fool you.   A long marriage is not necessarily a good or healthy one. And the rest of your life is a long way to spend with someone that you don’t love, don’t like, or possibly hate.
    At any rate, don’t let your confirmation bias convince you that one group of people “takes marriage more seriously than others.” I could make your statement inserting other groups simply b/c of where I live, the background of the people with whom I mostly associate, and their particular marriage habits.   There are plenty of people who won’t get divorced that I’m sure aren’t part of your circle at all.  

  15. 16

    @ Nicole – 16
    Points well taken, but women are much more negatively affected by divorce than men.   Thus, I still think it is worthwhile for women to consider if a man is truly committed to marriage or not.   Of course, cheating would be unbearable, but not every man who is very serious about marriage is going to be a cheater.

  16. 17

    @ Nicole & Sarah – I think a good place to start would be finding out where the man’s priorities lie. I would assume that no one enters into a marriage planning to divorce in a few years just for the fun of it. Question is, what is more important to the man – is it putting in the effort to make the marriage work, so that everyone involved is more or less happy? Or is it gritting your teeth and keeping up appearances for as long as possible, because otherwise what will people say? The last one can result in a really long marriage, unfortunately in a really miserable one as well. Sometimes it helps to take a look at the person’s parents and their marriage. I recall a time we went to visit my in-laws when my ex-FIL was on a drinking binge. He’d be gone all day, stagger into the apartment late in the evening to harrass my MIL for more money to buy more alcohol. She’d say no and he would yell and call her names in front of their three grown kids, myself, and their two grandkids (3yo and 9 months old at the time) After his sons would finally get him to leave, MIL would say to all of us, God he’s on my last nerve, I wish he’d die already so I could get a break at last! And then she would go on living with him like nothing happened. I remember being pretty shocked about all this, but to my ex apparently it was normal. Apparently the message that my ex got out of all that was that, most marriages suck, that’s just the natural order of things, so you’ve got to accept it and go on living together no matter what. Not work on your marriage to make it better, just stick it out for as long as you can. That was what he told me when I came to him about all the problems in our own marriage. No marriage is perfect, and there’s no need to change anything, he said. So I left. To be honest I did not want to end like my MIL, waiting all her life for a break. IMO that is just wrong and unfair to everyone involved, not just to herself. In her defense, she probably could not leave for financial reasons – which is BTW another reason why some people end up having long marriages – not because they feel committed, but because they feel that they are trapped and cannot leave.

  17. 18
    Valley Forge Lady

    Goldie………..Your comments underscore my whole thesis of examining the culture of your potential partner.   There are many factors to that.
    When I was young I looked at the earning power of the father in law and expected the same in the son.   WRONG.
    But what I overlooked was the emotional culture of the marriages both husbands grew up in.     Both of their Dads were financially responsible but they check out emotionally.   Both of my ex husbands got married and put me on the shelf same as dear old Dad.
    Concerning religion.     When I was in college I dated a Jewish guy who said he was a non observant Jew and did not care about his Jewish roots.   As things progressed he told me that if we married….and any son would have to be Bar Mitzvaed.   That told me a different story.   We did not proceed.   We were not a good fit.   Nice people who liked each other but not for the long haul.
    However, you can be the same religion, ethnic background, bla bla but if the emotional mind set is not compatible….don’t expect happily ever after.
    I also advise all people to have economic power so that you do not get stuck in a marriage for financial reasons.
    Be the best the best you can be and find someone who appreciates that!

  18. 19

    Wait–how are women more negatively-affected by divorce than men?

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