Dear Rabbi Bernath,
I’ve been dating a girl (who I met online) for the past three months and it’s been going really well. We’re both pretty observant Jews and we get along so much better than any other relationship I’ve been in. I feel a deep connection with her, as she does with me.
She lives in a different city, about six hours away, so we mostly speak on the phone now. I went to visit her a few weeks ago and now I have time off from work for the Jewish holidays.
The problem is that every year at this time, I go with my friends to a warm place and we have a good time together. I mentioned not coming this year and they got really upset. They may not go at all if I don’t come. I mentioned this to my girlfriend and now she’s upset, too. She really wants me to come visit her for the holidays.
I feel like a kid with divorced parents wondering who to spend the holidays with. If I travel to see my girlfriend, and we get married someday, does that mean I’ll never have a relationship with my friends again?
I’m so glad you brought this question to my attention. It’s something that a lot of people have trouble with. In other words, you’re not the first person to find yourself in this situation, and you won’t be the last.
Your question is a basic part of the
Almost every guy grows up with his buddies. This starts from a very young age, even before the opposite gender becomes significant (when girls still have cooties, if you know what I mean). Even when puberty hits and it becomes cool to have a relationship with girls, the guys are still paramount, and girls are just objects to pursue and talk about. (Dear readers: I’m not endorsing this – I’m just describing the state of our society.)
And then, one day, one of those guys (i.e., you) meets a lady who is more than just an object to him. He actually starts to care for her as a person and can imagine a long-term relationship with her.
For the other boys, this is a threat. But not the threat you’re thinking of.
They’re not simply afraid of losing their friend to a girl. Rather, this situation threatens the entire group – your vacation buddies.
This group of guys thrives on being juvenile and shirking responsibility. They do dumb things together, like go on vacation to warm places. What do you do there, go on nature walks? Your girlfriend knows exactly what you’ll do there …
Now here’s the thing: in order for this group of guys to work, the boys need to create a bubble where they never have to grow up. And that’s where you live right now – in the bubble. And your girlfriend is threatening to pop it.
Once you choose real life over your trip, the game is over. The jig is up. Your buddies won’t be able to go and have fun with a clear conscience anymore. They’ll realize they also need to grow up and get married.
Now for your second question: what does this mean in the long run?
First of all, of course you should prioritize the woman who might become your wife and mother to your children. If you want her to marry you, she needs to feel that she is No. 1 in your life.
If you do that properly at the beginning of your relationship, she will feel secure enough to let you go do stuff with the guys later in your relationship.
But the other question you need to ask yourself is: if these guys aren’t encouraging me to deepen my relationship with someone I may marry, are they really my friends? Do they care about me? Or is it just about the selfish fun we have together?
Think and choose wisely.