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Questions we ask and don’t ask

Written by Tobye Adar

Jewish Singles Questions
Do we seek partners or foster relationships thinking someone else may make us happy? Can someone else ever fill our voids, or the emptiness we sometimes feel? Maybe the hope is that another will change our natural happiness baseline, with minimal effort on our part, because when we’re having fun, the moment doesn’t feel like a chore. I ask this question, because I have done this many times over.

Do other people make us happy? To what extent do we depend on others to compensate for our emotional shortcomings? It’s tricky, because the line between support and dependence is not always clear. Many of us can recall an instance when we’re feeling low, and then spend time with certain people, or change our immediate surroundings, and return feeling better. But is there a difference between someone contributing to our happiness and generating it on demand? This question is also prickly because one doesn’t feel in a vacuum. Every feeling is attached to a thought. While in theory, or in a doctor’s chair, we may be able to break down our thoughts underlying feeling, but in actuality, how good at this are we? Feelings are permanent, in that they’re there, annexed to our thoughts – and often, our palette from which we paint our world. This beauty and confusion, the changing color in our backdrop, is on the one hand, our own white noise, the hum of traffic in our cityscape, while on the other transience. Each moment, an object may appear distinct. After all, what feeling doesn’t have wind at its root? Which moment isn’t affected by the position of the sun?

Complicating the conception of potential happiness or its comprise, is another question: has the notion of love become synonymous with an item in an online catalogue? With urgent immediacy we’d say no, but what does our behavior indicate? How do we initially assess a partner? Do we consider whether figure, hair and face match up to what we’d like to be seen with? Why has ‘what’ become interchangeable with ‘whom’? Why are external features deemed criteria for our willingness to take someone seriously (in terms of scheduling a following encounter)? In other words, if many of us convince ourselves we want the good conversation, why do we find ourselves describing our ideal match in terms hairlines, hair texture, stature, breast size, girth, university degrees and money?

Soon after my mother died, I entered a relationship that ended as abruptly as it had started, and I was crushed. Devastated. I acted like a nutcase and it took me months to get over (talk about a negative return on investment). But in hindsight, I see it was important. Dare I recall the cliché “no pain, no gain” and posit that pain can also lead to good, in regards to development and other productive outcomes? I think the kick/s-in-the-ass is life’s way of asking us to stop making the same mistakes over again. The kick in the butt also acts as sufficient unpleasantness and possible motivation to figure out what’s really wrong (if, like me you’re not always in touch with how you really feel from the outset). I mean, how could I attribute those searing spasms of pain, and continuing constrictions of the stomach and chest to someone I’d known for two weeks? Pain is undervalued because it doesn’t feel good.

If we’re lucky, we understand that we don’t stay in the same place. We reach different destinations completely, traveling from the gut. Traveling from a sense of awareness, we have a real stake in our own happiness, coloring the moments with our own brush. The magic is being able to do it, within the contexts we’re in (and subsequently, those we create) surrounded by those we love. Infatuation can happen in a second; love takes a lifetime to nurture. We feed it and burp it. We also get upset with it, when the object of our love doesn’t behave as we wish. And we examine whether the voices inside our head belong to us or to someone or something else. Sometimes we are satisfied and sometimes we are not. It is one thing to lean on someone, know they’ll be there, and from there derive feelings of comfort and support, even strength, but it’s another thing to believe that they were set on this earth to provide for us.

Could happiness be a coming to terms with the fact that life’s events and circumstances are not always as we wish them to be? An attitude adjustment may often change circumstances but, when that is not possible, it can still change our experience of those circumstances.

What do relationships look like when we enter them thinking someone will always be there to make us happy? What happens when he or she doesn’t? I read a saying in a book called Zen Miracles by Brenda Shoshana (2002) that said, “You can never see anything worse than yourself.” I identify with this because the critical eye with which we view others, is really an indication of what we are capable of feeling and comprehending. It loosely links our thoughts about others as projections of ourselves onto them, and I find that concept fascinating. It’s almost like digging through garbage – our own as well as of others’ around us. Sometimes, our most valuable indicators of behavior are automatic checklists we create, against which we don’t hesitate to discard, people or ideas, and most of all our own responsibility to experience what we desire.

Is it possible to lead happy lives if we expect someone else to provide the happiness? I think that’s akin to relinquishing control over the self, to someone or even something, like a pill. Why be so reckless with the only element we actually do have some form of control over? I think we have to separate feeling good from trying to recreate and manipulate circumstances so that the desired feeling arises on demand.

I believe we can generate happiness, though perhaps not by buying the right product, or even into one way of thinking, but possibly through understanding, trial and error, and always believing that this too shall pass, in the same breath you know the sun will rise tomorrow. The knowledge of being in a constant state of flux requires eternal flexibility.

My wish for each of us has within it the potential to be the kindest blessing and agonizing curse: that you shall find what you seek. Isn’t it time we truly assess what that is, alongside the price we’re willing to pay for it?

About Tobye Adar:

Tobye Adar is a resident of Tel Aviv and has made aliya to Israel from the United States 15 years ago. She served in the Israeli Air Force, acquired an LL.B, MBA and MA in Creative Writing. She is the founder and operator of She is inspired by the clients she meets and developing opportunities for people to meet and fall in love is for her a great source of contentment.

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