On July 31st we mark “the Jewish Valentine’s Day,” Tu B’Av. A Wider Bridge’s very own Yanir Dekel wrote a romantic post on Tablet magazine, where he explained how did looking at old childhood photos helped him “solve” his “loneliness problem.”
When I was single and ads for Tu B’Av, the Jewish Valentine’s Day, would explode across all media throughout Tel Aviv, I would feel thoroughly defeated, deflated. Listening to my friends’ plans—the flowers and the reservations, the gifts and the chocolate—I was reminded just how alone I was, and that my wish for a truly special love might never come.
Obviously this endless romantic failure meant I was just not good enough. After all, there’s some science here: my friends found love and I hadn’t. The men I want don’t want me. This had to mean something. I’m too fat. Too boring. Do I smell? What is it?
I needed to “solve” the “loneliness problem.” And my pursuit of a solution drove me to more guys, more dates, more disappointments. during another Tu B’Av, I sat in my room, listening to songs like Vonda Shepard’s “I Know Him By Heart,” in which she croons, “I know he’s out there somewhere, just beyond my reach.” (You may know this song from the television show, Ally McBeal)
As I cried to my friend Liat on the phone about yet another miserable date she said, “Honey, you know he exists somewhere, and he’s about to arrive in your life. He just had to go to the Supermarket first…” This idea, this simple notion that love really is the alignment of two people’s lives by chance, opened up a whole new way of looking at love for me: There is someone out there for all of us, and we will meet and we will connect at the moment in which we’re both ready to love.
But I wasn’t ready. Not yet. In my first couple of years of therapy I began to understand that being ready for love with someone else starts by loving ourselves. Can you imagine anything more cliché? Awful! But after endless failed and meaningless dates I finally understood that they all end the same way because of me, not because of them. How do I feel about myself? How much do I value my thoughts, my feelings, my time? And based on all of this, do I attract the kind of people who are, themselves, not ready for a relationship? If I’m not ready, and they’re not ready, I end up alone.
Yanir’s book, Imperfect Thing Called Love, is now available in paperback and digital editions.