Feeling Guilty for Not Dating a Jewish Guy – Advice is Welcome

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This topic has 4 voices, contains 9 replies, and was last updated by  David Cohen 1123 days ago.

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January 4, 2010 at 6:04 am #4174

Rachel

I have been dating a great, fantastic atheist man for the past one and a half years and while he is completely committed to raising any future children in a Jewish setting, loves my Noodle Kugel, and is open to going to Temple for Shabbat; I still feel this cloud of guilt hanging around me for not dating a Jewish man. My parents adore him and have no problems with him not being Jewish but for some reason I can’t shake it.

Maybe it is the absence of him truly understanding the Jewish culture and the things I did as a child growing up in a Jewish community.

Does anyone else in an interfaith relationship feel this way? I watch as all of my other Jewish friends seem to marry a Goldstein or a Rosenberg and while I am truly happy for them I do feel pangs of guilt and jealousy. Is this lame or wrong to feel? I know that he would marry me tomorrow if he could but he also knows I am holding back because of this, because I can’t commit to a non-Jewish man.

Any advice?

January 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm #4177

ANRK

Don’t marry him. You have too many reservations and are too tied to your cultural background. You admit to feeling jealous of other Jewish girls marrying Jewish men. Those feelings are unlikely to go away, no matter how hard you tell yourself they will.

I am a non-Jewish atheist, married to a Jew. We have reached a happy median in our married life where neither cultural background is given greater importance than the other. If we couldn’t treat each other as equals and each make sacrifices accordingly then it wouldn’t work.

ANRK

January 5, 2010 at 12:52 am #4180

Andrea

Do you love him? Is there anyone Jewish around you’d love just as much? How old are you? How much time do you have to find someone else you love and want to have a family with? How will you feel if he cuts it off and marries someone else while you’re dithering? He deserves better than a wife who thinks she’s settling or that he isn’t good enough. For me the atheism would probably be a deal breaker, but maybe you’re compatible in that way. Are you only culturally Jewish and share his general beliefs about God or do you believe in God and find that his disbelief bothers you? Don’t marry him unless you can answer some of those questions honestly and feel good about what you’re doing.  

January 6, 2010 at 6:37 am #4184

Marc Lieberman

It’s good that you’ve realized your feelings of guilt and jealousy now rather than later.  I have been married to a non-Jew for 12 years and only started having regrets a few years ago.  Usually it’s a thought of “if I could go back and do it all over again” or that if we were to ever get divorced, I’d be sure to marry a Jew the next time.  Not that I would choose to give up the amazing family and wonderful wife I have… but the thoughts do pop up from time to time.  Some of it also has to do with disagreements over religious schooling, traditions, shul membership, etc. (despite agreements that we would raise a Jewish family) that make me think it would all be so much easier if I had just married a Jew.  In my case, there wasn’t really a large Jewish community in my area so it was never something I thought about while dating in HS and college.  I didn’t seek out Jewish girls because it wasn’t important to me at the time, and I never happened to meet any Jews I wanted to date.

ANRK is probably right that the feelings will never go away.  You’ll always live with that regret and that question of “what if” floating around in your head.  But now you have to decide if you can live with that, and weigh it against all the great things in your relationship.  Andrea posed lots of good questions, and it sucks that you even have to answer them or make that sort of decision, but better now than later. 

I think if I had to offer advice (since you did ask for it), I would say that if you are an outgoing, confident person and you have a fairly large Jewish community in your area, then you could probably find someone just as great who is also Jewish and not have to worry about the religion thing.  Of course Andrea’s questions about your age and how long you feel you can look for Mr Right are also important factors.  If, on the other hand, you feel that this is the guy for you and you can’t imagine ever being apart from him, and you trust that he will truly support your religious wishes, and the jealousy of your friends is no deeper than watching a bowflex commercial and saying “boy I wish my boyfriend had abs like that”, then maybe you can put the feelings of jealousy and regret aside and be happy with what you have found.

Best of luck, whatever you decide!

January 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm #4193

In the Same Boat

Rachel, I’m in almost the exact same situation. I have been dating an amazing, non-reigious, atheist non-Jew for about the same amount of time. I had always planned to marry a Jew, and while I’m not “too” old (28), I did realize that the longer I waited to find a wonderful person who fits me and also is Jewish, I may end up much older and alone, and not have the opportunity to start a family at an age where it would be comfortable for me. So I did consciously choose to make that compromise for the relationship and still sometimes worry about it. Everyone has offered good advice; I can only add empathy. A friend of mine had the same dilemma – she is Jewish and her now-husband is not Jewish, but choosing to get married was difficult as she is attached to her Judaism. Nevertheless, they seem to be doing very well, respecting each other’s religions and loving each other. I think being clear to yourself and your partner about what you can and cannot compromise is key. I have been very honest about these things in my relationship and my partner has been very accomodating (for an atheist!). Sometimes I feel guilty imposing my religion on a non-religious person; sometimes I feel guilty not having the ease of a partner who really gets my attachment to Judaism (and yet, many Jews don’t get that either). I do feel my partner understands me and supports me. I do worry that while he agrees to raise Jewish children now, this may translate into conflict later – I already know he is not a fan of day school, which is a big compromise for me. You have to weigh these things out. It’s always a gamble, and a much more intense one for women. There are Jewish women who are 40 or even older, and still looking for that soulmate who may not exist in the Jewish community. Then your options for having children become more limited, and that’s a serious question for women who do want to have children. Overall, don’t be afraid to be very honest with yourself and your partner – express any fears/doubts you have, make sure to talk about these things as you think of them. Eventually, you’ll end up leaning more in one direction or another.

February 22, 2010 at 5:19 am #4360

Rachel

Thank you everyone for your advice I really do appreciate it. To In the Same Boat, your advice, I am glad that I am not alone and am not crazy for having these feelings. To Marc, thank you as well. I am 28 and as it was said above “not too old” but necessarily young either and I would like to have a family started before 35 if possible. While there is a large Jewish population in the area, I live in Los Angeles, none of the Jewish men have struck me as attractive or worked out on dates. I imagine that I will continue my journey of figuring this out. We did go to temple a month ago for Friday night service and he did enjoy it; I am hoping that this is a good sign.

November 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm #5219

Regina

Hi Rachel,

I am in the same boat as you. Trust me, you are not alone. I am 29 incidentally, and also in LA. It might be fun to talk, and if so, feel free to email me.
Regina

January 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm #5373

Shifrah

At the risk of sounding a bit harsh… Talk about wanting have your cake and eat it too.  You knew he wasn’t Jewish and an atheist, he decided to allow any children to be raised Jewish, and yet you are still unhappy. More for him than you, call it off before everyone becomes even more emotionally invested; your “guilt” (if not selfishness) may hurt everyone in the long run.

January 7, 2011 at 11:36 pm #5374

Heather

most women, Jewish or not, would love to have the kind of boyfriend you have. he’s more than willing to compromise on the religion issue even if he doesn’t convert. you’re also extremely fortunate that your parents are supportive of your relationship, something you should not take for granted while so many others have to put up with criticism, disapproval, or worse…being cut off.

also, your friends who are marrying Jews may appear happy on the surface, but did it ever occur to you they might be miserable? perhaps they only married them BECAUSE they were Jewish, to appease their families or what-not. sharing a religion doesn’t guarantee a happy marriage. like Shifrah said, you want to have your cake and eat it too. you can’t do that here. you either need to understand that your boyfriend, although not Jewish, is a wonderful match for you or break up with him becauae of your guilt. honestly, if you go for the latter you’ll feel even more guilty. stick with what you have…it sounds like you’ve found a keeper.

June 27, 2011 at 4:06 am #5906

David Cohen

Look, you have it easy because:

1) Religion of the children is set by the mother, not the father. Your children will be Jewish, no matter who you marry! (Unlike me)

2) Your parents are supportive and love your man! And your man is supportive and accepting of your religion. Why, that’s amazing!

3) Even if the religion of the children was NOT set by the mother, they could still be raised in a Jewish home, be made aware of their Jewish roots/heritage, and even choose to become ultra-orthodox and as close as possible to judaism as they want.

See, I’m a Jewish man, and I feel the same guilt about dating an Asian woman. She’s amazing, and has all the values I once thought were reserved to Jewish women. I am 37, recently divorced, and have woken up to a reality where Jewish women no longer possess those precious Jewish values I’ve been seeking in a partner.

And should I really marry the wrong woman just because of the “Religion of the children is set by the mother” thing? Should my happiness be held hostage in that manner? Should I suffer in a mediocre or potentially vitriolic relationship, just because I feel this guilt? I’ve tried relationships with Jewish women, and I was even married to one (We agreed to have children before married, but 1 year into our marriage she decided Children do not work out into her future…!).

So I decided to swallow this guilt, and that my children will be made aware of their Jewish roots, will be circumcised, and learn Jewish philosophy, despite the mother not being Jewish. My Asian girlfriend doesn’t mind, in fact she seems interested in Judaism, and even offered to convert. It is I who doesn’t want her to convert because I have no plans to live according to orthodox religion…!

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