Life goes on, summer is over, and I’m back at YU gearing up for the academic adventure that awaits me. It’s always fun seeing old friends as well as my rabbeim and teachers again at the start of the new school year. I recently encountered one such catching-up experience which was altogether new and every-so-slightly awkward.
I bumped into an acquaintance of mine (he’s one of those faces in the crowd whose name I also happen to know, but not much more than that) on the way to minyan. We cordially asked how the other was doing, asked about the current goings on, as well as plans for the upcoming term. Nothing totally out of the ordinary, for the most part; He got married recently, and I’m getting married soon-ish.
The one thing that stood out in my mind is that I seriously dated his wife for a few months, and he has no clue (presumably). I remember finding out they were engaged earlier in the spring, and even saw them around campus doing the cutesy engaged couple display that a lot of readers are probably familiar with. True, I was a little affected by the news (she and I had parted on good terms, though as many people can attest there is always that nagging voice at the back of one’s mind about a far-flung potential future), but quickly dismissed the celebratory information from my active thoughts and went back to my everyday life.
Now it turns out that they are living in the same building that we will be, albeit on a different floor.
I honestly harbor no feelings whatsoever for his new wife, especially since I am ever-so-happily preoccupied with the amazingly lovely ASoG, who is absolutely irreplaceable and incomparable. The thing that bothers me at the moment is what will be the general awkwardness of a) running into them at frequent intervals and b) socially interacting with them, such as going to one another for Shabbos (after I’m married as well, of course). I am pretty sure he has no clue about my dating history with his wife, and I caught myself just before I asked how she was doing. I’m sure that would have tipped off some sort of suspicion on his part – why would I care about, let alone even know his wife? Legitimately, I am always happy to hear that people I know are doing well, even ex-shidduch dates (the reverse is also true if I hear that someone I know has fallen on difficult times).
I recall reading a section about this phenomenon in a marriage book once, which basically said that this is one of the main reasons that guys (and girls too, though the book was geared more toward guys) should NOT discuss their dates with friends. The lesson imparted was: you never know who might end up marrying who. The author wrote about an awkward situation where someone went to his married friend’s house for Shabbos, and interacted in an overly familiar, inappropriate fashion with his friend’s wife. The guest joked around with her, took her engagement/wedding ring when she went to wash, and playfully refused to return it afterward, if I remember correctly. The author went on to issue a stern warning that these sorts of things can lead to more illicit behavior, and thus no one should know who their friends date, in order to avoid such precarious scenarios.
As an aside, I think this definitely precludes the concept of setting up a friend with someone you went out with, especially since those sorts of arrangements usually occur after the termination of a shidduch earlier on in the process. If I were to ever successfully negotiate such a match, I think it would be more of a funny “oh, don’t you remember,” story time sort of thing, rather than creating awkward interactions.
This case of mine is slightly more akin to the one presented in the book I read (which I think was Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover, by Rabbi Mordechai Dolinsky). While there have been girls I’ve gone out with who have gotten married, none were to friends/acquaintances, or were in any position to interact with me on any sort of regular basis.
I could also be worrying for no real reason at all, making a mountain of an almost molehill. It was only a momentary awkwardness during that brief conversation wherein I stopped myself before asking anything that could be viewed with suspicion. Odds are, ASoG and I (and I told her about this incident) may just see them in passing as we enter/exit our building, in Shenk Shul, or in a rare instance, at a Shabbos table which we were both invited to in a mutually exclusive fashion. Since I’m not really close friends, or even nominal friends with this former classmate, I doubt we’d really end up spending so much couples time together in the first place. In any case, I think I can rest assured that any major social awkwardness simply has very little chance of ever happening.
And I thought bumping into ex-dates on the local shuttle/at the YU library was awkward… Welcome to crazy world of being engaged, I guess.