Dear Dr. Ruth,
Some years ago, I met the person I believe to be my beshert.
This person is long married. I resisted marriage because I did not feel it fair to my now-spouse to marry while I still carried the sense of a beshert elsewhere. Finally, however, realizing that the other would never be free, I gave in. Both this other and I are traditional, settled people with pleasant, stable lives. Our spouses are both supportive, wonderful people. Neither of us, I know, would ever wish to hurt our spouses or disrupt our lives in any way. Our relation to each other is honorable and chaste. We do not discuss personal matters, and certainly never any of this.
No matter what I do, however, the sense that this person is my beshert strengthens. Whether this feeling is mutual, I have no idea. I do sense that there is a bond beyond individual will that only draws greater strength over time.
I do not believe this is idealization or infatuation. I know this person’s human flaws and difficulties. Yet, when we are together, I feel such pure, simple joy that it does not seem that it cannot be right.
I feel blessed to know this person at all. But we’re not young, time is going by, and, increasingly, each time we part, I feel a sense of tragedy that we will not spend more of what is left of life together. I am not speaking of the physical, though of course that is part of life. I am speaking of time itself.
I believe that we should honor our human commitments. But must we carry those commitments to the grave?
And, if the notion of the beshert can have any validity, is it not somehow a higher commitment, whether one is elsewhere committed or not?
PINING FOR A BESHERT
Dr. Ruth Replies:
When playing tennis, you are not supposed to put yourself in the middle of the court, which is called no man’s land. Either you play up by the net or back by the end line, but if you’re in the middle, you’ll almost always lose the point because the ball will land at your feet where you can’t get it. You, my dear, are in the no man’s land of relationships. As long as you keep seeing this man socially, you’re not going to get over your feelings for him. So either you speak to him, see if he feels the same way about you, and you both divorce your spouses and get together, or you stop seeing him socially, even, if necessary to get over him, moving away to another town. I’m not going to get into the issue of beshert, or soul mates, because whether your feelings for him are based on beshert or just a simple crush, they do exist. What is important is that you really can’t love two people at the same time, so as long as you keep feeding these feelings by seeing this man, you’re never going to be satisfied with your husband. So practically speaking you have to do something about this situation. If you speak to him, and he reports that he shares the same feelings, then the two of you can get together and hopefully live happily ever after. If he doesn’t feel the same way about you as you do about him, then you have to stop seeing him so that you can allow your love for your husband to grow. It may take awhile to get over this other man, but slowly but surely you will, especially if you don’t allow yourself to fantasize about him. So in order not to feel that you’ve wasted your life, take matters into your own hands, but whatever you do, don’t remain in the no man’s land where you find yourself now.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a noted psychosexual therapist. She is the author of 32 books, including, most recently, “The Olive and the Tree: The Secret Strength of the Druze” (Lantern Books). She dispenses advice regularly at www.drruth.com.