jewish dating

Tales of Jewish Dating, Part III: Dating Wrong

Jewish Dating Wrong

Dating Wrong

Wrapping up this little series on Jewish Dating, I’d like to discuss some major insights I’ve pieced together.

I don’t have all the answers. Not even close. But 20 years of dealing with dating, marriage, and divorce have taught me a few lessons about what to do. And more importantly, what not to do.

Here are five little gems. Feel free to argue (even if you’re wrong):

Don’t Ooze Desperation

Don’t say yes to every date proposed for you. And don’t hang around with someone you’re pretty sure isn’t at all right for you, hanging on the hopes that maybe things will turn around.

And please don’t run around telling the world you’re looking to get married.

There are two reasons for all of this. First, it creates a lot of pressure on yourself. Nothing good comes from walking around stressed or unhappy. And pushing yourself too hard can result in hasty and/or bad decision making.

But just as important, desperation is unattractive. Confidence pulls people toward you. Knowing what you like, being comfortable with yourself, and standing for what you believe in pulls people toward you. When you ooze desperation, it’s like a nasty aroma that nobody wants to come close to.

Go on dates. But don’t make it the heart of your existence. Dating is something a whole person does with the hopes of sharing their fantastic life with another person. If it’s everything to you, then when it doesn’t work out, you have nothing.

Which leads to my next point.

Being Single is Amazing

Before I got married, I hated being single. I didn’t know how to do it well. Now I have a new problem. I love being single so much, I may have lost the capacity to join someone else into my life. But that’s for another post.

I believe learning how to love being single is a prerequisite for marriage. It might sound peculiar, or even counterintuitive. However, there are three main reasons for this:

a. Those leading a quality single life are more interesting and more desirable. No one wants to date someone dull, nor does anyone want to live a life that’s just about dating. It’s unfulfilling now and most certainly in the long run. You shouldn’t look back and worry about the lost time in your life.

b. A healthy marriage involves the intelligent fusion of two whole individuals. They are wonderful separately, and even more wonderful as a pair. It shouldn’t be that your only contribution to the unit is having agreed to be a part of it.

c. Most importantly: Happiness comes from within, not from a spouse. Fact is, no spouse, no matter how amazing, can determine whether or not you are happy. That is a personal decision. And if you mask true happiness with joy that solely emanates from another person, when you remove that person, you remove the happiness. Your true joy needs to come from you. Learn to love being single. Then open your heart to share your incredible self with another person.

Dating Should Be Fun

Jewish dating isn’t fun. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s pragmatic. It’s stressful. There is a tremendous amount of pressure, both external and internal.

It really, truly does not need to be this way.

You want to get married. I get it. That doesn’t mean dating is a chore on the road to accomplishing your goal. Let yourself go. Be loose. Be yourself. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the other person. It doesn’t have to lead to marriage to be enjoyable. You may just have found a new person in your life. Who knows? Maybe they’ll become a good friend or a business connection. Or maybe you’ll just have had a pleasant, memorable evening.

Obviously it takes two people to make that happen. But all communal shifts in attitude begin with one person.

Go at the Same Pace

It’s very important to gauge the temperature of the person you’re with. Some of us have the tendency to go from 0-60 extremely quickly, and we miss the fact that the person we’re with is taking their time.

What happens when this occurs? At first it’s OK. Or at least it feels fine. One party is constantly calling and complimenting and giving small gifts. The other is enjoying the attention, but is not really moving toward any meaningful feelings.

After a certain amount of months, the slower party is either interested in continuing the slow pace, or wants to move on from the relationship; and their pursuer is just a drip away from proposing! With feelings galore, he is in for a rude awakening and about to have his heart severely broken.

Relationships are complex. There are lots of moving parts. And sometimes it’s easy to forget that whereas each and every one of your feelings are entirely valid, so are all of those of the other party. If you ignore them, the end results will not be good. The best way to know what another person is feeling is through open and honest communication. If it’s not there, the relationship is doomed to fail anyway. Get out.

Just make sure you’re on the same page, looking for the same things, and going at a similar pace.

Know when to say yes… and when to call it quits

When do you ask a person to marry you? There’s only one correct answer. No one knows! How great it would be if life were that simple. It would be amazing if we could predict the viability of a relationship with any level of certainty!

But we can’t. We only have what we have.

What’s that? Our hearts, our minds, and our trusted companions.

Problem is, most of us have a tendency to ignore one or more of these three elements, and they’re all essential. More often than not, the heart gets all the attention. We’re left with a brain mindlessly following emotions, without any shred of logic. Without any checks and balances. We can all fall into this trap. And the easiest way to protect ourselves is to be surrounded by people we love and trust, who can help us make thoughtful, intelligent decisions, without fear of consequence.

We might not have all or even anywhere near close to all the answers. But we were born with keen minds and a need for meaningful companionship. We need to use them all when it counts the most.

 

What did you learn from your journey?

 

*Enjoying my writing? Check out my latest eBook!

Posted by jaffeworld in divorce, Israel, judaism, 0 comments

Tales of Jewish Dating, Part II: Lessons Learned

wejewish dating

In my last post, I told many stories about the less-than-perfect experience I had with shadchanim and Jewish dating. I’d like to speak about some things I learned from these experiences.

Not All Shadchanim are Created Equal

First, not all shadchanim are made equal. Some really take the time to get to know you. It doesn’t feel like a matchmaking factory, where they’re sending you out constantly, hoping if you go out enough times you’ll hit pay dirt. They actually want to connect people for whom they perceive a logical connection. And their heart is in the right place. Your long-term tranquility and happiness is the center of their concern.

Others… not so much. It’s a numbers game. They toss people out, knowing full well that if you shoot enough times at the target, you’re bound to graze the bullseye a few times. The elephant in the room is that this type of dating is horrendous, with potentially disastrous long-term results. Dating can get very expensive, and it’s really difficult emotionally. Jewish dating in my crazy city is not fun. It’s often a highly pragmatic marriage interrogation. If it works out, great. If not, you have nothing to show for it. Just lost time and money. No new friend or connection. No amazing experience. Just another failed attempt to find “the one”.

And what happens when it does work? What happens when you toss people together enough times and at some point they do get married? Are you creating healthy, long-lasting relationships based on trust, shared values, and quality communication? Or are you just tossing people in the same room and letting the chips fall where they may? And then abandoning these young, ill-fated couples to figure it all out on their own?

I’m sure there are shadchanim out there who are skilled and thorough. And I’m sure there are those who just have a knack for what they do. The others should stop. They’re doing more harm than good, all positive intentions aside.

Interpretation

Another lesson I gained is about terminology. There are phrases I would use to describe myself that I would never use again in front of a shadchan. I consider myself to be extremely open-minded, especially relative to a lot of folk in my immediate vicinity. However, I quickly learned that whereas I mean that I am open to all sorts of different thoughts and ideas, and I’m willing to try many things in life even way outside my comfort zone, the term seem to get misconstrued by shadchanim as “has no standards”.

So, if you want a shadchan who goes through a list of those who as of yet no one wants to date, by all means tell them you’re open-minded. Please be aware: The damage to your self esteem upon seeing the type of people you get set up with could crush your soul.

Jewish Dating, a Bit Too Serious

A final lesson I culled from the Jewish dating process is it saps your will. It could certainly be expensive. It is most definitely time consuming. But more than any of that, the emotional drain is severe. Keep in mind, this is a very serious form of dating. You’ve got two people interacting, both who wanted to be married yesterday. Hell, they want to have three kids by now! There’s no time for letting go and just enjoying the moment.

In fact, the best date I ever went on was, by Jewish dating standards, an absolute failure. We learned very quickly that we had certain values and lifestyle choices that didn’t mesh correctly. Marriage was out of the question, therefore so was continuing to date. However, we were already there and enjoying each other’s company. I recall very little about this young lady. I don’t even remember her name or what she looks like. But I will never forget the hour and a half we sat just chitchatting on a bench in Jerusalem, eating sunflower seeds and spitting shells all over the place (Israel’s simultaneously most revolting and most amazing custom). The conversation was fantastic. All pressure was 100% gone. And we sat there with the ability to enjoy ourselves, without a care in the world.

It’s actually funny. When going on a date in any capacity, the advice everyone always gives you is to be yourself. And yet with this style of dating, it’s so rigid and uncomfortable that being yourself ceases to be a viable option.

What’s next?

And when all the smoke clears, the date usually ends one of two ways: You either continue on the marriage trajectory, zooming your way to a new apartment filled with wall-to-wall children. Or you have nothing. Nothing at all. No friendship has been created, nor do you have a long-term, meaningful connection. No adventurous story has been added to your life. You just move on to the next uncomfortable moment, hoping that this one will be different. And you try to forget this lousy moment, and the time from your life you will never be able to get back.

Again, I’m sure there are those who try and set people up with the finest of intentions, and who are thoughtful and caring about really trying to put two people in the same room who actually should be. And thus quality dates and marriages might result.

That was not my experience.

Nope. I met my wife on a bus. And sure, it didn’t work out in the end. But we hacked 13 years together. Seems better than most this day and age.

And I’d still take a bus over a shadchan any day of the week.

In my next post I’ll talk about some more important lessons I culled from these last insane 20 years.

 

Anything you learned from your experiences?

 

*Enjoying my writing? Check out my latest eBook!

Posted by jaffeworld in divorce, Israel, judaism, personal story, 1 comment

Tales of Jewish Dating, Part I: Shadchanim and Beyond

shadchanim

In The Beginning…

Almost two decades ago, I started dating with a fury. I was visiting shadchanim and going on dates just about every week.

And I was miserable.

At the time I was living in Israel, watching all my friends getting married, and itching to find my own soulmate. Arguably pathetically desperate.

I went to many, many shadchanim. This word loosely translates to matchmakers (and very humorously is also the word in Hebrew for staplers). No, they’re not what you might picture from Fiddler on the Roof. It’s a fairly modern version of a similar idea. They’re simply people who maintain lists of guys and girls, and try to attempt to intelligently pair them up.

I don’t want to crap on the profession (or hobby). But I can definitely say it was a system that failed me terribly.

To start my tale, I want to tell a few stories from my pre-marriage attempts to meet people through the “system”.

Shadchanim and Common Character Traits

I recall sitting in a hotel lobby with an Israeli girl. We attempted polite conversation, but failed miserably. And to make matters all the more uncomfortable, she was very clearly a gold digger. I don’t really have a problem with that per se… however, at that point in my life I was working as a sofer (scribe), and living on scraps. How do you tell your gold digger date that you’re living in a caravan for $90 a month, and still sometimes struggle to make rent?

Afterwards I went to the shadchanit (female matchmaker) and politely asked her what she saw that made her think we would be a good match. And that’s when she said two words that will forever live in my mind in infamy:

“Mostly age.”

I still get angry even typing the words.

For God’s sake, if the only thing you can find in common between two people is something wildly trivial, and you completely ignore all other details that show the match is not a good one, get another hobby!

Common Philosophical Outlook

Another odd moment I had involved a young lady who sat across from me and stated without a shred of irony that she can’t believe how anyone can call themselves Lubavitch and not believe the Rebbe is the Messiah.

Now for anyone who has no idea what I’m talking about, the Rebbe is a reference to the leader of a Chassidic group (Lubavitch or Chabad) who died in 1994. A rapidly quieting faction decided that despite his death, the Rebbe was in fact the Messiah. There is a minuscule portion of the Jewish population who believes this. And then there are the rest of us, who find the idea to be anywhere from inane to repellent.

My thoughts upon hearing that my date held this position with extremely aclacrity:

“Well… I guess the rest of this date’s a formality… ”

Shadchanim and Looking for a Little Growth

Once I went to a shadchanit who sat with a little rolodex of eligible guys and girls. You would tell her a little about yourself and she would flip through her little card catalogue from an era gone by, trying to see who might be a fitting match.

I described myself, as one might in their early 20s, as being very spiritual. Constantly searching. Looking to grow and become a better person every day of my life.

At least twice during our little meeting, she said something along these lines:

“Oh, this is a very lovely girl. She’s a nursing student. Very pretty. Extremely nice attitude. And… oh wait, sorry. She’s not into growth.”

And then she would continue fiddling with the rolodex looking for the next candidate.

And I just stood there. Dumbfounded. Wondering what their conversation must have looked like.

“Hi, my name is Samantha. I would like to find a person with whom to stagnate and stay the same forever.”

Nearly two decades later, I still have no words.

And along with the no words, there is no segue that does this final story justice.

What’s a Little Hair Pulling?

Many moons ago I was hired to work as a security guard at a festival in Jerusalem. The workload was very light, but it is not within the capability of an Israeli boss to just to let you sit there and do nothing. When in doubt, they make up stuff to do.

And there I was. Appointed to stand next to the stage, and told my sole responsibility was to arbitrarily tell people they couldn’t walk past the area I was blocking.

And then, of course, everybody and their sister not only needed to walk through that area, but there was no other choice. And it was a matter of life and death.

One young lady stood in front of me. She gave me a sob story about how she had asked the people at the front entrance to use the bathroom, all so she could sneak into the concert. But alas, now she had a change of heart and wanted to leave. However, if she went out the way she came, they would know what she did. The ONLY way she could go to avoid trouble and embarrassment was the path that I was blocking.

Meanwhile…

Two other folk were screaming at me to let them by, as if my preventing their doing so was preventing them from curing cancer.

And the anger and emotions pouring from the three of them stood in stark contrast to my one and only responsibility.

This went on for what felt like a year, until while I was dealing with the screamers, the young lady decided to dart right past me.

I recall the next part in slow motion. I shouted, “Nooooo!” and reached in her direction… and before I knew what was happening, she was staring at me in pain. And I stood there with a fistful of her hair in my hand.

I awoke from my stupor, released my grip, and she ran off into the night. Never to be seen or heard from again.

At least that’s what I thought…

Two years later… I was walking along on a date… and I really thought the girl looked familiar…

Yes. That happened. It really did.

Suffice it to say, there was no second date.

 

So… it would appear that the road of shadchanim was not the right path for me. What’s next?

 

*Enjoying my writing? Check out my latest eBook!

Posted by jaffeworld in divorce, humor, judaism, personal story, 0 comments