“Where are all the good/normal/sane/civilized Jewish guys?”
How often have you heard variations on the above complaint? From the stories of many a frum girl, one would get the impression that the male population consists exclusively of man-children, players and a small group of genuinely desirable men who are either out of reach or already married. Talk about a losing proposition.
Here’s the thing, though: there are plenty of good guys out there. They may not be the Perfect Prince Charming, but they’re even better than that. They’re responsible, good-natured and possess many fine qualities. So, what gives? How come there seems to be so much disappointment when they hit the dating scene?
I’ll tell you why:
Most frum guys – myself included – have little to no idea how to attract women. None. Zilch. Gornisht.
And no, our Yiddish knowledge doesn’t seem to be helping at all.
Worse, much of the advice we get from people we know is useless and sometime even counterproductive: Be nice. Be yourself. Be “chivalrous.” Trust me, none of it works.
But, you may ask, shouldn’t men treat women with respect?
Yes, but the devil is in the details: A woman wants things like respect, but she don’t want it from just anyone. She wants it from a man they are attracted to. Don’t believe me? Spend some time reading romantic literature or watching romantic movies (think of it as a research project). Notice something? The leading man in them can be many things – rich, poor, handsome, gruff, kind, noble or wicked. But he is almost never just a “nice (Jewish) guy,” that kind of bland nonentity most of us were taught to be.
He can pull off the same actions and achieve vastly different results. Take the above-mentioned advice, for instance. Chivalry graciously granted by a gallant knight feels very different than the exact same chivalrous act done by someone acting like a servant or butler. Politeness and attention from a desirable man with options is very different from a guy who acts like he’s desperate for your attention and can’t function without you. This is simply not negotiable; to paraphrase one Jewish relationship expert: man must come before mentsch.
I can already hear guys complaining: but I’m not a movie star/dashing hero/whatever fantasy women have! I can’t possibly live up to those expectations!
News flash: you don’t need to be any more than all women have to be supermodels. It’s about the direction towards which you strive, not an exact goal which must be reached. Your goal is to become the best version of you that you can possibly be.
So how does one do that?
Well, it’s certainly a major project, but I’ll try and set out some key points here for starters. Keep this in mind at all times:
Never let perfect be the enemy of better and it’s never too late to improve yourself. Leave the impossible standards and regrets about lost opportunities behind and get moving.
Confidence doesn’t necessarily mean being arrogant (though I know women who like that, too – within limits). It also includes what I call “courage under fire” – the ability to overcome fear in a tense or embarrassing situation. I have a friend who has none of the “classic” traits in a catch. Nevertheless, he’s skilled with women because he’s not afraid to approach them and he rarely if ever gets flustered.
Act like a guy who has places to go and people to see, someone who’s going somewhere. Don’t be afraid to gently engage in banter, even light teasing, with your opposite number. Practice being calm and collected and train yourself to develop a thicker skin. Take small risks. Most importantly, take the mindset of “I’m nothing and she’s everything” and throw it out the window. You both have value, and if you don’t value yourself – why should anyone else?
First, get thee to a gym and work out regularly. Second, go clothes shopping with someone who knows how to do it properly. Learn to start enjoying looking at yourself in the mirror and smile. Heck, even do one of those wink gestures.
Regular daily hygiene is mandatory. Stand up straight at all times. If you have difficulty doing so, do daily planks. Learn to look relaxed but in charge. If you have annoying mannerisms – and I’m sure you’ve been called on them – minimize them. If you can, grow a cropped beard and keep it trim.
Skills, Likes and General Competence
If you have serious skills or loves – emphasize them. Show you’re passionate about something(s). Constantly look to improve these. If you don’t have anything, start trying things out – at least one new thing a week. It can be anything from woodworking to painting or playing an instrument. Never stop improving your “skill toolbox” in all aspects of life.
There are quite a few websites filled with more good advice; I personally love The Art of Manliness. But find what works for you.
It’s past time for us to bury the “nice Jewish guy” and create in its place the archetype of the “Good Jewish Man.” Both men and women will benefit.
Next: The Great Credentials Mismatch
Avi Woolf is a 31-year old content editor and budding tech writer with Modern Orthodox attitudes and a libertarian streak. He’s dated for eight years looking for a girl with whom to brave life and have a family. Likes chess, hates phoniness
Deena’s note: Read Avi’s first piece on Habitza, his message to women, here. And read about the upcoming Habitza reading event in Jerusalem here.