Some of the insensitive things people might say to singles involve lines like: “You never know.” But there is a more complicated one which stems from people trying to extrapolate their own experiences onto others. This hurtful comment would go something like this:
“Yeah, well, the interesting thing is that me and my husband – and we’re madly in love, can’t you tell – met through a totally random shidduch. We don’t even know why we said yes but boy are we happy because, yes, we’re madly in love. So seriously, you may as well just go on this date I’m offering you, even though I have no concrete reason to be matching you up. Just say yes!”
This is a confusing statement because it includes supposed logic followed by guilt if one doesn’t follow the logic and fear of missing out on a good opportunity.
Look, every story exists. Couples have met in every possible scenario. If we were to feel compelled to try every avenue in order to keep our options open, we’d totally wear ourselves out. To feel pressure to try something just because someone happened to meet that way, makes no sense. Of course we don’t know how we’re going to meet our besherts but no reason to kill ourselves trying, I believe.
Call me fluffy but actually, there are quite a few stories I’ve heard of two people who supposedly really “shouldn’t” have met. Maybe the age range was totally off or the religious levels didn’t fit… But fate had it that they met anyway. And not because both were willing to throw themselves to the wolves every Monday and Thursday (as the Yiddish saying goes).
Yes, we have to do our part (which for most probably doesn’t including going on just any random date) and, if God wants us to meet someone who doesn’t fit exactly into what we’re capable of doing, well, He’s going to have to make it happen.
Bottom line: I think the worst is to give into pressures. Just because bungee jumping created a revelation for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s what I need to do.
If I decide to do something, it should be because I decided to do it. If I’m feeling pressured to do something, I try to stop in place and contemplate how I really feel about it. Do I really think it’s a bad idea or maybe I really do want to do it? But in the end, I try to do it because I want to do it, not only because I was pressured into doing it. It doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself beyond your comfort zone, go out or your way, etc., but you need to decide that that is what you want and not just be pushed along with the current.
Shabbat shalom! :)
Elephant photo by al_green on flickr.
Bungee photo by ctsnow on flickr.
You know how some people believe that there is no such thing as a platonic relationship between a man and woman? Well, whether that is true or not, I truly believe (and I’m slowly getting evidence to back my theory) that mini-crushes abound in the singles community.
The mini-crush would be defined as some level of more-than-just-friend feelings one person feels towards another. These feelings are not necessarily strong enough to take over a person’s life. They are also weak enough that the person is not sure if it’s a “real” crush and if it’s worth doing anything about it. Of course people hesitate taking action based on these not-so-strong feelings because there is always fear of being rejected and awkwardness if it doesn’t work out. Because of this, a lot of mini-crushes can continue for a long, long time.
And so, based on my theory, there are probably all these little potential sparks hidden in the community.
I had an idea. (An idea I’m scared to actually try.) What if everyone from a specific group of friends got together. It has to be a group where everyone basically knows each other (even if on a very shallow level). Each person writes on a piece of paper the names of every person in the room they’d be willing to go out with on a date. People can write more than one person.
Then, a third party looks at all of the pieces of paper. Wherever both sides said they’d want a date, they are told they matched up. If only one side wrote someone’s name down, the other side will never know.
There are some difficult logistics regarding this idea but the outcomes are potentially amazing. First, if you have an incessant crush on someone, if they don’t write your name, you finally know for sure that at least right now, it is not mutual. So you can move on.
It also gives people the opportunity to actually date people they are already friendly with which could be so much more comforting than a blind date.
Finally, and most obviously, it allows people to connect more. And, considering that our communities are important to us but getting married is a top priority, it helps set the priorities straight.
A few people have told me they think it’s a good idea. These people have told me they’d have at least one person to write on their piece of paper… So… should we do it? Eek!
Photo by @boetter on flickr.
A friend of mine this evening was saying that she thinks that matchmakers are part of the problem, not necessarily the solution. The theory goes that 20, 30, 40 years ago, guys felt more of a need to take chances, put themselves out on the line and ask girls out if they were interested in them. Now, today, a guy might see someone he likes in his community but he could think, “Why go for that girl if, through a matchmaker, maybe I could find someone even ‘better’?”
It’s true that to a certain extent, when you go to a shadchan, you might feel like you can be really specific about what you’re looking for, and the shadchan can go to work, looking for someone with the right waist size and eye colour for you, according to your custom order.
I wonder… What would happen if the matchmakers and websites went on strike for a month and people were forced to look at the people in front of them a little more seriously… Are there potential matches not being actualized because it’s easier to go online or call a matchmaker? (Or pretend to be connecting with people on facebook?)
It reminds me of a really important quote I read yesterday. Malcolm Gladwell is quoted in this article as saying:
If social media or online communication is the means to the creation of a personal connection, it’s a fabulous thing. But if it’s an excuse to not make a connection, it’s ultimately a trivial thing.
This is the same with any tools we’re using to try to connect to others. We need to look at the current tools at hand and figure out where they are truly helping us connect with people the way we want to. And where they aren’t, we need to try to wean ourselves off of them.
P.S. Please let me know what you think about this. Today there was a problem with comments on at least one of my blog posts. I hope to fix the problem soon and I hope it doesn’t exist on this post!
Photo by aka Kath on flickr.
This post is inspired by a few conversations I recently had. Of course there are responsible matchmakers and responsible singles out there but this is a call out to those who may need to claim more responsibility than they have till now.
Call out to matchmakers
You must must must take your responsibility seriously. If you really don’t think you have strength or the capabilities to really look into people and really seriously consider who might be good for who, don’t do matchmaking! I’m serious! Why do you have to do it if you aren’t really up to it or into it?
If you’re doing the online matchmaking thing, make sure it doesn’t just become like an online card game. Remember that each profile is a real person!
And if you aren’t sure about two people, maybe run it by one or both of the people, communicate the thoughts behind your hesitation and the thoughts behind your considering them a potential match. This is very serious stuff and it’s so important to try to prevent nightmare dates or any unnecessary dates. What’s an unnecessary date? I suppose one that really could have been avoided if more communication had happened ahead of time.
Online matchmakers (like from Saw you at Sinai and Jretromatch), be available! Answer people’s emails. Remember we’re talking about a sensitive topic! Again, if you don’t think you can do it, better not to than to ignore people’s emails. The fact most/all of you are doing this for free is a whole other issue. Maybe this shouldn’t be a free service. Or maybe, whether it’s for pay or for free, not just anyone should be able to become a “matchmaker.”
Call out to singles
It’s so legitimate to be upset at a matchmaker who withholds important information. Let yourself feel angry and tell the matchmaker you are very hurt by what happened! It is your responsibility to give feedback. Otherwise, how is anything ever going to improve? And I don’t care what you say, you do have a responsibility towards other singles. If you don’t give feedback, there is a higher chance of someone else going through the same nightmare you went through.
So much in life we can’t control. But there is so much that we can control. You have way more control than you might admit. Just because you’re single, does not mean you have to go out with anyone offered to you. Just because you’re single, doesn’t mean you have to say yes.
Just because you’re single, doesn’t mean you have no idea what you need and want. It doesn’t mean your needs and wants should be ignored. Doesn’t mean you have to rely on others to decide what shidduching (matches) are appropriate for you. You can say no. You can say yes. You can say you need time to think. You can ask questions about the person, about how the matchmaker knows the person and how well. You can ask whatever you want and you can still say no.
You don’t have to go back to the same matchmaker if they do something very hurtful or irresponsible or if you just don’t feel like they are really getting you. You need to feel like you can trust your matchmaker.
You can be honest with yourself and decide which qualities are important to you in a partner. You can express that to others, if you so choose.
You are allowed, and should, be private about your life. You can plead the fifth whenever you please even if someone is trying to help and wants to set you up. If someone asks you what you’re looking for and you feel it is too private a question to divulge to that specific individual, you can choose not to answer them.
These are not only your rights but also your necessity. You must save your energy. You must make sure to help yourself stay (or become) a healthy person.
If people take responsibility where possible, I believe a large percentage of the pain currently involved in the dating world can be eliminated. Don’t you think?
To be clear, when he says, “Get high with a little help from my friends,” he means altitude, like climbing a mountain or a large staircase.
In my (very impressive) quote in the Jerusalem Post this past weekend, I said that I think that what’s going on with people not getting married even though they (supposedly) want to, should be categorized as a problem. There is pretty much always taboo around weaknesses and that taboo creates a situation where things aren’t being discussed and if things aren’t being discussed, then solutions cannot be found.
I think another symptom of the taboo around the singles problem (there, I said it) is that people don’t ask for help. I believe the easiest kinds of shidduchs (matches) are probably matches made through friends. Easiest meaning, least painful, most smooth. Just a theory but it makes sense.
Someone just told me that suddenly one day he realized that just because his friends care about him and just because they know a million girls, doesn’t mean they’ll think of setting him up with anyone. And so he started asking individual friends if they had anyone for him.
Smart smart smart. But I think that one of the keys here is not to ask just anyone. It’s best to ask, as he said, people you really like and who you believe will be able to market you well. And I’d say, people whose opinions you trust. Doesn’t make anything full-proof but it definitely helps!
I’m curious, who has now read this post and is going to ask at least one friend if they can keep them in mind for a shidduch?
Recently, in a 5 minute telephone interview with a matchmaker, I was asked the following questions:
- How old are you?
- How long have you lived in Israel?
- What work do you do?
- Do you wear skirts and pants or skirts only? [How is this fact going to impact in any way on a marriage relationship?]
- Do you plan to cover your hair when you’re married? [Isn't that a bit personal? I'm not asking you what colour underpants you wear!]
- Send me a picture! Its the most important thing.
After some amount of thought, I have a few questions of my own to ask this matchmaker:
- There are 613 mitzvot in the Torah. Why are you choosing to ask me about two, which aren’t even necessarily de’oraita (straight from the text) mitzvot?
- Did Abraham choose a wife for his son based on these questions – or was “loving kindness” his main criteria?
- Does covering your hair and wearing only skirts make you a good wife and mother? If so, I’m in! I thought being a wife and mother was good hard work that demanded all your efforts and talents!
- Do you believe human beings are static? Do you assume that my answers today will still be my answers in ten or even twenty and thirty years time? And finally…
- Am I an etrog? Am I a religious vessel in the hands of you or some young man? Will you check me out in the market, take a good look and then throw me away if you think I won’t do the job? Or am I a living, breathing human being who is the product of thousands of years of Jewish history and individual choice?
Singles, I think that if you are asked a question you are not comfortable answering, regardless of whether the answer is yes or no, that you politely decline by saying “I’m sorry. I don’t feel comfortable answering that question.” These self-appointed matchmakers are often attempting to service a real human need, and answering their misguided questions will only serve to encourage them in their folly.
Photo by Deena Levenstein
One of our avid :) readers commented on my blog post, “Shhh… I attended a singles event.” She calls herself insearchofhubby and she has a blog whose goal is just that – to help her find a hubby. I so respect her putting herself out there like that. She wants to get married and you can’t say she isn’t doing something about it!
Here are some of her ideas regarding the planning of singles events:
1. Event organizers/hosts should adopt a stronger “social butterfly” attitude.
It helps if the event’s sponsors/organizers are good at circulating themselves through the crowd and establish themselves as social connectors/mediators for the evening to help people to mingle, draw different people into conversations, actively introduce people to each other and so on.
Some people are more socially adept than others. If the host is a social butterfly, s/he will get everyone involved and help guests to circulate themselves. If you leave the guests on their own, most likely the event will be thought of as “blah” by most guests.
2. Enforce age control.
If the event line reads: “This is an event for people in their 30s,” then the event needs to cater to that. Don’t allow young 20s in, and neither welcome people in their 40s. I decide to go and do/not do an activity based on its description. If the description reads one thing, and the reality provides another picture, the gap can and often is annoying.
3. Enforce reasonable ratio of sexes.
If the event has 40 guys signed up and 120 girls, for crying out loud, cancel the event! Such ratio is bound to create various uncomfortable dynamics. It is likely that guys will feel awkward because they are so vastly outnumbered by women, and feel pressured. Girls are likely to feel thoughts and pressures of “Oh my gosh, the competition is plain crazy!”
At the same time, even with those three suggestions/changes I would like to see, I hold that at the end of the day it is up to the guests to make the best out of the event. If you are going to look at it as new experience and embrace it as a possibility to experience something new you haven’t before, than it is on you to work on yourself to stay positive, and see the light everywhere.
Make sense, people?
For those of you who actually know what a doula is, yep, you read it right! A doula is a person that helps a woman while she is giving birth. Anyway, supposedly for the first time ever there is doula speed dating and it’s taking place in beautiful Vancouver. (I’m so proud.) According to one of the people organizing it, the idea is that it’s important to go with your instinct regarding your doula and only to choose a doula with whom you feel a certain connection. So on the eve of this speed dating, couples will get a few minutes with a bunch of different doulas and then get to see who they felt good about.
While this is very innovative (and organized, among others, by a woman whose organization is called Adar Birth Services – yes, after the month of Adar – read here why she chose that name) I don’t know about you but this type of evening wouldn’t really attract me. You know why? Because it feels so random. For most services we need, especially really serious ones like those that would be used during a birth, we will take a recommendation from a friend in a second over another totally competent, but random service provider.
That is a major issue with dating as well, including speed dating and singles events. I think the randomness is often too difficult for us to deal with and it’s hard to move past the randomness and truly start to get to know someone – especially where there are, say, 10 other random people in the room (or on the website) for you to consider.
This si not to say that these other options shouldn’t exist. Just that I keep thinking more and more how true it is that the less randomness in dating, the better. People don’t like random. People don’t feel comfortable with it. There is so much unknown. And possibly so much less in common. Of course I believe that every story exists, including the “random” stories of people meeting in random places, etc. etc. But I do think it might be “easier” to meet the right person through someone you know as opposed to through an event filled with random people or on a regular dating website where you have no connection to the other person that you know of.
Dare I admit that I attended my first singles event. Ever. I’m serious! I cannot remember… Damn! As I wrote those words I remembered one horrid singles event I attended years ago. It was such a depressing experience, I must have attempted to block it out of my memory.
Comment retracted: This was not my first, though I thought at the time it was.
But anyhow, as I always try to be honest, I will have to admit that the dinner I attended a couple nights ago was really quite nice. It’s really all about the people and they sat me at a table with people who I really enjoyed. And I was grateful that the organizers didn’t have any ideas of making us play games, nor did they have us change seats in the middle in order to maximize the number of people we’d meet throughout the evening.
One could argue that more games and more musical chairs would have made the dinner more “effective.” My vote isn’t in about that yet. But it definitely was way more comfortable being at the event as it was.
Hilariously, I was sitting and talking to a few people during the dessert/mingling part and a guy (one of the people attending) came up to us, stood up on his virtual soap box and told us that in order to make this evening worth while, we should not suffice with just having casual conversation with people of the opposite sex but, instead, be sure to follow-up with people of interest, afterwards. I loved that this stranger was so proactive, going around the room sharing his idea with everyone there.
I see how my opinions and feelings change over time. A few weeks ago I expressed an aversion to marrieds organizing singles events. Since then I have been thinking more and more how important it is that people try to help each other. I wrote about the importance of friends setting up friends and honestly, anyone who wants to help, kol hakavod to them.
Since I started having that attitude, I admit that still, my first reaction when seeing the planners of the event was, “What do you know, Mr. and Mrs. Married?” and, “Do you think you’re better than us and we’re a bunch of nebachs who need your help?” But in the end, the stronger feelings I had were those of gratitude and respect for these people who were trying to make a difference in something that didn’t affect them directly. This is to be admired, in my opinion. Especially since, if it’s only singles planning singles events, then the moment they find their besherts, they drop off the scene and leave a void until a different single person picks up the reins and goes with it. If, on the other hand, someone is organizing events no matter their personal status, there will most probably be more staying power.
We had a poll up on HaBitza.com a couple weeks ago where we asked you if you like/hate singles events. It seemed that a large percentage of those who answered, hate them. But after attending this past event, the way it was set up, it was nothing more than a very nice social event. I met some new people, talked to old ones and enjoyed some very interesting conversation.
Maybe single events don’t have to be so torturous or, an even bigger maybe: Maybe singles events really aren’t so bad but people are embarrassed to admit they like them. As someone said to me the other day, “No one is going to say, ‘Oh, I love singles events! Why I just went to three this week!’”
Of course there is the possibility that this singles event was especially nice – particularly because they didn’t do anything singles-y… for better and for worse. Because one piece of feedback I got about the event afterwards was that not much tachles came out of it. I know that’s true for myself. There wasn’t anyone there that seemed particularly interested in me or was proactive about being in touch afterwards. So maybe this event was too comfortable. Not that I’d necessarily be willing to go to an event that was more in your face about it being a singles event.
But still I ask, what is the deal with singles events? Are they really as bad as many singles make them out to be? Is it possible that any proactivity connected to finding your beshert – whether it’s going to a matchmaker or signing up to a dating website – has a certain taboo attached to it and so it’s much easier to talk against them while really they aren’t that bad and they can be helpful in our searched for the right person to marry?
And most importantly: Will I ever go to another singles event again? :)
(Today I wrote a post about the pervasive taboo.)