Everyone talks about learning lessons from your past so that you don’t repeat your mistakes, but you ought to also learn from your past in a positive way.
What did you like the most about your exes? What attracted you in a way that wouldn’t wane no matter how bad the relationship got? What did your exes do to make you happy? What were the reasons you wanted to stay with your ex? What kept you there when the going got tough?
Look for those same qualities in your next mate… and then of course remember the lessons you learned about from your past relationships which contributed to their demise (i.e. the negative stuff) and keep those things in mind as well.
under Date Night
I was out the other night with a friend who was telling me she almost said “no” to a second date with her now long-term boyfriend. In fact, she did say no… and then said no again… but eventually his persistence wore off on her and she went out with him again. She told me how scary it is how we think we know someone after just one date, when we really know very little about them.
So here’s my advice:
- Do: If you are on a first date and there’s nothing going terribly wrong, be open to the idea of a second date. People often get so nervous on a first date that they don’t display their full personality, or even have the chance to really open up and share the details that make them who they are.
- Don’t: If the first date is really terrible and there are some fundamental differences between the two of you that you don’t think you can get past, it’s okay to not give that person a second chance. There’s no reason to go out with them again if you are going to feel uncomfortable.
Connect with Jen on Twitter: @tthingsilearned
under Date Night
Your JDate profile is likely the website with the most thorough biography of you, so it would behoove you to sync up your other social media sites with it.
Many people tend to Google you once they learn your name… which means that your Facebook, Instagram, and even your LinkedIn profiles need to be consistent. If you talk about being a homebody in your JDate profile, then all of your Facebook posts shouldn’t be of you partying. If you say you love your dog, then your Instagram should show some of that love. If you claim to be a successful entrepreneur, then your LinkedIn page should show lots of connections, endorsements and a resume to back it up.
Obviously, the most important thing is to prove that you’re a good and trustworthy person to other singles, so being honest from the get-go and having proof of your integrity is a great start.
In writing my blogs, I sometimes like to remember that it’s not only single people reading. So for this week’s piece, I went to one of the sturdiest relationships in my life, the marriage of my friends Alastair and Lauren. As we ate dinner together last week, I decided to ask them for advice on healthy relationships.
- On how they decided they were right for each other. Practicality is always king. Agreement on where you’re both headed is vital. Alastair and Lauren think of themselves as good roommates and think that, combined with their attraction, made for a great relationship. Common goals are also vital, and the practical understanding of the long-term blueprint was important in their relationship leading into marriage. They also trust each other immensely, and think of each other as their closest confidants. Money is an important point that comes up for them as something they immediately trusted each other with beyond just living together.
- On what keeps them happy. Anticipate the other person’s needs. For example, Lauren and Alastair cook for each other when one is stuck at work (or in a classroom with me, in Alastair’s case). Basically, do nice things without being asked and put your partner before yourself. Life isn’t having sex and talking about G-d, it’s making the decisions to help each other and keep life stable.
- On finding the right person for you. Find an environment that’s conducive for people being together regularly. Jewish events, hobby groups, and universities (within limits — maybe not if you’re in your 30s or older and not in college) are great ways to find people. Finding a place where you’re comfortable with lots of people is great, and while the university option was how they met, they still have lots of faith in meeting at community events.
One final note I’d like to make is how much I enjoy having Alastair and Lauren and their fellow married friends in my Jewish community. In Dallas, we don’t have “singles” events for young Jews, but rather events for young Jewish people in general. While some people don’t love the mixing of singles and couples (how can you tell who to hit on?), I think there’s an added value not just from the fact that those in relationships can also be great people, but in the fact that they can give you a sense of guidance in a very confusing dating landscape.
Having two people in as stable of a relationship as Alastair and Lauren is more than just a great reminder of what I aspire for, but also a great resource to help me get there. So couples of the Jewish world, be sure to stay active in your community as my friends have, you never know who will benefit from your friendship, and the friends you can introduce them to.
A few months into dating someone and you’ve had “The Talk,” have possibly met each other’s families, have celebrated a holiday together, and are casually discussing the future… when something happens. Something, usually tragic, that binds you two together as a couple. Whether you like it or not.
It could be a sickness in the family, or even with one of you (G-D forbid). It could be the death of a close friend, or a dear pet. It could be a debilitating injury that causes your partner to need to care for you as you recover, or anything else life-changing that brings you closer together. However, it can also make you feel obligated to stay together when things were possibly not headed for an absolute future.
It depends on the occurrence, but there shouldn’t be anything that would make you want to stay with someone you don’t want to be with just because you survived a terrible time in one of your lives together. You will always think fondly of the person you went through that experience with, but it doesn’t mean you have to be together forever.
Most first, second, and even third-date conversations follow a similar order of topics. And as people begin to open up and tell you about themselves, they tend to embellish, exaggerate, or simply make everything in their life sound pretty awesome. But no one’s life is ever so glossy and polished.
It can be difficult to know what’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Somewhere in there is a half-truth, an omission, or a blatant lie… but it’s not always easy to figure out what those things are. It’s normal to want to make everything sound nice, but it can set you up for major disappointment later.
Is your date being vague in describing why his or her last relationship ended, or how successful their business is? Is there a lot of name dropping and the use of a lot of people, places and things to impress you? You may never know the full extent of the amount of the bull people spew (everyone does to some extent), and unfortunately there will be at least a few times when you find out the hard way — after you’ve fallen in love — and you’ll have to decide how important those misrepresentations are.
under Online Dating
I see this happen quite often. Friends finding their match – whether online or through other friends. It sometimes feels like it’s so easy for them, and yet so hard for everyone else. Either way, when it happens, it’s most important to be happy for them. Here’s how you can work on doing that:
- Do: Be sure to congratulate them on their new relationship and be happy for them. Even if at first you are overcome with jealousy, that feeling will pass. There’s no reason to explode those jealous feelings on your friends. Keep them to yourself — if possible.
- Don’t: Feel as though the world around you is moving in a different direction and it’s somehow, someway, easier for everyone else to meet someone. People enter relationships for all different reasons, at all different times in their lives. It’s important that you don’t compare and contrast your life with anyone else.
under Date Night
It’s considered quite chivalrous to make plans for a first date ahead of time, but it’s also risky since you don’t necessarily know the other person’s likes and dislikes (or allergies and aversions). On the other hand, it is fun to be spontaneous on a date, but can seem like you didn’t make any effort, or put any thought into it, and therefore aren’t very interested.
So what’s the best route to take? A combination of the two. Ask your date what their favorite food is (or check their JDate profile!) and make reservations for dinner, but then leave the time afterwards open to decide where to go together for a drink. Or, conversely, have a plan in mind to start the night at a trendy bar for drinks, but then ask your date what to do next if you hit it off and want to continue spending time together.
You can also make reservations at two or three different locations and ask your date to pick one (just be sure to quickly call and cancel the other reservations as a courtesy), that way you show you made an effort, but are also thoughtful and willing to be flexible.
A few weeks ago, I began working on learning a new art: improv. The entire experience so far has been a blast. Working with Jewish friends, and learning as a group of Jewish young professionals, has been outstanding. It has also helped me to see the humor in everyday situations, and has given me more ways to think about how things are funny in my daily life.
Between the experiences so far in improv and my light background in stand-up comedy, I thought I’d give some tips on how to make light of situations to make yourself and others happier.
- Write down all your ridiculous arguments… This can be as simple as the difference between a fajita and a taco, which is the worst type of doctor, or simply whether or not you should freeze bread, but chances are you argue about stupid things regularly. I find writing these arguments down has helped me either open new strangers up to conversation, or simply add humor when with old friends.
- Yes, and… One of my favorite bits from my improv classes that has really improved my attitude is just agreeing with things either other people say or that I think. For example, one of my first improv classes involved blanket statements we had to say “yes, and…” to. We would then build off of that statement and go back and forth between partners, just starting each sentence with “yes, and…”. The ridiculousness that comes from a person agreeing with any given statement and making a joke of things can always make a situation easier to deal with.
- Don’t do what’s expected… This is pretty obvious, but creating characters who go in extremes of what you actually believe can be fun. For example, most people tend to glamourize volunteering, and few can find faults with people giving of their time. But pretending (with a smile, of course) that you really hate giving of your time and being ridiculous in situations where no one would ever say such things can be fun.
I apologize if these are pretty generic pieces of advice, but finding the humor in your life and being able to laugh at the world is a key piece to happiness, in my opinion. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but those are just more opportunities to find your funny.
Respect is one of the most important factors of a successful relationship. When you respect someone, it means you are being honest, it means you are being kind, and it means you are communicating effectively.
Respecting your partner means caring about their feelings and taking their opinions into consideration. Respect is speaking to the person you love with love, it means using tone and vocabulary that is rooted in the fact that at the end of the day — even if you are delivering a criticism — that you want to come out of the tete-a-tete a closer couple because you are engaging respectfully. Respect also means accepting your partner for who they are and not trying to change them, rather, helping them discover how you both can evolve together. When you find someone who you can respect to that degree, and receive that same level of respect in return, then you have found something truly special and with a higher likelihood of success.