Author Archive

Success

by Aaron under JBloggers,JDate,Judaism,Single Life,Success Stories

Failure, inherently, is a gigantic part of life. As your life goes on and opens up new opportunities, you are bound to fail at some point. But more rewarding than anything are those moments when you seem so on the brink of failure, and success somehow comes crashing toward you anyway.

In particular, I can remember two times in the last year where failure that I couldn’t begin to fathom came crashing on me. The first was a long-distance date with a Jewish girl from New York I’d been chatting with on JDate. As I planned to fly out to New York from Dallas, the greatest ice storm we’d seen in years began to take over the city. I had the foresight to move my flight to a day earlier, but even then, the ice piled on and basically froze all of Dallas in fear. I witnessed a truck crash on my way to the airport and was almost late for the flight. When I got to the airport, panic struck as I was told I’d miss my connector no matter what. At the last second, things changed, and they let me race through security for a long weekend in New York that, while a one time event, was still a good time.

As I sat in the baggage check-in line that day, I felt a dread I never knew before — here we are, having Skyped for two months, our big meeting finally at hand. We were so excited and the prospect of waiting any number of weeks more seemed awful. There is a certain power of getting to know someone, even over video, and it was devastating to not be able to be happy with that person in person… even for a weekend.

But as things often do, it worked itself out.

I had a similar experience again this last week. I had been trying and trying to get to New York for the summer, becoming so good at long distance networking that I started my own company to help people do it (TheSocialCustodian.com, though the site is not totally complete yet). As the one company I’d made it far with in New York was reaching a final decision, it was down to crunch time. They told me they’d let me know by a certain time, and I heard nothing.

And yet, I didn’t stop. I took my phone and called, and sure enough they were getting ready to offer me the job as I called. It was a moment that changed my life essentially, and will change the rest of my year by its very nature.

Yeah, that’s great, my life is awesome. How does it affect you? Life will bring on big challenges, and again on the theme of the beginning of the new year, don’t let that fear freeze you. The world offers great things to those who are ready for failure in pursuit of success, as I was when I made the call and tried to make the flight, and it rewards those ready to fall on their faces. Let this be the year you try to make a sketchy flight, make a new call, or just say hello to someone unexpected. Sure, you’ll probably fail at some point, but success is the greatest feeling in the world. See you in New York, JDaters.


Have You Met…

by Aaron under Date Night,JDate,Judaism,Online Dating,Single Life

As we near an important time in our heritage, the holiday of Passover, the time comes around for us to think about new beginnings. Nisan is the first month on the Jewish calendar, and it represents spring and reinvention. If Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are our judgment, Passover is the time to really create a new you.

The one thing we underestimate however is just how difficult it is for any one person to do that alone. I know I constantly try to improve my social abilities and other areas of my life, but almost none of those are possible in a world where I am 100% responsible. Sometimes I don’t feel like making plans, sometimes I need expert advice from outside my knowledge base, and sometimes I simply wouldn’t do things like skydiving or volunteering in Israel completely alone.

As we begin our new year, I’ll draw from something that just ended to explain a bit better. One of my favorite parts of the show How I Met Your Mother was the awesome game of “have you met Ted?”. As Barney Stinson introduced Ted Mosby to women neither party knew, the ice was broken just a little bit by the two people having some vague reason to talk.

For the sake of being a decent person, that probably isn’t the best method of helping your friends meet people. But what I would suggest for your coming year, whether you are single or otherwise, is to help others a bit more in the realm of dating. As anyone reading this blog can probably attest to, it’s not easy out there alone. The good news is, we all know different people, and in an age where you have dating apps that let you click “yes” or “no” through masses of people, a personal touch is always nice. Try to think of two people who might work together in your life, or even easier, bring someone around who may be new to the rest of your social circle. It’s not easy out there, but if we all suit up to help each other, everyone stands to have a legendary year.

Have a very happy Pesach everyone, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!


The Narrative

by Aaron under JDate,Online Dating,Single Life

As I interview for summer internships, there is one thing that consistently keeps me confident: the flow of my resume. While I was pretty unsure about my resume for a while (I only have two years of working experience), through a lot of practice, I have learned to make it read like a great drama that I had planned all along rather than a tragedy.

The idea that one of my senior classmates explained to me early on in my MBA classes was that every good resume reads like a crafted story with a purpose. This is relevant not just in your job, but also in your personal life, on dating sites and beyond. No one else has lived your life, so it is in your control what you tell and what you highlight.

I’m not saying everyone needs to be a Don Draper and make up who they are, but not everything is going to be a high in your life. What’s interesting about the mentality of creating a cohesive story is that you can easily turn negatives into positives. For example, I left a job in retail management last summer, never planning to return to retail. However, when I began the job hunt, I realized working in the corporate office of a retailer would be great with my experience, and I learned to pitch various parts of my job to any company I went to — retailer or not. My “on the floor” experience would be vital for any position within a retailer as it showed I understood the business. And as I applied to non-retailing companies, I highlighted the skills from my retail job to whatever the job posting was — everything can always fit, if you mold the story properly.

Luckily, dating is pretty free form — there’s no industries or specific jobs, just genders and traits you’re looking for in a partner. When I last re-did my JDate profile, I had just come back from an amazing experience volunteering in Israel and wanted to highlight my desire to give back and find someone else to explore the world with me. That is definitely not all there is to me, but I do like to travel and want someone with a kind heart, so that is the story my current profile tells, and my pictures back it up. So whatever you do, don’t worry too much about covering every base with your profile, should you choose to redo it, but tell a good story.

No matter how hard you try, the true you can never show up 100% in a small dating profile, but you can make the story sound nice enough. Whatever’s left, you can fill in with a message to those who fit what you’re looking for. But no matter what, don’t underestimate people’s desire for a good story, and make sure the narrative you make flows through your entire online persona and beyond.


Lauren and Alastair

by Aaron under Judaism,Relationships,Single Life

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.


Find the Funny

by Aaron under Judaism,Single Life

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.


March Without the Madness

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Online Dating,Single Life

As we enter March, so much begins to happen. This year, we’ve got Purim, basketball, and a sequel to 300. Madness is everywhere.

As for me, I’m missing all of it (yes, even that 300 sequel). And I couldn’t be more excited. I’m heading to Israel with the Jewish National Fund and helping to irrigate the Negev desert a little bit.

While I can’t wait to help Israel, what’s more exciting to me is the opportunity to just take some time away (not to mention being in Israel for Purim). It’s good to look away from the madness a bit — to not worry about a bracket, about what you’re going to wear to a party, or how to be part of the next big cultural thing.

I think one thing I’ve heard in common from a lot of people I’ve helped in trying to find someone in Dallas (including myself), is that sometimes an escape is vital. I love watching a city disappear from my sight as I fly away, and I like getting to start fresh somewhere, I think most people do. So it’s been a while since I last mentioned it, but be sure to make March a time to take a look at things and decide what you really want out of your time on JDate and your dating. Take a break from your normal life and see what you can change — Purim especially is a time of joy and finding new things, so if you haven’t been involved in Jewish life, now is a great time.

And if you have been involved? Maybe there’s only so much joy we can get out of one place. If you’re serious about finding something, take some time to book a vacation, make some long distance dates (or just don’t and let it happen), and try something new to make the madness a little more bearable.


What Do You Do?

by Aaron under Single Life

We’ve all been there. You meet someone new, you get a name, and you think to yourself “what would get a conversation rolling?” It probably occurs to you that people like talking about themselves, and what could people love more than their job? So you ask it: “What do you do for a living?”

I’ll let you in on a secret. Some people like that question, but a lot of people see it for the conversational crutch it really is. Asking “what do you do?” is a faux pas in a few ways. For starters, you’re assuming all people like their job, and sadly that is not the case. I know when I was working retail I told very funny stories about things that happened to me (like a river of urine I found in my store), but it was the last thing I wanted to associate with new friends. Secondly, some people may take it as you trying to gauge how much money they make. And lastly, sometimes people just want work to stay at work.

When this question comes up, some friends and I have vowed not to reveal our jobs within thirty minutes of first meeting someone. We’ll say ridiculous jobs like bounty hunter, fruit bowl modeler, or selfie coach, and move the conversation along. So in order to help others make a more fun, lasting connection with a new friend, here are my three alternative suggestions for that rut when you need something to say:

  1. Talk about what’s around you. One of my favorite social rules is called “Observe, Share, Ask.” You see something in a room, mention something about it and how you relate, and ask something about the other person’s experience. For example, if I was in a room and saw a picture of a clown, I would say something along the lines of “did you see that clown picture? The circus always terrified me, did you ever like it?” This allows me to share a bit about me while sharing an experience (we both see the picture), and allows the other person to open up about their experiences.
  2. Ask how they got there. Whether you’re at a party, synagogue, or a singles mixer, ask someone who they know or how they found the place. This allows you to find mutual friends (this was my usual conversation starter at parties in college), and build a connection about any hooks that are revealed — they could be classmates, fellow natives, or mutual friends.
  3. Ask what they do in a different way. This is a fun one to me in that you still get to ask the job question — if they want to talk about it. An article I found on LinkedIn a while back had the amazing option of asking “What keeps you busy?” This is such an amusingly vague and open question that people can answer with anything from, “I blog for JDate and collect beer glasses” to what they do for a living.

Hopefully this sparks your conversations a bit, feel free to leave other ideas in the comments!


Style Tips

by Aaron under Date Night

Like many things in my life, this change was one I knew I’d instantly remember: “It’s time to dress like an adult,” my friend Ryan said, in a surprisingly non-insulting manner. I knew it was time to change the way I dressed. I went from cargo shorts and AEPi shirts year round to polos and shorts in the summer, and a v-neck sweater with a button down in the winter.

It was a slow process, and while I am not the best-dressed person in every room, I am typically the most varied and coordinated in what I wear. I think it’s added a lot to conversations and helped me to feel more confident, and I’d like to share some tips to help you add personality to your outfits. Note: most of these are aimed at men as I only dress like a man, but feel free to provide input.

  • Accessorize. Whether it’s a watch, hat, fun undershirt, sweater, or other item, an accessory is always a great idea. Lately I’m big on fun socks — TheTieBar.com and Express both sell great, cheap socks. I also love a good tie clip (also available on The Tie Bar for cheap) and different color yarmulkes/baseball caps.
  • Mix it up. Let a button loose in a new place, roll up sleeves you normally don’t, pair odd colors together. Sometimes things look stupid, but sometimes you make a great fashion find. My favorite was wearing a shirt at the University of Florida Chabad last summer, and having someone tell me my undershirt was a bad choice with my button down shirt. Instead, I made a transformation into a “fundershirt” as I called it. I went from looking ridiculous with a thick undershirt, to having a pink collared shirt unbuttoned with sleeves rolled up and a yellow undershirt brightly giving my outfit an extra oomph.
  • Don’t worry about it. Sometimes things look stupid, and that’s okay. In fact, I would argue dressing like a schlub can be a great way to display a different sort of confidence. If you mismatch and someone points it out, great, thank them for pointing it out and laugh about it. JDate released a study a month ago, and most people find style negligible anyway, but a sense of humor and confidence will go a long way no matter what you’re wearing.

Kickstart Your Dating

by Aaron under Relationships

As mid-terms begin to kick into gear, the last few weeks and the weeks ahead aim to be some of the busiest of my life. I’ve always been a pretty laidback student, but business school has not allowed that as before.

As such, I thought I would share some light reading with any readers looking to join me in some homework this week (albeit slightly different, and more fun, for you). So here is a list of books I’d recommend for anyone (guys particularly, though girls may enjoy a look at the toolkit of the opposite sex) looking to get better in their dating game, on and offline:

  • Charlie Valentino’s series of books: Charlie Valentino gives some ridiculous advice (I’m not a fan of his Facebook book), but I did find quite a bit of improvement in my online results after using his books, and my normal experiences with women also benefitted.
  • Neil Strauss’s The Game/Rules of The Game: I hate the phrase life-changing as I feel it is thrown around lightly, but this book did change my dating life completely. I read The Game and its subsequent workbook in college and enjoyed the newfound confidence they gave me in both dating/professional situations. Again, use some discretion in what you take away, but the good by far outweighs the bad.
  • Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: A lot of people say to read How to Win Friends and Influence People, but I personally got more out of this book that made me feel better about life and drop worries.

A short list, but I think those are all great, and really all of them could be read by either gender (though the first two are heavily aimed at guys). If you’re on this blog, you probably like self-help, so be sure to check these books out and say any others you recommend in the comments. Good luck out there, everyone!

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Seeing Multiples

by Aaron under Judaism

“Look, just to be clear, this has been great. And I want to see you again. But I also need you to understand I’m seeing other people,” I said. This was never an easy conversation. “I just want you to understand, I want to learn Torah with you, but you have to understand I study with other rabbis, too,” I told my newest rabbi.

Since graduating college, I’ve studied with multiple rabbis, sometimes at the same time. A lot of people might warn you that getting multiple opinions can be misleading, allowing you to get too many answers and basically play Choose Your Own Adventure with Judaism. I would not like to think of myself as one of those people.

Back in my senior year of college, my friend Rebecca and I began what we deemed our “Shabbat Tour of 2011,” where we went to a different shul every week and experienced services. I was much less religious at the time, but really enjoyed checking out different shuls and styles of services. Three years later, after becoming Shomer Shabbos, I now spend Shabbat at various shuls every week, on yet another tour. And I would have to say, these last six months of “touring” again have been the most enriching of my entire life. New friends, new lessons, and new ways to connect those two things always make my weeks better.

This was especially clear to me this past Shabbat, one that I spent with the rabbi from my childhood day camp. He is a man I credit with getting me involved deeply with Judaism, and spending the Shabbat with him (and my family, who live close by) was such a lively experience. I saw how things had changed since I was a kid at a shul from my childhood, and also realized how much I still have to learn (people of great wisdom have a way of making you see that).

A lot of my blogs try to tie other issues into dating subjects. Not this week. Quite the opposite, actually. A lot of people can see multiple people comfortably from a dating perspective. I am not one of those people. But when it comes to making myself happier, I can think of no better way than by learning with multiple rabbis (or multiple spiritual techniques in general) and learning what clicks for me. This Valentine’s Day, a lot of people are going to be wishing they had someone, and hopefully you’re checking out JDate. In the meantime however, I encourage you to try some variety in your spiritual life, too, and hope you can find some of the joy I’ve found in seeing multiple rabbis.