Author Archive

The End

by Aaron under JDate,Judaism,Online Dating,Rabbi,Relationships,Single Life

I’ve posted about a lot of things in the last year — mostly personal stories and experiences. Maybe you’ve read my blogs as a JDater, hoping to cure your singledom; maybe as a potential user seeing what this site is about; maybe as a friend who saw me post a link on Facebook; or even a friend-of-a-friend who saw me post about what being a girl is like online. Whatever led you here, to these words of mine, thank you for reading.

I’m leaving this blog, though not because I don’t like it. I just think my time here is done. I’m out of frustrations and things to write about dating that I or others haven’t already said. It’s time for someone else to share their insights. I’ve had a really great time writing about my experiences and hope the person who takes my place has a great time, too.

I want to leave you by actually giving you advice for once, though. I have a girlfriend now, which I guess was the point of getting on JDate in the first place. I don’t know what will happen to us in the future, but every day I’ve been with her has made me glad I signed up for a JDate account. We didn’t meet on here (I went through the rabbit hole of Jewish dating and we’ll just call JDate my gateway site), but through my ventures into online/long-distance dating, I found an incredible person who complements my lifestyle perfectly.

Dating this last year since starting to blog has been all over the place for me. It all started with a girl in LA bound for Arkansas, and then me traveling to Long Island for a girl, among a number of dates in between — both in Dallas and elsewhere. But I never tried the same thing twice, I was always looking for what wasn’t working and how I could fix it.

So, in a nutshell, this is my advice — your Bisheret isn’t just waiting for you like a lot of us like to believe. No one is just going to accept you for “who you are,” and that’s a good thing. We should always be looking to improve ourselves, whether it’s our bodies, our communication skills (in a profile or an email), or even our spiritual observance in a way that makes us fulfilled. I’ve taken on a number of journeys in the last year: from getting my MBA to growing Jewishly to finally dating the greatest girl I’ve ever been with in the greatest city I’ve ever lived in. Each journey is special in its own way, and none of them happened because I waited for someone to accept who I was.

That’s not to say  you should change everything about yourself. At the end of the day, I’m still just a Kosher cowboy who likes to smile and make friends. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t change my behaviors in tiny ways that were in my best interest. So I’ll close things where I began; it’s not easy out there, and no piece of advice from me will make it so. But every day, try to better yourself in some way. Let today be the day you sign up for JDate. If you’re on the site already, let today be the day you look up a new piece of advice on social skills (really better than any romantic advice in terms of attracting people), or let it be the day you try looking in a new area of the world for your Bisheret, or even the day you try to enhance your prospects by reaching out to a rabbi or friends. Someone is undoubtedly waiting out there for you, but you will not find each other until you take those steps, each and every day.

I wish each and every one of you the best of luck. Thank you for reading, and I hope your Bisheret and you find each other soon.


Watch It: TV Shows to Start as a Couple

by Aaron under Date Night,Entertainment,JDate,Judaism,News,Online Dating,Relationships

We hear it all the time — this is “the Golden Age of Television.” And while movies used to (and all too often, still do) dominate dating entertainment, TV is becoming a great substitute. Especially when you want a consistent excuse to see each other early on, TV shows can be a great bridge. That being said, sometimes choosing a show you both have an interest in starting can be difficult. Lucky for you, that’s why I’m here. So,here’s a list of shows I recommend watching as a couple:

1. Curb Your Enthusiasm/The Comeback (HBO)

If you like to laugh, enjoy the awkwardness of others, and have access to HBO, these are fun shows to watch together. Curb is especially relatable with other Jews, and The Comeback is similar but with Lisa Kudrow as an aging actress with no self awareness. The Comeback is a show I’m currently watching and it’s great in that not a lot of people have seen it. It’s only got one quick season so it’s a great starter show, and if things work out (or if you fall for Kudrow’s Valerie Cherish character), you can check out the decade-later return slated to air in November for a limited run.

2. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

While I’m sure this is a heavily viewed show, it’s also very gender neutral and easy to jump into. This was the first show my girlfriend and I watched together, starting with the second season (we’d both seen the first), and it made for great times together, or as a great cap to our dates.

3. Masters of Sex (Showtime)

My current partner-binge is a tough recommendation as we’re only one episode in, but so far we’re enjoying it. It’s sexy and has some fun stuff for everyone watching, plus great performances.

4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Parks and Recreation (Hulu/broadcast networks)

While the shows are both in very different places, both star likeable ex-SNL cast members in government roles of some kind, solving problems every week. Both shows are much more than that, however, and are very enjoyable to watch together.

5. Mad Men (AMC/Netflix)

The quintessential unisex drama, whether you’re drawn to it for it’s flashy looks or deep character studies, this show has something for everyone. Just beware it can be a little slow… which makes it all the better for some late-night cuddle sessions.

Fall honorable mention:

Affair on Showtime is supposed to be exciting, and that starts airing soon. We’ll be there for the get-go.

My list is brief, but there’s a lot out there to watch these days. What shows have you and your partner (real or theoretical) been watching or considering watching? At what point do you think people should commit to a series together? Comment below!


Accept the Worst

by Aaron under JBloggers,Relationships

I once thought being in a serious relationship would be the end of my worrying. I was wrong about that, to a degree, in the sense of my relationship. Sometimes I still send a text and worry, for example, but I’ve also never worried so much in all my life since this last month.Why? Because now I worry for two people’s future, not just my own.

What has been good about this though (and hopefully this helps you across areas of your own life), is that I have learned to accept the worst in everything. For example, I was worrying last month about having to take out debt for student loans and being jobless for a little while in New York. After much panicking, I accepted that I may have to take out a small loan, knowing that I will have a master’s in a few months. Now, I’m nearing getting a job, and even then I’m panicking again! It’s not a dream job at all, but it will support me and help me get the things I want for myself and my girlfriend going forward.

I was panicking a lot about the fact that the job may not make me happy for a good while as I started the interview process. It’s important, in my mind, to be happy with your job. Luckily, I have begun to accept that the “worst” in my eyes also means having a job, money and an MBA in a few months — which is really not that bad at all.

Sometimes we fear the irrational. We fear never finding someone, we fear not getting a job, we fear none of it will work out. But if you can learn to accept that it will never work out exactly as you imagined, chances are things will work themselves out just fine anyway. Facing our fears and our flaws is key, and while it’s been a scary month for me, I know only good things are ahead, for me and you.

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No More Dating Advice

by Aaron under Date Night,Relationships,Single Life

There’s not a lot of dating advice left in me — I’m in a relationship now, and it’s something I think less about these days. A lot of the advice I give is common sense. But really, the one life lesson (I’m starting to learn more of those) I always share is be ready for anything and throw your expectations aside.

“Living in New York, expect life to kick your butt,” people told me before leaving. I was ready. My butt was ready. But it didn’t happen. No, the only way life has come at me is that things have gone so well here that I’m staying! I may be jobless, but I’m also being allowed to get my MBA by December — all from the glory of New York. I made the jump to a place where things are vastly different, and I got an amazing girlfriend along with a wonderful adventure.

I realize that I’ve rubbed this in your face enough and that I’m in an extremely rare situation. But, whenever I sit down to write these blogs, only one thing keeps coming up for me — just keep growing and changing. Perhaps that’s why this will be one of my last blogs giving dating advice. I don’t know how much longer I’m good for advice, but I’m going to try to cover other things to help you be a more viable dating partner in my posts over the next few weeks. My advice may not be like what you will find on other dating sites, but that’s what will hopefully make it stand out.

When I got into writing for JDate, I was a graduate student hoping to share about my years of dating efforts. Now, I’m an out of work near-graduate, hoping to network my way to a job in New York. I think it’s no mistake the year I spent trying to get to New York by networking also led to an increase in my romantic opportunities. When you excel at being a person and getting to know others, romantic success is bound to follow.

Romance is obviously a big part of my life still, but I can’t wait to take you on the other part of my journey over this last year, the part that will stick with you long past your JDate days. I’ll leave you with a great quote from Never Eat Alone — “A networker isn’t looking to achieve a single successful union. Creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships requires one to be out there, in the mix, all the time.” I can’t wait to be a part of getting you used to that, and maybe even finding love along the way.


Facing Your Fears (A Guest Post by Richard Stayman)

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Relationships

Last month, I went to Israel. It was the first country I’ve visited outside the U.S. For the week leading up to the trip, I was incredibly nervous. Not only was it right around the time when the current conflict got heated, but I was also scared about other people on the trip not liking me — a feeling I haven’t experienced in years.

As an adult, I’m usually not self-conscious, but for some reason I was falling back into old habits from childhood. I went on the trip with my best friend, which oddly enough made me even more nervous. When I finally arrived in Israel, I had to face my fear of meeting 40 new people, and when I did, I became instant friends with everyone.

This experience led me to discover that if you and the person/people you’re meeting are all Jewish, you never have to worry about making friends. No matter how strong your social skills, it is significantly easier to make friends with a group of Jews than any other situation. Why? Because we all share that common bond of being in the minority, and being Jews. No matter your observance, if you are comfortable with yourself as a Jew, you can be comfortable with any other Jewish person you encounter.

So next time you find yourself nervous at a Jewish event, just remember: you are all from the same people, and already share a common bond. Start with that and see where it goes!

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Looking Up

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Relationships,Single Life

As I started to write this post, I began by doing a “control-f” across the word document where I keep my blog entries. I was searching for the phrase “negativity” and it came up with zero results. I was pleased to see I’d never used it… until now.

This would be an easy week for me to be somewhat negative. I’m out of a job at the moment, I don’t know what my apartment situation is for the next month, and life just seems to be coming at me quickly. Add in Robin Williams’ death and the growing crisis in the Middle East, plus our rainy weather in the northeast this week, and life can seem pretty daunting.

That being said, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve found what I was looking for in New York: an amazing girlfriend, a job I loved throughout the summer (and hope to be going back to once a position is ready), and a great life in the city where I’ve always wanted to live. It’s so easy to get swept up in the details, or to worry about the little things, but I have two beliefs that keep me from worrying:

  1. One is my belief that with enough action and little enough worry, things tend to work themselves out. For example, I applied to two hundred different companies in New York. After three months, the very first company I applied to wrote me and I received the interview invitation after my favorite “no-worry-time-Shabbat.” Life definitely warrants concerning yourself over things, but action without panic has been an approach that has helped me breathe easier.
  2. The second trick to my happiness (which is not always constant, don’t get me wrong) is having a vision of the future that keeps me secure. I’ve become very close with my girlfriend in terms of how often we see each other, and it worried me a bit that we’ll be spending a good chunk of the next two weeks apart, but it helps me to think about reuniting in two weeks and how happy I’ll be then. An eye on the future, without losing your enjoyment of the present, is very important.

Sometimes it can all look rough. And I may even be writing this to avoid more job application work from a Dunkin’ Donuts window seat. But, you never know what’s going to happen next — and that’s the beautiful thing about life. So good luck this week, I hope your dating life surprises you!


Next Time

by Aaron under Date Night,Relationships

A long time ago, I wrote a blog that I never ended up posting about Damon Lindelof, the creator of the television show Lost. While that post wasn’t my greatest, and hence not one I chose to post, I constantly find myself thinking about Lost. Sometimes it’s because of the mysteries the show left unsolved — were we supposed to learn more about that giant foot? What happened in the mental hospital? Did Hurley actually eat the entire tub of ranch?

But really, my mind always comes back to Lost in a different sense, usually one that relates to dating. Every week Lost would end and there was a vague teaser of the next episode. That little bit had you glued to the TV most of the time, especially as the seasons got shorter and every episode started to leave viewers with more questions than answers. You had to know what happened next.

There is another example of this in romance. In One Thousand and One Nights, the king in the story framing the narrative kills every new wife after bedding them once. However, the narrator, Scheherazade, knows this before marrying the king and decides to keep herself alive by telling him part of a story on their wedding night. She doesn’t finish the story, leaving him curious, and he keeps her alive as she does this night after night.

Most of us are not trying to stop our deaths after being romantic with one another. However, I have found in my time that nothing sets up a great romance quite like planting seeds of what’s coming next. This was especially helpful in the year I spent largely beginning my relationships over Skype. Whether it was getting excited for the party we’d go to, the trip to Texas they’d make, or even just a simple dream of spending the day on Coney Island or a mystery date, it gave us an experience to look forward to together. And when those dates were done, I’d already planted the seeds for the next one, only to leave us craving more good times.

This can be a little dangerous — how do you keep building that momentum after so long? But at the same time, I believe the bigger danger is planting nothing, and letting a relationship fizzle as you question what to ask the person to do next. At a certain point it’s less necessary, but nothing begins a good relationship like exciting adventures that you pine for right after the last one.


Call Me

by Aaron under JDate,Judaism,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

Initially, the last car wreck I was in seemed awful (no one was hurt, just my car). It was an accident, obviously, but I felt terrible. It was completely my fault and I had to get my car repaired using money I was saving at the time for grad school. My rental car, required while I had my car repaired, made me feel slightly better about the accident — it was a sleek version of my car, but newer and full of little perks like Bluetooth connectivity.

As I drove home on my first Shabbat with that rental car, I wanted to try every feature (yep, playing around while driving — probably why I wrecked my car in the first place). Specifically, that Bluetooth was fun, and I used it to start making calls. It was Friday afternoon and I had to drive home from Wylie, Texas back to my little town of Plano, a 45-minute commute on a good day, but an hour or more on this Friday afternoon. It started, as it now does every week, with a call to my Zeyde, who at the time was an hour ahead of me in Miami. Then my grandparents, and then a friend or two… I just went on and on, calling friends and seeing how their week’s went, even if it’d been a while since we kept in touch.

The list changes frequently; I’ll forget someone or substitute someone in that I haven’t seen in a while for someone I just saw. In the age of texting, Facebook, and email, I was connecting to friends at a larger scale than ever had before. My network didn’t lose touch with me as easily (relegated to liking goofy Facebook posts occasionally); if I had their number, they got a call.

Nowadays in New York, my roommates know Friday afternoons before Shabbat are for calls. They’re a little different now though. I call my mom, my dad and my brother, in addition to all of those old friends and family I don’t see as often. I call friends from home and friends in New York, keeping some friendships stable and growing others.

But most helpful was the way it grew my relationship with my current girlfriend. I always worry about keeping a relationship in this age of texting. We have to be on our game so often early on in relationships (i.e. Am I saying the right thing? Did I wait long enough? etc.) But Shabbos calls were different. My girlfriend and I still do it every week, she’s usually my last call before my phone goes off for Shabbat, and we typically finalize our Shabbat plans together.

The habit is very much so in the spirit of Shabbat: just a simple call saying you’re thinking of someone. For me it was Friday afternoons, but whatever you do, using the phone is a great way to build relationships, platonic or romantic, and I think you’ll be surprised by how grateful people are for that little call.


The Three Weeks

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Single Life

As I write this entry, I’m certain it will not come out grammatically correct, maybe not even as rational thoughts. Normally that’s not an issue as I write, but today it kind of is. The reason is that today, I am hungry.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to start playing sad music and show you starving kids in Africa, nor will I go on about food stamps. Instead, I am writing about a different cause of hunger: two fasts that begin and end the period in Jewish life known as “The Three Weeks.”

The Three Weeks always scare me. They started on Tuesday, July 15 (The 17th of Tammuz) and end on the evening of August 5th (The 9th of Av). These are three weeks that were very difficult for the ancient Jews (yes, even by Jewish standards these weeks weren’t easy). Some people don’t listen to music or get haircuts during this time of year.

For me, these weeks are always scary. I worry I’ll lose a job, a girl I’m dating, or worse. My brother returns from Israel in two days, but obviously having him there as I write this scares me as well. While I won’t get too much into it, the situation in Israel during this time of year is an obvious reason for worry right now.

But worry would defeat the purpose of these weeks, in my opinion. The Shabbat service I went to last Saturday discussed the reasoning for studying the rituals of the temple during these three weeks — not to mourn their destructions (both took place during this three-week span), but to hope for the days when we go back to the temple and have to use those rituals again.

Life is gonna kick you in the face sometimes, that’s how it goes. As a new guy in New York, it’s literally happened to me once or twice. But you can’t let it sway how you live. That means if someone turns you down on a dating site, don’t go on and on about it if you meet that person in real life. Don’t whine to others about how you’re always single.

What people really want is someone who will keep them upbeat. At any given moment, we are all just one or two complaints from a total kvetch-fest with the right crowd. Who doesn’t like to complain? But in this three-week period, I encourage you to make the choice to say nice things, to learn about the positive things around you. Destruction will always happen, we may lose the temple, but one day it will stop, and maybe the temple won’t be rebuilt tomorrow, but maybe we can make each other a little happier in the meantime. Have a safe and happy three weeks everyone — and if you’re fasting, may your fasts be easy as well.


Breaking In

by Aaron under Judaism,Single Life

I recently wrote a piece on man-dating. Much of that post was about how to handle going out and reaching out to friends of friends or old friends, but one thing I didn’t cover was how to go about making friends any time you go out. I’ve covered it a little bit in the past, but with the new perspective of actually being new to a city and going through this challenge recently, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in a month of living in New York.

For me, the challenge started when I went to a very popular young professional shul here. I had no idea where to start, aside from the one or two people I knew, and I found myself, for the first time in years, unable to work a room. I made a vow to myself to fix that though, so here’s what I did:

  • Don’t act like you know anything about the environment around you… I have a habit that can be both good and bad, and that is my ability to walk into a room and act like I own the place. While it can sometimes be charming, I’m sure it can also come off as arrogant. The greatest mistake I made when moving to New York was acting as if I’d been there forever and understood how things worked.
  • And yet, be observant… I’ve said it plenty on this blog, but observe things around you that make you curious. Ask someone if the crowd is normally this big, ask if they know a lot of the people, if they’re from the area, etc. Make comments about the food (food especially is a good common ground), the service, etc. Shared experiences are a basic building block of relationships, and reminding people through observing things that you’re sharing something helps a lot.
  • Lean on the fact that you’re new… Introduce yourself immediately as a new guy/gal. It makes you immediately vulnerable and gives people a reason to introduce you around. You can be fairly socially inept at first given the guise of being new. This one even works if you’re not new to town — you may just be new to a group, but even that works at breaking down barriers.

I realize none of these are groundbreaking, but they helped me to make friends at synagogue this last weekend, and maybe they can guide you a bit as well.