Author Archive

Complicated Relationships

by Haley Plotnik under Relationships,Single Life

I was recently asked out by an intelligent, passionate guy who said he wanted to take things slowly at first. Sounds great, right?

Wrong. He also mentioned he was flexible about relationships. What he meant by that is that he is having sex with a married pregnant woman whose husband is also seeing other women. He assured me he was not the father. What was I supposed to do, jump for joy that he isn’t the biological father?

I just want something old-fashioned. I don’t want four people in my relationship. Two people can be complicated enough without trying to deal with the dynamics of other people’s emotions and problems. I don’t find open relationships or open marriages appealing at all… I don’t even get the point of being married in that case. Call me judgmental, but isn’t having sex with others against marriage vows?!? I can imagine my grandmother saying, “In my day, we called that infidelity.” Monogamous relationships are hard enough as it is.


Why Not Now?

by Haley Plotnik under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

At the beginning of the summer, I set my mind on becoming well read. Six books later, I’m feeling proud of sticking to that goal, and I’m even happier that it did not require me to drop any of my other ongoing goals. If you want to play a new instrument or learn to surf, I say go for it. Reaching for something reasonably within grasp and meeting a goal is a huge confidence booster.

If your goals are interpersonal, it’s a bit harder to just jump in, but it’s equally important to have measurable successes. Maybe you want to start going on more dates after a long dry spell. I always like to make goals quantifiable, but that’s just the engineer in me talking. Maybe you want to make more friends or go to temple more regularly. Goals are great, but they’re not as helpful tucked away on a shelf for later.

Someone who I’m close to (who hates unsolicited advice) mentioned they think they are going to “be alone forever.” How is she supposed to make progress toward her goal of having better relationships if she’s so negative from the get go? She hasn’t even tried to date since her relationship ended nearly three years ago.

Two small things I want to tell her:

  1. Attitude is HUGE! It’s maybe the most pivotal component to success.
  2. Why not now? Why not today? Your happiness may depend on it.

It doesn’t have to be a relationship. I’m sure she has other aspirations. You probably do too. Building your skills or trying something new may give you a funny new story to tell on a date, or may even make you a richer, happier person. There’s no harm in trying, in or out of the dating arena. You have nothing to lose, and only something to gain when you go for it.


Why Your Choices Matter

by Haley Plotnik under Date Night,Online Dating,Single Life

Every choice we make in life makes a ripple in our life pond. Sometimes an external force throws a stone (or a boulder) into our life pond, making unexpected waves. I am reminded often of how little control I have over my life. But that’s not exactly true either. Yes, I had to get into schools out of state to leave California. And yes, I had to do a lot of sweet-talking to get my parents on board. I didn’t just end up in the Midwest by happenstance. I chose to change the trajectory of my life. I wanted a different experience. I could have easily spent my entire life in Southern California.

You can’t effect external forces, but when you have a chance to have the say in a matter, choose to make a decision. You can’t control if someone else likes you or not, but you do have the opportunity to take a chance and put yourself out there. Not doing anything is a choice of its own, in a way. And if you don’t make a choice, someone else will act for you. Good example: a friend of mine, “Alex,” was pining away over “Mallory.” Alex couldn’t ask her out because he wasn’t sure that Mallory liked him. Well guess what? Neither was the guy who asked her out… but now he’s her boyfriend. But he went for it. While Alex waited and waited for more signs, someone else went in and swooped her up.

Next time you really like someone and are afraid to ask them out, go for it. The worst that happens is you get a no. If you never go for it, you may end up wondering what if? for the foreseeable future. I know I would be wondering what my life would be like if I didn’t go out and forge my own path in the Midwest.


Interfaith Dating

by Haley Plotnik under Relationships,Single Life

Today I had a chat with a coworker who lives in my apartment complex. He dropped by my place unannounced and started talking about random things. I had a feeling there was something more on his mind.

I know he’s been thinking about this girl he likes, one of our mutual friends I’ll call “Megan,” but it took him a while to get around to talking about her. “I wish Megan was Christian,” he said eventually. “She’s Catholic, and I just don’t know if I can deal with that.”

I’ve always found it funny when Protestants don’t consider Catholics to be Christians. I consider Catholics and Protestants to be under the same umbrella of Christianity. I asked him how he felt about religions that were not Christ-centric (Since he doesn’t consider Catholics to be Christians, I figured I had to be more general). He replied that he didn’t think that it would be a good idea. However, he seemed to think it was a good idea for me to be open to dating Christians… What an interesting turn of events! Maybe I’ll chalk it up to the proselytizing nature of Christianity that doesn’t really exist in Judaism. What are your thoughts on this?


That Moment When You Realize

by Haley Plotnik under Relationships,Single Life

Earlier I mentioned that sometimes being “released” by another person is actually a blessing in disguise.  I was released a couple of weeks ago, although I’ve bounced back rather quickly. The guy mentioned he “wasn’t feeling it,” but he and I still run in similar circles for the time being, and I still have to see him sometimes.  I knew logically that we had some “fit” issues before we stopped seeing each other. But over the past few days, it’s really dawned on me that there are better-suited guys for me on my horizon.

I’m not for him, but more importantly, he’s not for me. I’m not heartbroken. I feel 100% free and ready to embrace what’s out there. It’s a good feeling to be liberated from the past and have a blank slate ahead. That moment when you realize you’re better off as is, than with someone who doesn’t appreciate you, is oddly empowering. Being single feels so much better than being stuck with someone who doesn’t care.


Asking Why

by Haley Plotnik under Date Night,Relationships,Single Life

I have a policy for when a date wants to know why I’m politely declining a second meet-up. Here’s the ugly truth: very rarely is the answer helpful or constructive. In fact, it’s highly likely to hurt their feelings, or make them hate me. The reason is often something the guy can’t change.

So, here’s a tip: If someone doesn’t want to see you again, don’t hate him or her. Be grateful that he or she had the decency not to waste your time and didn’t just disappear without a trace. They’re doing you a favor; you want the feelings to be mutual. If they aren’t that jazzed about you, you will likely find someone else who is.

Recently, I was dumped for the first time, and I found myself eager to know why. Then I remembered being on the other end, and I didn’t ask.  And when I really thought about it, I sort of knew the answer anyway.

 


Pipe Dream Soul Mate

by Haley Plotnik under Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

When I was in high school, I once had a very interesting experience with a guy I’ll call “Greg.” Greg and I weren’t close friends, but we were in the same friendship circles. Sophomore year, Greg was eating lunch near me and was talking about what type of girl he wanted. He was saying he wanted her to be around 5’7”, blond, tan, blue-eyed, and toned with a slight bit of curve. Notice every trait is physical. That aside, Greg wasn’t willing to compromise on more than a few perfectly nice, smart, attractive girls because they didn’t meet his criteria.

Fast forward to the next school year. We had an Italian exchange student, “Veti,” come to our high school. She was sweet, adorable, and nice. Physically, Veti met every single one of his requirements. She was breathtaking. I came home and told my mom about the new exchange student. My mom and I were taking a long walk around town, and we ran into Veti. She smiled dazzlingly at us and waved. “Oh my gosh,” my mom said. “I thought you were exaggerating. She really is amazing. She’s physically perfect!”

Loads of guys at my school had the reaction my mom had. What’s more, this Veti didn’t even know how amazingly spectacular she looked and was a very humble person.

I nudged Greg and said, “She’s the girl you’ve been looking for! Why don’t you ask her out?” Greg looked at me, stunned. “I can’t ask Veti out! She’s perfect,” he protested.

While Greg’s list is all physical traits, and yours may not be, I think his plight is something a lot of us struggle with. Sometimes we have an idea in our head of our pipe dream soul mate: who we want to be with if we could order it up on a platter. But we don’t anticipate that a real person can fulfill all of those requirements. When our pipe dream soul mate comes walking down the street, it’s hard to know what to do. It’s intimidating and scary and overwhelming.

If you aren’t all about looks like Greg, it may take a bit more investigating to identify your pipe dream soul mate. When this is the case, you can take your time and actually get to know the person.  They may not be who you cooked up in your mind, but you may be pleasantly surprised by the real person you’re getting to know.


If and When (Can Change)

by Haley Plotnik under Israel,Judaism,News

One of the many reasons I often feel like I’m not “Jewish enough” is that I haven’t been to Israel before. I was thinking about going some time in the next year if the opportunity presented itself. It likely would, but I don’t trust my luck. I have always had a sinking feeling that I would be in the one group where things go massively awry.

Right now, a lot of us have friends and loved ones in Israel. Most of the time, I do not really worry about their safety or well-being. So many American college students have an overwhelmingly positive experience in Israel, and many people in Israel probably live in safer conditions than parts the US.

Right now, however, I feel a bit uneasy. I know I would not feel comfortable going to Israel at present. But I feel as though I might be giving up an opportunity that I can’t get back. If I say “not this year” for too many more years, the programs won’t be available to me anymore.

I have to remind myself continually that stepping onto Israel’s soil doesn’t make me a Jew. I am a Jew regardless. Perhaps I feel that missing out on Israel is like missing out on Jewish sleep away camps all over again.


150 Seder Tables Ago

by Haley Plotnik under Judaism,Single Life

On Sunday, I went to my first event for Jewish young professionals. It was through a program in the Chicago area, and we went to the Oriental Institute at UChicago. I highly recommend seeing it if you like art history or archaeology. During the tour, something that came up struck a chord with me.

The tour guide referred back to an event that happened about 3,000 years ago.  “That was 120-150 Seder tables ago,” she said. It made me realize that all of the rich Jewish history that has been passed down for generations hangs gently in the balance. My grandparents and parents wouldn’t have dreamed of marrying outside the faith. But nowadays, a lot of people I know don’t really care whether they preserve the Jewish culture or religion.

Do we owe it to our father’s mother’s father’s father’s father’s mother to keep the tradition alive? I feel like I do. Family is about more than the individual, and Judaism is too. During my formative years, I was heavily immersed in Judaism. I started my education at a Jewish pre-school. Before I could read, I could recite the five books of Moses.

I recently went on a few dates with a guy who was very Jew-friendly, but not Jewish. He said he wanted to raise children without any religion. The museum and discontinuing dating this guy made me realize that I feel compelled to pass on the tradition. I can’t see raising kids without a Seder table. Being Jewish not only enriched me, but it gave me strength as a child and continues to do so in my adulthood. I think I owe it to my ancestors, and my children, to pass it on.


Take a Chance, Open Up!

by Haley Plotnik under JDate,Online Dating

I have a close friend who recently moved to a new city for graduate school. She’s looking to meet a Jewish guy, but isn’t sure how to navigate the Internet dating scene. I am usually shy about advertising that I date online. It’s not something I feel most people need to know about me, and I feel nervous about being judged as “desperate” or “weird.” However, online dating has fundamentally changed how I approach men (in a good way).

When I finally admitted to my friend that I’ve online dated, she replied, “Oh my gosh. Once I move to graduate school, I totally want to try!” I had been so worried about her judging me that I forgot how many of us out are curious about the online dating world. She wanted to pick my brain about it before choosing to ultimately join in on the online dating rollercoaster. It’s something that has now bonded us. My friend asks my advice about messaging guys, if she should reply, etc. And in a way, it’s strengthened our friendship. So, while I don’t wear a sign around my neck that says, “I Love JDate,” I’m more open to telling close friends about dating on the web!