Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Date to Win

by Rabbi Josh Yuter under Date Night,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life
סוּר מֵרָע, וַעֲשֵׂה-טוֹב
“Turn from evil and do good” Psalms 34:15

 

I’ve long since forgotten how many dates I’ve been on, but I don’t have that many horrible stories. At worst, most of my dates have been forgettable or what I sometimes describe as, “painless but pointless.” Decent days or nights out with decent people, but either no chemistry or just pronounced feelings of “meh.”

Regardless of how much time one chooses to invest in any person – some people are always willing to give someone a second date, others bail quicker – when we aren’t interested in someone else, a popular confronting us is “what’s wrong with that person?” This is usually more common among matchmakers, some of whom I have encountered tend to take rejections personally (both before and after the date).

Asking “what’s wrong” can be constructive if it helps someone gain greater insight into their wants or needs, or to help friends and matchmakers refine their suggestions. From my own experience, people ask “what’s wrong” more like they ask “why aren’t you married yet?” – as an accusation meant to put others on the defensive for their life choices. The problem is that most of “what’s wrong” isn’t always apparent, in part because there may not be anything actually wrong at all.

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Is it the wine or does this just feel “right?”

Here’s where I think a common cliché may be useful. Looking for the absence of a negative would be what I call, “dating not to lose.” According to this attitude, the default status would be that you’d marry the first willing individual who you don’t find particularly objectionable. Depending on your priorities in life, this may be a perfectly valid option and precursor to a long and healthy marriage, provided of course that it’s your decision and not imposed by external (e.g. family, social, economic) pressures.

But for many others, this is wholly insufficient. I’d like to think that people don’t just want to “get married” as much as they want a happy and healthy marriage. While this is never guaranteed (even in the best scenarios), my sense is that the more optimistic people are in dating, the more hopeful they’ll be entering the marriage. This is more along the lines of what I’d call “dating to win,” where you’re not trying to avoid what could be wrong as much as finding someone with whom you feel “right.” In this regard, the mere absence of attraction or chemistry (however you choose to define it) is itself enough of a “flaw,” such that it’s not worth it to pursue it further.

“Dating not to lose” is a surefire way to get stuck in a long-term dissatisfying relationship, one of those where it’s not bad enough to leave… but not good enough to commit. This can certainly be comfortable in the short-term, and you might even convince yourself to get married, though I’d suspect there would be a greater chance for future remorse and resentment.

“Dating to win” is far more difficult. It requires a certain degree of confidence to be unattached rather than be in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship, or even continuing to go on dates where you’re just not that into someone. But I’d also suggest that the potential rewards are far greater in the long run.


Dating Differently

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

After a tough breakup a lot of people think they need to start looking for someone who is the opposite of the type of person who just hurt them. But, finding someone who is blonde instead of brunette, corporate instead of an entrepreneur, quiet rather than loud, an introvert vs an extrovert, and so on, does not mean that the next relationship is going to be successful. There’s no one thing that is going to change the fate of a relationship. There are going to be traits that you’re attracted to which will contribute to a relationship never working, and there are traits that you will need in another person in order to complement your own traits. It will take some introspection to figure out which traits are which.

Liking a strong and outgoing person, but not wanting someone who is controlling is a difficult balance to find. That doesn’t mean that you should look for someone who is shy and quiet. Wanting to laugh and have fun is not the same as being made fun of and hearing constant sarcasm. That doesn’t mean you should find someone who is boring and serious all the time.

What it does mean is that you need to take your time and get to know someone, and see who you are and how you are when you are together.


Dating Deadlines

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

Since coining the phrase “poly-dating,” I have been asked the following question: isn’t that cheating? No. No, it is not. Until you are in a committed, monogamous relationship (whether you had ‘The Talk’ or you just know you both want to be pursue a future together), you do not need to explain yourself to anyone. You can date anyone you want. But, as soon as things start getting serious with one person, then you must break it off with the others. If you’re planning on having sex with one of your prospects then you need to break things off with the others beforehand, out of respect for all parties involved.

Once your new relationship is secure you can mention that there were others you were dating until they made you realize that no one else could measure up (may as well spread it on thick if you’re going to go there), but don’t volunteer the information if no one asks because it really doesn’t matter what you did before things got serious.

And, in general, there is no reason to continue having a friendship with any of the rejected prospects. You were dating to see if there was a future together; there wasn’t, and that relationship is now over. Your new significant other will not appreciate you having a friendship with someone you were dating at the same time.


From Dates to “Dating”

by Rabbi Josh Yuter under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

One of the more interesting things I’ve learned from people is that the words “date” and “dating” can mean drastically different things to different people. I’ve heard “dates” refer to a range of activities from meeting for coffee to spending the night. Of course, two people can go out for coffee with only one of them thinking it’s a “date” and the other thinking it’s something more casual.

“Dating” is a little bit clearer, but not by much. When people say they’re “dating,” there’s usually some form of implied commitment, but this too can vary from having some vague intention of exploring a possible relationship to focusing on one person exclusively.

What is certain is that at some undefined point or process, the relationship advances from going out on “dates” to “dating.” What is far less certain is exactly how this happens. The most common explanation I’ve heard from my friends is something along the lines of “it just happens.”

This is something with which I’ve struggled personally and most of the “advice” (often unsolicited) has been thoroughly unhelpful. Resorting to my “moving target” analogy that every situation is different may be accurate, but just as unhelpful as anything else.

So, not having any answers, I’m going to turn this one over to you. Just how do you get from “dates” to “dating?”

And no, “practice” does not count as an answer.


Out With the Old, In With the New

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,JDate,Monday Makeover,Online Dating,Relationships

As we welcome 2015 let’s leave the crummy parts of 2014 behind and look forward with great excitement for everything that is to come in the New Year!

  • Instead of continuing to hold on to grudges of those who rejected or dumped you, realize they were not meant for you and that you deserve better, and will soon find it.
  • Instead of being depressed about being single another year, realize that you are waiting for the person who will make you see the world differently, in a great way!
  • Instead of mourning the loss of people who you loved, take the best traits of those people and try to be more like them in their memory.

While you’re at it, clean out your closet and your Facebook friends list, and then revamp your JDate profile with some of the advice I’ve given you. Happy New Year (and hopefully New Love!)


Musically Inclined

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Entertainment,Relationships

Music plays a huge part in most of our lives. Most people can name songs from different times of their lives and reminisce about a personal moment when specific songs play on the radio.

So what does it mean when you have completely different tastes in music than your date? For starters, you have to take age into context. If you were born in different decades then there’s a chance that the soundtrack of your life will vary and you will prefer a different radio station. Overall, having different taste in music — or almost anything for that matter — is not a make or break. However, you do need other commonalities to keep you connected.

As long as you respect the other person’s taste in music and even try to learn more about it (and maybe even like it), then that should be enough. Try to divide the ride by allowing whomever is driving to choose the station. Same goes for at-home date nights — whomever arranges the romance can choose the tunes.

A fan of Top 40 and a fan of Classical and a fan of Rap and a fan of Motown and a fan of Hard Rock can not only coexist… but be madly and deeply in love.


Comparison Shopping

by Rabbi Josh Yuter under JDate,Relationships,Single Life

A friend was recently lamenting a double standard in dating where men genearlly have a greater selection of women than women do for men. One example is age range. Men are considered more “eligible” well into their fifties, whereas women have to contend with a biological clock. For whatever the reasons, men on the whole seem to have more options than women… and with more options comes greater selectivity.

I’m not interested in which gender has it easier – at the end of the day everyone’s experience is what’s important – but in what it means to be “selective.” Last week we spoke about checklists that people make before meeting, but what about the calculations we make after we meet people?

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Do you comparison shop?

I think there are two attitudes which are most common. The first is the “comparison shopping” model where people are evaluated against other people. This is particularly common in “scene” communities where new potential dates pop up every week, such that every person can be compared to everyone else. To some degree, there’s something natural in this approach, but the problem is obvious. For example, even if you find someone who is 85% of everything you’re looking for, you’ll always be able to find someone who is smarter, fitter, richer, or whatever-er, which makes it pretty tough to appreciate people for who they are. Essentially, people reject others under the assumption that someone “better” is just around the corner. This is, of course, specious reasoning since nothing is guarenteed, let alone the affections of unknown suitors.

Unless you’re in a complicated love triangle the real “choice” isn’t between one person or another, but rather between a relationship with this person or no relationship. According to this approach, the comparison is not selecting one person over another, but in comparing how one feels with or without a given person. Even if it’s possible that the person you’re seeing now is the last best chance you’ll have for a relationship, that doesn’t mean the relationship is healthy for you or that it will ultimately lead you to the happy life you deserve.

Of course, no one can ever know for certain how their decisions will pan out down the road. All we can do is make the best decisions we can with whatever information we have in the present. Even if we don’t know if anyone else awaits us, we hopefully know how to properly value ourselves.


Game Day

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Entertainment,Relationships

Are you a major sports fan? Do you watch every football game on Saturdays AND Sunday? Are you obsessed with a basketball team and watch EVERY single game? Does your life revolve around going to games and watching them on TV and catching an episode of SportsCenter before going to sleep? Or are you dating someone who fits this description?

Unless it is your career, your life should not hinge upon any sports team’s wins and losses. Rooting for a team is good fun, but allowing it take over your life is not — at least for the other people in your life, particularly a lover. If you both love a team then it’s fun to throw a party to watch the game or tailgate together, but there’s a healthy limit.

Don’t let games dictate your dates. Don’t ruin quality time by turning on the TV. Don’t spend all of your time discussing sports. Hopefully you will fill the time left with lots of love and never even realize what you’re missing!


Those Little Gestures

by Tamar Caspi under Judaism,Relationships

You can buy a bouquet of roses from the market, or you can purchase the seeds of your girlfriend’s favorite flower along with soil and a pot so that she has an ongoing reminder of your thoughtfulness.

You can suggest a local brewery for date night, or you can get your boyfriend that online deal to learn how to make craft beer at home.

Oftentimes we overlook those subtle hints which could really help make your significant other feel special, loved, and appreciated. Listen for the things that your partner won’t ask for, but you know they like — whether that be a specific food or drink, an outfit (A man in a suit? Always hot!), a location (The peak of a mountain at sunset? So romantic!), and of course there’s also gift-giving.

This holiday season, make the effort to give the special someone in your life a gift that’s just as special. It doesn’t have to be expensive, or even store-bought, just something to let the person know that you are listening.


Make a List, But Check it Twice

by Rabbi Josh Yuter under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

Ah, the checklist. That necessary evil of dating where you’re forced to reduce the totality of the human experience into artificial and contrived parameters. Anyone who has ever been asked, “so what are you looking for?” has had to have their list memorized to deliver an elevator-pitch like succinct response. Dating sites like JDate force you to literally check off boxes to describe yourself and search for others. Naturally, people resist being placed into such boxes to the point where saying you “don’t fit in a box” is such a cliché that JDate could probably add that option to their profiles.

CRTV-1337-thumb-RJYThe trouble of course is that while websites, singles, and even shadchanim recognize both the utility and limitations of checklists, few people consider what these checklists really mean. Take the popular example of a checklist gone wrong is the “white tablecloth” requirement, where potential mates are rejected based on the content of their linen closet. I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that the absurdity correlating tablecloths with maintaining a successful relationship, and instead suggest that the tablecloth symbolizes a personally important religious aesthetic. Anyone who could appreciate someone saying that Hannukah just isn’t Hannukah without Bubbe’s Famous Latkes can understand the value of religious sentimentality.

Remember what I wrote a few weeks ago about dating and hope I think what applies there also applies to checklists. Every item represents a possibility, or based on one’s experience, probability. A PhD usually indicates a person is reasonably intelligent or values knowledge, which yeshivot one attended can be indicative of religious upbringing, etc. It doesn’t matter if any of these sorts of assumptions are true, or if they’re relevant to the essence of the person in the present. What matters isn’t even what people think about the checkboxes, but how they imagine what the relationship would be.

Unless you automatically accept every single dating possibility which comes your way, you’re going to have some standards about the people you date. And if you’re in any way serious about having a relationship, you’re going to want to maximize the potential of the date being “good” however you want to define it. Checklists aren’t about separating the naughty from the nice (it might be, but since this is a Jewish dating website, we’re keeping things clean), but playing the odds to have the best chance of having a decent date.

The question is less about the checklists, but how much of them are dogmatic deal breakers. If you happened to hit it off with someone who didn’t have the right box checked, would you call it off or would you give it a shot? Obviously this is up to you, but every now and again, it’s worth checking in on our checklists.