Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Birthday Date: Yay or Nay?

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Relationships,Single Life

My friend Jackie’s birthday is next week and she’s been dating a new guy that she met on JDate for about three weeks now. She’s mentioned it’s her birthday, and he mentioned celebrating it, but she called me to ask what to do next: should she mention it again and see if he asks her out for her birthday? Or should she make plans and let him take the initiative to ask her out later that week? And if he does ask her out to celebrate on her birthday, should she accept?

Birthdays are a precarious subject… on one hand, you want to be with the person you’re dating. On the other hand, is it too soon to expect that? And what if you break-up next week? Are you going to be pissed that you “wasted” a birthday celebration? Or will you appreciate it for what it was?

My take: unless you’re in a serious, committed relationship, just make plans with your family and friends and save another night to celebrate with your date. It doesn’t have to be anything over-the-top, a candle stuck in the dessert with a quick rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” should suffice if it’s early on in a relationship. No present is expected or necessary, aside from having your date pick up the check.

And if you’re poly-dating, and each date wants to celebrate your birthday, well then lucky you — your birthday just turned into a week-long celebration!


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.


How Do You Feel About Israel?

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Israel,Relationships

If you’re going on first dates right now it’s probable that the war on and in Israel will become a topic of conversation. If you’re passionate about Israel then it may come up — even when there’s not a war going on — or if you’re passionate about another major current event then you can use that as a measuring tool as well. Finding out how someone feels about what’s going on in Israel, and around the world, will likely have an effect on how you feel about your date.

Let’s assume you’re a devout supporter of Israel’s right to defend herself:

If your date doesn’t have much of a clue aside from some headlines while they scroll through their Facebook feed or watch TV, then you may be turned off by the lack of interest in a topic that effects all of us.

If they are knowledgeable but don’t spend time advocating for Israel, then that may be acceptable to you.

If they are sharing articles, attending pro-Israel rallies, and losing sleep after watching the news then you may feel a deeper connection.

If your date thinks Israel is at fault, and denies Hamas’ use of civilian shields, and tweets FreeGaza, and so on, then this person is very, very likely not for you.

You can gage a lot about a person by how involved they are politically, and make some valid assumptions, and then decide for yourself if this is the type of person you want to be with in a romantic relationship. That said, don’t spend your entire first date debating anything political, that’s less than romantic. Simply stating that you’re stressed about what’s going on in Israel right now and listening to their response, should be enough of a telltale sign. Then carry on as you see fit.


Freedom of Religion

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Judaism,Relationships,Single Life

No, this isn’t going to be a political post, don’t worry.

My friend has been dating a guy she met on JDate for a few months now. His profile stated that he is a Conservative Jew. She leans more towards the “Reform/Traditional” stream, but isn’t opposed to dating someone who is a bit more “Jew-ish” as she is understanding, respectful and has an open mind. Until this guy who – since they began dating – started keeping Shabbat, walking to an orthodox temple on Saturday mornings, turning off his phone, and keeping kosher both in and out of the home. Clearly he is becoming more religious, but he is also continuing to date someone who is on the other side of the spectrum.

I’ve often met couples where one was already more observant than the other — they came together knowingly — and they chose to either become more observant or less so as a couple. But to suddenly become more observant while in the relationship is a different situation. My friend is just sitting idly by as her boyfriend becomes more and more religious. What is she to do? Nothing yet, if she likes him, except wait and see what happens. This could be an experimental phase, or he could go all the way frum. In doing so, he risks losing her, but he needs to follow his spiritual heart and not sacrifice being the Jew he wants to be because of a woman he’s been dating a few months.


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.


Married at First Sight

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

The groundbreaking TV show Married at First Sight (airing on the newly rebranded fyi, network) brings together professionals and experts who set up three couples to get married the first time they see each other. It’s a social experiment to see if testing for compatibility does a better job at matchmaking than we do for ourselves. There’s definitely something to this, as research from Brandeis University shows that arranged marriages have more success than those that begin based on lust.

This is why you need to see past the profile photos on JDate and actually read the profiles to determine if there’s a possibility of a match before moving on.

Trust the process.


Revealing Your Backstory

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

Not everyone has a backstory, but lots of people do. Positive or negative, when to reveal that story after you begin dating someone you really like is a normal worry — especially when you have something important to divulge.

I’ve written previously about being honest and addressing a physical disability from the beginning; and I’ve written about how to discuss a divorce and/or having children in a minimal way in your profile and on a first date; but how about a backstory that isn’t visible? Are you a cancer survivor or do you suffer from depression or were you abused or were you adopted or any other background that made you who you are… but no one would necessarily know unless you told them?

This type of backstory is not one to include in your JDate profile, or even to bring up on a first date, but you do need to open up relatively early on. If the story is too much for your date to handle, then let them leave — clearly it’s not the right person for you and that’s why you need to reveal your story sooner rather than later. Unless it’s relevant to a conversation you are having on a first date, then save your confession for your second or third date. This does not mean that you are ashamed of your backstory, just that you want to have prospects get to know you for you, and not your story, particularly if it is a sob story.


Learn to Listen

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Relationships

Going on dates, being someone’s significant other, and just being an all-around good friend means that you need to be a good listener.

When you’re on a date, it’s normal to chime in with a “me too!” when you’re looking for commonalities, but make sure you allow the other person to complete their thought. When you’re in a relationship, it’s normal to become a sounding board and to chime in with advice — but sometimes it’s best to just be there as a symbolic shoulder. Being a good friend does not always mean needing to speak, but instead just allowing the other person to talk and feel heard.

Listening is a skill. Learn it. It will come in handy in your love life and many other areas of life.


Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

If you like a friend of yours as more than a friend, and don’t tell them, and then they start dating someone else, you have no one to blame but yourself.

What have you got to lose? Chances are you’re not going to stay friends with someone you had a crush on if they get into a serious relationship with someone else, so why not tell them how you feel?

If you are in a relationship and don’t speak your mind about how you want to be treated, or touched, or teased, then don’t be upset when your partner disrespects you, or isn’t affectionate, or doesn’t know your limits… because you never made your expectations clear!

People are not mind readers, you need to tell them how you feel and what you’re thinking. If you are honest with your words (and your actions support them) and the feelings are not reciprocated, then at least you put it all out there and will have no regrets.


Leading with Looks

by Haley Plotnik under Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

I get far too many messages about the way I look. The same way that getting a “Hey, what’s up?” message can be frustrating in that the conversation fire hasn’t been lit, it’s hard to continue a conversation when someone messages, “You are so pretty!” Once you acknowledge the compliment (or not), you still have to make a fast u-turn to get into good conversational territory.

Let’s look at some ways to respond to a looks-based message:

1) The good old fashioned thank you

Initial message: “You are gorgeous, wow!”

Response: “Thank you very much!”

Where did that really get you? Maybe you brightened up the recipient’s day, but now you have to start a conversation from scratch.

2) The thank you/ u-turn

Initial message: “You look like a real life Disney princess!”

Response: “Thanks. I love Disney movies. My favorite is _______. How about you?”

At least the compliment helped a little in this instance. Sometimes it’s more like this:

“You’re cute. I’m _________. I look forward to hearing back.”

“Hey, thanks! What do you like to do for fun, _________?

3) The bratty response

Initial message: “You are stunning. I would love to get coffee.”

Response: “Yeah. You and every other Jew in New York.”

_________________________________________________

Not only do I have trouble responding to these looks-based messages, but I also feel like my better personal qualities aren’t being valued. For me, one-line, looks-based messages don’t stand out among the pack. I don’t typically reply, even if I am interested in the guy, because I am looking for someone who appreciates more than being easy on the eyes.

Next time, try a messaging someone with NO looks-based compliments. See where it gets you. Here’s a start:

“Hey. I noticed you like _________. I’ve wanted to try _________ and was wondering how you got into it…”

This is not the most creative. Some people are super creative and comic. If that’s not your thing, don’t try to be something you’re not. Be yourself, but don’t be obsequious. Leading with looks makes me wary that the sender may be a panting puppy when it comes to approaching a potential date. Coming on strong is called coming on strong for a reason. It’s too strong for many people. If you come on too strong, someone may be offended. I’ve yet to be offended by someone not hitting on me enough. Maybe you’re not exactly mysterious or aloof. I’m not either, but it’s typically better to tread lightly. Once you’re in back-pedaling territory, you’ve likely lost the battle.