Everyone talks about learning lessons from your past so that you don’t repeat your mistakes, but you ought to also learn from your past in a positive way.
What did you like the most about your exes? What attracted you in a way that wouldn’t wane no matter how bad the relationship got? What did your exes do to make you happy? What were the reasons you wanted to stay with your ex? What kept you there when the going got tough?
Look for those same qualities in your next mate… and then of course remember the lessons you learned about from your past relationships which contributed to their demise (i.e. the negative stuff) and keep those things in mind as well.
under Date Night
I was out the other night with a friend who was telling me she almost said “no” to a second date with her now long-term boyfriend. In fact, she did say no… and then said no again… but eventually his persistence wore off on her and she went out with him again. She told me how scary it is how we think we know someone after just one date, when we really know very little about them.
So here’s my advice:
- Do: If you are on a first date and there’s nothing going terribly wrong, be open to the idea of a second date. People often get so nervous on a first date that they don’t display their full personality, or even have the chance to really open up and share the details that make them who they are.
- Don’t: If the first date is really terrible and there are some fundamental differences between the two of you that you don’t think you can get past, it’s okay to not give that person a second chance. There’s no reason to go out with them again if you are going to feel uncomfortable.
Connect with Jen on Twitter: @tthingsilearned
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.
under Online Dating
I see this happen quite often. Friends finding their match – whether online or through other friends. It sometimes feels like it’s so easy for them, and yet so hard for everyone else. Either way, when it happens, it’s most important to be happy for them. Here’s how you can work on doing that:
- Do: Be sure to congratulate them on their new relationship and be happy for them. Even if at first you are overcome with jealousy, that feeling will pass. There’s no reason to explode those jealous feelings on your friends. Keep them to yourself — if possible.
- Don’t: Feel as though the world around you is moving in a different direction and it’s somehow, someway, easier for everyone else to meet someone. People enter relationships for all different reasons, at all different times in their lives. It’s important that you don’t compare and contrast your life with anyone else.
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.
This past weekend I had the privilege of being “On the Couch” with Dr. Dorree Lynn for a lengthy radio interview to both promote my book How to Woo a Jew and to discuss matchmaking. Eventually, the conversation turned to sex, as such chats tend to do with a psychologist and sexpert for the post-50 crowd, and Dr. Dorree mentioned the increasing rate of sexually transmitted diseases for the older crowd.
STD rates are on the rise for the 50+ age group because people tend to think that condoms are only for preventing pregnancy, which they no longer need to think about. But apparently many of these mature adults are fun, frisky and, inadvertently, passing around diseases. I chuckle, not because this isn’t a very serious topic (because it is!), but rather I laugh because it makes me so happy to hear about grandparents getting it on! Keep your sex lives active! It’s healthy for your mind, spirit and body… when you add condoms to the equation.
I’m also encouraged by the sheer number of singles in the second half of their lives on JDate! Life is not over at 50, or if you’re widowed, or if you’re divorced after many years! Get on JDate, meet other singles, and have lots of SAFE sex!
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.
New dating rule! From now on, you must ask someone “Are you in a relationship?” rather than asking “Are you married?” or “Do you have a girl/boyfriend?”
Why? Because if you’re engaged then the answer is neither of the above and if you’re dating someone seriously, but haven’t put a label on it, then it is also in between. So when you meet someone whom you’re interested in, ask “Are you in a relationship?” That way, they have to answer and clarify what that means to them.
under Single Life
The other day I was telling a co-worker that I’m taking a dating break. I just need some time to sit back, relax, and spend time by myself. Okay, maybe part of that has to do with the fact that I just want to watch season two of House of Cards. Whatever the reason, sometimes we all just need to turn off our phones, shut off our computers, and just focus on ourselves for a bit.
- Do: Give yourself some time off from dating if you need it. Whether it’s a week or a month, take the time you need to hang out with friends or catch up on your personal to-do list. Refresh and reset your mind, and your heart.
- Don’t: Drag this on for too long. Once you stop doing something, it’s easy to lose the motivation to do it again. When I stop going to the gym, it takes me months to start again. Whenever you decide to start this break, make sure you also have an end date.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!