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Live Your Lie

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

“Do what you did in the beginning of a relationship and there won’t be an end.” -unknown

“And we then are obligated to live up to the lies we told each other about who we are. We are then forced to be better people than we actually are, because it’s expected of us by each other.” – sex columnist Dan Savage

This morning I read two different quotes about continuing to be the person you are portraying in the beginning of a relationship in order to make the relationship last and, at the same time, make you a better person. In the beginning of a relationship we are on our best behavior, with impeccable manners, making sure our appearance is put together, keeping a clean house, trying to enjoy life and laugh often, trying not to talk badly about people or be judgmental, planning special dates, being romantic and affectionate, and so on. Some people will say that you are living a lie. I, however, think you are being the perfect version of you, and the version you know that is most attractive to others. And then once we get comfortable… that stops. Why?

Keep making the effort to be that best version of you and you will eventually become a better you. Make the commitment as a couple to be the person that each of you fell in love with.


Sending the Right Signals

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,JDate,Judaism,Single Life

This month (it’s December already!!!???) you will likely attend lots of holiday parties in addition to your local shindig on Christmas Eve where all the Jews go to celebrate nothing else being open (the Place2Be, the MatzoBall, the Mitzvah Ball, the Vodka Latke, etc). If you are single heading into the New Year then attending one of these events is a MUST.

But you also MUST send the right signals while you’re there.

  • Dress classy, not costume-y. You want to be taken seriously as a dating prospect, not just a fun one-nighter. So, dress sexy, but not trashy.
  • Make eye contact and smile. The best way to let someone know you’re interested is to catch their eye and hold it for a few seconds while you smile.
  • Stand tall and relaxed. Slumped posture with arms crossed over your chest gives off a closed vibe.
  • Laugh. Have fun and enjoy yourself. People want to be around other positive people.
  • Be forward, but polite. If you are talking to someone that you are not interested in, then warmly inform them that you want to find your friends and that you hope they have a nice evening. You don’t need to waste your time with people you don’t like, but having good manners is important. Your prospect could be close enough to overhear you excusing yourself.
  • Do a stink check. Nothing will turn someone off faster than body odor or bad breath.

Hide and Seek

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Relationships

If you have to snoop through your significant other’s things then you shouldn’t be with that person. It’s as simple as that. If you can’t trust them, then why are you with them?

My friend Gina called me in a tizzy because she found a bar receipt for nearly $100 in her boyfriend’s jeans when he said he was working late. Of course, he shouldn’t have lied to her about where he was, but she also shouldn’t be going through his pockets. He very well could have gone out for drinks with his coworkers after they finished their project to celebrate the completion, but that’s not the point. Her snooping was clearly founded because she doesn’t trust him and he obviously gave her reason not to. They both need to save each other the grief that will occur when she confronts him because then she will end up looking like the bad guy — the untrusting snoop — not him — the untrustworthy liar.

A relationship without trust will not succeed.


An Epic Two-Word Response to, “Why aren’t you married yet?”

by Rabbi Josh Yuter under JBloggers,JDate,Relationships,Single Life

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Nu? So why aren’t you married yet?

I’m guessing if you’re reading this blog you’ve probably gotten this question yourself. Maybe you were in your 20’s when all your friends were getting engaged and married (at least for the first time), or maybe you’re advanced in your 30’s, 40’s, or older. Even if you’ve been lucky enough to have friends and family who are too polite to say this to your face, you might have heard it said about others behind their backs. Even in dating, you might find someone who is more suspicious of someone who has never been married than someone who has been divorced or widowed. The implication is always the same regardless of context; if you haven’t gotten married yet, then there must be something wrong with you.

Singles often have to deal with condescending comments like “Im Yirtzeh Hashem (God willing) by You,” but given the confrontational tone, asking why someone isn’t married is less of a personal inquiry as it is an attack on one’s character. You’re too picky. You’re priorities in life are all wrong. You’re immature. Even if there are substantive emotional challenges with which one is struggling, these would probably not be something people would want to share, especially after being placed on the defensive. There’s virtually no way to answer this question without conceding the premise that, indeed, you should have been married by now, and you must now justify your flawed status in life.

I happen to be a firm believer in Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” I’d like to think that people aren’t trying to put others down as much as they are insensitive or ignorant as to the implications of what they’re saying (a recurrent problem in society). Counter-attacking people for their rudeness might feel good in the moment as a way to salvage your dignity, but not only can you come across as unhinged, but you do little to educate well-meaning people as to their insensitivity. On the other hand, not everyone is willing to engage in a detailed conversation, let alone mussar / rebuke, which means an effective response has to be as short as the other person’s attention span.

My suggestion is that the next time someone asks you (or about someone else), “Why aren’t you married yet?” simply respond by asking, “To whom?”

“To whom?”

Yep, and it makes perfect sense.

When someone asks, “why aren’t you married yet” they’re imposing a social stigma, that is the cultural expectation that people ought to get married, and by a certain point in their lives. The problem of course is that people don’t get married to ideas or expectations (excluding metaphors or new-age weddings), they get married to people. Meaning, if someone thinks you ought to have gotten married by now, then it follows there must have been some individual whom you could have married. The set of people anyone could have married can only include the smaller subset of people with whom one has had a relationship and where the other person wanted to get married. After all, in both Jewish and secular law, you cannot get married to people who aren’t interested. By definition, getting married is not an individual choice, but a joint decision.

It’s impossible to answer “to whom?” without knowing someone’s life or the details of every previous personal relationship. Only the most socially inept would respond by asking why you didn’t get married to a specific previous significant other, and at a point it would be completely socially acceptable to inform them that your previous relationships are none of their business, or ask them why they think your life would have been better had you married that person.

The main point is that by asking, “to whom?” you not only address the substance of the question directly, but you also reframe the concept of relationships from societal expectations to personal reality. Instead of being forced to defend your life choices or circumstances, you subtly remind people that you’re not just a statistic or nameless interchangeable single person, but that you’re an individual with specific unique experiences. This includes not just finding the right person, but doing so at the right time for both of you. Societal expectations dictate that “getting married” is more important than the quality of the marriage. But while it might not matter to society to whom one gets married, I would hope that to the individual in question it matters a great deal.

So, the next time you find yourself hearing someone ask why you or someone else isn’t married, try these two simple words. You might educate someone while simultaneously validating wherever you happen to be in life.


Thanksgiving STFU Guide

by Tamar Caspi under News,Single Life
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The popular meme above that’s been making the rounds online is meant in jest, but for singles it’s like salt in the wound!

Singles know they are going to have to face the “Why are you still single?” and “Are you dating anyone?” questions more than once during the holidays. And it sucks. So here’s a handy guide for quick, positive responses that will shut up even the nosiest family member.

  1. Yes, I’m single right now, but I’m also thankful I received a __________ promotion at work.
  2. No, I’m not dating anyone special right now, but I have been very fulfilled by my volunteer work at ____________ to help ___________.
  3. Yes, I’m “still” single and used ALL my free time to train for a marathon/compete in a crossfit tournament/__________.
  4. No, I’m not married yet. I’m not willing to settle, I have too much to offer!
  5. It’s been difficult to meet someone because I’ve been busy exploring the world!

Keep it upbeat and happy by saying these responses with a smile. And when you go around the table saying what you’re thankful for, make sure to lay it on really thick by mentioning all the great family, friends, work stuff, hobbies, traveling, pets, and anything else positive that you can think of. Because it’s true — you are fortunate to have a full life filled with love even if it’s not necessarily coming from a significant other right now.

 


Yours, Mine, Ours

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships,Single Life

Dating, particularly in your mid-30’s and after, is difficult because you’ve gained so much independence that compromising becomes so much more complicated. People own homes, furniture, have savings, stocks, and so on that commingling isn’t as easy as it is in your 20’s. Even mixing your friends isn’t such an easy feat! After 30(ish), you have likely become possessive over things because you have worked hard for them, whether that be materialistic things or matters of the heart — such as good, loyal friends. You have a feeling of pride over those things or people, and don’t want to just hand them over to someone or risk losing them.

When you enter a serious relationship, however, you need to transition from yours and mine, to ours, while still keeping a sense of identity. You DID work hard to become the person you are today, inclusive of the people, places, and things you accumulated along the way. But, just because you are sharing those things doesn’t make those accomplishments any less fulfilling, important, or a part of you. It’s just that now your life is even richer because you are sharing it — and your heart — with someone you love, and that’s the most important thing you will ever share.


Drunk Dating

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Single Life

I’ve written a number of posts about not drinking on a date, knowing your limit, and keeping your judgment intact… but what do you do when your date gets totally wasted? My friend Carrie recently told me about a date where the guy arrived buzzed and quickly downed a few drinks, mixing liquors, and became quite inebriated. She knew she was done with him, and he was becoming more and more rambunctious and disrespectful, but she also felt an obligation to make sure he got home safely so she put him in a cab and hoped he was coherent enough to give his address. This was not her responsibility, but I did appreciate her sincere concern. If this happens to you, get the bartender involved. You don’t need to put yourself in harm’s way. It doesn’t matter why your date chose tonight to get drunk — if they lost their job or found out a loved one died or something else just as awful — then they should have cancelled the date. You don’t have to sit by and see how the night is going to end nor do you have to give them another chance. It’s clearly not meant to be so alert the bartender and go on your merry way.


The Four Letter Word Every Single is Really Seeking. Hint: It’s Not “Love.”

by Rabbi Josh Yuter under JBloggers,Relationships,Single Life

In my introductory post I said that 1. people are too unique for any general theory or advice about dating to be universally applicable and 2. that I was going to break that rule immediately. I stand by both statements, though the rule breaking is more nuanced.

In one of the least-romantic descriptions of dating and marriage ever written, Nobel Laureate Gary Becker reduces the entire dating process to a simple cost/benefit analysis:

According to the economic approach, a person decides to marry when the utility expected from marriage exceeds that expected from remaining single or from additional search of a suitable mate. Similarly, a married person terminates his (or her) marriage when the utility anticipated from being single or marrying someone else exceeds the loss in utility from separation, including losses due to physical separation from one’s children, division of joint assets, legal fees, and so forth (Becker, 1976:10).

 

 

 

 

 

In plain English, Becker understands that people get married when there’s more to be gained by getting married than by staying single, and the same is true for divorce. This follows what some economists call the “rational choice theory,” in which every decision is based on someone deciding a course of action based on the “best” of all options. The problem of course is we have no idea how our decisions in the present will play out in the future. If anything, we’re heavily biased to project either our past experiences or our current emotional state onto the future such that our predictions are rarely accurate.

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So what really drives us to make the Big Decisions?

In a word, “hope.”

More specifically, it’s the hope that our lives will be better if we decide on a certain course of action than any alternative.

Following Becker’s approach, I suggest that dating is no different. The one thing everyone is looking for in a relationship is that somehow life will be better with a particular person than without. Exactly how life will be better will not only depend on the individual, but on the specific circumstances of that person. Some may find hope in a life of stability, while others appreciate the excitement of constant adventure. Maybe the hope for a better life includes having many children, or perhaps the greater hope is found in the potential freedom to pursue one’s interests. It’s why abstract concepts like “love” or “connections” may be a higher priority for some over others, or why everyone’s definition will be different. Normally, these sorts of questions are framed in the context of “life goals” or “checklists,” but essentially everyone is just trying to improve their lives, hoping for the best, and the criteria for doing so is often subject to change.

I also think this approach explains why dating seems harder for some people. Assuming that all relationships take effort and involve some “cost” of time, money, freedom, and emotional energy, the more someone has adjusted to living alone, the more “hope” that person would need to disrupt the status quo. If the people you happen to meet aren’t “worth” the cost – that is, the prospect of putting in all those resources outweighs any benefits one hopes to receive out of the relationship – you’re probably going to be disinterested in pursuing a relationship with that person. I’d further suggest this is particularly applicable to older singles, especially the emotionally healthier ones who have acclimated and adjusted to living life on their own. It’s not that singles get more “selective” as they get older as much as they’ve learned to live a satisfying life on their terms. In which case, older singles require a proportionally greater “hope” for a better future with any given person. It’s much easier to hope when you’re young because you can still dream of possibilities, even if they might never come true, but the longer someone experiences life, the less such dreams of a better life seem plausible.

It’s possible that viewing relationships from the perspective of “hope” may be helpful in the dating process in that we can ask ourselves when we find ourselves attracted to someone what we hope life with this person will bring us (and the same is true when we’re disinterested). If we’re finding ourselves equivocating or wondering why we fall into the same bad habits, then perhaps focusing on what we’re hoping for, and why, might produce some interesting and helpful answers.


Actions Speak Louder Than Words

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

“You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right things at all the right times. But in the end, it’s always your actions you should judge them by. It’s actions, not words, that matter.”

-Nicholas Sparks

Yes, the author of the above quote is the same man who has written a dozen sappy novels including The Notebook, and yet, it’s the truth regardless of who penned the sentences. Actions do speak louder than words. You can say “I love you” until you’re blue in the face, but it’s how you treat the person to whom you’re saying it that truly matters.  If you are not respectful, compassionate, and affectionate of the person you are saying “I love you” to, then you are not acting like a loving person.

Showing appreciation, expressing excitement or empathy for what is going on in your partner’s life, interlacing your fingers with theirs when they least expect it, buying them their favorite treat when you’re at the grocery store, or whatever else is meaningful to them —  just make the effort to express how you feel throughout the day in your behavior and attitude.


Date Night No-No

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Judaism,Relationships,Single Life

Last night I attended an event for young adults in my local Jewish community. There was a guy there that I referenced as a serial dater in my book, How to Woo a Jew: The Modern Jewish Guide to Dating and Mating. And guess what? He was there with a new girl he is dating. Shocker. He came over to say hi and I asked if she was his girlfriend and he told me they had only recently begun dating and had met at a Halloween party.

I spotted another guy across the room and pointed him out to a single girlfriend of mine. She rolled her eyes. I raised my eyebrows. Apparently they had already gone out and she had brought him to one of these functions only to have it be a major fail. She knew a lot of people and had helped organize the event, and he didn’t like having to share her attention.

So here’s my date night no-no: don’t bring a date to an event early on in your relationship. Too many people you know will be there inquiring, pulling your attention away from your date who is the one who should matter the most at that time. Early dating is not the time to try to impress, or prove to your date how popular you are. You are still in the getting to know you stage, so go somewhere you can get to know each other without any distractions!