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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.

 


Next Time

by Aaron under Date Night,Relationships

A long time ago, I wrote a blog that I never ended up posting about Damon Lindelof, the creator of the television show Lost. While that post wasn’t my greatest, and hence not one I chose to post, I constantly find myself thinking about Lost. Sometimes it’s because of the mysteries the show left unsolved — were we supposed to learn more about that giant foot? What happened in the mental hospital? Did Hurley actually eat the entire tub of ranch?

But really, my mind always comes back to Lost in a different sense, usually one that relates to dating. Every week Lost would end and there was a vague teaser of the next episode. That little bit had you glued to the TV most of the time, especially as the seasons got shorter and every episode started to leave viewers with more questions than answers. You had to know what happened next.

There is another example of this in romance. In One Thousand and One Nights, the king in the story framing the narrative kills every new wife after bedding them once. However, the narrator, Scheherazade, knows this before marrying the king and decides to keep herself alive by telling him part of a story on their wedding night. She doesn’t finish the story, leaving him curious, and he keeps her alive as she does this night after night.

Most of us are not trying to stop our deaths after being romantic with one another. However, I have found in my time that nothing sets up a great romance quite like planting seeds of what’s coming next. This was especially helpful in the year I spent largely beginning my relationships over Skype. Whether it was getting excited for the party we’d go to, the trip to Texas they’d make, or even just a simple dream of spending the day on Coney Island or a mystery date, it gave us an experience to look forward to together. And when those dates were done, I’d already planted the seeds for the next one, only to leave us craving more good times.

This can be a little dangerous — how do you keep building that momentum after so long? But at the same time, I believe the bigger danger is planting nothing, and letting a relationship fizzle as you question what to ask the person to do next. At a certain point it’s less necessary, but nothing begins a good relationship like exciting adventures that you pine for right after the last one.


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.


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.


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.


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.