JBlog®

Nature vs. Nurture

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships,Single Life

I studied “Nature vs. Nurture” a lot in college and debated what is biological, or not. One of the topics we never discussed, but I think about a lot lately, is if we are destined to become the same husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, that our own parents were. After all, they are generally the only role models we have as to what that looks like. If you are conscientious enough, then you may see a trait you didn’t like in your parent as a spouse or mother/father, and decide to try very hard not to become that way, or alternatively, admire a trait and choose to emulate it.

As singles who are dating and hoping to become someone’s partner, we have our own parents’ relationship as an example of a relationship dynamic… and even if we don’t agree with it, we will likely have a difficult time combatting it because it’s all we really know — that’s nature. Each relationship you yourself have can help you grow as a partner and shape you to become the husband or wife you want to be — that’s nurture. But nature still lingers.

If a man was raised in home where his parents had stereotypical gender roles, even if he wants a modern woman, he may have a difficult time adjusting his expectations. If a woman was raised in a female-centric home where Mom ruled the roost, then she may have a difficult time sharing power, even if she wants an egalitarian household.

But, it’s not impossible to combine the two. Ensuring you have a solid foundation will help as you grow together as a couple; and truly trusting each other will allow you to communicate openly without feeling criticized for traits you may have not even known you had or had not realized were undesirable.


First Impressions: Fixing a Bad One

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

When you’re actively dating you know that first impressions are incredibly important. I’ve mentioned body language — and when it comes to first impressions that means greeting your date with a big, genuine smile with your head held high and your shoulders relaxed with your arms at your side or clasped in front of you. Introducing yourself without the positive body language listed above is basically starting a date in a negative manner; which will only force you to work a bit harder to fix things.

The best way to fix this initial snafu is to be honest and say, “Sorry, I’m nervous, but I’m really happy to meet you and look forward to drinks/dinner/etc. together.” Honesty about having anticipation about the date is endearing.

If it’s your words that may have turned off your date, then apply the same solution: excuse your behavior by explaining it away. If you had a bad day at work before the date, or if there’s drama with a good friend, or a sick family member, then simply explain why you’re not being yourself and promise your date that you’ll shake it off (better yet, call a friend on the way to the date to vent about whatever is bothering you so that it’s out of your system before the date). Again, being honest about why you’re “off” and possibly made a bad first impression is the best way to reel things back in. But, then you have to make good with your promise to be positive (which hopefully means being yourself!).

Recover, own it, and get back in the date before it’s too late!


Differing Expectations

by Caryn Alper under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating,Relationships

I once read that there is a small but noticeable spike in breakups shortly following Valentine’s Day.  Initially, I thought perhaps people were waiting until after Feb. 14 to break things off so they wouldn’t have to be alone on the “holiday.”  But, then I wondered if the timing of these breakups occurred because of residual disappointment. Maybe he forgot to acknowledge the day, but you really wanted him to send you flowers at work. Or maybe he made reservations at an expensive restaurant, but you’re much more comfortable cooking at home.  Particularly in the very early stages of dating, these non-reciprocal expectations (NRE, as the professionals – or really just I – call it) can destroy budding relationships!

Valentine’s Day might be a relatively insignificant example of how non-reciprocal expectations can result in disappointment… or worse.  I’m sure we have all fallen victim to other examples of an NRE-scenario in some way or another:  you paid for dinner and expected a kiss, but she gave you a cold hand shake; you thought he would meet your parents on his day off, but he expected to go out of town, etc.  It sure is disappointing! But why does this happen? Where do expectations come from?

Well, not to get all Freudian, but we form a lot of these expectations in childhood.  Our family of origin, the environment we live in, our own personal experiences – all of these start forming our outlook on the world from a young age, and through trial and error, we learn to harbor certain beliefs and expectations in certain situations.

Because we learn how to develop expectations from a pretty deeply rooted and personal place, it can be jarring to manage your expectations to mesh with someone else’s.  This is true in any relationship, but especially in romantic relationships, which focus on pleasing the other person.  Say you start sending messages back and forth with a seemingly normal guy. You expect that he should ask you out after four messages. You then grow disappointed when he doesn’t do just that. Or, say after several good dates with someone, you expect that she should remove her profile from JDate… but she hasn’t, and you’re concerned.  So what’s a JDater to do?

Other than erasing all expectations from your brain and entering every new situation with a completely blank mental slate, there’s a relatively simple way to identify someone else’s expectations before it’s too late. I’m talking about a radical solution here… you could communicate! You know, like actually talk to the other person and explain what you’re thinking.  I am not saying you should present a list of demands, nor am I suggesting that you remove all spontaneity from your dating life.  And do not verbalize that you expect mediocre conversation and a tentative goodnight kiss. However, do communicate your hopes and intentions!

To help our aforementioned friends in the example above, a simple, “Hey, I think we seem to get along pretty well… want to meet up in person?” or “You know, I enjoy dating you and am not interested in meeting other people – how do you feel?” A simple question or two should do the trick.  Put your expectations and thoughts out there… in the open!  The worst that can happen is that the other person has an incompatible or unreasonable expectation with which you can’t compromise, and you reach an impasse.  But if that’s the case, I expect that relationship to fail, anyway.

 


Social Media Standoff

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

It’s not realistic to assume that you aren’t going to Google a date before meeting them, try to find them on Facebook, or even check their LinkedIn profile. On one hand it is smart to try and confirm certain details to make sure your date is being honest about major items (age, career, school, marital status), and perhaps even to see if you have mutual friends who could possibly vouch for them (not now, later!). On the other hand, however, it’s not always smart. By meeting someone on JDate you are already learning so much about them, and then by doing an online search you are now learning more than they have provided.

The meme above is not too far off… what if you were to slip up and mention those mutual friends? That would make it obvious that you checked your date out on Facebook. Or, if you were to ask why it took five years to graduate undergrad when they never mentioned that? It’s an easy alumni association search. Or what if you asked about their attendance at an event that saw on their newsfeed? Way too much information can be discovered before it’s time.

Some mystery is important — that doesn’t mean lying or omitting information — and if you spend too much time social media stalking before getting to know each other then you will ruin the excitement of uncovering commonalities. That’s the fun part of dating!


Your Preference Setting Your “Preferences”

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

A lot of people ask me how to use “Preferences” and “My Ideal Match” on JDate. Should they answer the questions as broad as possible and then narrow it down from there based on level of importance? Or, should they answer as strict and narrow as possible — in essence creating their idealized, perfect (unrealistic?) match — and then broaden the areas of least importance?

It looks like this:

Scenario #1 — The Broad Answer (ie. casting a wide net)

  • location: with 100 miles
  • age range: 5 years younger, 10 years older
  • marital status: single or divorced
  • kids: has/wants/any
  • education: BA and above
  • religion: all except Orthodox options
  • smoking: no
  • drinking: yes
  • height: 5’10+
  • body style: any
  • activity level: any
  • kosher: no or to some extent
  • willing to relocate: maybe

Scenario #2 — The Strict Answer (ie. your perfect vision)

  • location: within 25 miles
  • age range: 1 year younger, 4 years older
  • marital status: single
  • kids: wants
  • education: MA/JD/PhD
  • religion: Conservative
  • smoking: no
  • drinking: socially
  • height: 6’+
  • body style: athletic/fit
  • activity level: active and above
  • kosher: no
  • willing to relocate: no

In the 1st scenario you would get a huge return with possibly 100s of prospects to sift through. In the 2nd scenario you may get just one pageful, which is maybe a dozen prospects to choose from (if any). In order to eliminate the ones in scenario #1 you would begin narrowing down location to 50 miles, then age to a 10-year range, then being more specific about activity level and/or body type. In order to see more options in scenario #2 you would broaden the mileage to 50 miles, expand the age range to a 10-year spread, include those who have a college degree (even if it’s not higher education), and be open to someone with a few extra pounds to lose.

Is there a right way or a wrong way? No, not necessarily. In fact, I think you should try both ways. First make your own list of what your ideal is and then what you would compromise on. Does someone truly need to be 6′ tall or would 5’11 suffice? If you keep kosher then that would probably not be one that you would be willing to negotiate on. Once you’ve made your two lists, plug one in first, then the other, and see what your results are. Based on which appeals to you more, use that approach and then start your narrowing or broadening. Remember, relationships are a lot about compromise so this is good practice for later!


Express Yourself

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

Your body language communicates more than your actual words… by A LOT! 55% vs 7% to be exact, with the remaining 38% of communication coming from your tone of voice. (When people say that more than 90% of communication is nonverbal, that could be referring to the math of 55+38=93%.)  So, what does this mean when you’re dating? It means you need to be cognizant of how you’re sitting or standing, your facial expression and what kinds of looks you’re giving, as well as how you’re saying what you’re saying.

If you don’t want the person you’re speaking with to automatically go on the defensive when you say something that could be perceived as offensive, or something that could easily be taken the wrong way, then make sure your arms aren’t crossed across your chest or placed on your hips. Make eye contact and smile so that your eyes give off warmth. Take a few deep breaths before you start speaking and relax your shoulders.

And while you’re at it — think twice about what you’re saying, does it even need to be said? By the way, these tips are also good for giving off an approachable vibe when you’re looking to attract others!


Ode to Love Poems

by Caryn Alper under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

Shakespearean sonnets, sad country songs, even the clichéd wisdom of a Hallmark card… the written word of Valentine’s Day is alive and well as we count down to the dreaded date. As a dating blogger, I feel the pressure to give serious advice intended to land you a date for February 14, or how to survive the day as a single person, or how to acknowledge the day if you just started seeing someone.  But instead, I’m inviting you, the readers of JBlog, to be my Valentine.  Unfortunately, I can’t shower you with flowers and candy through the internet, but I can write you some poems to mark the occasion.  Who doesn’t love celebratory limericks and haikus?

 

He’s just not that into you

If he doesn’t call after date number two.

Don’t send him a text;

Just go on to the next

And log on to find your next Jew!

 

Had a great first date

Valentine’s Day is this week

Too soon for flowers?

__

A new message arrived just for me,

Looks like my dream man – could it be?

He’s tall and he’s funny,

He makes lots of money!

Oh wait, he’s not even 23!

__

Single on V-Day?

Don’t want to go to the bars?

Stay home with Netflix!

___

Why is it always so

That we tend to like those we don’t know?

But when seen up close

The unknown becomes gross!

So enjoy whom you’re with, head to toe.


Dating With One Foot Out the Door

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

No, this post is not about going on a bad date — in fact, it’s about going on a good date when you know you’re about to move.

When you have one foot out the door of the city you live in, and are proactively looking to move, then why bother dating in your current city? Would you change your plans if you were to meet someone? If the answer to that question is no, then I suggest waiting until you know where — and when — you’re going to move, and then switching your account to that city with the tagline “I’ll be moving to _______ soon and am looking forward to meeting new people!”

It’s not fair to your dates in your current city to consider you as a serious prospect when you are on the verge of moving away. It’s not fair to yourself, either. This is a good time to do some introspection as you prepare to embark on this new chapter. And while you’re at it, take some time to update your profile to reflect what you want for yourself as you move forward in life.


Valentine’s Day — Why Wait?

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Online Dating,Relationships

Valentine’s Day… that Hallmark holiday where EVERYTHING is overpriced and the pressure behind doing something takes away from the effort put in. That said, you can’t NOT do something, right? But, why wait? Make your significant other feel special all the time, and then it won’t feel so forced on February 14th. Try these ideas for something to do!

In the meantime, if you are entering into a new relationship and V-Day is approaching far too quickly for the sentimentality… then talk about it to diffuse the pressure that is likely building between the two of you. Just simply say: “I know Valentine’s Day is coming up, and since we just recently started dating I would like to do something, but I also don’t want to make it into too big of a deal since it is so early on…” and then discuss some ideas together.

Once you’ve made plans together think of something small you each can do to surprise the other — whether that’s having flowers delivered to her office sometime next week or buying that new fitted ballcap from his favorite sports team. Put in a little extra effort to show the other person that they are appreciated and that you are excited to see what the future holds!


When Should You Tell Your Story?

by Tamar Caspi under Entertainment,Relationships,Single Life

A few weeks ago I wrote about telling “your story” and getting rid of the term “baggage.” And now I’m watching one of my guilty pleasures, The Bachelor, where one of the girls is proudly telling “her story.”

Chris and Kelsey

Chris and Kelsey from ABC’s The Bachelor

Kelsey is one of 11 women left on the show vying for farmer Chris’ love and attention. She also happens to have become a widow at the sad, young age of 26 when her husband died of heart failure. This is definitely a big part of who she is right now, just 18 months after the fact, but she technically doesn’t know Chris very well yet and, in fact, hadn’t even been on a 1-on-1 date yet. So, she sneaks away from the rest of the girls and goes to Chris’ room and tells him her story… then they embrace… and then they kiss for the first time… just seconds after she finishes discussing how the love of her life collapsed and died on a sidewalk a block from their home. Then she stares into a camera during an “ITM” (In The Moment) interview with Bachelor producers where she says: “Isn’t my story amazing? It’s tragic but amazing. I love my story.”

Nnnnnoooooooot exactly what I was referring to when I said to embrace your past and honor who it has made you today.

It was correct of Kelsey to tell Chris her story, however, how she did it was wrong. She was telling Chris her story to elicit pity from him and to draw him closer to her.

It is disrespectful to use your story for anything other than allowing someone to get to know you better, sharing about your journey, and explaining how it has made you who you are today. It’s also about timing. A first date isn’t the time to share your story; I’ve said it before but clearly it bears repeating. If you haven’t shared your story on a 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th date — and you can feel the date slipping away from you, then keep your story to yourself, it’s not your lifeline. You don’t want to engage a date by sharing your story, especially if it’s not going well.

But, if you’ve been on a few dates and things are going well, and you want to take it to the next level, then it’s time to open up. The only way to get closer and to bond is to let your walls down and share your story.