JBlog®

Facing Your Fears (A Guest Post by Richard Stayman)

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Relationships

Last month, I went to Israel. It was the first country I’ve visited outside the U.S. For the week leading up to the trip, I was incredibly nervous. Not only was it right around the time when the current conflict got heated, but I was also scared about other people on the trip not liking me — a feeling I haven’t experienced in years.

As an adult, I’m usually not self-conscious, but for some reason I was falling back into old habits from childhood. I went on the trip with my best friend, which oddly enough made me even more nervous. When I finally arrived in Israel, I had to face my fear of meeting 40 new people, and when I did, I became instant friends with everyone.

This experience led me to discover that if you and the person/people you’re meeting are all Jewish, you never have to worry about making friends. No matter how strong your social skills, it is significantly easier to make friends with a group of Jews than any other situation. Why? Because we all share that common bond of being in the minority, and being Jews. No matter your observance, if you are comfortable with yourself as a Jew, you can be comfortable with any other Jewish person you encounter.

So next time you find yourself nervous at a Jewish event, just remember: you are all from the same people, and already share a common bond. Start with that and see where it goes!

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Find Your Relationship Balance

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

Everyone is different; we were all raised differently, and prefer a different type of balance in our relationships. Some people want equality, whereas others prefer to let the woman run the show, and still others want men to wear the pants in the family. For many this is due to what their parents relationship looked like growing up. Even if you didn’t like your parent’s balance, it is difficult to break the cycle. Some of it is cultural, some of it is considered old school, and a lot of today’s egalitarian relationships are attributed to modern times with women working outside the home and earning as much as, or more, than their counterparts.

Every relationship is different, and how your relationship is balanced shouldn’t be of anyone else’s concern as long as you are happy with it. That said, you might find yourself in a male-dominated relationship and be perfectly content to move on to a more egalitarian balance in your next relationship. Each relationship balance is going to be different. All that matters is that you feel happy and respected in yours!


Complicated Relationships

by Haley Plotnik under Relationships,Single Life

I was recently asked out by an intelligent, passionate guy who said he wanted to take things slowly at first. Sounds great, right?

Wrong. He also mentioned he was flexible about relationships. What he meant by that is that he is having sex with a married pregnant woman whose husband is also seeing other women. He assured me he was not the father. What was I supposed to do, jump for joy that he isn’t the biological father?

I just want something old-fashioned. I don’t want four people in my relationship. Two people can be complicated enough without trying to deal with the dynamics of other people’s emotions and problems. I don’t find open relationships or open marriages appealing at all… I don’t even get the point of being married in that case. Call me judgmental, but isn’t having sex with others against marriage vows?!? I can imagine my grandmother saying, “In my day, we called that infidelity.” Monogamous relationships are hard enough as it is.


Can Friends with Benefits Turn Into a Serious Relationship?

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

Many singles have special friends when they’re between relationships. Sometimes those special friends started out as dates that didn’t have a real future. Other times those special friends started out as “just friends” and then turned into something more. Either way, what happens when you start to really like the person who you aren’t supposed to have emotions towards? Can a relationship based only on sex become one of substance?

Sometimes, yes. Other times, no.

First, try to get out of the bedroom and go grab a meal. Treat it like a date! See if you can hang out and maintain a conversation. And take a risk by mentioning that you’re interested in seeing if the special friendship could become more.What do you have to lose? Absolutely nothing!


Why Not Now?

by Haley Plotnik under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

At the beginning of the summer, I set my mind on becoming well read. Six books later, I’m feeling proud of sticking to that goal, and I’m even happier that it did not require me to drop any of my other ongoing goals. If you want to play a new instrument or learn to surf, I say go for it. Reaching for something reasonably within grasp and meeting a goal is a huge confidence booster.

If your goals are interpersonal, it’s a bit harder to just jump in, but it’s equally important to have measurable successes. Maybe you want to start going on more dates after a long dry spell. I always like to make goals quantifiable, but that’s just the engineer in me talking. Maybe you want to make more friends or go to temple more regularly. Goals are great, but they’re not as helpful tucked away on a shelf for later.

Someone who I’m close to (who hates unsolicited advice) mentioned they think they are going to “be alone forever.” How is she supposed to make progress toward her goal of having better relationships if she’s so negative from the get go? She hasn’t even tried to date since her relationship ended nearly three years ago.

Two small things I want to tell her:

  1. Attitude is HUGE! It’s maybe the most pivotal component to success.
  2. Why not now? Why not today? Your happiness may depend on it.

It doesn’t have to be a relationship. I’m sure she has other aspirations. You probably do too. Building your skills or trying something new may give you a funny new story to tell on a date, or may even make you a richer, happier person. There’s no harm in trying, in or out of the dating arena. You have nothing to lose, and only something to gain when you go for it.


Poly-dating Dilemma

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

Recently, a friend called me with a question and gave me permission to share his story:

“Ryan” is poly-dating (as I recommend) and is in the early stages of dating “Rebecca,” whom he met on JDate, and also communicating with “Rachel,” a woman he recently connected with on JDate as well. Ryan and Rachel have been trading instant messages, emails, texts, and chatting on the phone — all before their first date. Ryan and Rebecca, on the other hand, have spent time in person, talking until the wee hours of the morning and sharing a few kisses on a few occasions now.

Ryan knows that poly-dating is a smart idea so he doesn’t get too serious about any girl too quickly… but things with Rebecca are progressing naturally and he already really likes her. Now he feels guilty about his upcoming date with Rachel, and he also likes Rachel and feels guilty that he’s spent so much time getting to know her and building up expectations. Should he go out with her?

Interestingly, in this case, I said no, he shouldn’t. He has already spent time with Rebecca and likes her, and wouldn’t be giving Rachel a fair shake because he would be distracted by feeling he’s betraying Rebecca. As unfair as it is to Rachel, his communicating with her while dating Rebecca was the poly-dating that kept a good pace for their relationship to unfold. Now he can commit to dating only Rebecca and see where it leads. Meanwhile, he should be honest with Rachel and let her know that he met someone else and wants to see where it goes out of respect for her and his new relationship. He should end the conversation with a compliment, of course, noting how great he thinks she is since it was only timing that prevented them from exploring more, and nothing personal about her.

Side note: this is another example of why too much communicating before a first date is not beneficial and, in fact, is detrimental by creating unrealistic expectations.


Looking Up

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Relationships,Single Life

As I started to write this post, I began by doing a “control-f” across the word document where I keep my blog entries. I was searching for the phrase “negativity” and it came up with zero results. I was pleased to see I’d never used it… until now.

This would be an easy week for me to be somewhat negative. I’m out of a job at the moment, I don’t know what my apartment situation is for the next month, and life just seems to be coming at me quickly. Add in Robin Williams’ death and the growing crisis in the Middle East, plus our rainy weather in the northeast this week, and life can seem pretty daunting.

That being said, I couldn’t be happier. I’ve found what I was looking for in New York: an amazing girlfriend, a job I loved throughout the summer (and hope to be going back to once a position is ready), and a great life in the city where I’ve always wanted to live. It’s so easy to get swept up in the details, or to worry about the little things, but I have two beliefs that keep me from worrying:

  1. One is my belief that with enough action and little enough worry, things tend to work themselves out. For example, I applied to two hundred different companies in New York. After three months, the very first company I applied to wrote me and I received the interview invitation after my favorite “no-worry-time-Shabbat.” Life definitely warrants concerning yourself over things, but action without panic has been an approach that has helped me breathe easier.
  2. The second trick to my happiness (which is not always constant, don’t get me wrong) is having a vision of the future that keeps me secure. I’ve become very close with my girlfriend in terms of how often we see each other, and it worried me a bit that we’ll be spending a good chunk of the next two weeks apart, but it helps me to think about reuniting in two weeks and how happy I’ll be then. An eye on the future, without losing your enjoyment of the present, is very important.

Sometimes it can all look rough. And I may even be writing this to avoid more job application work from a Dunkin’ Donuts window seat. But, you never know what’s going to happen next — and that’s the beautiful thing about life. So good luck this week, I hope your dating life surprises you!


Timeline to Fall in Love

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

A couple of my friends have recently asked my opinion about their respective relationships, which are all in the same general phase: things were moving along smoothly for several months but both my friends felt they should be emotionally further along than they are. They wonder if they should break-up with their significant other because something is perhaps missing, or if they should continue seeing each other and hope it progresses?

Is there a timeline for when you should be in love?

For one of my friends I supported her decision to break-up with the guy. He already had incredibly strong feelings for her and she was only finding reasons not to fall in love with him. It would be inconsiderate of her to continue dating him because she would be basically leading him on since she didn’t have anywhere near the same feelings.

For my other friend, I supported his decision to stay with his girlfriend and give it more time. Although she felt stronger towards him, she was also aware that he wasn’t in the same place yet. He likes her just fine and is having fun and doesn’t want to put pressure on the relationship to move any faster, and she says she is okay with that. I told him to make sure she wasn’t saying that to him just to placate him because she is hoping he will fall in love with how easygoing she is.

There’s no right time for when you should have the feelings of love, but you do need to know the difference between love and lust, and understand when someone is unfairly feeling far more into you. Don’t waste your time or someone else’s, especially when feelings are involved.


Why Your Choices Matter

by Haley Plotnik under Date Night,Online Dating,Single Life

Every choice we make in life makes a ripple in our life pond. Sometimes an external force throws a stone (or a boulder) into our life pond, making unexpected waves. I am reminded often of how little control I have over my life. But that’s not exactly true either. Yes, I had to get into schools out of state to leave California. And yes, I had to do a lot of sweet-talking to get my parents on board. I didn’t just end up in the Midwest by happenstance. I chose to change the trajectory of my life. I wanted a different experience. I could have easily spent my entire life in Southern California.

You can’t effect external forces, but when you have a chance to have the say in a matter, choose to make a decision. You can’t control if someone else likes you or not, but you do have the opportunity to take a chance and put yourself out there. Not doing anything is a choice of its own, in a way. And if you don’t make a choice, someone else will act for you. Good example: a friend of mine, “Alex,” was pining away over “Mallory.” Alex couldn’t ask her out because he wasn’t sure that Mallory liked him. Well guess what? Neither was the guy who asked her out… but now he’s her boyfriend. But he went for it. While Alex waited and waited for more signs, someone else went in and swooped her up.

Next time you really like someone and are afraid to ask them out, go for it. The worst that happens is you get a no. If you never go for it, you may end up wondering what if? for the foreseeable future. I know I would be wondering what my life would be like if I didn’t go out and forge my own path in the Midwest.


Change Your Profile Picture NOW!

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Online Dating,Single Life

Perusing JDate yesterday for a newly single girlfriend, I searched for profile pictures of men who fit my preferences for her (rather than her narrow preferences for herself, I was trying to see if there was anyone who hadn’t made her cut but was still a great prospect), except, honestly, there was nothing to see! Why? Because I couldn’t actually SEE what any of the men looked like!

One profile after another showed a man from far away, or wearing sunglasses, or wearing a hat, or sharing the space with another person (or featuring an awkward cropping out of another person), or not looking at the camera, or it wasn’t a clear photo, or the person was doing an activity, or (and this may be the worst) it was a selfie! When someone’s corporate headshot is the best photo of the bunch, then we have problems.

Your main profile photo needs to show YOU… and only YOU. This means the top of your shoulders to the top of your head with your handsome, smiling, eyes open, bright face filling the box. Have a friend take photos of you in a relaxed position when you’re in a great mood and carry on a conversation that will make you smile naturally and then snap away. Make sure the photos are in focus, with good lighting, and do not add a filter.

I clicked on very few profiles due to the terrible first impressions. One time I liked a guy’s statistics for my friend, and even though he had a bad profile photo, I clicked out of curiosity and found a great looking guy! But not everyone clicks on every profile or reads the stats first. That is not superficial, it’s the reality of online dating. You need to catch someone’s eye, and quickly, which means you need to have an awesome profile photo (and a unique profile name and eloquent, witty About Me paragraph)!

Read more about creating an effective JDate profile in “How to Woo a Jew: The Modern Jewish Guide to Dating and Mating” in bookstores and online now!