Picking Wrong

by Haley Plotnik under Judaism,Relationships,Single Life

Two years ago, when I was at one of the lowest points in my entire life, I started a relationship with a man I’ll call “Ted.” Ted was a good guy in a lot of ways, but he also had a dark side. He wouldn’t ever let me see him in his darkest state. The longer we were together, the more I was scared to break up with him for fear that he wouldn’t be able to handle it. After 9 months together, he told me that he didn’t think we’d last for the long-term. So I said, “Fine. Let’s break up.” I was so relieved he’d been the instigator, even if I swung the axe. Two weeks later, he begged me to take him back, but I couldn’t. As he wallowed in his poor choices, I started feeling more confident in my choices than I’d felt in a long time.

I am historically bad at picking suitable guys to date. About a month after Ted and I broke up, I decided to get a little help picking out men from the peanut gallery. I let people set me up left and right. Most of the time I would rule out guys after the first date for one reason or another, but every now and then, I’d find someone who seemed like a potential keeper. Right when I would start to doubt the new relationship, Ted would contact me. It was like he had a super power. I’d feel guilty, and then I’d shoot my budding relationship in the foot.

I made myself a promise when I broke up with Ted that I would only date someone with better qualifications. I wanted someone who stood head and shoulders above the previous guys I’ve dated, not a repeat of the same old thing.

Fast forward to now: Ted and I have been broken up for 15th months. I’ve dated quite a few guys, only to land on the conclusion that I’ve been somewhat wrong. I fundamentally believe I deserve better treatment than I’ve had in the past. However, the traits I’ve associated with such treatment are totally oversimplified. I guess I thought that dating Jewish would help alleviate some of the alienation I’ve experienced in past relationships. It really hasn’t. I feel more alienated at times, just in ways I’d hadn’t anticipated. I date Jews and non-Jews at current. With Jews I don’t have to subtly screen for anti-Semitism, but I’m not willing to bet all of my chips on Jews just yet either; limiting my opportunities to find happiness with <1% of the US population of males feels about as risky as placing a $5,000 blind bet on a poker hand. What do you think? Am I playing the odds… or I am playing it too safe?


Just How Jewish Are You? And Not Feeling Jewish Enough…

by Haley Plotnik under JBloggers,Judaism

I’ve spent too much of my life feeling like an inferior Jew. First of all, it’s hard enough to define one’s Judaism. When I was asked what type of Jew I was in the past, I’d answer “I was raised Reform,” or “I’m culturally Jewish.” Now I sometimes say I’m “Con-form” or “Refervative.” The only reason I won’t commit to Conservative is because I want to join a synagogue that acknowledges the importance of gender equity.

When I was a growing up, I played with Barbie dolls and Thomas the Tank engine play sets. My engineering school has a male-heavy environment, and I’ve faced a lot of disrespectful comments and gender discrimination during my engineering education and various internships in engineering roles. From “You must be my new secretary!” to words too offensive to post online, I face gender-based discrimination more often than anyone should have to. Sometimes I wonder how Orthodox women do it. I had jobs that required wearing pants, and I wonder what would happen if I were strictly following Halakha. Which brings me back to the topic of not being Jewish enough.

The following things make me feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of aspects of Judaism that a lot of young Jews share:

  1. Going to Jewish sleep away camps (Too old now).
  2. Going to synagogue every week (Not quite ready for this yet).
  3. Having weekly family Shabbat Dinners (Why not start? I may have to find a makeshift family of other rogue Jews).
  4. Going to Jewish day schools (Too old now).
  5. Reading the Torah start to finish (I’m reading Exodus at the moment).
  6. Belonging to a youth group (They have groups for young professionals)!

Maybe I’ve missed out on a lot of Jewish activities, but that doesn’t have any bearing on my future. I was raised in a primarily secular household, but I think I still picked up a lot of core Jewish values. Missing out in my childhood just makes me more motivated to participate as an adult.

Last summer, I lived in one of the least Jewish areas in the United States. When I went to the only Reform synagogue in reasonable driving distance, I met people who felt like family to me from day one. They hugged me when I told them I was coming to say Kaddish for my beloved grandfather; and when I told them I was 2000 miles from any family, they jumped at the opportunity to make me feel welcome.

It can be scary to reach out, especially in a new city, or if you feel like you don’t know much about Judaism. Through my recent exploration, I’ve realized:

  1. I know more about Judaism than I give myself credit for, and you probably do too.
  2. I’ll never feel like I am knowledgeable about Judaism if I don’t put in the effort to learn.
  3. There is always more to learn, regardless of how knowledgeable you think you are.

10 Quirky Facts: A Crash Course on Haley, JDate’s Newest JBlogger

by Haley Plotnik under JBloggers,Relationships,Single Life

Hello JDaters! My name is Haley, and I am excited to share my experiences as a young, single, Jewish woman navigating the dating scene with you. As a lover of lists, I’ll dive right in.

  1. I’m about to finish my B.S. in chemical engineering. It is NOT an easy major, but I like a challenge.
  2. I love cooking myself a healthy dinner every night. I’m a big fan of veggies, and I’m a little bit obsessed with experimental Crock Pot cooking.
  3. I’m a cardio enthusiast. I started running 5Ks in November 2013.
  4. I really want a pet (once I stop moving every 3 to 9 months and I can afford vet bills).
  5. My Bat Mitzvah was just under 10 years ago. This my subtle way of telling you how old I am.
  6. I am a practical person and a minimalist. There are 0 articles of clothing on my floor, and I’m currently packing up to move.
  7. I am trying to live in as many places as possible before I pick a place to live permanently.
  8. I live 2000 miles away from my nuclear family.
  9. I am the youngest in my family, but I am by NO means spoiled.
  10. I’ve been single for over a year. I’m a relationship type of girl, but I’m not wallowing in my singleness by any means. For me, being single is a time to reflect on what is important to me.  I think a lot about how I can move forward into more successful future endeavors. I try to continually improve myself, and I think it is important that my match has a similar mentality (or I may drive them crazy). Through my dating and relationship experiences over the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about the type of person I want to end up with. My friends keep trying to set me up with “fixer uppers,” but my resolve to only date “marriage-quality” men is strong enough that a 6-pack no longer speaks to me the same way it did when I was 19. Even though marriage is far off for me, I am often reminded that I’m not getting any younger. I appreciate the encouragement, but I am patient. I have several friends tying the knot in the next few months, but I am a firm believer in the “compare and despair” philosophy. Who knows? Maybe my feminist Jewish boyfriend is just around the corner. And maybe he’ll even want to be a stay-at-home dad in the future. A girl can dream, right?

Q & A — About Me

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Online Dating

How do you answer JDate’s questions without sounding repetitive, cheesy, fake or boring? Let me help you craft personal and enticing answers to both the basic and intimate questions.

  • “About Me”

I saved the best — and most important — for last. And I did so for a reason. By now you should have many, if not most of the other questions, out of the way. You have therefore eliminated the need to repeat the same answers in your “About Me” paragraph, making this section waaaaaay too long. You can always write “I love traveling… see below for The Coolest Places I’ve Visited,” but you don’t need to write “Contact me if you are interested in learning more” because you hopefully included that line under “You Should Definitely Message Me If…”

Your “About Me” should start with a basic introduction: “Hi, my name is Tamar and I’m a 33-year-old writer currently living in…” Use your first name only, don’t give too much detail regarding your exact job or specific neighborhood (for safety’s sake), and then continue:

“I’ve been told that I’m (fill in the blank)… and I agree that (fill in the blank)… I’m also a very loyal friend. I’m forgiving to a fault and I’m generous with my time and my heart.”

Include a few simple descriptions of your character and then follow with a few simple descriptions of what kind of person you’re looking for: “I’m looking for someone with strong Jewish morals and values, someone who is looking to have FUN being in love and to LAUGH a lot!”

You can give some more interesting details about yourself which aren’t addressed in other parts of the profile but don’t start a laundry list of things or go off on tangents. “About Me” should be about one paragraph (5 sentences), maybe two at most. Leave information to be shared on a first date since you’ve already revealed so much info as it is. Most first date questions have already been answered via the profile questions so if you reveal much more than you’re going into a first date feeling like you know each other more like a third date except you’ve never met! Slow your roll.

Let a trusted friend or family member read through the “About Me” answer to ensure that your personality comes through. If you’re a comedian then your shpiel should be funny just make sure it’s not coming across like you think JDate is a joke. If you’re serious then that should be the tone, just make sure your shpiel isn’t dull and boring.

This shouldn’t be your work bio, nor should it be too boastful. Have fun, but take this assignment seriously because it is.

 


Writing Wrong

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

Don’t let your ego get the best of you. You may think you have such a great attitude but if you’re turning off prospects then you may be coming across differently than you think. Humble yourself and look at your profile again and your way of communicating to see where you’re being misrepresented. Are you trying to show your confidence and instead coming across as cocky? Are you trying to show how smart you are or how popular you are or how funny you are or how successful you are by exaggerating those attributes? Then you’re probably coming off as overeager or fake or pretentious. Be yourself. If you have to think too much about what you’re writing in your profile then you should probably delete and start over. Once you meet your JDates you’ll be able to let them see for themselves how amazing you are.

I know “be yourself” sounds so cliche, but trying too hard is worse. There is a way to let people know who you are with words on paper (or rather, on screen) without having to actually say “I’m really funny” or “I’m really successful.” Write your In My Own Words in a witty way or discuss how motivated and ambitious you’ve been your entire life.


Monday Makeover: Is It Fate or Timing?

by Tamar Caspi under Monday Makeover,Relationships

Dear Tamar,

I’ve signed up for JDate to put myself out there again to find a partnership that will lead to marriage and children (and hopefully last a lifetime)! I’ve been somewhat active on the site for the past month, and have sent a number of messages to folks, but have not received responses from anyone. That could just be fate, or timing; but I have to also consider the possibility that I’m not presenting myself in an optimal fashion! Please help.

-Is it Fate or Timing?

 

Dear Is it Fate or Timing?,

I’m happy to help. Sometimes not hearing back from a prospect is fate — she just wasn’t meant for you. Other times it is timing — don’t give up. Tweak your profile with my advice and hopefully fate and timing will align. Let’s get started:

  •  Photos:

You’ve got three great pictures, but you could use a 4th one that is also not a professional photo to show consistency and reality. The order is great, keep the candid color photo as your profile photo.

  • In Your Own Words:

In the “About Me” section I would delete your last paragraph. It supplies too much information and yet are all great conversation pieces for the first few dates with someone new.  Under “A Brief History of My Life” I would condense the information and delete the line “back in… for good!” since you also say you are willing to relocate. Maybe something more like: “Born in Northern California and raised in Southern California, I attended UCLA for undergrad and went east for law school in Boston before returning to the best, er, west coast. I love to go back to New England often and even became a loyal Red Sox fan, but Cali is where my heart is.” And with the “What I’m Looking For” section, try to describe the woman you’re looking for using words you won’t read on anyone else’s profile. Maybe try using either the first half or the second half of the paragraph, but both combined is a bit redundant and long-winded.

  • Preferences:

Make sure to answer all the questions, especially if you are “Willing to Relocate.” And I know you want to find a woman to have a family with, but I would increase your maximum age by a few years and for a few reasons. First, you don’t want to come off as misogynistic by capping the age of the women too young even though your intent has to do with fertility and second, you don’t want to eliminate some great women by just one or two years because plenty of women are having children into their 40s.

Hope this helps and good luck!


Real Housewives Of JDate

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

At the beginning of every episode of every city of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” hit series there are one line zingers stated by each woman to introduce herself. Here are a few examples of the Jewish housewives from various cities: NYC’s Aviva “Never underestimate a woman born and raised in New York City;” Orange County’s Heather “I may be married to a plastic surgeon, but I’m ninety-eight per cent real;” and Beverly Hill’s Kyle “I’m not the richest girl in Beverly Hills, but I’m the luckiest.”

What would your line be? It should show your personality, a little attitude, some humor and yet still manage to give some kernel of information about you. Basically, it’s the first line of your profile. It will get the most attention and lure prospects into reading the rest of your profile. Just make sure it comes off charming and not obnoxious!


Being TOO Honest

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

You should (must?) be honest in your profile, but there is such a thing as being TOO honest. If you are truly just a few pounds overweight, just select “athletic build” or “average” and leave it at that. You do not need to address your weight (ie. I just gained 10 lbs because I had a broken foot, I’m usually much thinner), let your photos speak for themselves. If you are a Democrat, you don’t need to discuss in your profile why you would never in a million years date someone who voted for Romney. It may be true, but it’s TMI. If you are 3 credits short of a Master’s degree but haven’t finished yet because of work/health/etc then you make the decision of whether to put BA or MA for what level of education you have, but no one needs to hear the details. Frankly, until someone gets to know you, they don’t care. All that detail does is make someone think that you are high maintenance, dramatic, and just too much to deal with.

Remember KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) if you want a kiss!


Dating Game Shows

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

Summer means watching a lot of silly TV shows. Back in the day, summer meant reruns and TV specials. Now, networks are creating new TV shows – namely, reality shows – for our viewing pleasure. So for research purposes only (smirk) I’ve been watching The Choice and Take Me Out. One is a play on The Voice with 4 single, male celebrities with their backs to the stage where women come out and introduce themselves with a shpiel. The men have a minute to decide if they want to turn around and possibly make her one of their prospects. One minute. On Take Me Out, 30 women get to check out a man and over the course of 3 rounds they get to know him and decide if they want to keep their light on or not and give the man the opportunity to choose from who is left at the end. These 2 shows got me thinking about the time you have on JDate to make your first impression. So you have one minute to make an impression and you have one minute to make a decision. As ridiculous as these shows are, the gist of it is pretty realistic. Impressions and decisions are made that quickly. If you were a woman on The Choice, what would you say to get a man’s attention in the most positive way? If you were a man on Take Me Out, what would you say on your video montage to get the woman to keep their lights on? You want to get their attention but you don’t want to give off the impression that you’re only looking for sex or money or kids, etc. So what would you say? Take that concept and apply it to your JDate profile. Your About Me is your opportunity. Take it seriously and think really hard about how you want to come across to attract your intended.


Smooth-Talking One-Liners

by Tamar Caspi under Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

I’ve written about this before, but the topic of the JDate profile one-liner came up again recently as I was speaking with a few single girlfriends. The one-liner I’m talking about is not the one you hear at the bar, but rather the one which shows up on the computer during your JDate searches. It’s the couple of words which appear next to your photo with your screen name, age and location, particularly when you’re a Spotlight Member. So these words are very important.

One person told me she even would count the number of characters which show up in that one-liner and then crafted the first line of her About Me paragraph to fit in that space. Brilliant! There’s about 60 characters in that line – less than half of a tweet – but it’s enough to say something unique, smooth and attention grabbing. It is not the place to say your name, age or location, since those items are already posted with your photo.

Say something witty, funny, enlightening, eye-catching. Use your words -and letters- wisely. Bounce the idea off of a number of people first, if need be, or even post it on Facebook and ask for feedback. Just make sure it’s not boring or cringe-worthy or an incomplete sentence. It seems like it should be easy, but it’s worth taking the time to develop because it truly is the first words JDaters will read about you.