On Gratitude

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

Dating can be pretty emotionally draining. Let’s face it – regardless of your age or gender – there’s a good chance you’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions, from the high of a hopeful new prospect to the low of rejection. Or the excitement of receiving a new message… then the disappointment of realizing the person looks nothing like their picture! With so much emotional whiplash, it’s tough to remain grounded, calm, and hopeful.

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“I am grateful for the sun, my dog, and coffee…”

 

To help focus on the positive and prevent freak-outs, I offer one suggestion (that I, myself, could really take to heart!): Practice gratitude.  To me, gratitude is more than just feeling grateful, although this is a big part of it. But, it also evokes qualities of humility, kindness, and empathy, which are generally attractive to everyone.  And it combats entitlement and unhappiness, which are definite turn-offs! Several studies have shown that practicing gratitude can improve emotional health, your mood, AND your relationships. So it really can’t hurt to try, can it?

 

Here are 3 simple ways to show gratitude:

  1. As Jews, prayer is a major way we can show appreciation. Speak to G-d in whatever language you prefer, from anywhere in the world.  Or go to a synagogue – I’m sure someone saying kaddish would love to have you help make a minyan.  It really doesn’t matter if you know how to daven or not – the point is to pause and appreciate the food on your plate, or the clothes on your back, or the fact that you woke up this morning!
  2. Gain perspective. You might be going through a rough patch, but notice what happens if you start to see the glass as half empty, not half full. Are you feeling jealous or jaded?  Try focusing on really appreciating your friends.  Lacking good friends? Be grateful you have a job. Don’t have a job? Appreciate your good health. In poor health?  Be grateful for being alive! No matter what’s going on, things could be worse.
  3. Appreciate others. Tell someone why you are grateful for his or her friendship. Give your date a specific compliment that’s not about her looks. Let your new boyfriend know specific reasons why you’re grateful for his company.  This might win you some new friends, but it will make you feel good about yourself, too.

 

If I were to read this post after just getting dumped, I’d probably roll my eyes and dump a bowl of ice cream on my head because it’s really hard to feel grateful when you’re in a bad mood.  But, that’s exactly the time when you need the benefits of gratitude the most.  If you practice gratitude all the time, it will become second nature and you’ll be able to more easily apply these strategies when you’re feeling down and out.  And no matter what you’re feeling, consistently expressing gratitude will help you to stay positive in the dating process, gain some perspective, and exude a positive, open vibe.


Are You Mature?

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

Let’s discuss something that’s been on my mind lately.  I don’t want to scare anyone away, but I’m talking about the M word… and it’s not marriage or money – it’s maturity! In the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Relationships” (which I just made up while writing this post), I’ve self-diagnosed several instances of what I’ll call Non-Syncing Maturity Levels (NSML).

More on NSML in a minute, but first, a few defining features of this unfortunate malady. When I say someone is mature, I mean he or she possesses a set of skills such as the ability to communicate effectively like an adult, to not be overly judgmental or heavily influenced by peer pressure, to use manners and common sense appropriately, and to see the world realistically and practically – basically, skills that teenagers tend to lack but are typically solidified in those with more experience.  In my opinion, maturity has very little to do with money, interests, looks, career, or personality – it’s more of a quality that you pick up on while getting to know someone.  A person can love comic books and laugh at the Three Stooges but be pretty mature (hey, Dad!).  Conversely, you can own a house, car, fancy clothes, nice job, have a great education, and still spend years texting girls “hey, wuts up” at 10pm.  Additionally, a person can be mature and also fun, spontaneous, and creative; similarly, one can be intelligent, reliable, and get drunk every night while refusing to learn how to pay bills.

Here’s my point:  I don’t care what level of maturity you have.  I’m not ascribing any qualitative judgment to any particular level on the maturity ladder. You could be in a committed, fulfilling relationship with someone who, by my definition, is pretty immature.  But, the problem of NSML occurs when you are on one rung of this metaphorical ladder and the person you are interested in, dating, or committed to is on another.

So, Caryn, you may ask, how can I avoid the frustration associated with NSML? Well, there are no guarantees, but it’s as simple as first figuring out where you are (or want to be) on the maturity ladder.  Then, seek out dating partners on the same or nearby rungs.  To identify your level, ask yourself questions like: “Do I frequently throw temper tantrums in public?” or “Am I capable of making everyday decisions without relying on the opinion of my Twitter followers?”  As far as I know, there is no current search function on JDate to narrow your matches by maturity; however, I think this is something that you can feel out in a few dates. So if you’re a 45-year old guy reliving his frat boy days, you may want to think twice about messaging the girl who loves Emily Post. However, if you find that girl who loves Tucker Max, well, I hope they serve beer at your wedding.


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.


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?


To Get What You Want, Make a List

by Haley Plotnik under Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

I love lists. They’re so handy! When it comes to dating, I have 4 lists I refer to, which are grouped under the heading: “What I Want in Another Human Being.” No need to be hetero-normative, right?

These 4 lists include various traits pertaining to human characteristics I like and dislike in other humans. The 4 lists are:

  1. Musts
  2. Wants
  3. Deal Breakers
  4. Price of Admission

If someone is missing a Must, I can’t accept a date with him in good conscience. He’s  missing something I consider fundamental.

If someone is missing a number of Wants, I may still accept a date, but he is already high on my red flag watch.

A Deal Breaker is just that. I don’t bother wasting my time when it’s clear someone possesses one or more of these traits.

The least obvious is the Price of Admission category. To discover these, you most likely will have to accept a date or two. They are personality quirks or lifestyle behaviors that you aren’t hugely attracted to, but that you’re willing to put up with on a case-by-case basis. Basically, if someone is awesome but has a random drawback that kind of rubs you the wrong way, you need to decide if it’s a Deal Breaker or a Price of Admission. If you think a movie looks like a winner, you pay the Price of Admission, right? If you think it doesn’t look so great, you may pass or wait until you can stream it for free.

How do you categorize your priorities? Mine are listed in an excel sheet. Go figure. Analytical Haley strikes again!


Playing Cat & Mouse

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

There are some profiles on JDate I’ve viewed five or more times. It’s not because I’m in love with the profile, or even that it’s more remarkable than all others. It also doesn’t necessarily mean I am romantically interested in the person. I have a predicament I call “profile overexposure.”

Here’s how “profile overexposure” works: At some point, I view someone’s profile. The person views me back. Then… nothing. Sometimes I will re-click on their profile, forgetting I’d already looked a month back. I call this “playing cat and mouse.” There are so many profiles out there and so much to look at. How can anyone possibly remember the important details without having a spreadsheet or taking notes? I sometimes consider devising a system for this issue, but I then convince myself it isn’t worth my time.

My frustration with this “Cat and Mouse” phenomenon sometimes leads me to accept dates with non-Jewish men. Non-Jewish men take more interest in me than Jewish men for reasons I cannot fathom. Perhaps it’s because I don’t look “that Jewish” (according to many of my peers). Regardless, I accepted a date with a guy I’ll call “Chris.” Chris and I had a great initial interaction. No major butterflies, but we’re both engineers, and we had a lot to chat about… until he asked me what I had done earlier in my weekend. I mentioned I had been to synagogue for Friday night services. He knew I was Jewish when he accepted the date, but it appears he found me to be too Jewish. If you’ve seen my previous post on not being Jewish enough, you can imagine my delight when someone found me to be “too Jewish!”

The conversation took an odd turn when he realized I partake in Judaism, rather than just wearing it as a cultural badge of honor. He then admitted he “didn’t really like Jewish food,” and I could see him sizing me up against stereotypical Jewish “boxes.” He outwardly compared me to some of the most typical ones: nose, hair texture, and athletic ability.

People ask me why I go on so many first dates. To be truthful, it can get very tiresome. Chris said he was “nonreligious,” but when push came to shove, I sensed his discomfort and misunderstanding of Judaism. He tentatively asked, “Isn’t every child born to a Jewish woman automatically Jewish?” He was clearly not okay having a Jewish child. At that, I was ready for another round of “Cat and Mouse” on JDate.


Why I Cried During The Zombie Movie

by Aaron under Judaism,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

Before I was on this blog as a narcissistic storyteller every week, I was struggling with my dating life quite a bit. Break-ups were especially hard for me when they hit; I had a tendency to over-invest in relationships that were probably less real than I thought them to be.

One such afternoon comes to mind, and that is when I popped in a DVD I’d rented from Netflix called Warm Bodies. Now, this movie is literally a movie about a braindead zombie following a guy around for 80 minutes. That’s the entire movie. Somehow, in my shaken up state, I began to see parts of my life over the last few months reflected in the movie: “Wow, the way she stares at him and can’t say anything was just like our romance!” or “The way he shoots a gun at some other zombie for her is just like how we do things here in our Texas romances!”

Some of that is exaggerated, but it actually took me two days to finish this very mundane movie for the fact that I couldn’t keep my mind clear. All I could think about was the girl who had just broken things off with me. And then something changed.

You see, I found the secret to getting over a lot of issues in life, and that is by creating a routine only I have control over. It’s easy (and a little dangerous) for the world to dictate where you go from day to day, whether it’s your job or an overcommitment to someone of the opposite sex. So as I waited for grad school to start and had a month of funemployment last summer (and was freshly back on the dating market), I started doing things. I started taking more of an active interest in my Judaism by learning Talmud, putting on tefillin every day, and keeping Shabbat as to have a pattern in my life that kept me calm. That’s not necessarily for everyone, but it worked for me. Similarly, I spent the last five months learning improv a few times a week, and that calmed me like nothing else. It’s all about finding something that works for you.

There’s obviously a balance between living a life out of The Truman Show where you’re saying, “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!” every single day, and uncontrollably weeping during teen movies. But if you’re struggling with finding yourself, take some time to do things that are distinctly for you. What started with tefillin and Shabbat has now become much more (though those are both still present), from writing these blogs to just learning new talents or having dinner every week with a few friends. There’s no easy way to make yourself invulnerable to being hurt, and you really shouldn’t, as vulnerability is a powerful thing in itself. However, you can definitely live a stronger dating life by giving yourself a little consistency. After the zombie incident, the next break-up was a lot easier, and I went right back to wrapping tefillin the next morning.


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?

Love at First JDate: All My Friends Are Engaged

by JenG under Relationships

It may feel as though every time you log onto Facebook, there’s some teary eyed announcement over someone you know getting engaged. The ring is shiny and the champagne is flowing, but there you are. Alone. Single. And upset.

Do: Find it in yourself to be happy for others around you. It will open up a place in your heart where you’ll feel inspired and motivated to go out and date. To meet new people and hopefully find love.

Don’t: Get hung up on seeing others around you get engaged. Love doesn’t have an age limit and you are certainly not behind—no matter your marital status. Focus on living and pushing yourself to try new opportunities and through that meet new people.

Also, check out my newly released eBook: All My Friends Are Engaged on Amazon + iTunes now:
http://www.amazon.com/All-My-Friends-are-Engaged-ebook/dp/B00FX9K3Y6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382049734&sr=8-1&keywords=JEN+GLANTZ


Love at First JDate: Your Picture is Your Worth

by JenG under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating

“You can tell a lot about a girl by her selection of photos from her online dating profile,” he says to me after venting about a recent horrible brunch-date he paid for.
“From that picture, alone, you don’t come off as classy and intelligent as you are,” she (my mom) says to me after browsing through my JDate account and evaluating my personal profile.

They are both right. We often display the photos we believe make us look outstanding, as we’re always told it’s key to make a fast and memorable impression in our online dating profiles. But sometimes those photos don’t represent us correctly, or make us come off like we harbor the personality of someone else, someone who bears no resemblance to who we really are on the inside.

  • Do: Post pictures that are flattering. Upload pictures that represent you at your best and that are true to your darling personality. Use pictures your mother would be overcome with glee to post on her refrigerator.
  • Don’t: Make yourself come off as a party animal, or a half-dressed floozy, if you’re not at all like that. Though you may think you’re sending a “cool” vibe, you may be turning off the “right” people.

Read more Jen Glantz, here: www.thethingsilearnedfrom.com