Mixing Up Your Mileage

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

One of the preferences JDate asks you about is “Located Within” a certain number of miles from your city. If you live in a large city then you can likely select “50 miles” and have many prospects to choose from. If you live in a smaller city or town, then you possibly need to expand your mileage to 100 miles. I strongly suggest you do this, even if you live in a rather large city. A friend of mine in Southern California is engaged to a man in Northern California — which seems far, but is just a short flight away. They make it work, most people wouldn’t have even bothered looking so far away.

On the other hand, if you live in a large city and can’t find anyone worthwhile, perhaps your other preferences are too strict? Are your standards too high? Is there something about you that you could work on to better attract the prospects in your mileage range? You can’t always point the finger at what you consider to be poor prospects, sometimes you have to look at yourself first. Then again, after playing Jewish Geography and finding out that you pretty much know everyone in your immediate area, then you shouldn’t hesitate to extend your parameters and perimeters.


New Experiment

by Haley Plotnik under Date Night,Judaism,Relationships

In the last year, I’ve learned a lot about modesty in Orthodox Judaism. While I don’t follow it, I am finding that I like a lot of the principles behind it. About a month ago, I started covering my body more on a first dates.

Why, you ask? Dating is supposed to be fun, maybe a little bit flirty if you feel chemistry. But first dates in the long run are also about looking for a life partner. I evaluate men based on character, manners, values, and other traits that typically require having an engaging conversation.

Looking presentable and being hygienic are important in that they show effort, but they’re not everything. “Presentable” for women, especially in the summer, doesn’t have to mean “mostly naked.” I am generally more comfortable in my skin when it’s not all on display.

With this in mind, I’ve begun a new experiment. I try to look fashionable, but without showing my thighs, knees, shoulders, or any cleavage. Some guys are more receptive to this than others, but I think it’s become an easier way to dodge a bullet. If a guy seems bored or distracted by me, or he checks out scantily clad women while on a date with me, I can cut my losses and move on. I’ve been in situations before where I was keenly aware that a guy was only interested in me in a physical way. While it can be flattering, it’s not good for my self-esteem in the long-term. I like to be appreciated for my internal qualities, which can easily be overlooked on first dates.

I don’t have any data to prove it, but I think I now get more compliments related to qualities other than my looks on dates. I found them to be a rarity prior to my experiment. I’m also finding it easier to connect with people on a more personal level, and I think I’m going to stick to my new plan indefinitely.


Everyone and No One and Anyone

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Online Dating,Single Life

If everyone is on JDate then how come people complain to me “there’s no one on JDate!” Or, why do they lament about being unable to find anyone on JDate!? The people who make these statements and ask these questions run the gamut, from males to females, old and young, straight and gay, short and tall, and so on.

My answer is always simple: they’re out there, you’re just not looking hard enough. Typically people fall into two categories: they either tend to have their preferences set too narrowly and therefore don’t have a large pool of prospects to choose from and get frustrated by the lack of options — or they have their preferences set way too broadly and have far too many prospects to scroll through, and then get overwhelmed until everyone’s profiles begin to blend together.

In my book, “How to Woo a Jew: The Modern Jewish Guide to Dating and Mating,” I recommend beginning with the former and setting your preferences to your absolute “perfect” idea of a match, and then broadening your options slowly from there. That will allow you time to see who’s out there and what one year of age, or one inch, or one level of education translates to in regards to the number of prospects you find. This will help you easily determine who is new to your search results in a slow and deliberate manner.

Here’s an example from one of my female clients, “Jamie,” age 34, of her ideal match:

  • woman seeking a man
  • age 34-39
  • located within 25 miles of her city
  • marital status: single
  • religion: reform, traditional, culturally Jewish, conservative
  • ethnicity: any
  • smoking: no
  • drinking: socially, on occasion
  • height: 6’0-6’6
  • body style: athletic
  • education: bachelor’s, master’s, JD/PhD
  • kosher: not at all
  • temple: on high holidays, sometimes
  • has kids: no
  • plans on having children: yes
  • custody: any
  • activity level: very active, active, selected activities
  • languages: english
  • willing to relocate: no

After I tweaked Jamie’s profile, we slowly adjusted one category at a time until she had a good number of options without compromising on her preferences too much. With age and height, we adjusted one year and one inch, respectively, at a time. This is how it looks now:

  • woman seeking a man
  • age 33-41
  • located within 50 miles of her city
  • marital status: single, divorced,
  • religion: reform, traditional, culturally Jewish, conservative
  • ethnicity: any
  • smoking: no
  • drinking: socially, on occasion
  • height: 5’10-6’9
  • body style: athletic, lean, firm, muscular, average, proportional
  • education: bachelor’s, master’s, JD/PhD
  • kosher: not at all
  • temple: on high holidays, sometimes
  • has kids: no
  • plans on having children: yes
  • custody: any
  • activity level: very active, active, selected activities
  • languages: english
  • willing to relocate: no

Jamie went from having about 60 prospects, many of which she knew already, to having more than 200 prospects, many of which she had never seen before. Put a little elbow grease into your profile and preferences, and your prospects will increase in quality and quantity!


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!


Schedules & Options

by Haley Plotnik under Judaism,Rabbi

I was talking to a Catholic friend of mine the other day, and she brought up that she had to head out to church. I asked if she goes to the same service every week, and she said something that really resonated with me. “Some people schedule their week around church. They go to the same service every week, and they almost never skip that service. They know when they go they’ll have the experience they’re looking for. Other people just fit in a service when they can. Sometimes it’s every week, sometimes once a month. They’re the types who fit religion around their existing schedule.”

Sometimes I struggle with a balance. Do I go Friday at 8:00 PM? Saturday at 10:00 AM? Do I go every week? What denomination?

Jews aren’t the only people that have this problem, but it’s nice to be in an area where there are choices. Most of my life, my Christian friends have had so many options, they can do a taste test (so to speak) of churches or styles of service they want to attend. This summer, I am grateful that I have options, despite some being less proximal. I’m just lucky that I liked the closest one, which happens to be the first one I tried. I didn’t go this week, but I know that if I want to hear another inspirational message from the rabbi, I’m only a 10-minute drive away.


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.


Searching Systematically

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

Dear Tamar,

What is the best, systematic way to create a profile and search successfully on JDate?

___________________________________________________________________________

Dear Systematic Searcher,

The easy answer? Buy my book, How to Woo a Jew, The Modern Jewish Guide to Dating and Mating.

The more complicated answer? Be honest about your stats (age, education level, height/weight, religious level) first and foremost. Next, choose your preferences in a mate. Start off by selecting your “perfect prospect,” and then broaden the preferences from there.

If you don’t have at least 100 prospects to check out, then your preferences are too narrow, and you need to compromise somewhere regarding what, exactly, you’re looking for. You aren’t going to find someone who encompasses everything, but you can find most things by giving in, bit by bit. Here are a few helpful questions to ask yourself to make sure you aren’t being too strict in any certain area:

  1. How wide is your age range?
  2. Just because you have a PhD does it mean your mate has to as well?
  3. If someone lives within a 25 mile radius, then what’s another 25 miles?

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?

Single Parents Singled Out

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

As you get older you will begin to find more and more single parents popping up in your JDate searches. Just after college and through your 20’s, you probably will prefer not to date someone with a child. For some people it’s because they are just not ready to deal with the commitment that comes with a “package deal” and for others they may simply want to date someone who doesn’t have any “restrictions.” The reasons don’t matter, you have to make the decision for yourself and mark on your profile whether you are willing to date someone with a kid or not, or don’t have a preference.

In your 30’s and 40’s, the number of single parents on JDate rises (and in your 50’s it is even more prevalent). And when those single parents log on to JDate, it is a major bummer to see prospect after prospect choosing the “I don’t want to date someone with children” option. It is what it is and any parent will tell you their child is a blessing — and those failed prospects are the ones missing out. Hopefully, as JDaters get older, they will revise their preferences and realize they are cutting out a huge chunk of great prospects all because they are weary of someone with a child.


Post-It Notes

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Relationships

Take a pad of post-it notes. Write down all of the things you want in a mate on the notes; one item per note. Stick the notes on a mirror, stare at them, think about them. As soon as you realize there is a trait you can live without, take the post-it note off the mirror and throw it away. Keep crumbling up post-it notes and tossing them in the trash like a basketball drill. Take satisfaction from making a basket. OK, now focus back on the mirror. Now that you’ve gotten the post-it notes down to single digits, try to put them in order as to what is most important to you. It may not be 1 thru 9, it could be three-tiered, but prioritize. What traits are you willing to negotiate and compromise on? Pare the notes down as far as possible and then go back and edit your JDate profile to reflect the exercise you just did.

I talk about figuring out what is important to you in a mate often and that’s because it’s not only important, but it’s also an incredibly difficult task. My list had 75 items on it, but once I put it on a spreadsheet and gave the items a numerical value, the few that ended up being worth the maximum of 10 points were the only ones that mattered. You probably aren’t willing to give up chemistry right? Of course not. But at the end of the day, does it really matter if someone is 37 when you didn’t want someone over 35? Nope!