Open Hearts, Open Minds
The story of Eric and Sabrina Appelbaum begins typically enough – searches, profile browsing, IMs, and a blind date. But it ends with a Yorkie puppy named Jeter, a distant star, a traditional Jewish wedding and a baby. Along the way this “typical” couple discovered a few things that may be of help on your own journey towards love…
Despite the fact that nearly a thousand people join every day, Sabrina Appelbaum says that going on JDate was a big step for her. “As amazing as it sounds now, I only did JDate because I went to my younger brother’s wedding, alone,” she recalls. “That’s when I just decided to go for it.” A lot of people are happy she did – Sabrina and her husband, Eric, are a genuine JDate success story. Would you rather be with someone six feet tall who couldn’t make you laugh to save his life, or a guy two inches shorter who turns a trip to the DMV into a romantic memory?
“It’s so much harder to meet people [through traditional dating] these days!” Eric argues. “Like it or not, statistics bear that out. People are waiting longer to marry, concentrating on their careers…”
“To me, JDate was a lot of fun,” Sabrina adds. “It was fun to search, look at profiles, and get excited about the possibilities.”
Eric uses the example of a buddy from work who uses JDate because it’s so much easier to click on someone than hit on them. “I’m not going to get a thousand dates walking into a bar,” Eric recounts his friend saying, while it’s theoretically possible online. And rejection becomes a lot less personal when it comes in the form of an unreturned email rather than an icy look or demeaning brush-off.
“You can’t take it personally,” Sabrina said, noting both her own setbacks prior to meeting her match and the number of good men she rebuffed in favor of Eric. “There are a thousand reasons why someone doesn’t respond, or doesn’t see you for a second date. Just move on to the next one. There are so many other people on that site who could be the one for you.” Brevity and anonymity cushion the blow. In many cases, if no magic happens, you’ve only invested a few lines of text to someone who doesn’t even know your name.
Eric is certainly glad he risked his pride and instant messaged Sabrina through JDate. Their chat about the latest episode of American Idol led to a lunch-date that very weekend. They were to meet on the corner of 66th and Broadway in New York. Eric uses the example of a buddy from work who uses JDate because it’s so much easier to click on someone than hit on them.
“I saw Sabrina first, as she crossed the street,” Eric recounts. “She had that same great smile [as in her profile], and such a happy little walk. No nerves or anything – just a genuinely happy girl.”
The date went well and Sabrina let Eric walk her home. But the story almost ended there. Their second date almost didn’t happen because Sabrina had to bow out when a cousin visited unexpectedly. “It can look like you’re having second thoughts when you cancel a date,” Sabrina said. “But even though I’m a little old-fashioned, I called Eric to make sure he knew I wanted to go out again.”
For date #2, Eric took Sabrina to a Broadway show (“Fiddler on the Roof”) and they were practically thrown out of a sushi restaurant. “We were laughing so much we didn’t realize they were trying to close,” Eric remembers. “I turned around and the chairs were up on the tables and a guy was mopping the floor.”
They were exclusive within a month and celebrated their one-year anniversary in the Bahamas. Shortly thereafter, Sabrina’s doorman delivered a package from Eric. The note told Sabrina to put on something warm and come downstairs. Eric had told her earlier they were going to a business dinner, so that part was less of a surprise than what was inside the package. The framed registration certificate indicated, in calligraphy, the name of a star: “Sabrina, will you marry me? Love, Eric.”
Outside, Sabrina found Eric on bended knee, with roses, a bottle of champagne and a ring. “I had rented a horse and buggy from Central Park,” Eric explains. “While we were waiting for her, the doorman told the dog walkers and neighbors that a proposal was in progress, so by the time she came down, there was a crowd of about 30 people to greet her.”
The happy couple’s celebratory buggy ride took them to City Grill, site of their first date. The rest is history, including a traditional temple wedding. “We had three other couples engaged or married through JDate in our wedding party,” Eric marvels, including his own brother in that count. The doorman told the neighbors that a proposal was in progress, so by the time she came down, there was a crowd of about 30 people to greet her.
The biggest piece of advice the Appelbaums have for JDaters is to be honest every step of the way. Be upfront about your situation (don’t say NYC if you live in the ‘burbs!) and don’t post an old or overly flattering picture. “Why start things off with a disappointment?” Sabrina asks. Isn’t it better if she sees you and thinks, “Wow, he looks younger in person!” rather than, “Who’s he kidding with that photo?!”
On the other hand, an important corollary to that concept is to relax your expectations. “I would never have found Eric, with my search [parameters],” Sabrina admits. “He was outside the age range, and he was divorced.”
Having learned her lesson, Sabrina advises not to be rigid about arbitrary criteria and to make personality and common interests the priority. “Don’t be petty… If someone’s a tad older or two inches shorter than your ideal, meet them anyway! Give it a shot, as long as you feel you could be attracted to the person in the picture.” Would you rather be with someone six feet tall who couldn’t make you laugh to save his life, or a guy two inches shorter who turns a trip to the DMV into a romantic memory?
Finally, the newlyweds tell us to let your profile speak for the true you. “I could see from Sabrina’s profile that she liked reality TV and the Yankees,” Eric recounts, pointing out that these interests could be turnoffs to some. But for an “American Idol” fan looking for the kind of girl who might name her dog “Jeter,” in honor of the Yankees’ shortstop, it was a bullseye. (Eric later bought Sabrina that puppy, a Yorkie, as a Valentine’s Day gift.)
“The biggest thing that impressed me about Eric’s profile was that it was so sincere,” Sabrina says. “People write silly stuff, trying to be funny, but lose themselves. At the end of the day, you want to know, ‘what are we going to talk about?’ It was right there in print who he was. He was almost too naïve, in a good way.”
Eric shivers when he thinks about how simple it would have been to miss the love of his life. “What if I hadn’t clicked on Sabrina’s profile? What then?”
Sabrina feels similarly fortunate about responding. “I’m so glad I gave Eric a chance,” she says. “It turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made in my life… Now I’m married and pregnant!”
That’s right – the couple expects their first child in May.