Myths and Facts of Jewish Dating
As someone who went on somewhere between 10 and 118 dates in my life, depending on what one chooses to count as a “date” versus a “lie to impress you,” I’ve had anywhere between almost-none and way-too-much dating experience. This makes me uniquely qualified to write about the myths of Jewish dating. After all, most of my dating experience was a myth. As for facts, we’ll see.
We’ll start with the most widely disseminated myth that some people may think is actually true, namely those same people who initially believed I went on 118 dates. That myth is, “On an Ultra Orthodox Jewish blind coffee date, the couple has to sip their lattes through a sheet.” This is a misconception. They actually have to sip them through an iron curtain of awkwardness thicker than the USSR at the height of communism. The spirit of Stalin wafts over these dates, as both parties are purged of any natural, spontaneous human interaction.
This is a Cold War totalitarian way of saying that not every blind date is successful in the sense of it “working,” unless you like Stalin, in which case you’re set. But just in case you don’t, here are some tips for getting though an awkward blind date.
First, make sure that in the unlikely event that you end up not liking the other person on the date, that you don’t have to claw away at saying things to each other that neither of you care about just to break the silence. You can accomplish this easily by both coming fully prepared with a recording of yourselves you can just play at each other if you don’t feel like yakking anymore. That way, the silence is broken, and you can keep sipping your lattes.
Which brings me to another “myth” of Jewish dating, and that is that Stalinesque dates are never enjoyable. This is simply not true. In fact, (and this is one of the actually true things in this column) bad dates can and should be wholeheartedly embraced. One of the factors that perpetuates bad dates is the fear of bad dates. And I’m sure you all know that sinking feeling you get when you just know this is going to be a waste of your time. If bad dates are embraced, the fear of them quickly vanishes, dramatically lowering their re-occurrence.
One way to do this is, at the moment the date begins to go the way of migrating birds in the winter, suggest something outlandish and actually follow through with it. For example, if you’re at a fast food place, challenge her to an eating contest and win. She’ll not only think you’re totally awesome, she’ll probably run away horrified in the middle of the date, forgetting her pre-recording of herself, which means you’re up one iPod® and 10 hamburgers, and you get to go back home early.
Another way to embrace a bad date is to do what I did on one of my bad dates and suggest that we both pick three of the weirdest things out at Whole Foods®, buy them, and hand them out to homeless people to see their reactions. I actually did this, though not with her, since she abandoned me after I picked out the cactus leaf and said I was wasting her time. (This actually happened.) The result being that after that, I was never afraid of a bad date again, and I am now happily married with two kids. (This also actually happened. And is still happening as we speak.) More importantly, some homeless guy got a cactus leaf and didn’t even try to attack me with it.
The third and most popular myth of Jewish dating (besides the latte-through-a-sheet myth) is that Jewish dating can be fun. It can’t. To have fun, you’ll have to call it “hanging out.” In some ways, this is actually true. On a date, you’re in a structured, rigorous setting where you have nothing structured or rigorous to actually do. Your only goal is to “get to know each other,” which one can only do if he’s not in a structured, rigorous setting like 1940’s Russia. So stop going on dates, and start just hanging out with people.
I, for example, never “dated” my wife. I just “hung out” with her. And I’m not “married” to her. I’m just “hanging out” with her. For the rest of my life. Also, I’m not allowed to “hang out” with anyone else. Plus, I have to “hang out” with the dishes after most meals. Luckily, I have a sponge, which is critical to some highly successful Jewish dates.
Because if they’re successful, you may end up “hanging out” for the rest of your lives. In which case you’ll need sponges for the dishes. And that is a hard fact of Jewish dating.
So, in conclusion, if you like Stalin, you should be fine.