Tuesday, August 4, 2009

www.shidduchdater.com

I will now be posting on my new website www.shidduchdater.com All my old post have been moved there and I have also added a number of new features to the site! Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Shidduch Game

****(I will now be posting on my new website www.shidduchdater.com All my old post have been moved there and I have also added a number of new features to the site! Enjoy and let me know what you think!)****

"Perseverance!" I feel that word sums up the approach that successful people take towards life. It's the ability to keep pushing forward, despite the obstacles in your way, until you finally succeed. I have adopted this attitude to my own life and have often been lucky/fortunate enough to experience success. Whether it's in the job market, academics, or athletics, it has always been my philosophy that if I work hard enough I WILL succeed. The one area that my perseverance has not only failed, but has actually backfired is in the world of shidduchim! I find the shidduch game to be different from other parts of life. It seems like the same rules that bring success in virtually every other area, do not apply in the effort of trying to attract a mate.

A story that illustrates this point took place about about a year ago. There was a particular meidel that I had been trying to court for many months. I asked her out once and after she rejected me the first time I always made sure to stay in touch with her because I still liked her. I wasn't creepy like many buchrim who utilize numerous creepy stalking methods (i.e. facebook poking and random phone calls), rather I would have a short conversation whenever I saw her and I would occasionally IM her. We always remained on good terms and very friendly, but everyone knew that I still wanted to date her. I knew it, she knew it, her roommates new it, my roommates knew it, our friends knew it, and people who didn't even know us that well, but watched us interact would approach me later and say that it is clear that I want to go out with her. As the months went by I would casually mention that I wanted to take her out or that I liked her, without any progress! No matter how persistent I was, I never seemed to make any headway.Normally if a girl rejects me I just let it roll off my chest without thinking twice and pursue someone else. However, there was something special and irresistible about this meidel that I couldn't quite put my finger on!

After months of effort I finally decided to consult with one of my chief shidduch advisors, Lorys, to help me gain perspective on the way girls think. I briefly explained my situation to Lorys and the conversation went like this:

Lorys: Did you tell this girl that you like her?
Me: Yes, of course I did!
Lorys: WHAT! Why did you do that?
Me: What do you mean? I like her so I told her! Why wouldn't I?
Lorys: You never tell a girl that you like that you actually like her! That is the worst thing you can do!
Me: That makes ZERO sense!
Lorys: Listen, girls like to be chased and guys like the chase...that's just the way the game is played! If you tell a girl straight up that you like them, you won't get anywhere!
Me: But that's such a silly game! If I like someone I let them know and I would appreciate it if someone would let me know if they liked me! That's just logical!
Lorys: Logic doesn't apply in the shidduch game...it's a different and unique part of life!
Me: So what should I do to fix my situation?
Lorys: Next time this girl contacts you ignore her!
Me: IGNORE HER?!?!?! BUT I WANT TO TALK TO HER!
Lorys: Well, ignore her or give her terse answers and act very uninterested!
Me: So you want me to act like a jerk?
Lorys: Sorta...girls like jerks!
Me: Why is that?
Lorys: Stop asking "why" questions! There is no "why" when it comes to this stuff! It makes no sense! It's just the way it is!
Me: Fine, so after I am rude to her then what?
Lorys: Then nothing...you have to make her miss you and want you. You do that by acting totally uninterested! That's my advice to you!
Me: This is a silly game and it makes no sense!
Lorys: It is a silly game, but everyone plays it!
Me: I don't...
Lorys: Yes you do...you just don't realize it yet!

After Lorys shared her insights on the mind of a meidel and on the shidduch game in general I decided to get another prospective. During a business meeting with an accountant, who was a yid and went through the UWS scene, I mentioned my current struggle with the meidel I was pursuing (It may seem weird that I brought up my dating life during a business meeting, especially to a guy I literally just met, and it is weird, but I find this to be quite a frequent occurrence as of late). After letting him in on how long and hard I have pursued this meidel he said this: "You don't need someone like that. Find someone who likes and respects you for who you are! You don't need to deal with this nonsense! I'm sure there are plenty of girls that like you for you...focus on them!"

As the days went by I did some serious introspection and meditation on what both Lorys and the accountant told me. I knew that what the accountant told me intellectually made sense and would make life much easier, but I still couldn't shake my crush! I knew what Lorys told me had some truth to it, but I just couldn't envision myself playing such a silly and immature game! I also thought about all the things that I liked about the girl I was chasing. I thought she was cute, sweet, spunky, funny, on the same page as me religiously, etc., but so were other meidels that I liked in the past! What was so special about her? AND THEN IT HIT ME LIKE A STACK OF GEMARAHS FALLING FROM SHAMAYIM! Although this girl had many traits that I found very desirable, that wasn't why I was chasing her! I was chasing her because she kept pushing me away! I loved the chase! No matter how hard I tried to deny it I finally realized...I was playing this silly shidduch game just like everybody else!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Did You Let Your Bashert Slip Away?

****(I will now be posting on my new website www.shidduchdater.com All my old post have been moved there and I have also added a number of new features to the site! Enjoy and let me know what you think!)****

I have a confession to make! I have yet to share this confession with anyone! I haven’t told my parents, my brothers, or even my close friends! However, I figure that now is as good a time as any to share it, and what better audience to share it with then you - the 1000s of people I don’t know all over the world (some of whom are stalking me) who read my blog! My confession is that I’ve been having a series of dreams! Not Martin Luther King Jr. style dreams of hope and achdut among all nations, rather these are much more frightening. The dreams I’ve been having are all very similar in nature. The dream usually starts with me at some type of social event. I’m networking and schmoozing within the crowd, and then all of a sudden I spot her! She might be an angel or she might just be a regular meidel, but either way I KNOW she is my bashert! I look closer and notice that she is with a buchur and they entered the party together holding hands. My heart sinks and I have this powerful feeling that this meidel should be with me and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Then, just as quickly as the meidel and buchur entered the party, they leave. I feel helpless as I watch the buchur and what I perceive to be my bashert, walk off to build a bayis ne’eman together. Then the dream ends and I wake up sweating with my heart racing! These dreams, along with the many people who have spoken to me about this topic, got me thinking: Do we all have someone that we are destined to ultimately end up with or is it really possible to let our bashert slip away?

When thinking about this question, I can’t help but think back to the 2002 classic film “Signs”, directed, written and produced by M. Night Shyamalan. The movie is a thriller that focuses on the mysterious appearance of 500 foot large circles and lines carved into the crops of a family’s farm. Throughout the movie the family is trying to find the truth behind how these mysterious signs appeared. As the movie progresses, the viewers learn about the family who lives on this farm. We learn that the father, a former priest, has a wife who died in a horrific accident and her last words were “swing away”, the priest’s son suffers from a severe case of asthma, we learn a bit about his daughter, as well as the priests brother who was a former minor league baseball player known for his hitting ability. It seems like just another freaky alien film, but as the movie concludes the viewers begin to realize that there is a beautiful underlying message about faith and the fact that there is no such thing in life as coincidences. Every little fact in the movie that seems obscure and irrelevant ends up playing a major role in saving the family and restoring their happiness. All the seemingly immaterial details throughout the film happened for a reason, which the characters and the viewers can’t understand until the end of the film. You might be asking yourself “How does this relate back to the question?” The answer is simple. Everything in life happens for a reason. I’ve seen it in all areas of life from the job hunt to the shidduch hunt.

My job search as a senior at Yeshiva University’s prestigious Sy Syms School of Business, was quite challenging. I was having an extremely difficult time getting interviews for a job following my graduation despite having the right internships, an awesome GPA, and a resume that would make people from Wharton drool. But no matter how many places I applied or how many people I contacted, I couldn’t get a single interview. As time went on I began to do some serious introspection. I began to think about what my natural gifts and talents are, and did research to determine what areas within finance would be most suitable given these traits. As I switched gears, and began applying to different areas of finance, I immediately started getting interviews! Within a month I had offers from several of the most respected investment banks on Wall Street. Although I was quite frustrated with my lack of success during the initial stages of my job search, it only took a slight adjustment on my part for me to be successful. What many people may interpret as bad luck was to me, a sign from Hakadosh Baruchoo that I wasn’t focused on the right career path.

Regarding the shidduch hunt this idea of everything in life happening for a reason is the most prevalent. There is no shortage of crazy stories out there about how people ultimately find their soul mate. Whether it’s getting bumped at the airport and meeting your bashert on the next flight, or asking a random person for directions and they just happen to know the perfect girl/guy for you, or meeting someone because your friend is dating them, and they break up and you end up marrying them, or meeting someone via Facebook because you thought they were a cutie! I’m sure everyone knows their share of crazy stories of how couples ultimately find each other. Given how random some of these stories are, there is no question in my mind that an important part of finding that special someone is divine intervention. I sincerely believe that everyone has that special someone that they are destined to marry, but at the same time I still believe that if we don’t have the right mind set we CAN let that person slip away!

The only way to let your bashert slip away is by not being open-minded enough to date someone because they don’t fit into the cookie cutter description that you are looking for. Once individuals lose this silly mentality, then it should put their mind at ease. If you are genuinely open minded enough to date anyone with some potential, then you will never have to worry about letting “The One” slip away. You will always know that you have done everything in your power to find your bashert! No one knows who they will end up with. It may be someone with a completely different outlook than you, but together you may make a great team. Maybe it’s the person who you’ve been flirting with for the past 2 years. Although you never viewed them as a potential suitor, they very well may be everything you have been looking for and have been right in front of your nose the entire time. Maybe you’ve had no success on the shidduch front whatsoever and the fact of the matter is you may just not have come across the person you are destined to spend the rest of your life with yet! Although all these things may be true, the only true way to ensure that you have not let your bashert slip away is by maintaining a level of open-mindedness by dating anyone and everyone with even an inkling of potential that comes your way!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

4 Steps to Solve the Shidduch “Crisis”

****(I will now be posting on my new website www.shidduchdater.com All my old post have been moved there and I have also added a number of new features to the site! Enjoy and let me know what you think!)****

There is no such thing as a shidduch crisis! Sorry to break the news to all those shaddchanim and dating sites that have leveraged that phrase to market their services, but the fact of the matter is we have blown this whole shidduch dating thing completely out of proportion! If you speak with people outside the orthodox Jewish circles regarding their definition of the word “crisis”, it may help put things back in perspective. A random guy on the street may define the word “crisis” as the brutal genocide taking place in Darfur, or possibly allude to the 1918 flu pandemic where an estimated 50-100 million people were killed worldwide. Over the years, orthodox Jews have managed to take the word “crisis” and made it synonymous with people that are not married by the time they are in their mid-20s! Not only is this not a crisis, it’s actually pretty silly! The only crisis in the Jewish dating world today is the mindset that we have developed regarding the quest for our bashert. What can potentially be a fun process, with the opportunity to meet a variety of different people, has turned into nothing short of abnormal! We have turned shidduch dating into an arduous process, with tons of pressure, and silly questions about the person’s mother. Below I have outlined the 4 steps we can all take in order to return the orthodox dating scene back to normalcy and to eliminate what many Jews perceive to be a “crisis.”

Step # 1: Get into shidduch dating shape: Shidduch dating shape refers to both a physical and mental state. Very often people want to start dating and can’t seem to get any dates. Generally, one of their first obstacles they must overcome is where they stand physically and mentally.

Physically: Regardless of what people might say, looks DO matter! As I mentioned in previous posts, we can’t control our genetic makeup, but we CAN optimize what we have. If you weren’t fortunate enough to be blessed with a physique that can earn you a spot on the cover of Men’s Health or the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue (i.e. everyone reading this), then you have some work to do. Join a gym, make yourself a workout schedule (and stick to it!), and lay off the cholent at this week’s Kiddush!

Mentally: One must also get into the right frame of mind mentally before they start shidduch dating. This means you should know what marriage requires emotionally and have a good idea on how you plan on supporting yourself. People rush into marriage nowadays likes it’s the newest fad. Marriage isn’t playing house, it’s a LIFETIME commitment. You should know what you are getting into before you start dating. If you can’t imagine yourself having the same person up in your face 24/7 complaining about their problems, nagging you, and drilling you with tons of questions, then you are probably not ready to get married! This type of mental maturity comes over time and one shouldn’t rush into the dating scene until they have reached this level of mental maturity.

Step # 2: Make sure everyone knows that you’re in the “Parsha”: For some reason many people are very secretive as to whether they are dating someone or not. Others want to just sit back and wait for their bashert to fall into their lap. Like many things in life, sometimes you need to step up and be a little assertive. Once you have completed Step # 1 and know you are in the right place, both mentally and physically, make sure people know that you are now eligible to date! While many individuals “don’t get involved” in setting people up, you will also encounter a fair amount of folks that are more then willing to help out. The more people that know that you are looking to date, means more doors will open up. After a few months of networking with friends, family, and anyone you meet, you will eventually see an inflow of people contacting you to set you up. Don’t be shy! Let people know that you’re in the Parsha!

Step # 3: Don’t be so picky….it’s just one date: Probably the biggest obstacle standing in the way of many singles, is the amount of screening and filtering they must do before agreeing to go out with somebody. Question after question about the smallest and sometimes the most irrelevant things such as: frequency of cinema attendance, seatbelt wearing techniques, and weather the individual’s mother elected to cover her hair! My solution is simple: STOP WITH THE SCREENING! One should ALWAYS go on one date with someone if they 1) Find the person somewhat attractive, 2) are on the same page religiously. Meet the person for a cup of coffee and see how things play out. You are not bound to anything and can learn an infinite more about a person by actually meeting them for an hour or two, then by asking the shaddchan a battery of questions and speaking to their multiple references! When it comes down to it, dating is a numbers game! The more people you get in front of, the better chance you’ll find your bashert, so don’t limit yourself!

Step # 4: Go into your dates with an open-minded attitude: No one knows who we will end up with. Very often people will go into a date looking for exact and super specific qualities in a mate. While it’s important to have a general idea of what you are looking for, it’s impossible to find someone that will agree with you about every single issue. Don’t be so rigid! If someone has a different political stance then you, different minhagim, or the wrong hair color, don’t throw them away! If you simply enjoy spending time with them, find them attractive, have many common interests, and agree on most issues, then you know you found someone special!

Our own worst enemy in this shidduch “crisis” is ourselves! Repeat that phrase to yourself next time you start complaining about not getting any dates, not being married by the age of 24, or living through the biggest shidduch “crisis” in modern Jewish history. Unlike the mass killings in Darfur or an uncontrollable virus spreading across the world killing millions of people, the shidduch “crisis” is something that is in our power to change! We have the ability to work on our physical appearance to get us more dates. We have the power to be more assertive in our shidduch networking to get more shaddchans to set us up. And most importantly, we have the power to have a more “chilled out approach” to dating by limiting our intense screening process! I’ve often heard the phrase that “God helps those who help themselves.” Keeping that in mind, we must do our part to help our shidduch prospects, and then Hakadosh Baruchoo will intervene and make sure that we will ultimately find our bashert in a timely manner!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The 25 Most Eligible Modern Orthodox Bachelors of 2009

****(I will now be posting on my new website www.shidduchdater.com All my old post have been moved there and I have also added a number of new features to the site! Enjoy and let me know what you think!)****

Girls like jerks! I have never understood the reason for this, but it happens to be a fact. After years in coed camps and schools, and even now during the shidduch process, it is a theory that has been reconfirmed over and over again. The meidels that tend to have it the worst are the super cute and popular ones. They generally have tons of buchrim flocking to them who span the spectrum from the captain of the basketball team to the captain of the Torah Bowl team. However, given their extreme popularity, and their ability to choose almost any buchur they want, they almost always end up with a jerk. Instead of spending time trying to determine why this is the case, I’d like to focus on what attributes make up a high quality buchur. I feel that by pointing out these common characteristic that all top notch buchrim share, it will allow meidels to be more equipped to filter out all the subpar guys in the shidduch world.

The 4 attributes that make a quality buchur and a great husband are the following:

Driven: The three things that determine an individual’s level of successful in life are: 1) passion 2) luck and 3) drive. Everybody is passionate about something, luck is decided by Hashem, but drive is something that is engrained in us over years of being forced to work for what we want. In a world where most people spend hours playing video games, watching TV, and waiting around for life to fall into place, finding someone who knows what they want out of life and possesses the drive to go out and get it is truly refreshing.

Attractive: Our genetic makeup is not something that we can control. However, I once heard the following statement, which I think holds true: If you give any buchur “a tan, better posture, whiter teeth, a fitness regimen, and clothes that fit, than he's well on his way to handsome.” The key to a buchur being attractive is putting in some time and effort. If you make the best with what you have, then that’s really all anyone can ask for.

Frum: I don’t like the word “frum” because it is defined in so many ways by so many different people. The key is finding someone who has a sincere passion AND respect for yidishkite. Everyone has their own standards that they wish to go by and different levels of religious observance. However, if you find someone with that type of genuine passion and respect, on whatever level is right for you, it will never go away.

Kindness: Kindness is one of those rare traits that is innate in very few people. The ability to genuinely care about others is not something that one can easily develop, and it is not something that will waver like religious observance, or diminish over time like appearance. If you find someone with this extraordinary middah, you should hold on to them with all your might, because this is not someone that will cross your path very often.

Now you are probably asking yourself “Where am I supposed to find a buchur like this? This isn’t exactly the type of information that is found on a Facebook profile!” You are correct! It’s hard to locate people with these types of unique qualities! Thankfully, I have done the work for you! Just like Forbes compiles a list of the world’s wealthiest people, Fortune accumulates a list of the world’s best companies, and People Magazine assembles a list of the world’s sexiest people, I have put together a list of the “25 Most Eligible Modern Orthodox Bachelors of 2009.” I know each of the following people personally and know that they are unique in the fact that they distinctly possess the 4 aforementioned attributes. In addition to the 4 attributes, they are all buchrim, who in 20 years from now, your girl friends will look at them and say: “Wow, why didn’t I marry a guy like that!”

All bachelors are equally ranked and have been sorted in alphabetical order by last name:

Bengio, Michael
Caplan, Adam
Davidovits, Moe
Douek, Daniel
Eckstein, Dani
Eis, David
Freund, Dovid
Goldglantz, Joe
Gorfinkel, Yirmi
Graber, Josh
Guttmann, Jay
Isser, David
Kilstein, Yaakov
Krohn, Ben
Lapin, Ari
Lev, Michael
Lustiger, Elie
Marciano, David
Raab, Yoni
Raskas, Jonah
Rosenberg, Oliver
Schnipper, Covey
Shenkman, Yoni
Sher, Avi
Westrich, Uri

Ladies, after releasing a list like this my advice to you is simple: Get moving! Contact every friend, colleague, and acquaintance you have! Use Google, Facebook, OnlySimchas and any other site that may be conducive to getting a date with one of these top notch buchrim because I can guarantee you one thing: They will not remain bachelors for long!

Good luck and happy stalking!

Monday, June 8, 2009

10 Things One Should NOT Do on a First Date!

****(I will now be posting on my new website www.shidduchdater.com All my old post have been moved there and I have also added a number of new features to the site! Enjoy and let me know what you think!)****

I consider myself to be a very lucky and blessed individual! I have my health and a loving mishpacha! I’ve obtained a degree from one of the finest Universities in the world (i.e. YU) and I have a network of business colleagues that spans the globe. I posses a six pack that would make Brad Pitt jealous (only a slight exaggeration) and the type of winning personality that would make Tony Robbins shepp nachas! Despite all the innate ability that hakadosh baruchoo has blessed me with, one of the main reasons I consider myself to be such a fortunate buchur is the fact that I have never been on a bad date! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken out plenty of meidels who weren’t my type, my look, and bored the heck out of me, but I can not classify any of my dates as being a real fiasco (bli ayin harah, knock on wood, poo poo poo)! Throughout the past several years, as my friends and I have started dating, I have heard some real dating horror stories! I’ve heard tales of shidduch dates that made my stomach turn and made me want to throw in the towel on the whole shidduch dating process. After several years on the dating front I have decided to outline some of the more basic things that one should refrain from doing on a date. Granted, I’m sure there are plenty of wild stories of one party doing or saying something completely outlandish and out of line, but here are 10 of the more commonly practiced habits that one should refrain doing on a first date.

1) Do NOT ask how much money a guy makes: Generally most first dates consist of schmoozing and determining if the two parties have the same goals, interests, and desires. You might be wondering to yourself “How does the issue of annual salary come up on the first date?” Well the answer, as my friend told me, is this:

Meidel: I just interviewed for a teaching job!
Buchur: Great!
Meidel: I asked to be paid 75k starting salary!
Buchur: Oh, wow! That’s great money!
Meidel: Well, how much money do you make? (In a highly condescending voice)

There wasn’t really much tact to the meidels approach. She pretty much laid it all out on the table! Listen, once you are far enough in a relationship, money DOES become a factor because the meidel needs to know if this bachur can support the lifestyle she is accustomed to (i.e. Succos at the Citadel in Israel, Pesach at the Biltmore in Arizona, etc.). However, asking someone how much money they make on a first date is classless, silly, rude, dumb and will pretty much GARUNTEE that there will be no second date! Meidels, do yourself a favor and stick to the basic shylas (where you went to Israel, what’s your favorite sefer, etc.) and hold off on this extremely personal topic until things become a bit more serious!

2) Do NOT talk about previous girl friends/boy friends on the date: “I’m not interested” – That’s generally what people tell me when they have a date who talks non stop about there previous boy friend or girl friend. There will come a point in a relationship when two parties will want to talk (i.e. speak lashon harah) about the previous people they have dated. However, don’t open up to someone about your previous relationships on a first date because: 1) That indicates that you are still emotionally attached to your ex and 2) People are not interested in starting a relationship with someone who has tons of baggage. If you find yourself still talking about your ex non stop, then maybe you need to wait a little while before you jump back into the dating scene!

3) Do NOT order everything on the menu: What may seem logical and basic social etiquette to most meidels is sometimes incomprehensible to others! The buchur you are going on a first date with is not your Daddy! He is taking you out in order to determine if you guys are compatible. He is NOT taking you out for an all you all you can order eat-a-thon because he feels an innate desire to shower you with money. That is why you have your Daddy’s credit card! When a meidel goes out with a buchur and orders several appetizers, a main course, a soft drink, a bottle of wine, and multiple desserts, without the buchur explicitly telling her to do so; she shows a complete lack of class and no sensitivity to a buchur’s financial situation. Contrary to the way these types of meidels are brought up, money does not grow on trees. Money must be earned with hard work and is accumulated over time. Meidels should be cognizant of this before taking it upon themselves to order enough food to feed all the inhabitants of a small country!

4) Do NOT eat with your hands: Ever since most of us were little children, our parents’ would constantly tell us “Do not eat with your hands!” Generally, we grow out of this method of feeding ourselves by the time we reach the tender age of 10. While it may be cute to watch young kids messily shove food into their mouths without cutting it or using a fork, this same method of eating is no longer cute by the time one reaches their mid 20s. In fact it becomes quite nauseating! One meidel mentioned to me that a guy brought her to KD for a first date (first mistake), then proceeded to take his chicken cutlet in his hand and wave it around in the air as he was schmoozing with her, while occasionally taking a bite. If you take nothing else away from this post, at the very least take this: Buchrim, it is imperative to learn how to use utensils if you ever plan on eating in the presence of a meidel!

5) Do NOT bring index cards with a list of questions: For many, it’s often challenging to carry on a conversation, especially with people you never met before. For this reason, I’ve been told that many people may be tempted to carry notes or an index card with questions to ask while on a date. Too be perfectly frank: This is a shtickle pathetic! I can understand if you are not a hot shot salesman or networker who can approach and make conversation with everybody, but come on! At least try to be smooth (Note: Carrying index cards with questions to a first date is NOT smooth). Also, even though shidduch dating is pretty much an interview process, it’s also about building a relationship with the person. Sitting in Starbucks with a notebook filled with questions makes it challenging to develop any type of personal connection. As important as it is to know what the individuals mother wears to sleep at night, if her mother covers her hair, and if she stacks dishes at the shabbos table, it also might be worthwhile to shoot the breeze for a while and try to get a sense of your dates personality, rather then try to determine your interest based a long list of impersonal and more often then not, irrelevant questions!

6) Do NOT just talk about yourself: It’s important to try to make dates interactive. This is done by asking questions and follow up questions. No one is interested in someone who only rants about their own personal interests, hobbies, and career. Make it seem like you actually care what the other party has to say or thinks. When you’re on a date and realize that 2 hours went by and you are the only one that has been speaking, and the only topics that you spoke about were the summers that YOU spent working at HASC, then maybe you should take a step back and inquire what the other person’s interests are. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very important to be passionate about your career and your hobbies, but to talk nonstop about your career as a successful financier or your time spent in the Beis Medresh as a kollelnic can lead anyone to want to want to kill themselves!

Here is the basic framework for a healthy discussion on a date:

Buchur: Ask question.
Meidel: Respond to question. Maybe use a story to illustrate your point (one word answers are NOT acceptable), follow up with a question for the buchur.
Buchur: Make a witty comment (for the more advanced conversationalists ONLY! Great way to fall flat on your face if not adequately experienced/prepared!), Respond to the meidels question, illustrate point with a story. Follow up with another question. Etc.

This is the basic framework of a how NOT to have a discussion on a date:

Buchur: Talk about your day for 10 min straight.
Meidel: Chirps in with a “Mmmmhmmm” or a “OK”
Buchur: Talk about his career for another 10 min
Meidel: Chirps in with a “Mmmmhmmm” or a “OK”
Buchur: Talks about the summers he spent at HASC
Meidel: Chirps in with a “Mmmmhmmm” or a “OK”

If you feel like your conversation is going like the former, then congratulations, you’re on a roll! However, if you feel like your typical date discussion is more accurately described by the latter conversation, then maybe you should take a few minutes and shut your mouth and see what the other party has to say!

7) Do NOT ask the girl to split the bill with you: There are certain things in life that you just don’t do. They are unspoken rules. For example: You don’t make a phone call while in an elevator full of people, you don’t make eye contact with people on the NYC subway, and you don’t tell someone whom you never met that you liked their “pics” on Facebook. Another big no-no is for a buchur to ask a girl to split the bill with him on a date. It has been tradition for many years that a guy takes the girl out and pays for the date. Asking the girl to split the bill with you is just not classy. If you can’t afford to shell out too much money then go out for ice cream instead of dinner, or go to for a walk in the park instead of getting courtside seats to a Knicks game. The power is in the buchurs hands when picking an activity for a date! A guy shouldn’t go on a date like he approaches hanging out with a group of his cronies. When you hang out with your buddies from night seder you can split the cost of the activity. When you hang out one on one with a meidel who you are courting, the buchur MUST pay!

8) Do NOT be a back seat driver: No one likes backseat drivers! That’s a fact! Very often a buchur will have to shlep to the end of the world (i.e. Long Island/Staten Island/Queens etc.) to take out a specific meidel! In order to get to one of these remote locations, a buchur must drive on less then pleasant roads (Van Wyck, FDR, Grand Central, etc.), while having to endure the less than pleasant drivers (NYers), in addition to having to drive during extreme rush hour traffic! This is part of the price a buchur must pay for dating a NY girl. However, one thing a buchur shouldn’t have to endure is a meidel who insists on commenting on his driving technique at every red light or Stop sign. If a buchur stops at a Stop sign a meidel should not say “Go, already!” in a very annoyed tone. A meidel should not instruct a buchur to put on his turning signal if he forgets, nor should she suggest better breaking techniques! After sitting in 2 hours of traffic on the Grand Central, getting cursed at and being cut off by the unpleasant drivers, and getting heat from your boss for leaving work early, the best thing a meidel can do once she gets into a buchurs car is just smile and look pretty! That will be more appreciated then any type of pointers you can give regarding a buchurs driving skills!

9) Do NOT complain about the date on the date: People always analyze their dates with their friends. That’s fine to an extent! It’s always great to get feedback and bounce ideas off each other. If a date is really horrible, it may even be good to rant about it to your friends to get all those feelings off your chest that you weren’t able to express during the actual date. However, to complain during your date to your date and tell him how unimpressed you are with the venue he has chosen and say something like “I thought you were taking me to a real concert” or “This place is a dump” or express your disappointment for being taken on a subway is really just mean! It’s fair to assume that most people put some level of thought into a date even if it’s just at Starbucks. One must determine which Starbucks to go to and must come pick up a meidel from their residence. These simple things all require a buchur to be somewhat courteous and thoughtful. All the more so, if a buchur takes you to a more original place, even if you don’t like it, it’s just not appropriate to be a witch about it. I’m no poseik, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s better to bad mouth your date to your friends behind his back, then to hurt his feeling and embarrass him on the date itself!

10) Do NOT talk about how shady you were before Israel: Very often, you will encounter a guy or girl who loves talking about their “past life” or how much they “flipped out” in Israel. Here’s a bit of advice: This is not hot! Finding out that your date was the school drug dealer or the school smoocher is not impressive on any level. The fact that an individual still mentions his/her shady past just means that they haven’t actually gained anything from their year in Israel and are actually still proud of how messed up they were in high school. That’s the equivalent of going to a job interview and saying “Man, my last firm hated me because I would harass all the women at work and used to take drugs in the bathroom stalls. Thankfully, I went to a psychologist and rehab and now I’m clean.” On the one hand you might be “clean” now, but why the heck would a company want to hire someone that talks so fondly about their naughty past! Moreover, why would a firm want to hire someone who had that type of past, when they can hire someone with the same credentials who wasn’t a complete nut job at their last firm? The same thing applies with dating. If you managed to luck out and score a date with a quality meidel/buchur even though you severely messed up in high school, keep your shady past on the down low until you develop a relationship with the person and are obligated to disclose that type of information!

Let’s call a spade a spade: Shidduch dating is not a fun process! There are very few people I know that actually like dating for the sake of dating. Most people do it, find their bashert, and are happy to make it out with as few emotional scars as possible! The key is to try to make the whole shidduch dating experience as painless as we can. To do that one must act courteous to their dates and treat each other with respect even if you think the person that you are dating is a total freak show. Being respectful means not asking uncomfortable questions that really don’t concern you, or not making your date feel nauseated by eating like a wild animal, or hurting your dates feelings by mocking him and the venue he chose, or keeping in mind that your date had to trek all the way to Long Island during rush hour traffic to meet you and not busting his chops for forgetting to put on his turning signal when parallel parking! The bottom line is we are all in this shidduch dating game together. Let’s make it as bearable as possible by reviewing the 10 aforementioned rules of engagement, and praying to Hakadosh Baruchoo everyday that we make it out of this phase of our lives with our sanity still intact!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Can’t Hardly Wait

****(I will now be posting on my new website www.shidduchdater.com All my old post have been moved there and I have also added a number of new features to the site! Enjoy and let me know what you think!)****

As my El Al flight landed on the tarmac in JFK several years ago, the clock started ticking! At the time, I had no idea that there was a clock or that it started ticking, but as I entered YU I began to feel my time tick away! The clock I speak of is the “shidduch clock.” Many buchrim and meidels feel the pressure to get married once they get back from spending a year in Israel. They spend a year growing, reflecting, learning, and working on themselves and now the next logical step is to get married! Not only do people assume it is the next logical step, but many meidels make it their MISSION to get married or at least engaged by graduation! From the first day back in the U.S. it seems like the main focus for many people has become developing their shidduch resume by spending a summer at HASC, getting involved with Yachad, working at the Sefarim Sale, or finding any and every excuse to go up to the guys campus. Over the past few years, since my Shana Aleph, I began to wonder why there is so much pressure to get married so soon after Israel. Why are meidels so panicky if they are still not married by graduation? Also, is it really the worst thing in the world to be single for several years after college?

The panic generally starts to set in when a meidel’s first friend gets engaged. After Israel there are always 1 or 2 couples who have been dating throughout high school, make it through their year in Israel, and get engaged and married not too long after. These people have managed to locate someone that they know they want to spend the rest of their lives with. They have managed to acquire enough knowledge and learn enough about themselves within the past 19 or 20 years of their lives that has prepared them to get married, support a family, and to build a bayis ne’eman biyisroel at such a young age! In many ways these people are very fortunate. However, finding your bashert right after Israel is definitely not the norm. With most of us, the days tick by and Sophomore year turns into Junior year, and Junior year turns into Senior year. Eventually, with graduation in sight, many girls come to the realization that they will be unsuccessful in obtaining the coveted MRS degree while at Stern and will be spending the first year out of school living on their own in either Washington Heights or the Upper West Side!

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the biggest tragedy in the world to not be married by graduation or to move to one of the single communities on the upper west side of Manhattan! In fact, it can be viewed as a tremendous gift to have a few years during college and a few years afterwards to work on yourself, develop your character, and figure out what you want in life. It’s the perfect time to determine what type of career path you’d like to pursue and a great opportunity to become more independent by living on your own. Additionally, it’s really the only few years where you will have “you time.” It’s a time to be somewhat selfish. Your time is spent thinking about yourself, your future, and you don’t have a spouse or children to worry about. Granted everyone has responsibilities to their friends and family, but if you decide to pick up and go across the country on a school sponsored trip, you can! If you want to take 10 friends and go skiing in Utah, nothing is stopping you! If you want to see a 12am weekday showing of a movie, you can do it without feeling too irresponsible. It seems like these years of opportunity are viewed as a tremendous burden. Many people spend their single years worrying about finding someone to marry, rather than actually taking advantage of this time and celebrating their youth and freedom! Plenty individuals go from event to event hoping to find that special someone, rather than going through life appreciating what they already have!

The other day a buchur reached out to me regarding his frustration with the shidduch crisis and his inability to find his bashert. He asked for my advice and any suggestions I may have. After addressing some of his more specific issues, I said “…the best advice I can give you is to try every approach. Go on YUConnects, ask people out directly, go to the YU/Stern events, go on Shabbatons, tell friends to set you up. Everything and anything can work and not work. Very often in life things come to us when we least expect it and as long as you are doing your part and putting in an effort, than God takes care of the rest. Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, there is only so much in life we have control over. The only things we do have control over are our actions and how we react to any given situation that is put before us. Assuming you are putting in an honest effort to find your bashert, then you are doing all the right things. You just need to wait for God to let you know when it's the right time.” In the meantime, just try to enjoy and get the most out of life!

As I write about this topic I remember my flight back from England to Israel several years ago. After a several hour delay, I finally landed at Ben Gurion airport on no sleep at about 4:00 in the morning. As the pilot was rushing through his final messages over the intercom reminding us to gather all our belongings, not to get up until the plane has come to a complete stop, and thanking us for flying Isra-air, he said the following “…and just remember one thing ladies and gentleman: You can stay single and be lonely the rest of your life, or get married and wish you were dead! Thanks and have a great day!” To this day I am not exactly sure why he made that comment. One can only imagine what types of problems he was having at home, but it struck me as a very interesting remark. The fact of the matter is the shidduch search can be a very lonely road at times, everybody who has ever been single knows that. However, we shouldn’t forget the last part of the pilot’s statement! Although we think that marriage is some type of nirvana, it is full of many challenges. The years in college and post college that lead up to marriage are the time that prepares us for this new chapter of our lives and we shouldn’t waste it wishing things were different! We shouldn’t take for granted our singlehood!

My Shidduch Advisor, Usher, once said: The word MAZAL is comprised of 3 letters that stand for three things:

Mem = Makom (place)
Zion = Zman (time)
Lamed = Lev (heart)

In order to have MAZAL in any situation, in particular with the shidduch hunt, you need to have these 3 components working for you. You need to be in the right place, it must be the right time, and you must pursue it with all your heart. Regardless of where you are in life, whether you are about to graduate college, you’re finishing graduate school, or you’re entering another year on the Upper West Side or Washington Heights, if you are still single, than keep the following things in mind:

1) You will get married! Stop panicking!
2) You are not alone in your loneliness on your quest to find your bashert!
3) You are very fortunate to have these years of singlehood and will miss them a great deal once you’re married. Don’t waste them!
4) In the end you can only do so much, and then God takes care of the rest!

Good Luck and God bless!