Sunday, August 8, 2010

Question: What did you expect?

Expectations play a big role in how we react to the world around us. For example, if you are waiting for a bus that is supposed to come once every 10 minutes, then you might expect to be waiting for that bus for around 10 minutes, because when you show up to the stop there is a chance you might have just missed it. So if you are waiting at the bus stop for 20 minutes, then you will be disappointed, because you weren't expecting to have to wait that long. But if the bus comes right after you show up, then you are thrilled, because you were expecting that you might have to wait at least 5 minutes or so. If you were waiting for a bus that only comes every 20 minutes, however, then waiting for 20 minutes will not upset you, because you expected that as a possibility.

In some ways the key to being happy is to lower your expectations. An example I heard in a shiur once is let's say it's your birthday, and you and your group of friends have a minhag that for everyone's birthday you go out for pizza. If for your birthday, they just show up with a card, you'll be upset- where's the pizza? But if your minhag is that you don't really do anything for anyone's birthday, then if they surprise you with pizza, then you're really happy. Basically, if you don't expect anything out of life, then any good thing that does happen to you will make you happy because you weren't expecting it. If you expect life to be perfect, then whenever it's not going your way, you'll get upset.

Where am I going with this? Here is my question that I'm putting out there to everyone- single/married/dating/not dating etc.: How long do you/did you expect to be dating before you found the right person? Let me explain what I mean by dating. Presumably there was a point in your life when you decided "OK, I'm ready to get married, I'm ready to start dating to find a spouse." There was some time when you announced, "Ok I'm in the parsha!" When you started actively trying to find a spouse, whatever measures that entailed for you personally, when you took started letting people know that they should set you up if they knew someone. Maybe you had just graduated high school or just got back from seminary/yeshiva in Israel, or perhaps it was a number of years later. Whether you were 18 or 25 or anything in between, from that general point in time, how long did you think it would take you to find your bashert?

I never expected to marry the first person I dated. How many people marry the first person they date? I have a few friends who did, but that is not the majority. So when I went out with the first guy who I dated, and he wasn't my bashert, I wasn't disappointed, since I didn't expect to find my bashert right away. I also never expected to find my a spouse in the first year I started dating. I figured a year or two was normal to be dating. I guess it was after I hit the two year mark that I started to be like, "hmmm, this is taking a bit longer than I expected." And it hasn't been that much more than 2 years. I think if you had asked me for the longest number of years I thought I would be dating back when I first started, I would have said 5 at most, and I'm still under that number. But I know people who have been dating for 5, 6, 7, years, or even more than that.

This also relates to my post about pressure, but I feel like it would be better if I didn't have this perception that dating for longer than 2 years is a long time. It's not really that long, when I think about it and compare it to people dating so much longer. Why did I have this expectation that I would just find my bashert and there would be challenge involved? In other areas of life I have learned to always expect challenges- that's how life is, and I love growing from challenges. I wish I could go back in time to before I started dating and change my expectations, so that I wouldn't expect to be married by a certain age, by a certain point in my life, or after a certain period of time. I had certain expectations about those three. I still haven't turned the age that I expected to be married by, but I have passed the certain point in my life that I thought I'd by married by, and the certain period of time that I thought I'd be dating.

And it's not that I'm unhappy, I don't want you do get that impression. It's hard to read my posts from an objective standpoint, but my feelings towards dating aren't completely negative. Dating is frustrating and not what I expected, but overall I am lucky to have mostly a positive overall experience. There are definitely others who have much more of a right to complain than I do. But there are times when I find the stage of shidduchim frustrating, and I think a lot of people do. I just wonder if I apply my formula for happiness of "lower your expectations" if it would be less frustrating.

So, now that I went on a tangent on my thoughts, let me get back to my original question, since I'm wondering if I'm the only one with unrealistic expectations: If you're not engaged/married yet: How long do expect to date? If you're engaged/married- how long did you expect to date and how did real life compare to your expectations?


  1. Keep up the good posts!

  2. Anonymous- thanks! And thanks for posting, buty ou didn't answer the question...

  3. Prior to dating, I never thought about it. But I met my wife after 1 year of dating. I think guys start dating not because they wake up and say they are ready to get married but because of their age and that is what is expected of them, particularly if they are still in yeshiva.
    Also, it depends on the circle you are in. The more MO you are, the longer it is OK to be in a relationship. Our neighbors dated for the length of my dating and engagement.
    In the yeshivish world if you have dated for 6 weeks and aren't engaged then people are wondering why. It is perfectly normal for MO people for date for a year. So while a Yeshivish girl/guy may go out with 15 people a year, a MO person may go out with 3 thus prolonging the process.
    You went to Stern, but seem to be slightly right of center, which means that you are probably going out with frumer YU types (rather than yeshiva guys - by which I mean, Torah V'Daas or Orach Chaim or even Ner Yisrael - although a few may slip in). So you could fit in either type.

  4. I didn't want to marry right away - for a while was very casual and unrushed about the whole experience. Now I have to talk myself off the ledge.

    Seriously, though, while my mother is hiding her hysteria quite well and my nieces are impatiently demanding a wedding, I just keep telling myself that all in it's proper time. At least, that phrase is working on me this week.

    My neigbor dated her guy for a long time - maybe as long as 6 months (no, they do not qualify as MO) and she is having a 6 month engagement. I think it's wonderful. I like the idea of leisurely dating without zooming through the whole process. You only get married (hopefully!) once. Enjoy it. Bask in it. Savor it.

  5. I know this won't help much, but I didn't think at all about it when I started dating and probably had zero expectations. I was totally fine for a while with the dearth of dates and only once my friends started getting engaged one after the other, that I was like, "Hey, what about me?"

    The only time I ever really think about "the end" is on yomim tovim and birthdays, when I am so sure that by the next year, I'll definitely be celebrating with my husband and so far, I've been (mildly) disappointed many times over. There really is no way to know with these things. It's not in our hands after all.

    But hopefully there's an end in sight for you....and may it comes really soon without any aggravation or additional frustration!

  6. Anonymous- it's not just guys. I think a lot of girls also start dating because that is what is expected of them and don't give much thought as to whether they are ready or not (emotionally, financially etc.) In fact I know of a friend who actually thought about it deeply and just started dating recently, even though most of her friends started years ago. People kept pressuring her to date, but she was realistic.

    Bookworm- I'm all for taking your time and not rushing through the process! Once you've found the right person, that is. I wouldn't want to get married to someone before taking the time to get to know them as much as I can. That being said, at this point I'd like to rush through this time period and skip to the part where I've found the right person. I know, I know, the journey is just as valuable as the end goal. It's hard to internalize that, though.

    Sun Inside Rain- that's good that you didn't go in with any expectations, I wish I hadn't. I completely know what you mean about expecting to be married by your next birthday or the next Yom Tov and then thinking, "Last year at this time I thought I'd be married." Particularly Rosh Hashana when you think about the coming year. And that is sneaking up on us soon...
    PS I've been meaning to tell you that I like your name :)

  7. I actually thought that I would take a while or would get extremely lucky. Almost 2 years in I seem to be correct in that assessment. I am actually looking for a style of woman who is unfortunately considered a rarity in the Bais Yaakov world. Because of that, I prepared myself early for the long haul, and have kept my chin-up mostly throughout dating.

  8. harry-er: interesting. thats good that you were realistic in your expectations. I don't see why looking for someone "rare" should take longer- we are all only looking for one person. If fact some of the more out-of-the-box people that I know got married first- since both them and their spouse are so unique, it was easy to set them up. How "rare" a type of person is should have nothing to do with how long it takes- its all up to Hashem. Plenty of typical people remain single for a long time.

  9. i had a post about expectations-
    id love to hear your comments- but in terms of your question i honestly didnt think i would marry this first guy i went out with and thank G-d for that, cuz the girls who come home from sem thinking they are gonna get marries 3 months later are in for serious pain when it is three years later and they are still not engaged..

  10. aminspiration- I think that most people don't expect to marry the first person they date, and maybe not the second either. But some people think that by the time they've dated 3 or 4 people they should have found the right one already. And obviously that is crazy and I'm sure glad I didn't expect that! But apparently the number I thought was realistic was not realistic for me.

  11. sterngrad- the funny thing about looking for open-minded, is that every girl is open-minded when they are more than the shadchan :-)

  12. harry-er- yes, open-minded is a relative/subjective word. You have to be more specific if you're looking for someone "open minded" what you mean exactly by that.


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