Sunday, February 27, 2011

Speed Dating

“You can’t knock it until you’ve tried it!” Those were the famous last words that I told my friend, in response to her less-than thrilled reaction when we found out that there would be speed dating at the singles Shabbaton we were about to attend. Although my comment might imply that I was all for speed dating, I continued to explain to her that without ever experiencing something, one cannot fully critique it and figure out how to improve it. I admit that I was looking forward to the chance to making of the whole thing. Having never been to an event with speed dating, I too feared that it would be potentially quite awkward. I imagined rows of guys and girls sitting across from each other glancing nervously at one another.

When I thought about it more, I realized that one benefit of speed dating is that if it is awkward, it only lasts a few minutes, as opposed to an actual date where the awkwardness can last for hours. While it is true that some of the bad dates I have been on only became awkward an hour or two into the date, most bad dates were ones in which I could tell that the date was not going anywhere after two minutes. Despite this benefit, I was eagerly looking forward to tearing apart the event and laughing it off. Perhaps my attitude of “I doubt I will actually meet someone this way, so I might as well have fun” was the right choice for me, (not because I met someone- I didn’t- but,) because speed dating was not as big of a disaster as I had anticipated.

One surprising component of the speed dating on the Shabbaton was that it turned out to be group speed dating instead of one-on-one. Meaning that I sat at a table with two friends, while groups of 2-3 guys rotated and came group by group to sit down at our table. This method had its pros and cons. On the one hand it was great because it kept the environment more chilled and less pressured, but on the other hand, in some cases we each ended up only talking to the person directly in front of us, so I did not have the opportunity to meet the other two guys in the group. The best thing about speed dating was what I mentioned before, that things are short enough so that awkward pauses can be almost entirely avoided. By the time you’ve each said your name, what you are doing with your life and gone through the typical follow up questions, it is time to move on to the next person, or in this case, group of people.

Overall, I was surprised at how non-awkward and even fun the entire thing was. So much for my plan to knock it. However, there were two main problems with speed-dating. The first one is that there were guys on the Shabbaton that I had already dated, and so they came to my table as well. Here is where the fact that it was group speed dating was really helpful, as I did not end up sitting one-on-one with guys I already dated. But potentially in a situation where speed dating is one-on-one, this could have been uncomfortable.

The second is that it is really difficult to remember all the people who you meet, and this is especially the case on shabbos where we could not write things down or take notes about the person. In general I have a pretty good memory for names and faces, and often find that people do not remember me, while I will remember them. When I was a camp counselor those I worked with were always impressed that in an hour I had learned the names of all 20 kids in the bunk. Yet after I had speed dated with about 20 guys, I glanced through the list of guys to see which ones I remembered and there were only one or two that stuck out. I could not put a face the names of any of the rest of the guys. At least if it had not been shabbos I could have put stars next to the ones I was interested in talking to further, though there are no guarantees I would remember which ones they were.

Despite these two down-sides (that it is hard to remember each person you meet and that it could be bad when you have already dated a few of the guys), I think that speed dating is a really great idea and should be utilized more in the shidduch world. Particularly in the shidduch world this type of thing has the potential to go a long way. Why? Let me explain. If you break down the process of trying to find the right person there are two components: The person and the paper. The paper consists of background, family, beliefs, values, etc. - things that can be found out in advance, and written down on paper. The person refers to a combination of chemistry and personality. By “chemistry” I do not simply mean looks, but also the interaction between two people. How do they get along? Are they comfortable with each other? Do they find it easy to talk to each other? Do they understand each other?

In the Western world, aside from blind dating, dating begins with the person and ends with a paper. People meet in social settings, such as parties, bars, weddings, social events, and if two people like each other they will start to date, and then as they get to know each other they discover all of the “paper” parts of the person- where they went to school, their family, their religious, political, and other beliefs. In shidduchim we start with the paper and end with the person. This is better then starting with the person and ending with the paper because otherwise you can develop feelings for someone who is not the right one to share your life with. See my post about that here. Additionally, starting with the person would not work in frum circles because most of us have spent our lives in environments where members of the opposite sex have been separated. Putting tons of singles in the same room results in the girls talking to the girls and the guys talking to the guys. Each one is too scared to approach the other. Those who are accustomed to coed environments do not experience this problem to the same extent. For both these reasons, the “start with the person” method does not work.

The problem with starting with the paper and ending with the person is that as we all know, a person is much more than a paper. Two people can seem exactly the same on paper, yet be drastically different in person. (By the way, the reverse is true. Two people may be similar when you meet them, but after getting to know them you might discover they come from completely different backgrounds and hold different beliefs.)

Speed dating is the perfect synthesis of the two methods- starting with the person and starting with the paper. Although the process begins with the person, it is just a small taste of the person and it quickly leads to the paper. While most “start with the person” experiences are casual and informal, which demands one person to approach another, speed dating is formal and everyone meets everyone. This is all granted that all of the participants are generally on the same page hashkafically.

From my one speed dating experience, I would make the following improvements:
1. It should not be done on shabbos, because it is best for participants to be able to write things down and take notes. Each meeting should be followed by 60 seconds to write down these notes.
2. Ideally, speed dating should be followed by shidduch profiles being made available to participants. Singles should approach shadchanim who are present at the event with a list of those who they were interested in, and then shadchanim should see which two people were interested in each other and then continue from there. This did not happen at the event I was at. I would even go so far as to suggest that perhaps the men simply give a list of those who they were interested in, and then the shadchanim could approach those women to see if they would be open to giving it a shot.

All in all, I had a fun time and enjoyed meeting new people, despite my original skepticism. Have you ever been to a speed-dating event? Would you be open to it or do you think it is a terrible idea?


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Disney Princesses

I grew up watching Disney movies. When I was little, I watched the older classics, like Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella. I even remember when Aladdin came out, and watching Pocahontas in a movie theater. My childhood was all about rooting for the good guys, waiting for the evil villains to meet their end, being scared at the scary parts, crying at the sad parts, and laughing at the funny parts. Singing along with all of those songs was a favorite pastime of mine as well.

Mostly these movies have great lessons. Beauty and the Beast teaches us not to judge a book by its cover, Cinderella teaches us never to give up hope because magic can happen even to the girl who becomes a maid and is ordered around be all. Even she can find true love and be swept away by a prince. Aladdin has a similar message in the reverse- a poor boy can have his wishes granted and marry a princess, as long as he learns not to lie along the way. The little mermaid teaches us that we can marry someone who is different than we are (though all of my teachers used to say how this movie was bad because it encourages intermarriage.)

Although I enjoyed Disney movies, I never wanted to be a Disney princess. None of them are very intelligent, at least not in the earlier movies, and they do not have much personality. They are weak, passive characters who cry every time something doesn’t go their way instead of facing situations with determination, courage and strength. The only character like this was Mulan, which was made later on, and who I must point out pretended to be a man for half the movie. Not exactly the best female role models.

Despite the good lessons, these fairy tale movies also give us unrealistic views on how life works, such as that everything always ends up happily ever after. They also teach us completely wrong ideas about love and romance, as portrayed by this video I found that is hilarious, yet so scarily true about the messages that Disney sends. Enjoy!

How to Make A Guy Like You- Disney Princess Style


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Take the Shot"

Check out the new Charlie Harary video from entitled, "Take the Shot," for a quick 4 minute refresher on the purpose of life. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

To Be Human

What makes humans so special? This question used to be asked by comparing humans to animals. How are humans better than animals? Some answers that I have heard fall into one of the following three things: 1. Speech/language 2. Free will 3. Humans have minds/ brains/ souls. Animals don’t think, they don’t ask questions, they don’t debate whether they should do a good deed or an evil one.

The new, modern form of this question is: How are humans better than machines? That is the question that has been going around the internet in response to the Jeopardy match where two extremely skilled players played against a machine developed by IMB nick-named Watson. Despite tricky questions with puns and words with many different possible meanings, Watson beat the two humans.

I did not watch the show, but one of the players wrote a fascinating piece which I really enjoyed reading and recommend, entitled, “My Puny Human Brain.”

Most articles I read about the human vs. machine debate took the approach, “Wow, look at how amazing machines are. They are better than humans! Machines are going to take over the world!” This approach is forgetting that humans are the ones who made the machines to begin with. We’re so focused on how awesome the machines are that we forget that really it is the humans behind the machines who are so awesome. Machines are only as smart as the humans who programmed them.

This made me think about how really this leads back to the fact that Hashem is so awesome. Hashem created us and gave us the power to create. We get so arrogant about all that we can accomplish, when really it is Hashem who gave us the ability to do everything that we do. We only have as much power as Hashem gives us.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

101 Reasons Why I Want to Get Married

Editor's Note, March 3, 2011:
It is clear to me now that this post has been somewhat misunderstood, and so I would like to reiterate that there are many things on this list that are here simply to be humorous, (for example, #41 Social pressure)
I wrote this list for fun, and I hope you, my readers, can read it in that spirit. I truly did not mean to offend anyone and I apologize if I did so, but as this was a fun exercise, I stand by my work in the spirit in which I wrote it. Thank you.

I was trying to think of a good list of 101 things for my 101st post. I had been thinking of writing a post about reasons why I would like to get married, and figured this would be a good challenge. But I wasn’t sure I could think of 101 reasons. That is a lot of reasons after all. Then I remembered how someone told one of my friends that the reason she wasn’t married is because she didn’t want to get married enough. “Ein davar Haomed mipnei Haratzon,” nothing stands in the way of desire, right? I think that if I have 101 reasons, then I must want to get married enough. So, for post #101 I present you with: 101 Reasons Why I Want to Get Married

Before you read this post, I suggest you try coming up with as many reasons as you can to get married or if you’re already married, reasons you are glad you are married. It is pretty hard to get to 101! The first time I sat down to do this, I came up with 50 reasons off the top of my head, and the rest took some thinking. The truth is that only about 10 or 15 of these reasons are the real, true, deep, serious, sincere reasons that I would like to get married, and you might not even be able to guess which ones those are, because I think every person is motivated by different things.

Some of the reasons are serious, some are meant to be humorous, some are ridiculous, and others are terrible reasons to get married, especially if that was your only reason. And sure, you could argue that some of them I could do while I’m still single, but marriage makes them easier/better/more fun.

I would also like to add that if I were to make a list of “Reasons why I love my life right now,” it would be much, much, much more than 101, and in case it is not obvious, loving my current life as a single, and sincerely wanting to get married are not mutually exclusive.

With that nice introduction, here they are:

101 Reasons to Get Married

1. Because Hashem wants me to get married (even though there is no Halachic requirement for women to get married, I would argue that a Torah lifestyle encourages it.)
2. So that I can host guests ( I mean, I do that now, but it’s not quite the same)
3. To experience true love/ to be in love
4. To always be with someone I love
5. To be with someone who loves me
6. To give to someone more than I give in any other relationship
7. To be able to make someone happy by just being with them
8. To live with someone who I chose and who chose me (unlike family which we’re born with and don’t get to pick), and I have committed to spend the rest of my life with and vica versa (unlike friends or roommates who might come and go)
9. To have someone special to cook for
10. Someone to clean for (you know I must love you if I clean up after you.)
11. So that I don’t have to be alone/ I have someone to be with
12. Someone to go on walks with
13. Someone to open cans/jars
14. Someone to take out the garbage
15. Someone to kill/ get rid of bugs (although I can totally see myself ending up with someone who is more afraid of bugs than I am, and when I’m around people like that I magically find the ability to get rid of them myself.)
16. Someone to get rid of rodents (Yes, I am scared of mice.)
17. To have kids/ a family
18. Because it will make my parents happy to see me happy
19. Because my grandparents have told me they want great-grandkids
20. For my siblings who want a brother-in-law, and nieces/nephews
21. Because I would really like to get married before my younger sister who is approaching the time in her life when she will be ready to start dating
22. Because I love family, and when you get married you get more family members- aunts, uncles, cousins…
23. To move out of the New York area (particularly to Israel. Even though I could do this on my own, most of my friends and family live in the New York area and I wouldn’t want to leave them and move somewhere all by myself.)
24. So I can live in a house. Much more spacious than in an apartment, but what would I do with all that space all by myself?
25. Because marriage is good for spiritual growth
26. Because covering my hair will be awesome on 3 day yontifs and bad hair days!
27. To never have to worry about straightening my hair ever again
28. I love Mitzvos- there are more mitzvos to keep when married
29. To find a new closest best friend
30. For the new dishes and all the presents that come along with getting married
31. To be complete and not like I’m missing half my soul
32. To share every aspect of my life with someone
33. Money- two salaries are better than one
34. So people will stop feeling bad for me/ giving me looks of pity
35. So I can avoid the awkwardness that comes after comments such as, “You’re single? Oh, I hated being single, I’m glad that’s over. Dating was terrible.” (Um, what do you say to that one?)
36. Someone to sing with/to sing zemirot with/someone to do harmony with
37. Because weddings are so much fun
38. Because vorts/ engagement parties are so much fun
39. Because bridal showers are not fun unless you are the bride
40. Physical Intimacy
41. Social pressure- it’s what society wants from me
42. To build a home where the shechina can rest- i.e. a Bayit Neeman Biyisrael
43. Curiosity- because I’m so curious what the person I’m going to end up with will be like. (Will he be outgoing or quiet? Short or tall?)
44. “Tovim Hashnaim min haechad” - two are better than one, can accomplish more than one
45. Because Hashem said that לא טוב היות אדם לבדו
46. To have the Ezer Kinegdo Relationship
47. Because research studies show that married people are happier
48. To better understand the concept of Ahavat Hashem. The relationship of B’nei Yisrael to Hashem is compared to husband and wife
49. To better understand Shir Hashirim
50. To have kids and understand how Hashem relates to us as a parent
51. So that I never have to go on an awkward first date ever again!
52. No more singles Shabbatons
53. So that I never again have to get rejected after what I thought was a good date
54. So that no one will call me “picky”
55. No more dating drama
56. No more shadchanim who think that just because he is a Jewish guy and I am a Jewish girl we have enough in common to get married
57. To see Hashem’s hashgacha in my life- it’s a miracle to find that one in a million
58. To be able to thank Hashem for answering my Tefillot
59. To have a marriage anniversary- just another occasion to celebrate- and to receive gifts!
60. So when creepy guys hit on me in the subway I can say things like “my husband would not be too happy about this…” (I could do that now, but I’m not a good liar)
61. To finally be able to see shtick that guys do at weddings!! I can never see over all the women who push to the front so I have no clue what kind of cool things go on.
62. So I can always been sincerely happy when others get engaged and married instead of feeling “When will that be me?”
63. So I can start this next stage of my life
64. So that I won’t end up being an old maid
65. It’s the cool thing to do
66. I love proposal stories and can’t wait for the day when it’s a reality and I can stop dreaming about my own
67. I love stories about how couples met, and can’t wait to have my own of those, too.
68. To have someone around to fix broken things- guys are handy
69. To be with someone who inspires me, someone for me to inspire
70. To be “Mrs.”
71. To have an extra hand to help my father build the Sukkah
72. Someone (else) to sit with my father in shul
73. To have someone who can be chazan and sing my favorite tunes
74. Because going to a restaurant by yourself is pathetic, and going with a friend is just not the same thing as with a spouse.
75. Because life is more fun when it is experienced with someone else
76. To be on
77. To change my status on Facebook to “married”
78. To rekindle old friendships- somehow when you get engaged/married, people come out of nowhere to wish you Mazel Tov
79. Someone to travel the world with
80. To have a place that I call “home” that is not my parents house (I try to call my current apartment “home,” but it just doesn’t stick. Although I suppose in some sense my parents’ house will just always be home.)
81. Because when I see parents who mistreat their children in public (such as on the subway) I long to prove that I will be a better parent than that
82. Because I like to see things from different perspectives and guys think very differently than girls
83. To have deep meaningful conversations
84. To be able to learn more Torah. Let’s face it, guys know more Torah than girls because they have a Mitzvah to learn Torah. I hope he’ll share some of that knowledge with me. (“Hey honey, guess what I learned today?”)
85. So I can stop worrying, “What if I never get married? What if there is no one out there for me?”
86. So I can be a shadchan and set people up
87. So my single friends can use me as their “married friend” reference
88. Two words: Diamond Ring. (Actually, I personally dislike jewelry, and wish I didn’t have to wear a ring when the time comes, but I know if I don’t then I’ll spend my life answering the people who ask me why I’m not wearing one. I felt like I had to put this on for all the people who were thinking it.)
89. To have someone to look good for (note: I mainly look good for myself. But it would be nice to have someone else to appreciate it, too.)
90. So I can eat whatever I want without having to worry that I might *gasp* gain a few pounds
91. A great way to lose weight- to have someone to give half the bag of M & M's to
92. Marriage = Sharing. Sharing = Caring.
93. It’s a great excuse for being antisocial
94. Someone to help shovel the snow. Women are just not as strong as men. (Ok, at least I’m not)
95. Someone to shop for- I’ve never bought a tie!
96. To learn new things- like how to tie a tie. (OK, *you* try coming up with101 reasons…)
97. Someone to argue with every now and then. Resolving conflict is so satisfying. Shalom Bayit takes work, but the end results seem to be amazing.
98. So that I’ll understand things like why newly married friends fall off the face of the planet (As in, “When you’re married, you’ll understand.)
99. Because when I look at my parents, and my grandparents, who are so in love and such great role models of what a good marriage should be, I wish that I had what they have.
100. Because true love is a powerful emotion, that I believe has the power to change a person
101. Because I am impatient and I’m waiting...

Now that you have read the list:
• Any reasons that I missed? Any other reasons you can think of?
• Pick 3-5 that you would say rank pretty high on your list


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Post Number 100

Well, I have reached a milestone. This is my 100th post. Yay!

To all of you reading this, thank you so much for reading. When I started this blog I wasn’t sure where it would take me, and I was happy to find that I am really enjoying it.

In honor of Post #100 I wanted to share some of the highlights of this blog:

Here are the top 3 posts with the most comments:

2. Just the way you are
3. Slipping up

My Top Ten Personal Favorite Posts:

1. Letter to my Bad Day

2. Everywhere

3. "Droughts"

4. Ups and Downs

5. Different Approaches to the Shidduch Crisis

6. Hashkafa

7. Views on Feminism

8. The Tale of the Good First Date

9. Things I wish I knew before I started dating

10. Breaking My TV Addiction

Two questions for you:
1. Which posts did you like?
2. Are there any topics you would like to read about?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"One and Done" vs. Second Date = Second Chance

Before I started dating, someone, possibly a teacher, told me that one should always go on a second date unless the first date was a really, really big disaster. The reasoning is that sometimes people are nervous on a first date, or you don’t get to know them really, or perhaps they’ll grow on you. I know plenty of people who subscribe to this philosophy as well, and I include myself in that category. I have two thoughts about this. The first is that my experience (and when I say “my experience” it’s not only my personal experience, but also when consulting others who are dating) seems to indicate that this is told a lot more to girls than it is to guys. Guys are given more leeway to end things earlier while girls are pushed to continue and try it again.

My second thought is that the line is not always clear. How does one define what qualifies as a bad enough first date that a second is not worth a shot? In a case when the date was awful, and you were miserable the whole time, there were major problems or issues that came up, and you kept waiting impatiently for it to be over, then it seems clear that it was a “one and done.” Especially if your gut reaction to the thought of spending another minute with the person is, “Noooooo!!”

That type of situation has only happened to me twice, and in both cases the hardest part was dealing with shadchan/ the person who set us up. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by telling them that they were very off target, especially since in both cases I matched up on paper with the guys, and it was just a matter of a lack of connection in person, which they could not have foreseen in advance in either case. So then I end up explaining that the person wasn’t for me, while assuring them that it wasn’t awful or so far off. But if it wasn’t so awful or far off, then the person is curious as to why I am refusing to go on a second date. At some point, I just have to tell them to trust me on this one.

The thing is, what about when it’s not clearly awful? What about the cases where it wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t terrible? You know, where you might have had an awkward silence here and there, but overall conversation flowed and your date wasn’t completely unattractive? In some of those cases you can still just have a gut feeling that this person is not right for you. It doesn’t always need to be awful for you to feel that it is not going to work. This goes back to my post about being picky- it is as though if I don’t give a guy a second chance, even though I can tell it is going nowhere, then I am accused of not being fair and being too selective. Which is why I hope that the guy will say no so that I won’t have to, and if he does, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. No one can blame me this time. It seems to me that if a date is in the mediocre category, guys are more quickly to be done with it than girls are.

After a first date I try to think about how much the guy was really able to get to know me, and sometimes I feel they got a good gist of it, while sometimes I feel like they barely know me at all. I mean, really, how well can you know another person after a few hours? How can you be sure after a few hours that a person is definitely not the right one for you, if there were no huge outstanding issues? I ask this sometimes, yet admit that I am guilty of being quick to trust my gut. Which is not a bad thing, because it’s usually right. In both of the cases where I went on completely awful dates, I had a feeling the date would be bad within the first 3 minutes of my phone calls with the guys.

Usually, unless I can’t picture spending another minute with the person, I believe in second chances. This is because it can’t hurt to try again, whereas if I say no too quickly, the risk is losing my bashert. Some people, however, subscribe to the other philosophy; unless there was something special about the date, then it is not worth going on a second date. No need to justify it. Once was more than enough, thank you very much.

Food for thought: What is your approach? Do you believe in second chances? Do you believe it is possible for people have a gut feeling after one date, or do you think that is ridiculous since you barely got to know the person?


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Murphy’s Laws of Shidduch Dating

We all have experienced in life that, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong". With that in mind, I present to you Murphy’s Laws of Shidduch Dating:

1. If you have been waiting all night for a guy to call, and you decide to go to the bathroom, he will call during those five minutes. (When you do connect it goes something like this: “I’m sorry I missed your call….” Followed by “Oh, I didn’t mean to call at an inconvenient time…” followed by “Oh it wasn’t an inconvenient time…” I’ve been waiting all night for you to call!)

2. If you agree to go out with someone who seems to fit basically what you're looking for, someone who seems like an even better fit will be suggested to you right afterwards, who you will have to say no to. (And we all know that then when you become available, that person has since moved on to someone else.)

3. If you forget to turn your phone off/ on to silent during a date, it will ring. (Even if everyone you know who could possibly be calling you is busy!)

4. If you are running late, your date will be running early. If you are sitting waiting for your date, your date will inevitably get stuck in traffic.

5. If you decide to dress for sitting/indoor date, then your date will ask at the end if you’d like to go on a walk. (Never wear high heels that you can’t walk in. Always bring an extra layer if it’s cold)

Now comes the fun part: Please add some of your own! There are plenty of other things that could go wrong, and have gone wrong. What are some things that have gone wrong on your dates? What are some things that could potentially go wrong on dates that you have always been worried would happen? Most of these are from a female perspective- guys, what goes wrong for you on dates?