Thursday, May 04, 2006

Pushy Shadchanim

I've been quieter than usual lately, with finals a'coming.

Finals times reminds me of one annoying incident that took place last year. Because Pesach came out so late, and finals were right after, I took a long (and much-needed) break from dating, for about 4-6 weeks. If anyone would call me or my mother, we'd explain that I was on a break, not pursuing anyone now. Okay, maybe we'll research it, but no saying "yes" till after finals, when I'd have my head cleared and ready to decide on the myriads of girls lining up outside my door for the chance to spend an evening with the Angry Miserable Dater.

One particular shadchan decided he would have none of that. So when he told me about the girl and I responded with the usual BS: "listen, she sounds like a great girl, but you have to understand, I'm busy studying now, and I'm getting a lot of calls, etc.," he would have none of that. He just kept going on and on about how amazing this girl was, and how I should go out with her as soon as I started dating again. I nearly hung up on the guy, but eventually said "I'll think about it and call you back."

He kept calling me and tried selling the girl like a used car, and, with the pressure of finals on my mind and this guy on my back, I just capitulated. I said yes. I went out. It was nothing special. And I still hate pushy shadchanim.

- To me, the shadchan is just doing me a favor. She's like the guy offering me a ride on the way home from shul. I can say yes if I want to, but if it's a nice day and I want to walk home, that should be acceptable too. No guy in his right mind would say, "no, you have to come into my car! I'm not letting you walk home! I don't care what you want to do!" If the person wants to decline your offer, for whatever reason, that should be fine. And with shidduchim, it should be the same thing.

Now, I know some of you will say, "but the guys and girls making these decisions are so young and immature, and sometimes they don't know what they're looking for. That's why they need an adult to push them to go out with people that are good for them." Stupidity. If the girl is gonna say "no" for a stupid reason (like in KIA's story), so be it. It's not your problem. If the guy says no because he'll only go out with a Pamela Anderson lookalike, don't bother him. Maybe tell him he's being a little unrealistic, but don't get pushy. Besides, if the guy is going to act so irrationally, would you want to set him up with a decent girl? Let him come to his senses when he's 28 and single.

- While the above shadchan was making me crazy, my mother kept telling me, "you know, Dad only went out with me because the shadchan was pushy."

Stories like that do nothing for me. For every person who was pushed by a shadchan and went out on a date, there are a hundred who were pushed and had a date from gehinnom. Besides, in my situation, there were plenty of girls that I WANTED to go out with! So that jerk had no right to stick his butt in where it didn't belong. If his girl even belonged on my list, she should've been rock bottom.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Age Issue

Tried to make a shidduch between a 25-year-old Flakewood boy and 20-year-old girl who is looking for a learner.

Was told by a friend of the girl's that 25 is too old.

You know what? If you're (God forbid) 30 and single, I don't want to hear it. I mean, come on. WTF?

All I hear about in the chareidi circles is the shidduch crisis. So many good girls and not enough good boys. Very competitive. Nebach.

So here I come along with a nice fellow, who is not a freak, not a psychopath, and without hesitation, NO.

What's the deal? There are a couple of possibilities:

(a) The assumption is that at 25, he must not be a great guy because the really good ones get taken right away. Ergo, there must be something wrong with him.

(b) Because he's five years her senior, they won't have enough in common.

Here's how I'd respond to both: If you're going to throw (a) at me, it's a double standard, because when a girl is 25, we can't say she's over the hill. She "slipped through the cracks" but is completely normal, a great girl who's just been unlucky, blah blah blah. Why can't the same be said about the guy? Granted, if it's a guy's market you'd think the odds would be lower, but whatever happened to dan lekaf zchus?

As far as (b) goes, how do you know just based on age? Maybe he's got a youthful heart (notice I didn't say immature heart), or maybe the fact that he's older than a 21-year-old means he's more mature, more responsible, more serious, et cetera.

It's times like these that make me think the whole shidduch crisis is a sham and merely a cheap ploy for sympathy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dating Books

I can probably write this post in a sentence: if you're relying on books to tell you what to look for in a prospective spouse, do every guy out there a favor and get the hell off the market, because you're not ready to date!

Most of the stuff they tell you in these speeches is just plain common sense (and I'm not talking about the propoganda stuff like "you have to marry a learning guy," which is a whole other discussion). "Look for midos" is what they tell you. Duh! You're going to be spending the rest of your life with this person! I would hope they're a nice guy!

A friend of mine once told me about a sheet of topics not to discuss on a first date. One of them was "bad traits." Just in case you thought talking about your anger problem would really turn the girl on.

My all-time favorite has to be from the cheat sheet in Joy Browne's "Dating for Dummies," where she tells women not to comment on a guy's receding hairline. As if a girl would be dumb enough to say, "wow, I just love that combover on you! It looks great! Especially when it gets windy and it starts flapping all around!"

Now, on some level, everyone lacks common sense. And everyone occasionally needs a reminder of how things should be in order to keep them from doing anything crazy. The Mesillas Yesharim in his Hakdama writes that his sefer is filled with things that are pretty much obvious; it's merely serving as a reminder and wake-up call to tell us what our ideals should be.

But when it comes to dating and getting married, I would hope the lack of common sense would be pretty small. And to fill in those gaps, it would suffice to talk to a friend or sibling about dating.

But if someone is so clueless as to need a whole book about the dating process, then they should wait till they mature or get a little street-smart before going out.

I guess in our society, where every 19-year old girl is deemed "ready to get married," common sense is no longer a prerequisite for dating and marriage. And that's probably why some of these books sell so well.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Kids From Divorced Homes

Let's say you're set up with someone from a divorced home. Do you dump them right away? Give them a fair shot? Does it even matter?

I say, red flag, but don't dump them. If you can, find out how messy the divorce was. The messier it was, the bigger the red flag is. You can't ignore the fact that divorce can be traumatizing for kids. It can really screw kids up. I'm sure everyone out there knows at least one kid from a divorced home that either went off the derech, had a nervous breakdown, etc.

There are also families with a history of divorce for many generations. That's a major red flag, and a sign of some serious, serious issues. Tread carefully.

On the other hand, though, I know a lot of kids from divorced homes who are very well adjusted. And conversely, there are many kids from homes with "happy" marriages who are seriously screwed up! And, in a way the kids from the settled homes can be trickier, because there are no red flags. While it's pretty easy to just brush someone off because their parents were divorced, the kids from the "normal" homes have a somewhat easier time hiding their issues. The lack of a red flag means that people may not be as conscious of subtle problems that come across during the dating process.

Besides, sometimes divorce can be beneficial for child-raising. I think it's better for a kid to be raised by a mom alone that by a "happily married" couple that's screaming at each other every night and only staying together for the kids' reputations.

And that's why having a "no divorces" policy is stupid. There are some great kids out there who just happen to be from divorced homes. What's more reasonable is to do extra research and be extra careful when dating them.

-- I know that many of you were offended by "Know It All"'s last post, and wanted to apologize for that.

But I do sense a bit of a double standard, though. Many of my rabbeim have made similar comments about YU and the Modern Orthodox community. (I still remember my high school principal bashing the non-existent gay clubs in YU.) Publications like the JO and the Yated also blast these communities and many of their leaders. But I don't hear anyone yell "self-hating Jew" or "lashon hora" about that stuff. It's something to think about.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dating Chassidim

You know who pisses me off? Yael Respler. She wrote in the Jewish Depressed many years ago that a girl from a "Litvishe" background should consider dating a boy from a Chassidishe background and vice versa. She reasons as follows: Just because the boy is Chassidish, it doesn't mean they can't relate. Yes, there will be some differences in minhagim, but not every boy from the Chassidishe background is totally Chassidish, blah blah blah.

In other words, you want the fakers among them.

Yael Respler is totally wrong on this one. Who the hell would want their kids marrying Chassidim? Certainly not me! Who the hell are the Chassidim anyway? Let's see, they:

(a)Broke the traditions of their forefathers;

(b) Clearly violate the halacha (z'man tefillah, for one);

(c) Learn kaballah even though they have no business doing so;

(d) Think they're brighter than you are, especially if you're too stupid to screw the government;

(e) Think college is evil, so it's better to have 15 kids with no way to support them (then again, see the entry above and you'll know how they do it);

(f) Riot and start fires in the streets;

(g) Think their rebbe (who could be a nine-year-old, if the kid's dad was the rebbe and died) is God;

And the list goes on. But the "mainstream" yeshiva world gives them a free pass. Why? A couple of chumrahs (cholov yisroel, separation of the sexes, white-shirt-black-pants, etc.), and they're holy, holy people that we can only aspire to be like, hence the Chassidishization of the Litvish.

Yeah, yeah, I know they're not all bad, there are some good ones, but people like Yael Respler give them a free pass no matter what they do, so when someone suggests a Chassidishe boy for your daughter, you're supposed to get all horny.

What if you suggested a good, serious YU boy for a Chassidishe girl? They'd throw you out on your ass. Because YU is evil. Why? Because the Yeshivish said so. The Chassidim are high and mighty, and the rest of us are lowly individuals who can only aspire to be like them.

So if someone wants to set you up with a Chasid, stay far, far away.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Giving Reasons For Dumping Someone

One of the worst parts of the shidduch system, right down there with one of those "over before it started" dates, has got to be getting dumped.

Most people never say why they dumped someone. Far too often, I've heard the words, "she had a great time, but it just wasn't for her." What does that mean? How could she know? After just 3 hours? The mystery can be very frustrating. And if you liked the person who dumped you, there's that agonizing debate in your head that goes on: "if I would've done this differently, maybe she would've said yes," or, "was it something I said?" Then you have the people who just say, "it was hashkafos." Which is sometimes accurate, but often just a cover for a real reason.

There's a lot to be discussed about dumping and being dumped, but I'd like focus on one particular issue today: giving reasons. Are these things better left unsaid, so that the dumpee's feelings aren't hurt? Or perhaps all of us can use some constructive criticism, right?

For me, there are three categories in question here: a) people who dump others for things beyond their control, b) people who dump others for things they can control, and c) people who dump others for ridiculous reasons.

If someone dumps somebody else because they were too nerdy, too fat, or too stupid, just don't bring it up. They can't do anything about it anyway, so why make them feel like an idiot. Now, some of the obese people can do something about their situation (Weight Watchers, anyone?), but most of them are aware of the situation, and they're probably not too happy about it. And if they're totally oblivious to their weight problem, then let a good friend break the news to them ("did it ever occur to you that most men aren't attracted to 200-pounders?").

And if it's something that someone can control, I think it would be helpful to mention it. A friend of mine went out with a girl, and he enjoyed her company very much. He got dumped, however, and was very disappointed. Eventually, his mother found out why he was dumped. Word was that he was too negative on the date. That's the kind of thing that some people need to hear. I'm sure the guy had this criticism in the back of his mind on future dates. So if it's something someone can reasonably fix, why not mention it? Dating can be so frustrating, because there's no feedback. And some people need that.

And if you dump someone for a stupid reason, just leave it to yourself. Keep your reputation intact.

-- Heard a really awful cover-up reason that I heard recently: a friend of mine said he was dumped because "he seemed too "yekkish." Like if something was called for 7:30, he'd show up on time. And I don't know if I can live with that." Now, either the chassidishization of the litvish is totally out of control, or there are some really pathetic liars out there.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bald Guys

I'm sick of excuses that a guy must keep his hat on for three hours on a date because he's losing his hair and he's insecure about it. That's funny, because I know plenty of bald guys who've gotten married (and yes, they needed rugs when they were single), and some guys with plenty of hair who are older singles. So how is it that baldness causes one to be single?

If the guy is insecure, it's not about the hair. There are way more issues, and he's using the baldness as a cheap excuse as if to say, hey, it ain't my fault I'm bald.

Exactly! If it's something you can't control, why be insecure about it? If you're a good guy with brains, a decent job, a sense of humor, and personality, you'll do okay for yourself with or without a full head of hair.

So quit keeping the hat on the whole time (which begs the question, does he wear his hat in the bathroom, too?), or the comb-over, which doesn't fool anyone with a quarter of a brain. Let it shine! Show the girl that you're mature enough to deal with it, not a schmuck who's trying to hide it. If you're a good catch with the aforementioned attributes, any girl who turns you down on the basis of your baldness alone is a shallow a-hole.