Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words - But Are They The Right Words?

Here's a short post on what sometimes is a very contentious topic.  I don't mean there is a lot of controversy about it directly, but that there are strong viewpoints on each side.

Should resumes include a picture of the person?

It seems fair that it should work for both men and women but with the imbalance of the men-women ratio in most communities, it seems that the men are driving this issue too.

But since I try to be pretty even handed about things, let's try it this way.  How many girls ask to see a picture of the guy?  That's the same number of guys that should be asking for pictures of the girls.  

No, I'm not being naive.  There might be a difference between guys and girls but beauty is in the eye of the beholder - it's not in a picture.  

I debated this myself for a long time until I had the following Parsha thought.  Recall when Avraham told Sara before entering Mitzraim - "NOW I see that you are a beautiful woman" and Rashi explains that he saw her reflection in the water.  How did that change how he saw her? Avraham saw a 'picture'.  A picture doesn't present the person's character that one appreciates when meeting them.  And this effects a person's judgement about their beauty.  (BTW - if anyone has a source for this thought, please let me know.)

Let the guy ask anyone he trusts about the prospective girls looks - but a picture is just too superficial.  If that's the only way he wants to judge the girl, then fix him up with a superficial girl. So next time a guy asks to see a picture of the girl, ask him if he wants to be Avraham Avinu or a Mitzri.  If he pauses, then you know what you are dealing with.  At a minimum, at least make the guy provide a picture of himself too.  (see end of previous post).  

The next logical question might be - how about a video?  Personally, I think that it would be better than a picture. It would be a more complete impression of the person.  This is probably  much more impractical though.  At least I hope it is and stays that way.  Though I wouldn't be surprised if some enterprising shadchan took this idea and opened up a video based shadchan service to differentiate themselves.  In this day and age of outspending the other, imagine all the extra charges you could layer on for creating the video - effects, lighting, etc. Hmmm...

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Resume

This is one of those things that can be very annoying and time consuming to create.  Many girls (and mothers) probably work very hard on it.  Many are insulted at the thought of even having to write one.  Seems that the boys often don't have to.  Simple supply and demand economics, I guess.

So let me save you time.  This is not a personal statement that you are writing to get you into Harvard.  Although, that might not be a bad idea at all.  Hopefully, you are using a shadchan that does more than throw resumes of possible dates who are roughly in the ballpark you are interested in.  I have often heard of guys who have many resumes they are sorting through.  What are they looking for?  Are they actually going to pick a girl based on a few words on the resume?  Maybe, yes!  Almost scary.  I would hope they do some personal checking somehow.

Let's face it - nobody is going to put any negatives on a resume, even if they are easily discovered.  A resume will be the best possible description of the person in question.  How truthful are they?  Good question!  And it is a question that should be asked.  Often, it is more important to ask about what is NOT on the resume.  Hopefully, what is on the resume is not a total fabrication.  If you are going to lie on the resume because that's what people want to see, then you are not helping anyone and could be wasting a lot of people's time.

So what I would suggest is pretty much what you find.  The basic facts - name, address, schooling, family and references.  A section of how they spend their extra time should be included.  Maybe a sentence if there is anything unusual but that should always come across via the shadchan anyways.  Yes, it might be indicative which words someone highlights.  Some people seem to be careful about being too specific so as to be acceptable to the widest possible audience.    

But what would be very helpful if there were standard items scored on a 1-10 scale.  Suggested items: "introverted - extraverted", "easy going - go getter", "low-high maintenance", "balabus/ta" and "growing in Yiddishkeit".  Maybe ones for wanting to be a stay at home mother vs working and there should be something for the guys about minyan attendance and hours per day/week learning.  I would imagine that many shadchanim have these items generally targeted in their head or in their own computer database of people.  And I would also imagine that many people ask these questions when checking someone out anyway.  So why not just get this all out up front.

There is one other section that I would like to see on a resume -  pet-peeves.  I think it would be very useful to both parties to know if someone has a particular problem with people that come late to the date.  Or if someone is a "neat-freak".  This is not a critical item but we are trying to help things move along more easily.  And if this could help someone avoid a bad date, that has a purpose too.  

Lastly, a follow up to something I mentioned above.  It seems that boys often do not need resumes.  I was thinking that if they do shidduchim via resumes, then they should be made to provide one too.  This would teach them an appreciation for what the girls have to go through. Might as well start the dating process with a lesson in sensitivity. It might come in handy in a marriage.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Saying Good Night

Now that the potential couple has gotten through their date, we come to the close.  Seems pretty simple - drive the girl home, walk her to the door, say thank you and good night.   Of course, it wouldn't be terrible if the guy added a few specific nice words indicating that he actually did appreciate the date and likewise for the girl.  IMO, I think it is best not to say anything at the door for the first couple dates about going out again.  Just too much unnecessary pressure as it could wait a day and go through the shadchan (more on that in a future post).   There might be an exception to someone in from out of town and has time constraints.  But that too could be worked out in advance with the shadchan.

But back up one step - 'walk her to the door'.  Seems pretty innocent and chivalrous and appropriate.  But nooooo!  Somebody came up with the idea that it is not tzniusdik to do that.  Why?  Something about not walking behind the girl (ok, granted it is mentioned in the Talmud).  Make any sense to you for this situation?  They got to the car, didn't they?  They just spent several hours together, walking, talking, etc and now this possible glance at her is going to ruin his neshama?  If you believe that, then you should approve of him driving by her house and have her jump out of the moving car so he could speed off before she hits the ground.  This way he is forced to keep his eyes on the road.

But even on a more practical level, if the guy doesn't walk the girl to the door, presumably, he is watching her walk to the door and into the house for safety reasons.  If he doesn't do at least that, I have a whole new level of complaint.

Once again, maybe some mentchlechkeit should be the rule.  If a rebbe thinks a boy can't handle walking a girl to the door, maybe he shouldn't be dating outside the girl's living room.  And I don't really have a problem with that if the guy/girl agree and that's the type of life they are planning.  In fact, I'm tending to believe that in not too long a time, that is exactly what yeshivish dating will become.  A boy's rebbe will pick the girl, they will meet in the rebbe's home (because the rebbe's (some) want to take over the parents role anyway - except when it comes to paying for the talmid's years of learning - ok, yet another topic), and they will have a l'chaim the same night.  Sort of along the lines that some chasidim do.

So if we are going to trust the guy to be a mentche during the date, it seems rather obvious to me that you make him walk the girl to the door to say good night - like a mentche.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

For NYC guys.

Here's a quick item that I heard a complaint about a long time ago.

This is specifically for male NYC dwellers but might apply elsewhere.  If the girl drives to meet you in the city because it is too expensive for you to maintain a car there - pay for her tolls, gas and parking.  This should not be optional.  It shouldn't be a half-hearted offer and a polite refusal.  Even if you are both way above caring about anything less than a 'Ben Franklin', take responsibility.  And do it when you first meet and after your pleasantries - not at the end of the date as an after-thought.  It will set a nice tone for the date and show that you care.   Prepare an envelope in advance, write 'commuting expenses' on it and a 'happy face' and say "thank you for your extra effort".  Even if you previously agreed to split the dinner check, this is different.  I suppose you could offer to split this too.  That would be a start.

I wonder how often this happens.  I am very curious if anyone has feedback on this.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Dating Expectations 101

Now that we are talking about being considerate (what a statement that is in the first place!), there are a couple other items on my list for the boys to learn.  We already touched on one topic - other people’s schedules.  

Guys! If a girl is in full time school and working and helping out at home and still makes time to go out with you during the week, make sure that you don't keep her out too late.  You might catch a late minyan and be tired for seder but she likely needs to talk to people during the day.  And what if you happen to go out on a day that was particular hard on her.  She might end up yawning or not being as entertaining as you would like.  Maybe you should check with the shadchan first before calling it quits.  Maybe you weren't interesting enough.  Note, that this could be flipped around the other way.  Maybe the guy had a hard day.  Moral of the story, don't be too quick to judge.

And for both sides, it goes without saying (then why am I saying it??) that just like the first phone call, dating is important and anything important should get your attention and you should prepare for it.  Many people think this is about dressing.  And that might be important to many datees - men and women.  As the saying goes "you never get a second chance to make a first impression".  So there is the first look impression but there is also the total first date impression where the conversation is at least as important.  

For those extroverts, this is generally not a problem and you might have to consider toning it down sometimes.  For those in the middle, you should prepare for those quiet periods that sometimes occur and could be scary to some.  For those who are more introverted, preparation is obviously more important.  Nobody is going to turn into Mr/s. Personality overnight, but anyone could improve their dating with preparation.  There is a tech term - GIGO - Garbage In / Garbage Out.  If you don't take dating seriously, you might not get anything good out of it.

If you are not one of the lucky ones to find your match quickly, dating can get very cumbersome. You have to learn your own abilities to handle it and to become more natural at it.   But you should not take it too casually.  

And you should realize that it is not just that YOU should put in prep time.  The other party deserves that you put effort in.  In a relationship, it is more important that you think about the other person than yourself.  It is natural that you think about yourself and become selfish.  But this tendency must be overcome in real life.  And if you haven't started doing it yet, you had better start.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

How to behave on a date

Now that the couple has navigated their way to a date - there is always the question about what to talk about.  After you start with the pleasantries, asking about how your date's day was, etc. there is probably a short list of topics that you have prepared to talk about.  If you haven't done this, you have just failed dating 102.  For those of you who never went to college, that means the second introductory course - 101 being the first.  Why it doesn't start at 100 I'm not sure.

Yes, going back to the first post, dating takes preparation.  Just like most important things in life.  If you take it too casually, I hope you have a very outgoing personality that can pull this off.  But it also shows you are just going through the motions.  How many employers would be impressed with that?  You might say that it is not a job and this is not an interview and that you are looking for someone you could be yourself with.  That is sort of true but only after many dates.  And why is it not being yourself to prepare for something important.  And if you think a marriage is something that you can just "wing it" with, then you are sorely mistaken.  Maybe sometimes or even most of the time you do.  But that doesn't mean that is what you should be doing.  This is important.  Treat it that way.  You want to get close to Hashem - right (hopefully)?  You think Hashem wants you to treat Him casually?  I recall there being something in the Torah about not doing that.

So now that I have convince you to prepare for the date, there are a million and one things to talk about so you can choose whatever you like.  There is no need to list out all the possible things to talk about.  Think of some important topics.  Some funny ones.  Better yet, make the important ones funny.  Don't think you can get through a marriage without a sense of humor.

But let me tell you what not to do - DON'T CHECK YOUR CELL PHONE FOR MESSAGES!  For the very chareidi, this simply never happens because they don't have cell phones.  Good for them.  For those that do, this is a reminder that there was life before cell phones.

Some of my generation see this as the epitome of insensitivity.  Even if you aren't interested in going out again with this person, have the decency to treat the person with reasonable respect and make it look like you’re not spitting in their face.  To be fair, some of the young generation say that that's life nowadays.  Everyone is so connected all the time.  While that might be true, even the mainstream media have written articles about people trying to disconnect and not taking their smartphone along when they go out for the evening.  While being digitally socially connected might have its place, it is most certainly NOT on a date.  I suggest that you politely mention to the other party that checking your emails or Twitter feed is not appropriate on a date.  If they continue to do so, I suggest you end the date immediately.  Unless you are looking for someone who is inconsiderate.  Just please, for the sake of Tikkun Olam, don't have any kids.

I mentioned this to a slightly older girl once recently and she replied that it is very hard for girls nowadays in the current shidduch crisis and they are told not to do anything to chase the boy away.  I can see that and that is a real shame.  But my reply here is that the girls have to stick together on this one and demand that the boys shape up and act like a mentsch.  Letting bad behavior go unchecked will just make the situation worse for everyone.  The shadchanim have to back the girls up on this and refuse to set up a boy when they get this feedback.  I would even take it one step further and that the boy should be made to apologize.  A public flogging for a second offense is not out of the question.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Shidduch Dating - a rose by any other name

I don't expect this to be controversial but you never know.  It seems that somebody takes something too seriously every day.

There is another fake frumkeit concept about not using the young lady's first name until the third or fourth date. The explanation that I got was that this too is too personal.  And God forbid you should get slightly personal with someone you are contemplating marrying!  Granted that this is more of an extreme frumkeit thing but some take this seriously - as long as the 'frum' moniker is attached.

I feel that most of the time, the best way of dealing with things is in a straight forward manner.  So instead of trying to rework sentences so as not to use a person’s first name at all, the couple could use agreed upon pseudo-names.  How about he be called 'Ploni' and she be called 'Plonis'.  Just like in the Talmud.  So the conversation would go something like:

Him: "Hi Plonis, how are you?"
Her: "Good evening Ploni.  I'm doing well".

Or they could have the entire conversion in 3rd person:

Him: "Hello, how is Plonis today?"
Her: "Plonis is doing well.  How is Ploni?"

Much better!  It is all out in the open that he doesn't want to get to know her personally. And visa-versa.  

I am not quite sure if the rule carries over into 3rd party discussions.  Can you use the first names while talking to your shadchan?  I think that should be acceptable but you never know.  Maybe this could be the start of an even stronger 'chumrah'.  The girls should always use the term 'bochur' and the the boys should use the term 'maidel'.  So when talking to the shadchan, the boy would say "Yes, I agree to out with Maidel Moskowitz".  Likewise, the girl would say "I agree to go out with Bochur Blum".  You know, this might catch on!

Or, you could go the mentschlech route and have a normal conversation.  

You decide.