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.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Let's start with the Shidduch Crisis.

There have been many suggestions to help alleviate the Shidduch Crisis.  Many well meaning people have spent a lot of time and money to help.  Almost everybody has some opinion on how to solve it.  Well, short of using a shotgun, I don't really have a solution.  But I haven't fully discounted the shotgun yet.  

What I do have are some thoughts that I have accumulated over the years of being a parent and having married off a few kids (and some more to go, B'ezras/t Hashem) that might help some people with the dating process.  Perhaps a few people will agree with them and it will help. Some are for the younger crowd, some for the older, some for the more yeshivish and some for the modern.  Enough unsolicited advice for everyone.  I'm not ready to hang up a "dating/life coach" shingle but the fact that we have people doing this is an indication that some things and/or people need some fixing.  So let's begin.

Thought #1
For a few years, as my oldest boy was nearing the dating age, there were discussions about how the system works.  A while back, at least in the Yeshivish crowd, it became the proper etiquette for the boy to not call the girl directly for the first date and maybe more. The shadchan would play telephone tag with the young man and young lady to find a mutually acceptable date and time.  This seemed quite absurd to me and certainly not very efficient.  I used to debate this with my son.  How is it that these two people are old enough to date and get married yet not mature enough to talk on the phone?  It's not like the boy has to call the girl and ask her IF she would please go out with him.  It's already arranged!  My son and daughter would reply that it's not tznius'dik to talk on the phone. To which I would answer with what I considered blatantly obvious. Isn't talking in person more personal than talking on the phone.  This went on for a while.  Then my son finally spoke to one of his Roshei Ha'Yeshiva about dating and asked him this question. You've got to sit down before you hear his reply.  "Do you know why boys don't call - because they are chickens!"

Needless to say, my son was shocked.  But he had the sense to see the humor in it and how this was another example of frumkeit replacing menshlechkeit.  Some just assumed that if a Rosh Ha'Yeshivah suggested for one particular boy that the shadchan arrange the date, there must be some frum reason behind it.  And, then it went from there.  Everyone had to jump on the frum bandwagon.  

I never got around to having him speak with his Rosh HaYeshiva about just maybe trying to turn these chickens into men.  Even mice would be an improvement for some.  But why do we keep lowering the bar?  If they aren't ready to talk to a young lady, let them prepare.  Let them practice.  Let them write it down.  Just like any other important interview you will eventually have in life.  I'll help.  Here is a short sample conversation between a fictitious bochur named Chaim and his potential match named Sara.  You can cut this out and keep it in your wallet.

Chaim: "Hello, this is Chaim.  May I please speak with Sara?"
(if house phone: "One moment, I will see if she is available") but eventually, "This is Sara".
Chaim: "Good evening, Sara, (repeat "this is Chaim" if she did not answer the phone).  I hope you had a good day.  Is this a good time to speak?"  
Sara: "Yes"
Chaim: "Thank you very much for agreeing to go out with me.  I would like to find a mutually agreeable time for our date.  My schedule is very flexible as the Yeshiva allows me to date and miss seder whenever I want.  Do you have such flexibility?"
Sara: "No, I have a real job.  It would be best if we can go out over the weekend because sometimes I am tired after a long work day and commute and I would like to be at my best for our date."
Chaim: "I see.  I guess I can try to fit you into my dating schedule.  I just wish the shadchan would have told me about this 'work' thing.  Is Motzei Shabbos at 7pm acceptable?"
Sara:  "Well, I think I might need more than 15 minutes after Shabbos to get ready."
Chaim:  "Oh, how about 7:15?"
Sara:  "Maybe 8pm would be best."
Chaim:  "Ok, thank you.  Looking forward to meeting you."
Sara:  "Likewise, have a good night and a Good Shabbos"
Chaim:  "To you too.  Good night".

Wasn't that easy?  I could draw up a flowchart for different responses, but that would have to be for a follow up article.  And if you really need such a flowchart, please make sure the shadchan sets you up with the 'mother' type.  But that's another topic.

What do you think?

(coming next - conversing on your shidduch date)