HT to whoever sent me this (although The Onion is actually the only newspaper I rss feed to my phone, so I would have seen it eventually).
I found this in my drafts folder. I apologize if it’s already been posted.
Far be it from me to believe that I’m perfect, or that every single single person out there is perfect yet unappreciated, like an artist before his era. Hey, we’re only human.
But the world abounds with people who look at us and immediately realize what the problem is. The range can be from “you’re too picky” to “your table manners stink,” but in every case the speaker is dismayingly certain. My favorite is when people presume to know how I behave on dates. (“You need to talk more,” “you need to ask more questions,” “you need to be yourself,” “you need to restrain your humor until he knows you better,” and so on.)
But sometimes the criticism is leveled at something personal or lifestyle-related. And that’s where it gets disturbing. I don’t mind criticism on my character, because it can always use input. But don’t you dare try to take my hobbies from me in the name of marriage!
That’s why I find this list by the Curious Jew disturbing. Let’s just take an example:
“You’re too well read.”
So, in theory, if she gave up reading, she would be married?
And what would she do then? Could she start reading again, or would that lead to divorce?
For that matter, if she very much enjoys reading, are you seriously telling her to abandon a great joy of her existence based on the theory that marriage will replace it?
If you take any item on the list and reverse it, it’s almost an immediate reductio ad absurdum argument.
“You need to smile more.”
“So you’re saying I could have married any of the guys I dated if I’d have smiled at them more?”
“Well no but what I mean is that…”
Yes, do tell.
(Then there are the alte newlyweds who suddenly perceive why it took them so long to get married. “I didn’t really want to get married.” “So you could have been happily married already to one of the guys you previously went out with? Yes? So where does your current husband fall in the spectrum of men you could have married: is he near the top or the bottom?”)
Look folks, I have no objection to hearing theories on why I’m not married yet. But first say them aloud to yourself and try to phrase it so that you don’t sound so silly.
This past Shabbos I had the amusing opportunity of watching a group of divorced single mothers try to marry off a group of single women.
(Yes, it was Shabbos meal of all the local nebachs.)
Can someone please explain to me why people want to know in which shul my parents daven when doing shidduch background checks on me?
This question is inconvenient to answer because, living in Brooklyn, they are thoroughly surrounded by shuls, which pop up not just in large edifices with stained-glass windows, but also in random basements and converted houses on residential streets. Aboding as they are in this Garden of Shuls, they take full advantage of the smorgasbord. My vague understanding is that my father rotates between three preferred locations, although I don’t know if this is divided by “shacharis, mincha, ma’ariv,” or “Shabbos/weekday,” or is on some kind of weekly rotation. The womenfolk in the family stick with only one (it being equipped with a balcony).
I honestly couldn’t name all relevant synagogues. Nobody calls them by their names anyway; rather, by the name of their rabbis. Most of whom slip my mind at the moment. And who aren’t even known in the first place by the vast majority of Jews in Brooklyn, let alone OOT.
Truly, it doesn’t concern me from where my father comes home from shul, so long as he does arrive. And most weeks, it doesn’t concern me at all. Because I’m not there. And haven’t been. For a while.
So what does it have to do with me?
I admit, this article came as a bit of a shock. I always assumed, in a sort of vague way, that if I wasn’t married at 30 I’d freeze some eggs. I figured I’d do more research when the time came.
Well, it turns out that freezing eggs is over $9,000 a pop, and has at most a 50% chance of success. (Is that per egg or per batch, I wonder?) This information had on me the reverse effect the article intended.
But trot over and read it for yourself. And then let me know: would freezing your eggs be a relief or an additional stress?
HT to Kansasian
Lots of people hate on NEFs. They’re flighty, they’re distant, and they don’t shut up about being engaged. But really folks. Look on the bright side. Engaged people are great! For starters, they make you feel wonderful about yourself.
I mean, just for starters, you are a supremely good person for refraining from hitting them over the head. You know, like when they go into teenage angsty detail of their troubles — like that their future mother-in-law suggested that the menfolk wear matching bowties at the wedding — with the same level of apparent trauma that they formerly reserved for being reprimanded by their boss, getting dumped by a great guy, or crashing their car.
And they’re so easy to save! The sanity of an NEF hangs in the balance at all times. If you prevent that balance from tipping, you are her hero. Like when she calls you up at a quarter to five desperate because she has absolutely got to get somewhere and try on a dress tonight or something bad is going to happen (I spaced out for that part). Honestly: the library books aren’t due yet. The bike can wait another day for its tune up. And alternatives to working late are always appreciated. It’s not a big deal! But her fulsome (and slightly embarrassing) thanks make you feel like you just stepped out of a telephone booth in a cape and tights. In a cape and garishly colored opaque tights that probably wouldn’t pass muster at a bais yaakov.
And then they’re entertaining! Sometimes it’s just observationally, as in, “This woman used to be so level-headed, but a double-shot of oxytocin has completely unbalanced her.” Or when she insists that she’s really totally normal and her NEFness is all in your head, “Yes dear, you’re totally normal. This is us sublimating our jealousy into the more socially acceptable gentle mockery.”
Also, the whole bridal industry is set up to cater to nutty NEFs. They love them and encourage them. It’s amusing to be escorted through David’s Bridal by a woman purposefully stroking your NEF’s Eness:
“You don’t have to worry about a thing, I’ll take care of everything today.”
“So have you known Him long? How did you meet?”
“This dress is like a visual love letter.”Did she just SAY that?
It’s generally not nice — or even desirable — to mock your friends. But once your friend is infected by e. Bridus, she’s not really the person you befriended anyway. So it’s open season.
And finally, contemplation and meditation is always a worthy pastime, and NEFs offer you fodder for that as well. After all, if an NEF can get so completely dramatic about something they won’t remember in five years, you have to wonder: are you overreacting about anything in your life? What looms overly large now, but really isn’t significant in the grander scheme of things?
Consider, also, the NEF as a warning on the instability of the human psyche. You think someone is rational and self-aware. Then, next thing, they’re gushing about how sparkly their ring is (sounding rather like your 9-year-old niece), and having meltdowns over bowtie ideas (2-year-old nephew).
Makes me think I’d like to elope.
In seminary they tried to scare us into dating carefully by telling us stories about girls who dated Dr. Jekyll and woke up the morning after to Mr. Hyde. I believe men have their own versions of these timeless bedtime stories.
While I’m sure this does occasionally happen—for there must be utterly messed up and even psychopathic people out there (quite a lot of psychopaths, if one believes all the divorcees who have assured me they were married to one)—I think those unexpected body-snatching marriages end pretty quickly. But when it comes to wonky marriages that last, I suspect something different is going on. After years of watching my friends pair off and be married, I am prepared to advance the following hypothesis: I think people pick people who allow them to perpetuate their neuroses.
This is how the friend with the habit of always making her life more complicated than it needed to be wound up with the OCD guy. The friend who was afraid of her own strength and ambition married the guy who nixed it. And the friend who was always pretty sure the world was out to get her married a guy who apparently is.
While my hypothesis is most obvious in poor to fair marriages, I believe, with further study, that it can be extended into the healthier range as well. Just because they’re happy doesn’t mean they’re not neurotic.
But therein, methinks, lies my problem. If marriage is about choosing another nut-job who complements or aggravates your nuttiness, what do you do if you’re not nutty? Yes, I’m saying it out loud:
I’m just too well-adjusted.
Go ahead, guffaw. But even my therapist said so.
Seriously, though. Maybe I’m not quite normal, but who is? And maybe my neuroses can’t be complemented by a partner. Indeed—perhaps they require being single. In that case, I’m as happily married as any of you out there. My neuroses are happy, healthy, and fostered by my lack of partnership.
At least I didn’t need a wig and three kids to accomplish that.
I mean, so I’m single.
While I don’t generally go to the Yated for thoughtful, well-researched journalism, I think they may have a point here. Harping on about the shidduch crisis just makes people panicky. It certainly doesn’t do any good. Especially since it quite possibly doesn’t exist.
Thanks to SuperGirl for sending me this Tumblr link. It describes a safety precaution I have to keep in mind as some friends steadily march their way toward engagement.
Knives are just for food.
Knives are just for food.
Not only do I have a List in this post, but I want to date a mother!
HT to Relarela for this late St Patty’s Day tribute. (She was only one day late, but it took me this long to get to the YouTube vid.) As she points out, when pregnant, you can’t drink beer.
I was explaining to a college classmate that I only date other Orthodox Jews. “So,” I concluded, “I’m going to be single for a while.”
He chuckled. “Maybe you shouldn’t be so hard on them.”
I stared. Then I smiled. I mean, he’d just called me picky. Can you think of a higher compliment? To be told that the only reason you’re still single is that you’re too picky.
I’ve told friends to stop being so picky. Generally, what I mean is “Pal, you’re gorgeous, brilliant, gracious, and witty. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a guy who isn’t tall, dark, handsome, rich, brilliant, and of course, a Torah scholar.”
It seems to me that we all have a list of traits we want, most of which don’t usually seem to come together in the same package. If half my friends seem to have unrealistic expectations, perhaps I do too. But honestly, most of the time the breakup is mutual. I don’t think I’ve left a string of broken hearts behind me.
Still, it’s nice that someone thinks I could have.
It’s amazing how much more time you wind up with on your hands when you’re not going out with someone for hours a night a few times a week. It’s like being given an extra 12 hours of life each week! What to do with it? What to do?
I’m not complaining about the steady parade of gentleman callers I’ve been having. I’m rather gratified about them, actually. But sometimes it’s nice to just have a Sunday to yourself, where you get up early, grab a yogurt, and go for a jog because it’s just that gorgeous out, without having to calculate when to be back so you can shower so your hair will dry and your makeup be done in time for your date.
I can’t count how many times I’ve missed the Skateboarding 101 clinic at the park because it runs through prime dating hours. Well, this week I made it.
And cleaned out my car. And went for a jog. Twice — because I just couldn’t stay indoors. And then, faced with even more spare time, I created a menu for the week, went shopping, and prepared everything in advance. Then I cleaned out my closet, swept the apartment, bought a potted plant, paid the bills, and patched the tire on my bike.
Now, as I sit here typing, the evening about middle-aged, I contemplate what to do next. So much time!
There are some things about being single that I really don’t mind at all.
Thanks Essay for this link.
Somehow, in spite of the fact that there are 30 million more men in China than women, there are still loads of single women nearing 30. (Take that, NASI 10% statistics.) It’s a global epidemic!
On the bright side, now I know the truth: I’m not over the hill. I’m sheng nu. As the Chinese gov’t puts it:
These girls hope to further their education in order to increase their competitiveness. The tragedy is, they don’t realise that as women age, they are worth less and less. So by the time they get their MA or PhD, they are already old – like yellowed pearls.
I started on a shidduch reading list many years ago:
And now I’m going to add another two books to the list.
This past Shabbos I finished Seven Blessings by Ruchama King. This one is an astonisher. Written by a frum woman about frum women, the characters are actually real people you could potentially meet on the street. This may be why it was not published by Artscroll or Feldheim. Pick it up at your local library. Or support a good religious writer and buy it instead.
The second book I literally couldn’t put down. I read it in one straight sitting, finishing in the wee hours and tottering off to bed. Data: A Love Story presents a paradigm shift for the serial dater. Sick of bad dates with lousy guys, Amy Webb sits down to crunch the numbers and find her husband the 21st-century way: via algorithm.
She then proceeds to prove that you don’t have to date everyone every suggested to you “just in case.” Oh, and that wisdom about how you shouldn’t make a list? Throw it out. You need a list.
Naturally, her parents freak out. She’s being too picky. She’s being too hard. She may be letting someone great pass her by. But she perseveres and, wouldn’t you believe: finds a guy who matches her list! Who likes her! Who proposes!
So you see, it can be done if you do it the right way. So excuse me now. I’m off to compile my List.
Thanks Relarela for this exceedingly useful map of NYC. I don’t know what it’s based on or how accurate it is, but the idea is loads of fun.
This morning I opened my inbox to several shidduch suggestions. There was the 29-year-old guy from Australia who worked in Argentina then Germany then moved to Israel where he plans to live and learn for many years to come. Not so bad, just not for me.
Then there was the 30-year-old guy in California who has four college degrees plus various technical certificates who wants to go to medical school–but not ’til next year. Until then he’s learning. Oookay. He won’t finish paying back his student loans until he’s dead.
Then there’s the 31-year-old guy with the Harvard Business School degree who is learning while dabbling in stocks on the side. There’s a waste of a degree.
How did guys cop out of life before learning became a Thing?
When I complained to my flatmate, she pointed out that 30 is a really lousy time to have a job. “Who in their right mind gets a job when they’re young? It’s the best years of your life! Why would you waste it working all day? Get a job when you’re 80 and can’t do anything else anyway!” she ranted. She might have been upset about doing lesson plans on Sunday.
I hear her point.
Do these underemployed guys know something we don’t know? Who the heck needs a 401k anyway? By the time we retire we’ll either be in a welfare state or the world will have collapsed. Right? Wrong? Why the heck don’t so many 30-year-old men have jobs?!
Postscript: [added 2/19/2013]
Since it is apparently unclear who this post is targeting, I will add the following anecdote.
Yesterday, someone told me, “I went to college, I got a degree, I did the Real World job thing, and I didn’t like it. So I went back to school for a masters in dance therapy. It’s a lot of fun and I’m looking for a position in a hospital working with sick kids.”
This was a non-Jewish woman. She did Real Life, she didn’t like it, but she didn’t have the option of retiring to live on her independent income. So she considered carefully and switched careers.
Jewish men, however, do have an alternative. And that is to retire from Real Life to Learn. When I see a guy with a degree in something boring who is learning, my radar goes on. If he’s got a year of work experience, it starts blipping. If I’m on a date and he makes a face while saying, “I guess I have to get a job now,” well, that pretty much says it. And if he’s got a year of experience, then got another degree, then worked briefly again, then decided to learn… Seriously, am I the only one who sees this as a sign?
Don’t get me wrong, Jewish women do this too. I often hear singles claiming they just want to be housewives. Run a finger over their windowsill — does it come away clean? Is there nary a dish in their sink? Do they spend their recreational time over the stove? Do they adore children and want to spend all day with them? Rarely. They just don’t want to work. Since learning is not an option, they just have to hope for a rich husband instead.*
Hm… maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I’m just jealous.
*Before someone jumps down my throat about disparaging housewives: I think it’s a wonderful thing to have a homemaker. And there are women who genuinely want to be there for their husband and kids. But when a woman says, wistfully, “I would make a great housewife” shortly after hating on her job, I suspect her motives.
To all such people, and everyone touting their own brand of segula or prayer by 40 kollel chassidim at the kever of a Tanah who was single until he was 64 and promised to personally walk down the aisle anyone who said Nishmas 40 times in 40 days at his kever—-
You. Repel. Me.
There are truckloads of reasons I’m still single. Just ask any of my relatives, or any of the shadchanim I’ve ever visited. Even my friends could probably name a few reasons, although they won’t, because friends can be unfriended.
But oh, wouldn’t it be tempting to believe that they’re all wrong—that the only thing standing between me and Prince Charming under a white canopy and a blue sky is 40 ba’alei teshuva saying the entire Tehillim 40 times in 40 days at the kevarim of 40 obscure Amora’im?
Oh please. That’s ridiculous. I know it’s ridiculous. You know it’s ridiculous. We all know it’s ridiculous.
Except the people in the glossy brochure. Chana* (*Name changed to protect her identity and her children’s shidduch chances), the 36-year-old who surely didn’t just happen to meet her man 2 years after writing off a check to this segula. And Dovid* (*name changed to prevent shame from falling on his family and yeshiva for producing such an alte bucher), who got married at the ripe old age of 28 – he seems to believe it works. And Nechama* (*name changed so you can’t look her up and ask if she’s real), who was childless for years until she dropped a penny in the right pushka finally — she realizes the power of selective charity giving.
All these happy people with their happy stories. Deliverance!* (*Small processing fee may apply.)
All the things the shadchanim want me to fix—those are difficult, if not downright impossible. I might still be working on them in a few years from now. But the segula? That’s easy. Quick and relatively painless. What’s a few dollars in the grand scheme of things? Besides, it’s going to a good cause: upkeep of a long-dead man’s gravestone and the printing of more glossy brochures. It’s tax and ma’aser deductible. Also, look at all these men with “Rav” in front of their name and “Shlita” after who signed the bottom. I don’t know who they are, but surely they wouldn’t mislead me?
And, really, it’s only money… What can it hurt to try?
You can’t kill an idea. Not once it’s made a home in someone’s head.
So, pathetic, hopeful singles send you their money, and a small percentage even get engaged after. And you print them up in your next glossy brochure and distribute it to entrap more desperate hopefuls.
But who is compiling the brochure of failures? Where is the glossy book of people* (*names changed to protect them from the judgment that, really, they’re so traif even 40 holy men and a holy ghost can’t save them from themselves) who sent in their check and never got the implied (though not promised, as recommended by the lawyers) deliverance? Where are their stories?
An industry 0f parasites. A national epidemic of tapeworms.
You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Sometimes I listen to me talk about dating and I wonder if I’m completely nuts. I probably am. Luckily, it’s a fairly common malady, and not only among Jews.
A Match.com expert describes some ways your family might be keeping you single. Except it sounds an awful lot like a stereotypical Orthodox Jewish family…
Good thing none of the reasons are very convincing.
When I was a young lass, I wasn’t ready to settle down. But my elders cautioned me: “Marry young. By the time you’re ready to settle down all the good ones will be taken.”
Obedient as I was, I dated from the tender age of 20. I went out with all sorts: normal, humdrum, typical, boring. I went out with the clueless and the obnoxious. I came home with questions like, “Is it okay for him to mock other people if he’s motivated by showing off to me?” and “Is it bad that I’m bothered when a guy has apparently not thought about our date before he arrived?” I dated infrequently, maybe 3-4 times a year, usually during finals, when the last thing I wanted to do was saddle myself with additional responsibilities.
Twenty-five, they warned me, was the top of the hill. From twenty-six on, it was a downward spiral to old maidhood at 35, pitying glances from bais Yaakov girls, and chesed Shabbos invitations because, nebach, I have nowhere to go.
Well, I’ve been 26 for months now, and I have to say, it’s been fantastic. Four guys in five months, most of them truly wonderful people who I respect and enjoyed dating. If this is what the other side of the hill looks like, it’s the best kept secret of dating. Bring it on!
In my experience, guys tend to err on the side of too little and too vague. But as a woman, what can you do to make your profile attract decent guys? (Excluding Matt Damon.)
The WSJ has a data-proven approach for you.
Popular profiles used aspirational language (like “I want to travel” or “a big ambition of mine is…”), kept descriptions short and generic and lied about various physical characteristics (though not the ones you think). Their style was easygoing, youthful and spontaneous. I’d never once referred to myself in writing as “fun” or as a “girl.” But it was easy to see that I had been far too stuffy and professional in my presenting myself (I’d gotten lazy and cribbed from my résumé).
I learned that short profiles that express just enough information to pique someone’s interest are the ones that do best. A good cutoff point is the 500-word mark.
She also says that curly-haired women are at a distinct disadvantage. For all you other curly-heads out there: put a sheitel on it.
In the above article, we have a woman pretending to be a man to find out what men like. But what makes me curious is this: when a man pretends to be a woman to seduce a man (okay, to get his iPhone back), what does he write? Really, really curious here…
HT to Kansasian, HT to O
Said the kollel-man: “So Yisro’s daughters are chased away from the well, but Moshe rescues them. They go home. Yisro says, “How’d you get here so fast?” They say, “A man rescued us.” Yisro says, “There was a man at the well and you didn’t bring him home?!”
Said the single girl at the table: “Sounds just like my parents.”