The Liberated Date

For a modern, liberated woman used to taking charge and responsibility, the Orthodox Jewish dating experience can be like a trip back in time. Here are some “rules” I’ve learned over time:

1. The guy has to initiate. He does the first “checking out” and he has to call if he’s calling to arrange a date and he’s the one who shows up on your doorstep for inspection by your parents (if they’re involved).

2. The guy spends the money. He’s the one who rents the car or pays for the gas. He’s got to buy you a drink, a meal, or entrance fee.

3. The guy has to keep you entertained. He’s the one who choose the destination. It’s his responsibility to keep the conversation going. If you look uncomfortable, he’s got to figure out why and fix it.

4. The guy directs the show. He suggests a time to pick you up, which of course you can veto according to your convenience. He decides when to end the date, which you demurely agree to. (Usually. Females have been known to say, “No, I don’t want to go home,” if they’re having a grand time, but this is an infrequent occurrence.)

Now doesn’t that make you feel liberated? Not like I’m complaining. For the career woman, dating is comparatively relaxing. For once, something isn’t your responsibility.

Unfortunately, if the guy is particularly clueless, the freedom of irresponsibility can become the horror of lack of control. Coupled with the awkwardness of “I really don’t know this person,” poor situations can deteriorate rapidly.

Haven’t we all experienced the travesty of a date where you just want to go home, but the poor fellow is trying to hold out for the appropriate 1.5/2 hours? If you were the guy you would be able to stand up and say, “Let’s start to head back,” or “This just isn’t working” or something, but as the girl you’re supposed to suffer and not beg, “Please take me home before I shoot myself!”

Well, it’s character building. I suppose.

Sometimes, though, the girl can save the day when she stops being a passenger and takes charge.

Case in point: For a second date with a guy, he chose a restaurant smack in middle of the community because it was the only one he knew. It was also the most popular restaurant, meaning that when the two of them showed up the line was threatening to spill out the door. She took one look and knew that this simply would not do. Initially, she hesitated to make a fuss, but quickly realized that he wasn’t sure what to do. So she marched him out and down the block to another eatery. Date saved.

I don’t think I’m pursuing any point with this; merely rambling on about the phenomenon. I know most of my friends, who have management positions or loads of responsibility at their day-jobs, are content to take the back seat on their dates. Shadchanim encourage this, saying that women should leave the intellectual analysis and business-like attitude at home.

This has its negative points for the women, but at the same time, I’m not sure I’d want to start dating Dutch. I sympathize with the time, energy, and money guys put into their dating. But I’m not offering to share it.

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15 thoughts on “The Liberated Date

  1. the outlook in my opinion
    girl are not ment to be “controlling” anything inlife
    but this isn;t a place for a deep hashkafik dmc

  2. I have been dating for almost 5 years and only two girls have offered to pay towards the date. And they really went up in my estimation for having done that. I refused, but one of the girls was persistent about it, and I thought that it showed two things. Firstly that she is caring. Secondly that she is willing to break with convention and that is always a plus with me.
    I think that young people, especially yeshivish ones, are so preoccupied with doing the ‘done thing’ that they forget to be themselves.
    I personally have no problem with doing it differently. I dont mind if a girl initiates things, in fact I would much prefer that my date behaves exactly as she is in real life. After all, Im dating to find a marriage partner, not an actress.
    Am I in the minority here?

  3. How about when you go out on a second date at 7:30. Clock keeps ticking but boy doesn’t notice. Heaven forbid that the girl be the one to end the date so boy finally realizes at 1AM that maybe it is time to take girl home. Girl gets into car and boy blasts the A/C. Now I don’t know about anyone else but I get cold when I am tired. Heaven forbid to suggest that he lower the A/C as the boy needs to be in control. All in all, girl gets home at 1:15 to parents that are white like sheep and holding the their tehillims. Oh well, another experience to file away.

  4. 1. I have had people give me “right of first refusal”, and I often appreciate it. But it doesn’t bother me if he’s told about it first.

    2. Once I ended up paying for a small thing on one of my dates because they only took cash and the guy only had credit. From then on, he always insisted that I never pay for anything! It was rather funny, I thought. In general, I never know where a guy stands with paying for stuff…some guys are very adamant that they pay for everything and they’ll be insulted if a girl offers, while some would rather the girl help pay. And the girls just have to guess which guys are which. 😛

    3. I usually take it upon myself to keep the conversation going if he can’t hold up his end. And I like it when I can have some input as to the destination/activity of the date.

    4. This is annoying, but true. I’ve yet to figure out how to end a horrible date in an expeditious fashion.

  5. Behave as in real life?!

    I guess we all behave as we would on a date in real life, no?

    There was some Dear Abby type column in the Jewish Press about a couple squabbling that she became too bossy and he less romantic after marriage. A topic for another post?

  6. I disagree about girls not being allowed to be assertive on dates. There should be communication. A girl is allowed to express an opinion about where she’d like to do and how late she’d like to stay out. Who made up this ridiculous rule about the girl sitting like a mouse while the poor guy has to figure out every aspect of the date? In dates that I’ve been on there was always discussion. Sure I liked it when the guy had his mind made up and had his own ideas about what to do and didn’t leave me to figure it out, but usually there was give and take. It’s totally news to me that girls are expected to lose any sense of self when on a date.

  7. Ah for the days when dh took charge of anything!

    At least at work, if I delegate a task, someone usually does it well instead of going passive agressive on me and doing a poor job so I won’t ask again.

    At least at work, if I am required to be the one to make a decision or take the lead, I’m not usually accused of being controlling.

    At least at work it’s clear that I should not have to do everyone else’s jobs while doing my own as well.

    OH, only one of us is working hard and the other hardly working? At least he paid for the dates back then.

  8. Pingback: Jewish Dating » The Liberated Date

  9. Pingback: Friday Repost: The Boy/Girl Scout Dater « Bad for Shidduchim

  10. Just a question: Is the regular time for a first date 1 1/2- 2 hours? I’m used to around 4, and was a bit taken aback when this one brought me back less than two hours after he had come…

  11. They brought you back? Then I assume it was the guy who cut things short… Could be numerous reasons unrelated to you like he was suffering from a bad stomach but didn’t want to keep running to the loo. Guys are sensitive liek that… thinking you count how many times they took a break.

    Short and sweet may be just right. Shows confidence and not overly anxious or desperate bc they’re obviously willing to let go and give you space and see if you are even interested at all. JUst send a brief message back that you were pleased to meet ’em and get acquainted and look forward to meeting again. Brief meetings allow for the overture without putting yourself on the line bc maybe you didnt make up your mind in such a brief meeting and rule it out yet — even if they did. If no word back, dont think twice and just keep moving.

  12. Thanks. He actually did say he wanted to go out again. It was just interesting because I’m not used to such short first dates, but, after reading this post, I began wondering if that really is a very normal thing.

  13. Everyone has their theories. I would say go until you’re getting bored, but some people go by the rules. You just have to figure out what their rules are. (Alternatively: he got bored after 2 hours.)

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