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.