Dating Boys, Part 2 of 2: Warning Signs

Continued from Dating Boys, part 1 of 2: How to be a Boy

I go out with a lot of nerdy types. I also go out with a lot of boys. There is a direct correlation here. Nerdy people are often a little detached from reality and not exactly on top of social standards. I like to think that I’m tolerant and understanding. I have, upon occasion, firmly told a fellow that I want him to plan the date. But usually all that does is treat a single symptom. If you are a nerd of this type or know one, please read these two posts carefully. Unless, of course, you actually do want to marry a virago, in which case, keep doing what you’re doing, and please add your preference to your shidduch profile. It will save the rest of us the frustration of going out with you.

Like I said, I’ve gone out with a number of guys who exhibited these symptoms. But it wasn’t until recently that I had the little revelation that brought me to the “Mama’s Boy” classification. I had that epiphany on a slushy street corner in Brooklyn, snow drifting down gently, my toes soggy and numb, listening to my date explain why we shouldn’t go into the Starbucks two feet away from us.

Maybe it was my fault. When he’d asked where to go, I’d given my standard suggestion of a walk in the park. But since it was winter, I suggested we end the walk someplace where we could find a hot drink. I thought I had skillfully left him an opening to take charge of the date again by finding some cute boutique coffee shop for us.

Just in case, though, I googled up some local Starbucks shops.

Prospect Park was beautiful in snow drifts and flurries. I tried not to let it bother me that he let me choose the direction at every fork. It seemed to be because he had little interest in, well, anything. But maybe he was just being courteous. Conversation was pleasant, but my feet were soon frigid. I was wearing my pretty boots instead of my warm ones.

I suggested we head someplace warm, and he obligingly followed as I chose a fork that went to a park exit. There I stopped. He stopped.

“Where to?” I asked.

“Dunno,” he answered. Sparing you the back and forth: he hadn’t looked up any local coffee shops. Forget the boutique shop, he didn’t even know where the nearest Starbucks was. Luckily, I did. I didn’t want to rub in my lack of faith in him, though, so I just pointed in a direction that I knew would prove fruitful and said, “Why don’t we walk that way and see what we find?”

Wouldn’t you know, we came across a Starbucks in only a few blocks. I waited for him to suggest we go inside.

He didn’t.

My toes were sending Mayday signals that were increasingly urgent. I said, “Shall we go in?”

He peered in the window. “The line is too long.”

He was right. Every single person in Brooklyn had chosen to drop into this particular Starbucks on this particular afternoon. The line was at least a half-hour long, probably longer. But that wasn’t the point.

“My feet are cold,” I reminded him.

“Let’s walk a little further and see if there’s another,” he suggested.

His first original suggestion for the date, and it was wrong. I told my toes to hang in there. There was another Starbucks six blocks down. Their response was faint and pitiful, but they faithfully kicked into gear again.

And that was when all my illusions about him came crashing down.

You see, I’d heard wonderful things about him before we went out. About his dedication to the old lady across the street. His packaging food for Tomchei Shabbos. His helping Russian immigrant children with their Hebrew studies.

But standing out there on the slushy street corner, my toes crystallizing in my thin (but pretty!) boots, I realized that he hadn’t done any of these things. He had yet to demonstrate the thoughtfulness and initiative it would take to dream up even part of one of them. It must have been his mother. I could imagine her, a bustling woman who told her boy to do nice things like clear the table after a kiddush, who he promptly obeyed.

Well, she could keep him.


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35 thoughts on “Dating Boys, Part 2 of 2: Warning Signs

  1. man! there are no words! some times you have to stop and wonder how these guys ever plan on being
    a) adults
    b) getting married and on with their lives
    c)wooing a girl?
    really, aren’t they supposed to try to impress you a little bit?

    that being said I have planned 95% of my dates..but whats a girl to do?

  2. Bad4, you “go out with a lot of nerdy types.”

    Are you nerdy yourself? It’s either that or you need to get yourself a better agent.

    Sounds like this ex-date would benefit from entry level knowledge found in mars/venus.

    It also remind me that many people who are considered “considerate” or “thoughtful” are only good at grand gesture things and drastically fail at the small stuff, which is far more important and revealing of one’s character.

  3. That sounds very dissapointing. Boys should be given classes on dating and marriage BEFORE they start dating. I think this would help a lot of these issues.

  4. This is crazy…what is wrong with some guys. To introduce a long and possibly fruitless discussion, what is perhaps the cause of this basic social ineptness? It seems like so many guys are missing the basics of normal human interaction. Is it because all their interaction is spent with a shtender who doesn’t ever have frozen toes? Or a chavrusa that rarely is ever demands any kind of thoughtfulness? Maybe the yeshiva environment is not at the cause, but what is? Are parents just not properly teaching boys how to have basic social interactions with anyone? Or is it that no one ever tells boys any advice before they start dating on how to treat such an alien creature like a girl? Don’t know…

  5. On the flip side I’ve been told that planning the date can come across as insensitive (for not getting her input as to what she wants to do) if not controlling. So while I do come up with ideas I phrase them as suggestions.

  6. I think we’re giving the mommies to much credit here, and no consideration is being accorded to simple stupidity.

    Was this guy, in any shape or form, possessing of intelligence? I mean, beyond the ability to lace his shoes.

    When a date says, “My feet are cold,” even a momma’s boy realizes that he should take a seat in Starbucks and suck it up with the line. Self-absorption to the point of not caring that the girl at your mercy is pleading for warmth . . . his momma, no matter how possessive, would have taught him better. Most guys I know, even when I have jokingly mentioned a minor discomfort, have felt compelled to spring into heroic action, even if they are not interested in a future date.

    While feminism may attempt to rework the system, certain things are in place (at least should be) for frum dating: girls have the upper hand. Men need us to fulfill a commandment. So we must be wined. And dined. And have coats flung over puddles so as not to muddy our thin, impractical boots.

    And, even if a guy does not wish to exert himself in this capacity as the current date is of no interest to him, then he should think ahead and recall that girls chat about dates. In excruciatingly, minor detail. Meaning, you don’t want to be blacklisted.

    So be afraid. Very afraid.

  7. Frayda – Boys should be given classes on dating and marriage BEFORE they start dating.

    Sounds like these boys need their mother to come along on the date and give them step-by-step directions.

  8. Yeesh.
    I’d like to turn the tables a bit. I take the initiative but I am not going to demand ” we are going here,” rather I ask, would you like to do X, or would you prefer this or that. Not once in my dating career have I gotten a straight answer from a girl. Its always been, whatever you want, either way, doesn’t matter to me, its up to you. I don’t know if girls are so worried about coming off as bossy that they don’t want to make anything resembling a decision but in the end I basically have to say okay we’ll go here.
    In regards to your whole momma’s boy thing, I find it ridiculous not to have a license, but you need to realize that our whole lives we are taught not to talk to girls, and now we need to basically start ordering girls around. It’s a difficult transition. Personally I have no qualms about leadership roles in my graduate school, but when it comes to dating, it’s difficult. I force myself but it’s not easy. Give guys a break (to a point).

  9. For me the annoying part is when the girl has a “so what” reply to my suggestions. If I’m supposed to come with ideas as to what to do the girl should at least give a yes or no reply to them. A “so what” reply is a major turn off (it suggests that I don’t care about you or this date) and places me in the uncomfortable situation of either standing there and having her tell her friends/the shadchan he’s an indecisive wimp or me telling her what we’re going to do and then the complaint is that I’m an insensitive control freak who wants to boss her around. So while some guys need to learn what to do, some girls do as well, it’s awkward for me to hear a girl say give a reponse that conveys being apathtic about being on a date.

  10. Princess lea,

    I’d love to negotiate at the bargaining table with you over who can theoretically holdout longer before marrying. Or as you put it, “[who] has the upper hand[?]”

    You bring your argument of, “Men need us to fulfill a commandment,” and I’ll bring my argument of, ‘C’mon. Really? You think I don’t know how badly you want to get married for your own reasons and how often you think of marriage?”

    I bet I’ll win at this game of brinksmanship.

    Please don’t think so highly of your sex- because we’re not trembling.

  11. Duuuuuuuuuuuuude, you took that waaaaaaaaaaaaay too seriously.

    I was making a rather thinly veiled attempt to give girls a little backbone.

  12. Wow, I just heard an advertisement for “It’s just Lunch” (http://www.itsjustlunch.com/)

    The frum world needs a service like this! We can call it “It’s just ShidduchDate” or something like that. The shadchan can set the people up, can arrange where and when the date will take place, and can even give each of the participants a kind of “script” to tell them what to talk about.

    Later on, after they get married, the shadchan can arrange when to have relations, when to have children, how many to have, etc. All under the haskama of the Gedolim of course. Hey, I think it could work 🙂

  13. Guys- To all of you who can’t figure out how to suggest a place without being an “insensitive control freak who wants to boss her around” or how not to “order girls around”, why not try something like “I was thinking we could do X, is that ok?” Or “I was thinking that Y might be nice since you mentioned you like Z, does that sound good?”

    Ladies- Guys are trained to be sensitive to your needs and desires, so they want you to be happy. They are told that they need to be sensitive and not strong macho men, so they “act” “weak”. A guy could easily decide where to go if it was just up to him, but remember that he wants you to be happy…. It sometimes takes a while to realize that really you guys would be happy just talking to us while doing anything reasonable, but prefer us to be considerate but also confident. Why not just tell the guy, that what you are looking for is someone who is able to exude a bit of his confidence and to be able to make and plan an event. Yeah, yeah, I know almost none of you would ever think about saying that :-)…

  14. LSD – I have nerdish tendencies. People usually just look at my degree and decide to set me up with nerds. I don’t object, because they’re more interesting to talk to than the jocks.

    Yeah, I hear where guys can get annoyed if they give a woman a choice and she is indifferent. Though if your choice is “Visit Madam Tussauds or watch sunset from the promenade” I can kind of understand her ambivalence. You need to give two financially similar options. But honestly – we usually really don’t care. The point isn’t to do something, it’s to spend time with you.

    Mark – The scary part is that it happens. I have a post somewhere that I’m not going to attempt to look about about a girl who dated her husband’s rosh yeshiva, so to speak.

    Liebel – I have never met anyone who said that. Seriously, we tend to not care.

  15. I commented on part one before reading part two and i see that you addressed one of my points that it may be courtesy rather than indecisiveness. You then dismissed it without reason. Well you sort of gave a reason but it certainly seemed to be relevant only in that particular case and not relevant to most guys.
    And kudos to you for being sensitive towards others’ money and not suggesting pricey ideas. I find that to be a trait that is severely lacking in too many people.

  16. Princess Lea,

    I was wondering if I should put a 🙂 at the end of my previous post.

    It WAS tongue in cheek.

    So, look who’s talking!

  17. bad4 – I have nerdish tendencies. People usually just look at my degree and decide to set me up with nerds. I don’t object, because they’re more interesting to talk to than the jocks.

    Frum jocks? Come on, there’s no such thing 🙂 [not quite true, but they are very rare]

    But seriously, I never took a girl on a date without a plan, even if it was a flimsy plan. I’m talking only about the early dates, not later ones after a relationship has been created and both (the guy and the gal) plan events/outings. And believe me, I was (and still am) quite nerdy.

  18. Bad4 – I hear the point about two very different options re: price, but if the guy is offering, it’s fair to say he’s okay with either. If not, he’s an idiot.

  19. Pingback: I Concur; Bad4′s Dating Boys Warning Signs « Jewish White Guy Says

  20. I have to agree with Bad4 and her experiences. I also have a few comments about her post.

    As a guy I have seen or heard of similar experiences first hand. I notice the indecisiveness and the lack of proper planning from many boys.

    Guys should always have 1-3 options/ideas for a date. Even if you think it’s a lame idea (like a Starbucks), at least you have something, and something is better than nothing.

    The guy should always ask her what she’d like to do (inevitably half the time ends up with her saying, “I don’t care – I’m up for anything – can you choose, etc…”), and then the guy can give the options and choose the one he likes most if the girl doesn’t mind.

    Basically he asks her what she would like to do as a courtesy, fully knowing what he wants to do, but willing to be flexible if the girl has a preference. This is called keeping in control of the situation.

    A man is supposed to be confident. This is potentially your future wife, she’s supposed to feel secure and strength coming from you. It’s really hard to be confident when you’re lost or don’t have control of the situation.

    Plan your routes, learn and achieve a rough idea of the area you’re in. Set yourself waypoints (major street intersections, or parks/buildings) so you can always orientate yourself. (Worst case scenario… for young professionals; carry your iPhone/Blackberry/Android for GoogleMaps. It is better to look cheesy using a phone to get back on track with the date than to look incapable and unconfident being lost).

    PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DATE. – I can’t stress this enough to guys. This especially happens to guys who’ve begun to lose control of the date. Their nerves start going and they begin to lack awareness of the other persons needs. A perfect example is Bad4′s walk in the park leading up to coffee in part 2. This guy clearly stopped paying attention to her needs, beautiful qualities in a potential spouse (sarc).

    To all my Bro’s out there listen up: YOU DON’T GO INTO A COFFEE SHOP ON A DATE BECAUSE YOU LIKE THEIR COFFEE, drinks/foods are the bonus. You go to find a place to sit down, talk, warm up, rest, use the bathroom, etc…, or better yet GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER. Coffee shops are the ultimate date saving coup d’état before the date needs a coup de grâce. If you don’t understand what those terms mean use a dictionary/google.

    After any activity you can use a coffee shop for any potential needs. It’s a rest stop along the dating highway. If you’re in a bad situation like Bad4′s story… Get Your Ass In There, and get a grip on the situation. Learn to salvage what you can, or call it quits and end the night early. Coffee shops can play out in many different ways. Play to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

  21. guyinla – I still think it’s a matter of passiveness. It just happened to be a lack of courtesy that gave me the idea. And while I wouldn’t start painting with a broad brush, it seems a likely enough explanation for some of my past dates.

  22. It is passivity. The question is from what does it stem. In that incident other details point towards it being a lack of courtesy.

  23. A comment from the dark ages–this deciding on what to do on a date while actually on the date is a pretty new phenomenon. Back when your parents were dating HE would call HER, ask her out and tell her on the phone where they were going. Occasionally he would ask her if she thought that was okay. No surprises and no waffling around. A girl would always know how to dress because she knew where she was going before she left her house–no frozen toes in pretty boots when she already knew she needed warm boots. She’d also know if eating or drinking was involved and wouldn’t find that she had eaten something fleishig at 5:00 and found herself facing milchigs at 8:00, or found herself facing a full meal at 8:00 when she had eaten a full meal at 6:00.

    This deciding on what to do on a date while actually on the date–and its resulting disappointment for one or both parties involved–is akin to a boss calling the entire office to a meeting at 11:00 promptly and then turning to all gathered together and asking “So, what did you want to talk about?”

  24. I couldn’t agree more with ProfK.

    From my own experience I always conduct a pre-date call earlier in the day. I’ve many times advised friends to do a pre-date call the day of the date for two important reasons:

    1. Establish communication and make a confirmation everything is going smoothly thus far… (aka no last second cancelations).
    2. To suggest the date ideas before hand so that the guy can have ample time to plan ahead.

    As ProfK mentioned it also alleivates some of the headaches of being over dressed or under dressed. Guys ALL the time worry about this stuff. We don’t want to look foolish in front of a girl we’re trying to impress.

    Guess what guys, the girl is also nervous about her dresscode too. Help them out and let them know what to expect.

    I’ve even told the girl during the pre-date call what type of clothes I’ll be wearing (so she could match her level to mine). This way if we’re doing something casual I can be in my jeans and a button down and she can match jean skirt etc… or if we’re doing a fancy dinner and we both do business casual.

    As a friend once said to me: “There ain’t no bigger pink elephant in the room than when two people are on a date and aren’t dressed for the occassion”.

    I think we’ve all seen the overly dressed girl in the coffee shop, or the suit and tie at starbucks. (not that anything is wrong with either of those… it’s just blatantly obvious they’re on a date).

  25. This is a very tricky issue. Guys who plan things are often viewed a “controlling”. If, however, the guy negotiates with the lady regarding venue, to get her input, he can be viewed as weak willed or indecisive. A way to proceed is to simply say “would you like to ______” or “maybe we can ______”. That gives the lady a way out if she does not like the plan. If the lady does not like any of his plans, then he knows what he is dealing with.

    You should all be matzliach in finding your zivug soon!!! The near future should see all of you building your own special bayis n’eman b’yisrael!

  26. I have never heard of anyone considering a guy controlling for planning a date until you two guys showed up in the comments. I’d like to know if any females feel that way.

  27. I do not find it controlling to plan a date. My husband planned every single one of our 10 dates and told me “we are going to…” and that was it. He is in no way controlling and then, I did not find it controlling at all. He also preplanned all the routes and had handwritten directions in case he got lost at a less familiar area, knew where the closest parking garages were located to our destination in Manhattan, and knew what to expect at each place. This impressed me greatly and in no way did I find it to be controlling. If anything, it showed me he cared and was thorough in his planning. The shadchan called me before the third date to tell me how to dress and that not to eat fleishig’s. And after that date, he called me before each date to tell me the dress code for the upcoming date. (It was understood that the first 2 dates were dressy as is done in my circle).

  28. Pingback: For Women Mostly « Bad for Shidduchim

  29. Question for the girls out there: I understand that guys are supposed to come/call prepared for the date, but at what stage do girls expect to have more say in the planning?

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