Elyu went on a first date with a decent guy. There were no apparent hashkafic issues. He wasn’t slovenly or rude. She saw no reason not to go out again.


But, the shadchan informed her, the Guy didn’t quite see things that way.


Elyu had not either been slovenly or rude or hashkafically off. But Guy had not felt any “sparks.” And so, he was off to strike his flint against a woman of another mettle.


“Sparks?” Elyu asked indignantly. “We sat across a table from each other for two hours. What was he expecting?”


Not being male, I couldn’t say. Presumably not the same thing he feels when he sees an ad for “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”


There is a concept of “love at first sight,” also known as the “crush,” a phenomenon that can occur before even making a person’s acquaintance. The best illustration of this can be seen in photos from a Twilight premier, with weeping girls trying to touch an actor they don’t know at all, and who probably has character flaws they would never tolerate in an ordinary boyfriend.


The Crush is a powerful motivational force – just look at Romeo and Juliet. It’s also a really bad way of gauging long-term compatibility.


But maybe, with all the checking out that we Orthodox Jews do before the first date, it doesn’t matter. You already know that you are basically compatible with the person. It’s just a matter of seeing whether you want to be.


Except I do know of at least one person who gazed soulfully into her future-husband’s blue eyes on the first date and made her decision immediately. I don’t know if she completed shanah rishonah before the mental disorder stopped being an endearing quirk and became a form of borderline abuse. Would she have noticed this issue if she’d gone on her seven dates without “crush goggles” on? It seems more likely. She might even have gone on more than seven dates.


Yes, we all want to be attracted to our spouses. But please please! Not on the first date. That’s just asking for trouble.


The chances of crushing on a first date are kind of slim anyway, wouldn’t you say? Our society goes through a great deal to keep crush goggles from fogging our judgement. There is no touching, no dancing, no tiny black dress. You’re not supposed to be head over heels on the first date. It’s actively discouraged.


What Guy highlights is a weakness of our hybrid dating method. We have secular expectations, but traditional behaviors. Crushes are inevitable in high-contact, low-lighting situations. Less so over sushi in a crowded kosher restaurant. Crushes are fine if you’re going to be in perpetual company for the next year or two, sharing an apartment. You’re bound to find out all the turnoffs sooner or later. Not so much if you’re going on 7 to 14 stand-alone dates before exchanging vows.


Having a first-date crush, then, seems both over-demanding and ill-advised, from my perspective. But I could be pontificating from an ivory tower. What do you think? (Please ID as male/female.)


Other BadforShidduchim posts about love:

What Is This Thing Called Chemistry? – an exploration of this vague reason to discontinue dating.

I Knew Right Away – I’ve known right away that I would be great friends with someone. Is that how you ‘know right away’ that you’ll be great spouses with someone?

Does Marriage Need Love? A Non-Jewish Perspective – Who needs love anyway? It can come later.

Marrying Someone Second Best – The point is to settle down – key word being “settle.”

Rescuing to Create Love – Love is just oxytocin. How to create some with the right ambiance.


23 thoughts on “Crushing

  1. Yes, we all want to be attracted to our spouses. But please please! Not on the first date. That’s just asking for trouble.

    I totally agree. If you basically get along and are not repulsed by each other, why wouldn’t you want to go on another date? But I am female and apparently most males want sparks. What can we do? Even after dating someone for a couple months, you’re still not going to hear the score of a rom-com movie. But some guys are still waiting for that.

  2. (female) Crushes are bad ideas. They don’t allow you to see the other person objectively, and in shidduch dating, crushes are a little bit unrealistic to expect. They’re also stupid – you don’t need a crush to have a happy marriage, and, like you said, when you do have a crush, it might very well make for an unhappy marriage.

    Also – if you have a crush on someone, what happens when the hormones die down? (And if you want to get a crush (and you’re a girl), make sure you’re about to ovulate, it’ll fog both of your eyesight. It’s called farimones.)

  3. Here is my theory: a crush is the result of attraction + uncertainty, with possibly a dash of feeling inferior to the crush object. You get a rush every time you see the person, because – are they looking at you? Will they talk to you? If they do – what do they mean by every little thing they say? Once you really get to know them, you find that either you genuinely like them as a person or you don’t. It doesn’t stay a crush. I think when people talk about “keeping a little mystery” in the relationship or “keeping each other guessing” it’s about having a little bit of that uncertainty that gives you butterflies.
    Wanting to feel a crush on a shidduch date is silly, I think. The uncertainty of “is s/he interested in me??” involved there is less thrilling than just plain uncomfortable.

  4. Have any of the commenters speculating on the downside of a crush ever had a crush themselves? Or even been in a position to do so?

  5. pheremones, not farimones. If you spell it wrong on your exam, your professor might not understand what you meant and you might lose credit.

  6. Tesyaa – Thank you. I have never seen it written; only heard it spoken. And when I checked it up on Google, it came up the way I spelled it, so, reluctantly (because the spelling just didn’t sit well with me), that’s the way I wrote it.

    P.S. – I didn’t study advanced biology in college, so I wouldn’t have gotten points off on the exam. 😉

  7. Little duckies is right on the money. The surefire way for a girl to have a crush is to date just before ovulation. This is, my friends, the time when you stop rereading Lord of the Rings in order to watch some embarrassingly overdone romantic movie scenes. When in company of a reasonably attractive male, a crush is almost sure to ensue. Oh, and it is likely to end pretty quickly too. (‘Wasn’t I in love with him last week? I would rather stay in bed and read today’. That is what married men call ‘women’s capriciousness’)

    As for men – all other things equal, most will get a crush on the girl who appears to be most appreciative of their charms….

  8. I don’t think the guy in question who said “no sparks” meant anything sexual. It sounds to me like he got the feeling the date was sweet but blah. He wasn’t wowed by her looks, personality, brains etc., he didn’t know anything super-impressive about her before or after the date, so he felt like, why bother going out again, just because she as nice, if basically I had a kind of boring evening and wouldn’t look forward to another date? Women have less dates, so they’ll give a blah guy another date if he’s nice, just to give him a chance. I don’t think people need to be tricked into a second date – when you meet someone you are interested in, the shadchan doesn’t have to talk you into it!
    As an aside, I had a first date where I had a massive crush – like thinking about marrying the guy on the date. How do you know? You just click, feel comfortable with the person right away, and impressed by something about him, and yes, you like the way he looks. And I did end up going out seriously, but didn’t marry him. I didn’t have a big crush on my husband on the first date, just liked him and had a nice time and saw lots of good qualities that grew into more. Go figure.

  9. Bad4, your entire evaluation is spot on. Like Deena, I once had a first date where I thought about marrying the guy. And what luck – that year, Lag B’omer, about 4 months down the road, would fall on a Sunday. But apparently the guy was not of the same mind & heart; there was not even a second date! First date with my husband was fine, nothing like the above, but just cause for a second date …

  10. (Male) There is a difference between being attracted and having a crush. Also, there is nothing wrong with being attracted on the first date. Although there is such a concept as “get to know you pretty” where you find someone more attractive as you get to know them better, perhaps this girl was not even “get to know you pretty” and the guy understood that it’s better to dump her now than to drag it along for 6 dates before dumping her for the same reason.
    For all the females pontificating about guys being too picky about looks, get back to me when you consider marrying a guy who you consider insurmountably unattractive. Just because you think your 300 lb best friend is gorgeous doesn’t mean that we do.

  11. I agree with MCP – There is a difference between “sparks” aka – being physically attracted – and having a crush – aka – feeling a pull towards a person that can be both physical and emotional. I personally think that sparks are essential for continuing to date and marry. A marriage without sparks is an unfulfilling marriage indeed.

    People can pontificate all they want about compatibility and learning to find someone attractive after you’ve gotten to know them – but honestly, that’s more of a female quality than a male quality. Men don’t need to know or even like a woman to be attracted to her. I would hope that men would only marry women they do like, but they certainly will not marry a woman who they have no physical chemistry with.

    Also, you don’t need mood lighting, dancing, a little black dress, or alcohol to feel sparks. You can look a person dressed modestly with absolutely no physical contact and know that you feel physically attracted towards them. If you doubt “lust at first sight” than you’ve never experienced it.

    I don’t blame the young man for ending things because he felt no sparks. At least he was honest and moved on before either of them became attached. FYI….I am a married woman.

  12. I agree that the hybrid dating system leads to addled expectations.

    I also collect ridiculous reasons that I hear for why a woman chooses not to accept another date. But I’ve come to doubt that most of them represent the real reason she chose to say “no thanks.”

    Just because he said “I didn’t feel sparks” doesn’t make that the primary reason -and it doesn’t mean sparks are necessary. At the risk of being politically incorrect and bluntly frank… I know I’ve skirted around saying that I don’t find a woman attractive, and “I didn’t feel sparks” sounds to me like a more appropriate way of saying so.

    I find it ironic that it’s actually okay not to have that (physical) attraction, but not appropriate to say so. On the other hand, it’s apparently less okay to “not feel sparks,” yet more appropriate to say so.

  13. (I’m a single girl.)
    @MCP and Ish Yehudi – Let say she was an attractive looking girl – not drop dead gorgeous, but pretty and they had a good enough time. You think that not feeling sparks on a first date is good reason to say no to a second? I don’t know about you, but I haven’t gone on many dates…or probably any…where I’ve felt sparks flying. Also I go on the first date with the mindset that he probably isn’t himself and I’m not completely myself because at the end of the day, let’s face it first dates can sometimes feel more like an interview than a date.
    Basically, after a first date, I ask myself does he seem normal, nice, good personality,and similar hashkafa, I don’t believe in spending time over thinking it – it’s just a second date. Always wondered what guys analyze after dates.

  14. Ish Yehudi, it’s fine to say there was no attraction – but it’s STUPID to do that on a *first date* in most cases. I’m female, but I know enough males who I can talk to, to understand that a first date is generally useless for gauging attraction. Whether the guy in the story meant sparks as in flaming physical attraction or just a general “Oh, wow, she’s phenomenal” it’s seriously stupid to expect either on a first date.

    Now, if the first thought a guy has when he sees a girl is “Boy, I am SOOO glad we don’t touch” that’s a problem that probably won’t go away. But “no sparks”? That’s silly. If it stays that way, then sure, move on. (Just be a mentch about it.)

    I’m female. And, I say the same thing to girls.

  15. Female here. I had the same thing with the first guy I dated. I had a good time, was reasonably attracted to him and ready to go on a second date but he told the Shadchan that we “didn’t avhe anything in common.” To which all I could reply was, “How could he possibly know that after two hours?”

    Good thing, though. I’m friends with the woman he married and at a Shabbos dinner saw a side of him that was positively frightening.

  16. This whole convo just goes to show that men & women think/work/feel differently. Women can preach all they want how men should/shouldn’t view the first date, or the woman on the first date, but the reality is we’re different species. That’s all.

  17. MCP:

    Harsh, but well-put. How many girls want to give the 300 pound guy a chance, and see if he gets more attractive on later dates?

  18. If this is a common phenomenon, it seems a bit unproductive to blame young men and women for “feeling the wrong thing”. Maybe the system itself makes unrealistic assumptions about human behavior. If a large number of people aren’t functioning “correctly” within the system (having crushes even though logically they know it’s not a good idea, wishing for sparks they’re not supposed to feel), then maybe the system needs some tweaking.

  19. @B&N If she was reasonably attractive then he would have had a better reason to say no after one date. Under the circumstances, it seems that he didn’t even find her reasonably attractive, so why waste both their time and lead her on? Perhaps she had a characteristic that he could not deal with and didn’t want to point it out so blamed it on the lack of sparks.
    Guys are very hesitant to tell the shadchan that the issue was looks because then they get labeled as shallow no matter how unattractive the girl may be. Also, some shadchanim are stupid enough to repeat to the girl that the reason was looks, and that could hit her self esteem way more than “there were no sparks”. Maybe he’s just a good guy who was trying to be nice without leading her on. Good guys do exist.

  20. Deena and Ish Yehudi put it nicely. If there is really nothing going on after a first date, personally I would give it a second go to see if anything changes, but I can understand why a guy wouldn’t.

    As Ish Yehudi put it, oftentimes reasons like that are not the primary reason. Sometimes being honest hurts, and using “no sparks” is a nice, albeit see through way, of saying “thanks, but not interested.”

  21. I recently went on a first date, and found the guy nice, good personality, okay looking, and on hashkafically, but I still said no. Why? Because I had zero chemistry/was not attracted and was totally uninterested in going out again.

    Multiple people tried to convince me to give it more time, but I’ve been dating for 3 years now, and I know myself well enough to realize that when I’m not interested/definitively not attracted it doesn’t change. When I’m interested enough/attracted enough, and I can psych myself into giving the guy a real second chance, I do. When I’m not, I can’t psych myself into giving the guy a real second chance, and it would be a waste of time/an uncomfortable experience for the both of us.

    I think the term “didn’t see sparks” could potentially be applied to my reasoning for not going out again. (And I think bad4 is mistaken to characterize it as a “crush” – at face value it refers to chemistry) As such, I don’t think we should all jump down this guy’s throat-maybe he, like myself, didn’t necessarily have an outstanding reason to say no, but he knows that when he is definitively not attracted, for better or worse it doesn’t grow.

    If such is the case, do you really blame him for opting out? In my experience, it is torturous to go out with someone when you are utterly uninterested in them from a dating perspective. I might really like him as a person (which I almost always do), but the context of our meeting, a date, is so unsuited to how I feel that the experience will nonetheless be highly uncomfortable and awkward for me.

    As such, I don’t necessarily have a problem with guys rejecting after one date due to attraction/chemistry (hard to differentiate between them), my problem is with guys having WAY unrealistic expectations for what they “deserve” looks -wise. If their expectations are unreasonable, (ie. average looking guy thinks he deserves gorgeous girl) subsequently their not being attracted after one date is unreasonable. It makes me furious when I hear guys pontificating about what “look” they want, and I have to forcibly restrain myself from shaking them and shouting-“look in the mirror, pal!”

    For myself, I know that it’s always a combination of appearance and personality, and that I am usually sufficiently attracted to go out a second time. Additionally, I am not particularly concerned with looks in general, so I can trust that when I am not attracted, it is not part of a pattern of unrealistic expectations in that department.

    Likewise, when a guy says no because he “doesn’t feel sparks”, maybe it would be reasonable to be a bit dan lekaf zechus. Given our lack of information regarding his general dating patterns and standards in this department, he certainly doesn’t deserve to be villified.

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