Maybe it’s a new low for this blog, or maybe it’s a new high for Buzzfeed, but here I am linking to a Buzzfeed video because omg it’s so true. WHY IS EVERYONE GETTING MARRIED?!
HT to my sister-in-law. [/irony]
Good4 just handed me an article from the January 28, 2015 Ami magazine. It’s written by Avigail Rabin and the pull quote, in a bright aquamarine, is “I get the impression that I’m supposed to walk around in a wooden barrel, indoors, devoid of jewelry, until I am married.”
Naturally, I was intrigued. It took me about 45 seconds to devour the entire forum article, which was brilliant. While all rights belong to Ami, here are the first two paragraphs:
I don’t consider myself “a single.” I am very much the same person I was in fourth grade, in twelfth grade, at the age of 21, and last year. Me. Me who has not yet met Mr. Right, who is presumably out there somewhere, wondering where in the world I am and when I’ll be showing up. Why am I sharing this with absolute strangers? Because I’ve read so many perspectives on me and my supposed life and feelings on these pages and others by parents, shadchanim, mental health professionals, and even other singles, and not one of them has expressed my viewpoint. So here it is.
Last week I went shopping and came home with a beautiful Shabbos outfit. I teach a full day, tutor after school, and while I try to save responsibly for the future, I do occasionally shop. My mother said, “Wow, that looks amazing on you! Why don’t you put it aside for your sheva brochos?” Never mind that my last date was (a) uninspiring and (b) seven weeks ago. The same week I told a coworker I had just booked a flight to Eretz Yisroel for midwinter vacation. She replied, “Don’t go now; put it off and the first bein hazmanim that you’re married!” Then last summer, when I bought myself some really nice earrings in Florida with one of my als0-waiting friends, my grandmother, shaking her head in disappointment, wondered, “What’s the chasan going to buy you?”
Avigail, I officially love you. If you can write like this twice a week, and are so inclined, you can have my URL.
Dubbed “NYC’s Most Desperate Single Man” by the New York Post, and his name is Yossi.
HT to OA.
Questioner: “So, what would be a great gift for your parents?”
Answerer: “A daughter-in-law and two sons-in-law.”
Questioner: “I mean for hosting me for Shabbos.”
Answerer: “Oh. Um. Not sure.”
There—I’ve said it.
After seven years of denial in the face of repeated accusation, I admit it: I have high standards. I don’t just want a nice guy with a job. I want a heckuva lot more for a lifelong commitment.
Once your 24 months of hormonal giddiness are over, you’re left with someone you’ve agreed to spend the rest of your life with, in union. Someone you’ve decided to partner with on this matter known as “life” til death do you part. Mortgages. Colicky babies. Influenza. Teenagers. Every Shabbos for the rest of your life. Who do you want to be there?
Examining my protests over the years, my reasons for ditching, dumping, and breaking up, I find the complaints fall into two major categories. “He’s boring” and “he’s a dead weight.” And I can readily invert those negatives to two positives that I think are the most important aspects of a marriage. That is, I think the spouse falls into two main roles:
The Companion. Friends are people who you want to spend time with even when the mystery is gone. People whose opinions you trust, whose company you enjoy, whose views you want to hear even when you don’t agree with them. Someone whose company you seek out when the going is glum, because you know they can cheer you up or at least commiserate right. And it seems to me that this should describe someone you plan to hang out with for forever.
And The Partner. A partner is someone you want at your side because you trust them to do their part and catch what you miss. Someone who makes you feel safe, knowing they have your back. Someone you don’t have to check on because you know they’ve got it covered. And this should describe someone with whom you plan to face the rest of your life.
The miracle of feminism tells me that I don’t have to compromise when I pick a mate. And, okay: that means I don’t get to a whole lot of seventh dates. But when I do, it means that it’s someone I like, respect, and trust.
Maybe I’m demanding. I’ve been told that I am. That I have unrealistic standards. Maybe I do. But somehow, I can’t help but think there may be someone out there who fits this description for me. That I can find someone to marry who doesn’t make me feel like I’m settling. To quote another Jewish girl from a less liberated time, “Why shouldn’t I want the best?” And why shouldn’t that guy I eventually choose know that I think he’s the best?
He should know that he’s someone whose views I respect, whose judgment I value, whose company I cherish, who abilities I respect, whose partnership I trust, and whose presence makes me feel safe. Not someone I settled for so I could call myself married, but someone I look forward to sharing the rest of my life with.
And if I’ve got to be picky to get that message across, well, so be it.
I’m not much of a dating website person. As I’ve noted in the past, whatever it takes to create a compelling profile, I ain’t got it. The few guys I’ve messaged never replied, and the guys who messaged me were less than compelling. I have actually had a conversation that went like this (note: he initiated):
Me: So what do you do?
Him: Oh, this and that.
Me: Like what? Just give me an example.
Him: Well, I’m flying to Colorado on business this week.
Me: Cool. What for?
Him: Oh, this and that.
Me: So you deal weed?
Him: What? What are you saying? Why would you think that? Can’t a guy fly to Colorado without being accused of dealing marijuana? What kind of girl are you?
Me: The kind that likes non-evasive answers.
My singles event experience (only one!) wasn’t much better. Not that there was anything wrong with the event. I just tend to get quieter in inverse proportion to the number of strangers in the room, and there were about two hundred of those. There’s also a distinct bias at these events against people who aren’t preschool teachers and social workers, and that doesn’t help my case. But most of all, there seems to be a bias in who shows up.
There are three types of people in the world: those that go to singles events, those that have gone to one or two and will never go again, and those that don’t go to singles events.
Every event is a mix of groups one and two, and as a result, you tend to see the same people over and over again. In some ways, this is nice: it’s like meeting old friends. Also, it narrows down the field you have to play. (It also increases the competition, as you all avoid eye contact and rush to corner the new blood.) At the same time, it narrows your world. “Is this it?” you wonder. “Are these 30 men all I have to choose from?” It gets depressing.
Whenever a new venue opens, everyone who goes to singles events perks up. “Hey, it’s a new event by a new organization!” they think. “Maybe there will be new people!” And they all rush off to sign up. And there always are new people. But there are always the old people too. “Seriously,” you think. “That socially awkward guy must go to every event. He doesn’t have a chance. He should just give up.” Then you realize that someone might be thinking something similar about you.
Dating websites, I hear, have the same dynamic. “You’ve got mostly the same people on Frumster and JDate,” a friend explained. “Like, 40% overlap. And then I joined ZivugZone thinking it would be new people, and it mostly wasn’t. They just had different usernames.”
Maybe it’s time for us to just admit it: there really just aren’t a whole lot of frum Jewish singles in the world. You’ve seen the selection. Now make a choice. You can settle for someone in marriage, or you can settle for being single. Or you can keep marching the singles circuit forever.