Friday Repost: Who Would Marry Me?

I’ll just copy-paste this one, cuz it’s short:

Would the sort of person I’d like to marry want to marry me?

This would probably be easier resolved if I knew what sort of person I’d like to marry, but it becomes clearer with every date. Maybe I’ll know when I’m 25 and have dated 30 people.

 

Advertisements

On Being Twenty-Seven

Twenty-seven is the best year of your youth. This is an absolute fact, according to the Huffington Post articles I’ve been getting from another 27-year-old friend, so I know it must be true.

Twenty-seven is when your career is skyrocketing, you’ve finally grown into yourself, you’re at your most beautiful (or handsome), your physical peak, your sharpest, your brightest, your most scintillating, and your greatest desirability. There’s a bit of a suicide bump at the end of 27, when people realize that this is it, it’s all downhill from here, to beer-gutted mediocrity and cat-ridden obscurity.

Clearly, Robert Herrick was speaking a universally acknowledged truth when he said:

That age is best which is the first,

When youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse and worst

Time still succeeds the former.

I can’t say my experience contradicts the venerable Huffington Post on this matter. Twenty-seven has treated me very well. In fact, it’s been a fantastic trip so far. Being asked to list what I’m grateful for at a Thanksgiving feast was a struggle; how could I narrow it down to a few key items, when everything in my life is so amazing? I almost feel a bit sorry for all those married people who never got to experience 27 with all the breezy freedom of being single. (To be fair, they probably reflect the sentiment back at me with a “what-do-you-know” comment about committed relationships. Ezehu ashir? Truce, my MFs. Truce.)

That said, twenty-seven doesn’t usually last for more than 365 days—366 if you’re lucky. And it’s all downhill from there. So if ever you’re going to have an optimized shot at avoiding a houseful of cats, twenty-seven is it. Not that your chances take a swan dive after, but this is the peak—or so they say. I mean, you’re probably just as desirable at 28 as you were at 26. Unless the drop-off is steeper? Does the Huffington Post has any of its deeply scientific articles analyzing this?

Well, let’s not worry or be stressed out about it. Let’s just finish off with a final, relaxing stanza from Mr. Herrick again:

Then be not coy, but use your time,

And while ye may, go marry:

For having lost but once your prime

You may forever tarry.

…You know, he never does say exactly how to manage it. In fact, Herrick sounds a whole lot like the MF who says “Well if you want someone to go on vacation with, get yourself a husband.” Gee thanks. Didn’t think of that one. I guess I’ll go out and propose to the first interested commenter on Trip Advisor.

Oh well. At least I’m still twenty-seven.

And it rocks.

Trust Your (Young) Adults

I graduated bais yaakov high school with a head full of ideas about marriage that I trusted but didn’t believe. That is: I trusted the teachers who’d taught them to me. They were older and wiser and presumably had my best interest in mind. But many of the things they said didn’t pass the critical thinking test, so I struggled to believe them.

One day I found myself on an eighth date.  I liked the guy. Respected him. Enjoyed spending time with him. But I also knew that eight dates meant we were Serious and that freaked me out. I had no reason to break up with him, and no desire to marry him.

Luckily, the guy didn’t go to a bais yaakov. He pointed out that something big was missing in our relationship. We were, to put it mildly, stuck in the Friend Zone, and going nowhere fast. He broke us up. He was absolutely right and I was secretly relieved, but it took me a couple of years to come round to agreeing with him.

Trusting without believing gets us girls in trouble. We try to do what we’re told because it must be right, and yet, something inside is crying that it can’t be. But, ever trusting, we sometimes allow our elders and wisers to drive us into places we really shouldn’t be.

Back when I was 21, I had friends who were lucky enough to have breakdowns and wind up in therapy before they could be pushed into an inauspicious marriage. Now that I’m 27, I have friends who are divorced, because they didn’t manage it until after. 

I’m sure by now everyone has read Gital’s story in the Post about how she let the people trusted nudge her into a marriage she didn’t believe in with a sociopath simply because he came from the Feinstein family.

I told the matchmaker I wanted to stop seeing him, that we weren’t a fit…

My parents asked me to think about it because his parents were so insistent I had the wrong impression of him.

In Orthodox dating, you rely a lot on what other people tell you — what their impression is. So I gave him another chance.

I don’t want to sing any Disney-style “follow your heart” tunes here. But at some point, the yeshivish community has to believe they’ve instilled their children with the right values and a pinch of common sense, and trust them to navigate the world themselves. Until they do, girls will struggle to trust themselves. Bad decisions ensue.

For a while I thought I was the only girl naive enough to treat feeling of reluctance for a guy with repetitions of the mantra “love comes after marriage” — something oft repeated in high school, but without the sort of elaboration necessary for girls who have been segregated from boys their entire lives. But now I know the unhappily married and the happily divorced — sometimes with children in tow — who weren’t as lucky as I was.

The parents and teachers advising these girls into their relationships mean well. They want the best for them. None of them dream of creating a future divorcee, let alone an agunah. But they still view them as children, girls, unable to trust the inner compass they’ve been cultivating through years of schooling and upbringing. And the “girls” share this view, because it’s held by the people they trust the most.

This makes me sad.

And long term, it makes a lot of other people sad too.

Cost Benefit Analysis

Yesterday, before a first date, I sat down and made a list of Good Things That Can Happen on a (First) Date.  I came up with:

– Interesting conversation

– Learn something new

– Gain new perspective

– Go somewhere interesting

– Do something fun [Editor’s note: Is this the same as the previous item?]

– Food!

– Finish at a good time [Editor’s note: I’m not positive I know what this means, but I think it means the date doesn’t drag or end too abruptly. It feels right.]

Then I compiled a list of Bad Things That Can Happen on a (First) Date:

– Differences of expectations (eg: it’s a 7pm date and he doesn’t go for food; I wear heels and we wind up at Coney Island.)

– Different wavelengths/poor communication

– Disdain [Editor’s note: Why are these all “d”s?]

– Doldrums (boredom)

– TOO LONG

I noted that the Bad Stuff list is physically shorter, but the items on the Good Stuff list could be brought about without actually going on a date.

The Good Stuff is good, but will lose some of its charm to the tarnish of pointlessness if there is no potential to the relationship.

So, if the relationship doesn’t blossom, there’s more potential for bad stuff than for good.

But then again: if you don’t go out again, the bad stuff is over — it’s very finite. Whereas if you do keep seeing each other, the good stuff can lead to better stuff.

So, given the long view, there’s more potential for good stuff than bad stuff.

Ergo, I concluded, jotting notes under my lists, if you think there is long-term potential, it makes sense to go out, but not if there isn’t.

I sat and contemplated this conclusion for a moment. It was clear to me that this was about as profound as the 2005 study showing that too many meetings make employees grumpy.

It wasn’t until I got home from the date that I found a piece of insight:

It doesn’t make sense to go out again.

Until now I’ve mostly operated on the “Everyone gets a second date” principle, wherein I am willing to spend more time with any gentleman who has not placed himself on the list of People I’d Rather Not Ever See Again.

But now I realized that this makes no sense. If I have reasonable expectation that the second date will be a fruitless effort in niceness, and this turns out to be true, both dates will fall into the short-term relationship More Bad Than Good bucket.  And really, how often has that not happened?

Therefore, I concluded, the Automatic Second Date rule needs reexamining.

So I decided not to see him again.

Three Days Straight

My hair is dis-gus-ting!” Good4 shouts, whizzing past me into the bathroom. The door slams. “It’s soooo greeeaaaasy!” I hear muffled through the door. And that’s the only sound for a while, except those associated with lather-rinse-repeat.

Grease is not really my problem. Volume is. At this point in the joyous holiday, my hair most closely resembles a modern afro: big, frizzy, and kinky, but less stylish. I lift a dry, frizzy lock, and think wistfully that, if this were only a four-day chag, I’d have the set-up for a lovely head of dreadlocks.

I do like dreadlocks. At least on black people. White people can’t seem to make them look right. Somehow, they always look like they fell asleep for a month with their hair in a bowl of peroxide. But maybe I could set a new trend. Nice, neat, white-person dreads, compliments of a season of three-day chagim. I could move to Bat Ayin and be the envy of all the hippies. All I need to do is not wash my hair.

“Haven’t you taken a shower yet?” my mother interrupts my meditation.

“Nah, I’m seeing how long I can go.”

And really, how hard can that be? Inertia. Why start now, after three days without? All that detangling and moisturizing and washing hair down the drain… it’s easier not to.

“It’s a kapara on all my avonos,” Good4 says fervently, exiting the bathroom in a trail of steam, her hair wrapped in a towel. “That’s what I keep telling myself about a three-day yom tov. It’s a kapara on all my avonos.”

“You really think you have so few avonos?” I ask, dropping the future-dread I was trying to curl.

I think there’s another reason Hashem gave us three-day chagim. So that we’ll dream of wearing a sheitel. Hair you can hang up at night.  Hair that looks the same the next morning. Hair that, if you don’t like how it looks, you can just put away.

But until then, I’ll have my dreadlocks.

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

I was over at an MF, and we got to talking about guys who are “bad at dating.”

“It’s usually the little things, like as small as just telling you where they plan to take you on a first date. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to a lounge, but if you’re not, it really does! I can’t count how many times I walked around Central Park in 3-inch heels. And I went bowling in heels, too.”

“They let you bowl in heels?”

“I don’t remember if they let, exactly. But I wasn’t going to put my feet in those bowling shoes without socks! That’s disgusting! If I’d have known I’d have brought a pair. And I would have gone ice skating in my heels too if it was possible. I mean, seriously. Why am I handing in a pair of 4-inch stilettos at the skate rental? That’s just weird! There’s something wrong with that situation. And then me trying to skate in a fit-and-flair dress that I bought for sitting in a lounge looking pretty. If you’re going to do something unusual, you tell the girl.”

This rant, mind you, from someone who’s been married four years. I guess her bunions still remember.

 

Thursday Link: Bad Lists

 

Got this from an MF. It links to a blog containing the musings of, apparently, a fantastically in-love (and good-looking) couple on the subject of Cupid’s arrow, sheep-eyed bliss, Aphrodite’s elixir, or maybe something to do with St. Valentine. It’s a Blog About Love, in short.

In this post, the female half ruminates on the viral article by Lori Gottlieb, in which she urges women to settle for Mr. Good-Enough when they’re young, so they don’t wind up totally alone when they’re old.

We’ve covered that ground before.

The blogger says people may be more willing to settle if they realize why they have higher expectations. Do they have a list to fill the void created by an imbalance in their psyche?

Personally, I don’t think that’s my problem, but these things are always more apparent to third parties. I’m sure someone could tell me about my imbalances and how they’re skewing my expectations. Sadly, although many people have told me why other people won’t marry me, nobody has yet endeavored to tell me why I won’t marry other people. Odd that. I wonder why?