Wednesday Controversy: Must We Have Offspring to be Fulfilled?

This is excerpted from How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. It is in no way an endorsement of the book or its ideas (many of which I disagree with), nor a recommendation that you go out and read it (it’s sort of PG-13). I didn’t know it was some kind of feminist manifesto when I picked it up; I thought it was the manual nobody gave me at high school graduation. It wasn’t (and I still haven’t got my copy), but it was still a good read.

I found this excerpt interesting, coming from a mother. It states aloud some things I’ve suspected for years, watching many of my friends become mothers. Since it’s been quite a while since someone overtly told me that I don’t know anything about anything, I think it’s time to stir up some mud:

[Having children] is the easy option for women.

Because if you have children, at least people won’t keep asking you when you’re going to have children.  For some reason, the world really wants to know when women are having children. It is oddly panicked by women who are being a bit relaxed about it: “But your body clock!” it is apt to shout.

And if a woman should say she doesn’t want to have children at all, the world is apt to go a bit peculiar:

“Oooh, don’t speak too soon,” it will say—as if knowing whether you’re the kind of person who desires to make a whole other human being in your guts and then base the rest of your life around its welfare is a breezy “Hey—whatever” decision.

…It’s not simply that a baby puts a whole personful of problems into the world. It takes a useful person out of the world as well. Minimum. Often two. Before I had my kids I was politically informed, signing petitions, recycling everything down to watch batteries. It was compost heap here, dinner from scratch there, public transport everywhere. I rang my mother regularly. I was smugly, bustingly, low-level good.

Six week into being poleaxed by a newborn colicky baby, and I would have happily shot the world’s last panda in the face if it made the baby cry for 60 seconds less. Nothing got recycled; the kitchen was a mess. My mother could have died and I would have neither known nor cared.

Every day I gave thanks that both my husband and I were just essentially useless art critics.

“Imagine if you and I had been hot-shot geneticists, working on a cure for cancer,” I used to say gloomily.

“And we were so exhausted that we had to simply give up the project. Lizzie’s colic would be responsible for the death of billions.”

…We think of non-mothers as rangy lone wolves—rattling around, as dangerous as teenage boys. We make women feel that their narrative has ground to a halt in their thirties if they don’t “finish things” properly and have children.

Men and women alike have convinced themselves of a dragging belief: that somehow, women are incomplete without children. As if a woman somehow remains a child herself until she has own children. That there are lessons motherhood can teach you that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere—and every other attempt at this wisdom and self-realization is a poor and shoddy second. Like mothers graduate from Harvard, but the best the childless [woman] can manage is a high school equivalency diploma…

…No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence and were the poorer and crippled by it…

…It’s worth remembering it’s not of vital use to you as woman. Yes you could learn thousands of interesting things about love, strength, faith, fear, human relationships, genetic loyalty, and the effects of apricots on an immature digestive system.

But I don’t think there’s a single lesson that motherhood has to offer that couldn’t be learned elsewhere.

While motherhood is an incredible vocation, [a mother] has no more inherent worth than a childless woman simply being who she is, to the utmost of her capabilities. To think otherwise betrays the belief that being a thinking, creative, productive, and fulfilled woman is, somehow, not enough. That no action will ever be the equal of giving birth.

Let me tell you, however momentous being a mother has been for me, I’ve walked around exhibitions of Coco Chanel’s life work, and it looked a lot more impressive, to be honest. I think it’s important to confess this. If you’re insanely talented and not at all broody, why not just go and have more fun?

Besides, she concludes, single aunts make great short-order babysitters.

So Distracted… By Work

I love my job! I can’t imagine how society functioned before everyone had jobs. One day, I shall have to pull out a few Jane Austen novels and peruse them just to find out: what excuse do you come up with for letting a relationship tail off when you haven’t got a job?

I’m thinking of the guy with whom I had a great pre-date telephone conversation. Or at least, I thought it was great, and pre-date.
“I’d love to drive in for a date,” the guy said at the end of the call. “But I’m really busy with work these days. Let me be in touch when I find the time to come in.”

Odd thing, that. The shadchan had assured me he was unemployed. I guess he was busy hunting for a job? I should mention that this happened two months ago. I haven’t heard from him since. Phew! Unemployment sure does swallow your time!

And what about the guy who was everything (in theory) that a Dater could want? Granted, she wasn’t especially attracted to him, but that could come with time. She wasn’t going to throw out a great guy like this on a technicality. He was steady, he was sensible, he had a good job he loved, he was responsible…

Darnit about the job! Turns out he loved that job more than he loved her. They went out a few times, spoke on the phone, exchanged a few emails, and then…

“Sorry this was so short. I’m really busy with work. I’ll email you something longer when I have more time.”

That was the last she heard of him.

Sometimes, late at night, she wonders if she should have done something when he disappeared. Called the cops and reported a missing beau, probably buried under a toppled pile of documents in the back of a government office… What with the sequester, they might have cut the cleaning crew, and nobody would ever find his body now until they cut the A/C in the fall and it started smelling.

When someone starts using work as an excuse for falling out of touch, it means the relationship is dead—they just haven’t acknowledged the body yet. They’re like the girlfriend who propped her dead BF in his lazyboy, turned the TV to NASCAR, and placed a beer in his hand. Unable to admit that they’d crossed the point where gravity was exerting an inexorable tug on their bond, they waffle along until they drift so far apart they don’t even realize they’ve broken up.

I’ve done it. I’ve even used work as an excuse. And I hate that lack of closure. I guess it’s closure enough that neither of us pursued closure. But if I could go back, I’d ditch the cowardice, be a (wo)man, step up to the plate, and say, “Let’s break up.”

That’s what a friend of mine had to do.

Things were thrumming along between the two of them—they went out twice a week, texted several times a day, and spoke almost every night. Until Pesach.

“sry,” he texted after their week apart. “been bsy w/wrk.”

A few days later she called to ask if they were “okay.”

“Yes, of course we’re okay,” he said, a little distracted. They spoke about the weather for a half-hour and hung up. Two days later he texted that maybe they needed some time apart to think about “things.” Unwilling to watch their relationship die, slowly, writhing on the hot pavement, she did what he should have done. She talked him though a breakup. Via text message.

Then she sat down on her living room floor and cried for two weeks straight.

Single Due to Demographic Genetics

Back in my younger days, I once came across a dating profile where the guy put “slim” first on his list of “looking for.” It was also underlined. I immediately threw it out. In the high-minded idealism of youth I disdained such blatant shallowness, such unabashed superficiality, such emphasis on the thin cosmetic veneer of our physical interface with the world.

Also, I was fairly certain I wasn’t pretty enough for someone like that.

Back in said youth, it was rare to come across a profile where physical traits were mentioned, let alone emphasized. Yes, we all know why people ask for pictures. And sure, I heard about guys who added an addendum for the shadchan detailing their preferences. Oh the Shabbos afternoons, comforting the girls who accidentally saw the “for the shadchan only” entry on a SYAS profile! “He wants a buxom wife, only he didn’t say it quite so nicely,” or “He requested ‘plump and proud.’ Seriously?! I’m not proud—I’m on a diet!”  But none of these were purposely stated to the female party herself.

Recently, as I date older and older guys, I’ve noticed a shift. Now I get profiles where “Looking for” begins with the usual “Kind, caring, sweet, nurturing” but then moves on to “petite blond with blue eyes, who I can carry across the threshold of our first apartment. Giggling a must.”

Actually, the last profile I got skipped the “kind, caring, sweet, nurturing” and went straight to “pretty, well-dressed, outgoing, shorter than me.”

Far from offensive, I find these profiles to be a relief. Usually I give anyone who sounds reasonable a fair shot. But thanks to these profiles, I now know that I don’t have a fair shot. We can debate how sweet I am, but factually I am not blond, not petite, not outgoing, and I have never in my life giggled.

So I quickly return an email to the would-be matchmaker explaining that while I am shorter than the  5’6” gentleman, I haven’t got a single pair of dress shoes with heels less than 2” high. Thanks for thinking of me, but I guess not this time.

People will protest that I’m aiding and abetting in a  typical older-single tactic: eliminating options rather than being open  to them. “If everything else is right, he won’t mind that you have bouncy hair instead of swingy hair.” After all, everyone’s hair looks the same after the wedding anyway. You can get a blond sheitel, blue contacts, wear ballet flats, and learn to giggle. If everything else is right.

First off, it’s unlikely that everything else will be right. And you’ll never be given a chance to find out if you don’t pass the Looks Test.

And let’s not downgrade the importance of that test!

Maybe the guy really has issues with brunettes. They just look so much smarter and more bookish than blonds. Have you ever seen a blond librarian? And what color is the hair of all the evil women in the movies? Hm? Dark, maybe?  And let’s not start with redheads. Oy vey. Since when is red a Jewish hair color? It’s downright prust. And it smacks of intermarriage. Where do you think Dovid Hamelech got his hair color from? I bet you it wasn’t the Jewish side of the family.

Maybe curly hair horrifies him. Why can’t it just go straight? Pick a direction and go with it! None of this zigging and zagging like a target dodging potshots. There’s something inherently dishonest about curly hair. Have you ever seen a truly aidel maidel with kinky locks? Do you know what“kinky” is a synonym for? Q.E.D.

Brown eyes are boring. Grey are depressing. Green are weird. And hazel eyes? What the heck are hazel eyes anyway? That’s just another way of saying you’ve never been decisive about your eye color. If you can’t decide something as simple as that, how are you ever going to choose a baby name?  Stick with blue: it’s heavenly. It’s pure. It’s good and right and true. And you get a little dizzy gazing into blue eyes. That’s a good thing.

Or maybe none of the above apply. Maybe these guys just aren’t attracted to anyone they can’t keep in the china cabinet. It’s a handicap, and you should pity them not judge them. You think they want to be single? It’s not easy being so limited!

Anyhow, the way I figure it, if a guy puts that requirement in black and white on his profile, he wants the girl to see it and he wants her to self-eliminate. He’s being kind, saving everyone a lot of wasted time and money getting together, having a pleasant time, and then racking their brains to come up with a plausible reason to break up so they can get back to blissfully date-free Sundays.

Or maybe I’m just looking for ways to eliminate options rather than be open to them.  Am I getting to be one of those older singles?  Maybe, under “Looking for” on my profile I should put “Six-foot tall, broad-shouldered man with commanding but gentle personality, a uniform, and a secret second job as a spy.” It will help drive away the riffraff. And then I can enjoy those blissful, date-free Sundays.

Your Clock is NOT Ticking

You know they say your (female) fertility starts sliding at 30 and dives off a cliff at 35? Well here’s news from The Atlantic:

The widely cited statistic that one in three women ages 35 to 39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying, for instance, is based on an article published in 2004 in the journal Human Reproduction. Rarely mentioned is the source of the data: French birth records from 1670 to 1830. The chance of remaining childless—30 percent—was also calculated based on historical populations.

In other words, millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment.

– Jean Twenge

So what are the facts?

Surprisingly few well-designed studies of female age and natural fertility include women born in the 20th century—but those that do tend to paint a more optimistic picture. One study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2004 and headed by David Dunson (now of Duke University), examined the chances of pregnancy among 770 European women.

It found that with sex at least twice a week, 82 percent of 35-to-39-year-old women conceive within a year, compared with 86 percent of 27-to-34-year-olds. Another study, released this March in Fertility and Sterility and led by Kenneth Rothman of Boston University, followed 2,820 Danish women as they tried to get pregnant. Among women having sex during their fertile times, 78 percent of 35-to-40-year-olds got pregnant within a year, compared with 84 percent of 20-to-34-year-olds. [Bolding mine]

A study headed by Anne Steiner, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the results of which were presented in June, found that among 38- and 39-year-olds who had been pregnant before, 80 percent of white women of normal weight got pregnant naturally within six months (although that percentage was lower among other races and among the overweight). “In our data, we’re not seeing huge drops until age 40,” she told me.

Twenge finishes by referring us to the this Saturday Night Live clip (warning: it’s Saturday Night Live), in which four actresses complain about being pressured to have babies.

Eleven years later, these four women have eight children among them, all but one born when they were older than 35. It’s good to be right.

Yeshiva in the Marriott

I recall once sitting in the women’s section of a bais-midrash-and-shul and watching the boys learn below. They bent over their books, they consulted with each other, they consulted with even more others, they flipped through books to point things out, but for the most part it was a quiet operation. Still, I’ve heard it can get pretty heated, with arms waving, more books being opened, and crowds gathering, taking sides, and putting money on the winner.

Okay, maybe not that.

But anyway, I’ve always believed this scene of heated Talmudic debate, because it basically describes Also4 when he and I are home at the same time. And I’ve always wondered: is this some magical affect that I have on yeshiva boys? Or is it yeshiva guys in general who have a proclivity to boisterous debate?

I have not dated too many serious learners. In general, friends and family assume I’m slightly off the bais yaakov derech, so they set me up with the “weak” boys — the ones with the jobs and the hobbies and sometimes [lowered voice] the college degrees.

But I’ve been out with a few. And they all went like Shabbos lunch with Also4. We disagreed on everything, even when we agreed. We argued just for the sake of arguing. We wrinkled our noses at each other, insisted the other misunderstood, and were positive that the person sitting opposite each of us was clueless.

Yes, I’ve had superlatively heated debates on dates.

I remember the first time this happened. I came home from the Marriott utterly distraught. “He said YU is wrong. How could he say that? Then he said modern science is right. Then he sneered at me for being religious.” Apparently, it’s okay to try to make your date look dumb by playing devil’s advocate and seeing what happens. I had been under the impression that exchanging dissonant ideas wasn’t a bad way to spend a first date, but after that date I changed my mind.

Civilized debate, to my mind, goes like this:

Gentleman: I think A. [sips tea with pinkie sticking out]

Gentlewoman: Oh really? I happen to think B, myself. [helps self to a crumpet]

Gentleman: Oh dear. You do know that A is supported by fact X, don’t you? [nibbles on a biscuit]

Gentlewoman: No, I didn’t, but I do know fact Y.

Gentleman: Hm. But are you aware of fact Z? [deep, satisfied draught of tea]

Gentlewoman: Yes, and it is countered, to my mind, by fact C. [dabs mouth with lace-edged handkerchief]

Gentleman: Interesting. Well, I suppose I can see you might choose to believe B. What do you think of the weather?

Gentlewoman: Oh! Unseasonably warm, don’t you think?

[Conversation turns to meteorologics]

I mean, let’s face it: how many arguments have you seen where one party actually convinces the other? On a point of law, perhaps. But as soon as you leave black-n-white territory, you leave most of your chances of making a conversion.  Disrespecting your debating partner, however, is a fantastic way to ensure that he or she pays no attention to you whatsoever.

Debate with my Yeshiva Guy went like this:

Yeshiva Guy: A is fact.

Me: Actually, I’ve got reason to believe B.

Yeshiva Guy: [snort] Seriously? B? You do know fact Z, right?

Me: No, but, what about Y?

Yeshiva Guy: [waving hand] Y! Please. Everyone knows what Y really is. And how about Z?

Me: But I think that’s countered by C. [sits back and crosses arms]

Yeshiva Guy: Oh, I see. You’re one of those people.

[Subtext: How did I get set up with you? My mother didn’t do enough research! Boy am I going to complain loudly when I get home.]

For the record, yeshiva guys: this is not how a good date goes.

This has happened to me with no less than three oreos; four if you count the Chofetz Chaim boy who showed up in a regimental blue shirt and spoke earnestly about going forth and doing good rabbinical missionary work in foreign nations like Indiana.

However, I am willing to assume a little bit of the responsibility here. Maybe Talmudic Lawyers aren’t schooled in tea-table debate, but I’m the one disagreeing in the first place. I have discovered that many women never disagree with their dates at all! They nod, smile, and at their most contentious, gently question. “Oh! You really think X is the best explanation for G? Well, I don’t know about these things, but I always thought sort of Yish. But what do I know.” Then they go home and tell the shadchan that they’re not interested, while the bewildered boy asks for a second date.

Possibly, this is an important tool missing from my toolchest, when it comes to getting second dates with men who have bi-chromatic wardrobes.

But then again, honestly, who wants to go out again with a guy who thinks X? That’s crazy when you know Y!

Letters From a Young Dater

Every now and then I get asked a question like I’m some kind of dating expert. I don’t think I am, but some of the questions only require a little bit of experience to answer.

Here’s one I received recently:

What’s with guys who don’t bother with spelling, grammar, and punctuation on their profiles? To me that’s like showing up on a date with his shirt untucked and hair unbrushed. Am I wrong?

Here’s my response:

Dear Young Dater,

Spellcheck is a wonderful thing that everyone ought to use on their profile. That being said, since our profiles tend to have loads of squiggly red lines on them under words like “yeshiva” and “hashkafa,” it’s easy to overlook one or two. I’d go easy on those guys.

But if it’s more than just a word here and there, if they persistently refer to themselves as “i,” then I feel your pain.

For example, right now I’m corresponding with a fellow who thinks that punctuation and capitalization are optional online. When I read his emails, the image that pops into my head is of someone with slanty eyes trying to talk around an oversized tongue that doesn’t seem to fit in his mouth. I keep telling myself that he’s probably fairly intelligent, but I struggle to see this beyond his slurred online accent.

The fact is, many guys are under the misguided conception that the internet is still some wild and woolly frontier where the old rules don’t apply. Between you and me, that’s kind of like assuming the gun is still the law in Texas. It’s quaint idea that will get you in trouble.

bec maybe writing like this is fine for teenagers who arent known 4 gr8 self represntation @ the best of times but not 4 grown ups who want 2b taken seriously

So, should you dispense with a guy for clearly being clueless? Or should you try to move on to verbal communication as soon as possible, so you aren’t tempted to type small words in big letters when you write to him? (I AM BAD4, BAD4 I AM. DO YOU LIKE WALKS ON THE SAND?)

Personally, I try to give everyone a fair chance. Moreover, I have not found excellent online communication skills to correlate with excellent life skills. (Although a professional guy will rarely type pidgin at you.) So I’m going to recommend you take the latter tack. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and if everything else sounds okay, say “yes.”

Sincerely,

B4S

 

Thursday Link (early): Men Can’t Have It All Either

Never thought I’d be linking to Esquire, but thanks to O (and her sources) I am.

There’s lots of chatter about how women are 40% of household breadwinners (15% of those are married), and how they still can’t have it all, and never will have it all, etc.

But it takes a fearless magazine like Esquire to point out that men don’t have it all either… Truth is, I’m not exactly sure how this infograph shows that, but I love the graphics, so I’m linking to it anyway.

I also like the article attached to the infograph.

Designer Bride – II

Continued from previous post reviewing ‘How to Create the Perfect Wife’ by Wendy Moore: Designer Bride I

If you know what kind of life you want, and you know what kind of spouse it will take to make it happen, why shouldn’t you insist on exactly what you need? Such hubris led our hero Thomas Day to attempt to create the woman he could not find. He adopted a 12-year-old orphan and raised her himself, inculcating her with his doctrines.

Sadly, it did not work.

At the age of 14 she rebelled against the heavy burden of housework he put on her. Also, she wasn’t enjoying being pricked by pins and shot at with a pistol to develop her stoicism.  It seems that even meek, grateful orphans have their limits. So he banished her to boarding school.

Lesson 1: You can’t force people to fit your mold.

Day went back to dating women of his social class who were out of his league. One had to be dumped because she was too attached to her earrings. Another returned his proposal-by-contract with a point-by-point rebuttal, saying things like “Equality is essential for a happy marriage,” and “I couldn’t imagine being subservient to a husband in all things.” Yet a third suggested that she’d marry him if he became socially presentable, like by brushing his hair and wearing clothes that fit and weren’t rumpled. (Lesson 2: The most deficient are the most demanding.)

In despair, he went back to his orphan, who was finished school. He gave her strict orders on exactly how to dress for his proposal. But something small was off (record doesn’t say what, but friends agree it was a trifle), and he banished her forever, furious at her disobedience.

Lesson 3: You can’t demand perfection in your spouse. They’re only human.

Unbelievably, lesson 4 is that every pot, no matter how dented and warped, has a lid. There was a woman who wanted to marry Mr. Day. And she did. It was a rocky marriage though, between Thomas Day and Esther Milnes. A marriage full of his tests and trials. A marriage full of verbal spats. A marriage from which Esther stormed off at least twice, moving out of the cottage in the woods and in with her mother-in-law. See lessons 1 & 3.

Which brings us to lesson 5: If you’re pretty sure that the reason you’re single is all the fault of the opposite sex, the fault is probably in you.

Continued in next post: Designer Bride III

HT Kansasian

Designer Bride – I

I just finished a great book called How to Create the Perfect Wife. It’s a non-fictional account of Thomas Day, a Georgian-era gentleman, and his attempt to, well, create for himself the perfect wife.

Thomas Day knew exactly the sort of life he wanted to lead. He wanted to retire from the shallow, frivolous contemporary society and live in a small cottage in the woods. He would spend his day reading philosophy, writing poetry, dispensing charity, and trying to make the world a better place. And he knew exactly the sort of woman he needed as a life partner.

She had to be smart and educated in all the same interests as he, but not so ambitious as to write her own novels or poems. She had to have simple tastes and spurn the frippery of the times. She’d wear her hair loose and unstyled. Her neckline would be high, her sleeves long. She would not own earrings or, preferably, any jewelry. She would be strong and capable, willing to endure his difficult life of privation and philanthropy. She would not engage in trivial pursuits like music and dancing, and she must have plump white arms.

Crazy, isn’t it? I mean, what kind of guy dictates the way his wife does her hair or what she does her spare time? Oh wait…

I once met a guy whose first criteria for a potential date was “doesn’t have Facebook.” His second was “will only cover her hair with a scarf or hat.” It only got more detailed from there. Another guy had a list of acceptable college degrees for his wife-to-be. I asked what he’d think if I found him the right girl, but she came with her own list, like how many times a week he has to learn, and maybe something against the way he asks random girls like me to call him by his nickname. His response was that if their lists didn’t match, clearly they weren’t meant for each other.

This is how many of us date. We have a dating pool of perhaps a few hundred candidates, but we still reel off detailed criteria down to how many years he should want to learn and what he can do bein hazmanim. And heaven forbid he should show up in a pink tie.

But if you know what kind of life you want, and you know what kind of spouse it will take to make it happen, why shouldn’t you insist on exactly what you need? Such hubris led our hero Thomas Day to attempt to create the woman he could not find.

Continued in the next post: Designer Bride II and Designer Bride III

HT to the Kansasian

On the Subject of Being Interesting

I hate to be the hobby police here, because I don’t really have much by way of “hobbies” in the traditional sense, but gentlemen:

“Talking to friends” is not a hobby. That’s how normal people socialize. “Going to the gym” is not actually a hobby either, unless you’re training for something special or bodybuilding.

This is the section where you can sound mildly more interesting than all the other nice, smart, professional boys out there. Please make some kind of effort!

Girls Should Just Wanna Have Fun

“Good girls,” a shadchan informed a friend, “Are a dime a dozen.” Good guys, by implication, are a far rarer breed.

Shocking? Not really. It’s  clear enough that the Ultra-Orthodox educational system keeps far tighter rein on its girls than its boys. Just by way of example, my seminary had a 10pm curfew and a 7:30am attendance check. Whereas one of my dates claimed that while in the Mir he spent most of his time on the couch in his friend’s apartment watching movies. Action movies, he hastened to assure me. Boys get the chance to sow their wild oats without anyone really knowing about it. If a girl tries that, it’s on the official record. The attendance record.

And so, girls grow up carefully guarding their reputation, thinking this is an important ideal, not realizing until they’re in their twenties that they’ve been cheated out of their fun. Because by that time it’s too late. They’re in shidduchim and are farther under the microscope than ever before. Well, not farther. More like they’ve gone from a mere optical microscope to an electron scanning microscope. (This seems to last until about 35, at which point many seem to figure that behaving hasn’t done them much good, and they grab some wild oats and start sowing the Upper West Side.)

Of course, many boys straighten out by dating age, too. They had their rumspringa, and now they’re ready to settle down. But depending on how early they started and how careful they were, they may come with a tarnished image. They are no longer “good boys.”  And so, a quick statistical analysis of the dating population shows that the ratio of good girls to good boys is significantly higher than 1. (Okay, maybe I didn’t do a statistical analysis. So what? Everyone says it’s so, so it must be.)

Why is this a problem? It leads to hyper competitiveness among good girls for the smaller population of good boys.  Many girls simply can’t handle it, and have to settle for reformed and less-than-good boys. This is utterly unfair. Why should oat-sowing boys get pure angelic girls? Why should pure angelic girls settle for boys with oat-farming pasts?

To even the odds, I would like to encourage girls to go out and have some fun. Be bad! Be naughty! That’s right! Wear cherry-red lipstick. Smoke a cigarette! Try some marijuana. Spend Saturday night in a lounge with your girls drinking fruity alcoholic beverages and batting your eyelashes at the menfolk across the room! Sneak some jeans into the dressing room at Macys. And do all sorts of other dreadful things I can’t even imagine. Go wild!

But make sure nobody finds out. That would be bad for shidduchim.

…No, wait, typo up there. Make sure everyone finds out. So the rest of us angelic types can get the good ones.

Thursday Link: Freezing Fertility

I admit, this article came as a bit of a shock. I always assumed, in a sort of vague way, that if I wasn’t married at 30 I’d freeze some eggs. I figured I’d do more research when the time came.

Well, it turns out that freezing eggs is over $9,000 a pop, and has at most a 50% chance of success. (Is that per egg or per batch, I wonder?) This information had on me the reverse effect the article intended.

But trot over and read it for yourself. And then let me know: would freezing your eggs be a relief or an additional stress?

 

HT to Kansasian

Quote: Of Gentlemen and Cowards

“Why did your guy break up with you over the phone after one date, but I just got dumped via text after three months by a guy who’s been logging into Frumster for a week already?”

Granted, it is much harder to break up after three months versus one date. One could even argue that after one date it isn’t really “breaking up.” But still.

 

Quote: Definitions

Overheard from someone perusing Zivug Zone:

“He says he’s ‘with-it.’ Why do the guys all say they’re ‘with-it’? It’s like the guy’s equivalent of ‘bubbly’.”

Yuck. I hate “bubbly.” Also “sparkling.” And, now that it’s been pointed out, “with-it” is kind of awful too. That’s really just another way of saying “I think I’m cooler than my friends,” isn’t it?

On Breaking Up

Sometimes I wonder.

Maybe it’s better if a guy/gal breaks up badly. Then, in the coming weeks while you mourn the loss of your relationship, you can keep telling yourself how lucky you are to find out what a huge jerk (s)he really is, before it was too late.

But is that really better?

For me,  no. Because there are really two basic ways to react to a breakup. You can feel sorry for yourself, or you can feel angry at the other person. Personally, I can’t feel sorry for myself for more than a week or two. It just feels stupid and self-indulgent. Tearing up in public, losing my appetite, flopping on the couch doing nothing all evening… Surely my life isn’t that damaged by this guy’s exit from it? Am I really sad for the loss of him, or am I indulging in some self-pity? That is a path I fear to tread so much it can shake me out of sadness.

But being resentful? That, I’m sorry to say, lasts somewhat longer. As Congreve says, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

So, for me at least, it’s better for a fellow to break up like a gentleman, with a prepared telephone speech about how it’s not me it’s him, and he’s really enjoyed all our time together, or whatever other true-but-still-trite platitudes he chooses to apply to our situation. Because in a week I’ll be wishing him well, albeit regretfully. Whereas the alternative is that in a month I’ll still be stewing over how obnoxious he was and how could he say that?

Take Me Out to the Museum

I had a bit of an epiphany a few dates ago.

It was when a guy suggested we go to a local museum. I’m new to the city, hadn’t been to the museum, but I knew it was nationally recognized. I was quite happy to let the date double as tourism.

So when the next guy showed up empty-handed—“Where do you want to go?”—I told him. I named a local tourist attraction that I was interested in seeing.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it indicates a huge departure from my former approach. I used to be hand-wringingly considerate. I didn’t want to spend a guy’s money, especially on a first date. So I’d tentatively recommend some local coffee shop or a cheap eatery. We’d get coffee, go for a walk, decide not to meet again, and I’d spend the rest of the night on the couch mourning my lost day.

There were plenty of places I would have rather gone. But wouldn’t that be… mercenary? Manipulative? Taking advantage? Seeing the  city on another man’s dime? Something about it felt wrong.

I did not mourn the guy’s lost day. If he wanted something better, he should have suggested it. That’s his prerogative as the one spending the money.

But once he asks, can he politely override my suggestion? Maybe he really would have loved something more interesting than coffee, but feels self-conscious suggesting it, because maybe I’m just a boring coffee date kind of girl.

Really, then, it’s for our mutual benefit that I suggest something just a little bit more interesting. And if my suggestions happen to follow a tourist’s itinerary, hitting all the big local attractions, well, who’s to care?

I don’t. That’s for sure.

Dear Bad4: What’s Progress?

I’m not a dating guru. If I knew so much about dating, I’d probably be married by now.

Which is not to say that married people know lots about dating. Some of them seem to just fall into it accidentally. Going out with three people and getting married does not, actually, qualify you to give dating advice. Then again, neither does going out 100 times and never getting past the first “where do we stand” conversation. In fact, the only person I’d trust to give me dating advice is someone who’s been married multiple times. And obviously, they’re doing something wrong too.

Still, we all need dating advice at times, and really, who else is there to turn to except our fellow daters? So I’m going to crowdsource this one. Here’s the question – tell me your answers. I’ll save mine for whenever I get the chance to write it.

Dear Bad4,

I just broke up with a guy I really liked. In a long, late-night conversation he said he wasn’t sure where he stood in life and where he wanted to go and he just didn’t think we were making progress. What does that mean? Because all the guys I break up with say the same thing. We go out for months and then they say that we’re just not making progress. What kind of progress are we supposed to be making when we can’t progress to second base?

Sincerely,

Golden Gal

 

Just So You Know

To the guy I guess I’m not dating anymore:

After our last date, I started wondering how to break up with you. Text? Email? Telephone? In person? I decided we’d gone out enough times and you seemed a decent enough guy that you deserved the telephone.

I guess I was wrong.

Your complete failure to contact me since we last met suggests a level of cowardice I hadn’t guessed at. One of the things I liked about you was your confidence. I guess it was just swagger. Guys I would describe as timid have been able to make the phone call. Why couldn’t you?

So I just wanted you to know: I dumped you first. And thank you for removing any possibly regrets I might have had on that consideration.

Are Responsible People Missing Something?

This morning I opened my inbox to several shidduch suggestions. There was the 29-year-old guy from Australia who worked in Argentina then Germany then moved to Israel where he plans to live and learn for many years to come. Not so bad, just not for me.

Then there was the 30-year-old guy in California who has four college degrees plus various technical certificates who wants to go to medical school–but not ’til next year. Until then he’s learning. Oookay. He won’t finish paying back his student loans until he’s dead.

Then there’s the 31-year-old guy with the Harvard Business School degree who is learning while dabbling in stocks on the side. There’s a waste of a degree.

How did guys cop out of life before learning became a Thing?

When I complained to my flatmate, she pointed out that 30 is a really lousy time to have a job. “Who in their right mind gets a job when they’re young? It’s the best years of your life! Why would you waste it working all day? Get a job when you’re 80 and can’t do anything else anyway!” she ranted. She might have been upset about doing lesson plans on Sunday.

I hear her point.

Do these underemployed guys know something we don’t know? Who the heck needs a 401k anyway? By the time we retire we’ll either be in a welfare state or the world will have collapsed. Right? Wrong? Why the heck don’t so many 30-year-old men have jobs?!

Postscript: [added 2/19/2013]

Since it is apparently unclear who this post is targeting, I will add the following anecdote.

Yesterday, someone told me, “I went to college, I got a degree, I did the Real World job thing, and I didn’t like it. So I went back to school for a masters in dance therapy. It’s a lot of fun and I’m looking for a position in a hospital working with sick kids.”

This was a non-Jewish woman. She did Real Life, she didn’t like it, but she didn’t have the option of retiring to live on her independent income. So she considered carefully and switched careers.

Jewish men, however, do have an alternative. And that is to retire from Real Life to Learn. When I see a guy with a degree in something boring who is learning, my radar goes on. If he’s got a year of work experience, it starts blipping.  If I’m on a date and he makes a face while saying, “I guess I have to get a job now,” well, that pretty much says it.  And if he’s got a year of experience, then got another degree, then worked briefly again, then decided to learn… Seriously, am I the only one who sees this as a sign?

Don’t get me wrong, Jewish women do this too. I often hear singles claiming they just want to be housewives. Run a finger over their windowsill — does it come away clean? Is there nary a dish in their sink? Do they spend their recreational time over the stove? Do they adore children and want to spend all day with them? Rarely. They just don’t want to work. Since learning is not an option, they just have to hope for a rich husband instead.*

Hm… maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I’m just jealous.

*Before someone jumps down my throat about disparaging housewives: I think it’s a wonderful thing to have a homemaker. And there are women who genuinely want to be there for their husband and kids. But when a woman says, wistfully, “I would make a great housewife” shortly after hating on her job, I suspect her motives.