“I Just Wish I Was Dating”

The bais Yaakov high-school graduate is suddenly handed a dizzying range of control over her life: what to wear Monday through Friday, how late to stay out at night, what ice cream to have for supper, what subjects to study in college.

Giddy on independence and control, the young single woman sees nothing but promise ahead—a life crafted to her desires, perfect by her own design. She has it planned out, step by step, from volunteer summer job this year to the influential career down the line. She knows exactly what it takes, and she knows that she’ll get there.

Except for one thing. The marriage factor. She’s not really sure where it fits in, though she’d be happy to adjust for it at any point. But neither does she know how to make it happen. And while she’s confident that she’ll achieve it, she really wishes she could see, just a little more clearly, how.

The phrase “career-path” is well-known. The phrase “marriage-path”—not so much. Even though we exercise reduced control over our employment, there are tried and true techniques for job hunting and ladder climbing. We know that if we keep at it, we’ll eventually meet with some success.

Not so with dating. Network at weddings, harass shadchanim—there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get to sit across from a nervous young man and sip coke.

It’s disconcerting. Disheartening. Disgruntling. The most frustrating part of being orthodox, female, and single isn’t being single—it’s not being able to do anything about it. Men, at least, have their lists to occupy them, to maintain that façade of control. But women… well, how else to explain our inexplicable attachment to those SYAS accounts?

But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. With all the control we have over our lives, it’s easy to forget that we don’t make our own fate. Not to start quoting “kochi vi’otzem yadi” at you (or anyone—I’m talking about myself here… oh God I just sounded like a high school teacher twice in one sentence), but sometimes you need to ram into that wall to force you to stop, breath, and refocus. My dating status is out of my control, and so is everything else. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, and stop backseat driving for God.





Out of Control

Remember being a teenager? They expended a lot of effort trying to teach us how to be efficacious human beings.

One of the tools I recall was the circles of control. Basically, you envision yourself in the center of a circle of things that you can control: your reactions to other people, what you make yourself for lunch, how far you run in your morning workout. Outside them is another concentric circle of things not in your control: the weather, the stock market, who wins the Republican primaries, etc.

The line between these two circles is a fuzzy gray are full of things like job interviews and personal health. If you have wide circle of control, it includes much of these gray areas; if you have a narrow circle, it doesn’t.

I was up late one night feeling a little depressed about what one friend refers to as my romantic life. And then I thought: why am I even thinking about this? There’s so much else in my life that requires concern that I can actually do something about, why am I obsessing over this particular lacking?

Because there’s a limit to how much you can do to get yourself married. You can learn how to dress and act. You can learn what to say and what not to say on a date. You can take hundred-dollar photographs to attach to your shidduch profile. You can even learn how to gaze demurely up through your eyelashes while breathlessly clinging to every word that your date says. But ultimately, you can’t force anyone to marry you.

Maybe I’ve been carrying the whole dating thing too far into my circle of control. Maybe it’s time to admit that while I’ve done a whole lot, I can’t force the process.

Maybe it’s time to just let it go, and treat it like the weather, the stock market, and politics: something to deal with when it happens.

Maybe it’s time to just live without it.

Maybe all that’s easier said than done.