I Think I’ve Seen You Before

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.

What’s Your No-Beer Answer?

I have a career problem. Not with the career. It’s great so far. But it wreaks havoc on my dating. Heck, its even bad for not dating. I was at circus school the other night and a happily married classmate asked me what I do.

“Scientist,” I said vaguely.

“Oh wow,” he looked stunned.

“You?” I asked, keeping it friendly.

“Well, now I don’t want to say,” he hesitates. “I’m just an intake nurse at the hospital.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“Well, it’s not a smart.”

“So what? It’s a good job and you’re still way better at lion-taming than I am. That’s not going to change how I see you.”

The thing that bugged me about this exchange was that I’d given him my “beer” answer. I was trying to be non-intimidating. What’s a girl to do when her “beer” answer is also a “no-beer” answer?

Here’s how it goes. If a girl is in a bar and a guy comes over and asks what she does, she can give one of two answers: the “beer” answer, which will hopefully lead to further conversation and him offering to buy her a beer; or the “no beer” answer, which will make him suddenly recall urgent business elsewhere. This is purely theoretical for me, as I never get approached in bars, since I’m not generally in them. But the idea still holds: the turn-off answer, and the not-so-turnoff answer.

When I came across this idea, I asked my companions, a preschool teacher and a librarian, what their “no beer” answers would be. After some deep mulling, the preschool teacher answered “Early childhood development specialist.” The librarian didn’t miss a beat. “Librarian,” she said promptly.

Like the librarian, my beer and no-beer answers are essentially the same. Which I find troubling.  What on earth is a girl to answer if people back away slowly from the lite version? A lie?

…then again, it sure is fun to whip out the no-beer answer. “I’m a microneurobiologist specializing in intracellular organelle funambulism. But that’s boring. What do you do? Hey, is something wrong?”

Get Thee to a Shadchan! (If You’re Male)

It’s not like nobody wants to set up older girls. Well, maybe some don’t. But based on what I understand, the problem isn’t not wanting to set up the gir— I mean women – it’s that guys tend not to go to shadchanim. As a result, shadchanim wind up with long lists of women and short lists of men. It’s really not a promising start.

It’s like the singles events. Women go because they figure they should give it a shot. Men go only if they’re totally desperate. The result: a totally lopsided pool of attendees.

So I don’t see this as a game changer.

If they want to change the game, they should bribe normal, young men to visit shadchanim. Preferably the same shadchanim frequented by the women. Now that might make a difference.

Singles Events Dynamics

Things I Learned from My First Singles Event

1 – While interested and engaged in conversation, everyone is far more attractive than while frozen in their profile pictures. In fact, the difference can be startling. Note to self: Never look at another profile picture ever again.

– A surprising number of men who are in their mid-twenties (or who claim to be) have a surprising number of white hairs coming in.

2 – Women go to singles events because they figure they have to give it a shot. Men don’t, because it isn’t cool. As a result, there are three types of singles in the room: skeptical women, desperate men, and indifferent men who showed up only because someone twisted their arm.

3 – As a result, the skeptical women find themselves in prolonged contact with men who are either desperate and therefore uninteresting, or who are uninterested, and therefore interesting.  This is not simply a matter of wanting what you can’t have. People who don’t care tend to be more relaxed, easygoing, and open. They also don’t want to go out with anyone afterward.

4 – The guy who you find the easiest and most interesting to speak to will be someone who is hashkafically incompatible with you. Conversely, the guys you guess to be hashkafically within range will begin to sconcer a few minutes into conversation.

5 – The following dance will be occurring around the room in many different fashions:

Single A approaches Single B with body language that says “Not that I’m hitting on you or anything, but we might as well get to know each other.” Single B converses with Single A for a few moments and then begins to sconcer, either due to actual disinterest or to avoid looking like (s)he is hitting on Single A. Single A recognizes the body language and, to avoid looking desperate, replies in kind. They smile in parting and drift off, each thinking (possibly regretfully) that the other is not interested.

The only exception to this is the awful person you wind up talking to who simply fails to recognize all your hints (“Something happening back there? Something in your eye? No? So as I was saying…”) until you finally escape to the bathroom. If it’s not your day, (s)he’ll be waiting outside.

6 – Learned from a conversation starter cue: The hobby most people regret not taking up involves learning to play a musical instrument. Which reminds me, I really want to take that guitar seriously after I graduate…

7 – Those people who seem to have no trouble striking up animated conversations with each other? They know each other from beforehand. And past singles events.

8 – At least once in the course of the event you will wonder if the organizers even read the extensive profile you filled out, and if so, why they put you at a table with these people.

9 – It really is nice being able to see someone in a relatively normal setting before having to go out with them. Or not going out with them. Point is, the interactions (and actions) are more natural. So, points in that category.