Major Dating Myths
The Purple Sheet
Shabbat Parshat VaEtchanan– August 19th & 20th 2016 – ט”ו אב תשע’ו
Major Dating Myths
Today, Friday is Tu B’Av, the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month, Av. This is like Jewish Valentine’s Day and the Talmud relates that back in their day there was a major Speed Dating-like event on Tu B’Av. Young women and men would get together, the women dressed in borrowed white clothing, and they would show off their wares – be they good looks, good family or good character. It was no accident that it took place when there was a full moon… so with Romance in the air, here is my collection of Top Dating Myths. If you are married, then keep reading since we all know someone who is single and you can pass this on to another. Better yet, forward them the email.
The more you make yourself available, the better your chance to find the right one. Not really and actually maybe the opposite is true. People value something that isn’t so readily available. Gold and diamonds are valued because they are scarce. So don’t go out with every person you mother’s hairdresser suggests. Do some homework to make sure this fellow or young lady is in the ball park. Date for quality, not quantity. Don’t view yourself as a piece of merchandise where you have to get your name out there as much as possible to be bought.
The longer you date, the better you will get to know him/her. There comes a point where the economic idea of “law of diminishing returns” kicks in. It always pains me when I hear that a couple has been dating for 2, 3 or 4 or more years. I recall the time that a couple told me they had been dating for a very lengthy time. I asked them, “What more information do the two of you need before you can make a decision?” They broke up soon after.
Assuming you are not in a long-distance relationship, you can gather enough information about another in 3-6 months to know if you can make a happy life with this person or not. It does not mean you have to get married right away, but if you date properly – actively and not passively – you can get to know a person quite well pretty quickly. What I mean by actively dating is that your dates are not about fun or hanging in Starbucks but doing those things where you can see the person in real life situations so you can properly assess their personality and see what makes them tick. The main problem with sticking with someone who won’t end up under the chuppah is that the right one may come along and you will miss it because you were tied up with Joe/Jill Dead End. Move on when you know he or she is not for keeps.
All Jewish Men or Women are … (fill in the blank). Try not to succumb to this sour-grapes distraction in your moments of frustration. Too often I hear singles kvetch that all Jewish guys or girls are only interested in … (looks, position, status, the car he drives etc.). You are not marrying an entire race, but just one person. So forget generalities and stereotypes and keep your focus on finding the right one.
The Smartest, Prettiest, Most Successful types get married first. Nope, just look around and you will see this is not so. I know of plenty of people who, for the life of me, I cannot understand why they are still single. They seem to have so much going for them – smart, successful, good looking, great personality. And then there are those folks who might be termed in popular culture as “losers”, yet they have been happily married forever. For every pot there is a lid. So don’t compare yourself with anyone; it’s not a contest.
Sparks need to fly as soon as we meet. No they don’t. I am proof of this – there weren’t sparks when I first met Karen. Maybe a flicker but certainly not a raging fire and here we are 28 years on and seven kids (and a granddaughter) later in a spark-filled marriage. People get this notion that it needs to be love at first sight thanks to the movies. It always amuses me that some would actually use Hollywood as their guidebook for marriage. There is probably no greater industry or place in the world that is a fail when it comes to relationships. So ignore this Hollywood created myth (and almost everything else they have to say about life) and remember that they are in the entertainment business and not a very good source for wisdom or tips about creating a happy married life.
You can go it alone. Everyone is familiar with the Jewish figure of the Matchmaker. Many have a dim view of matchmakers who are usually portrayed as busy-body talkative yentas who are only interested in notching a few more shidduchim, matches on their belt. The fact is that dating and making a decision as to whether someone can be a true life-partner desperately needs an outside objective party. Again, I am proof of this as well. After meeting Karen and the above mentioned lack of fireworks, bells or whistles, I was ready to give it up after the third date. I told this to the rabbi whom I used to speak to about these matters and he asked me what I liked about her. I gave him a list of things (besides the English accent) and he then said the line that changed my life: “Funny, I don’t recall you ever speaking so positively about any of the women that you have gone out with before.” Hmmm…he made me listen to myself and take Karen more seriously. So it is quite crucial to get an outside opinion from a close friend or confident to ensure that your decision to marry or not is a good one.
Love Conquers All. Rabbi Nachum Braverman of Aish Los Angeles has a great definition of marriage. Two people committed to: 1. Each other’s welfare, good and pleasure and 2. Common life goals. When a couple is first dating and it is exciting and electric, the first part of this definition is a breeze as they share lots of intense good times together. But couples do not pay enough attention to the more sober second part of this definition – the common life goals bit. Too many young people think that because they have 1 then any obstacles from 2 will easily be overcome. This is simply not true and as a couple ages and 1 loses some of its excitement and 2 is not fulfilled, frustration and tensions are bound to set in and destroy a marriage. So do be a romantic but not overly so to the point that you become blinded to the realities of the other person’s life goals which may be very different than your own. Don’t subscribe to this false notion that your love will conquer any and all significant differences; there is a good chance you may not win that battle and the collateral damage will be painful.
You can go it alone, Part 2. Not only do you need others to help you find the right one, but it’s a great idea to get God on your side as well. Everyone who is married has some story of how they met and the unique and often unusual circumstances that brought them together. So do pray, but not for any particular person. Rather say, “God, when you bring me the right person (and He can and will) please give me the insight and awareness to see it.”
Good Luck and don’t forget to invite me to your wedding. (Btw, I officiate too and love to fly to exotic places to perform weddings – sorry, but no New Jersey.)
Won’t you lie down by me baby
Run your fingers through my hands
I’ve been all around the town
And still I do not understand
Is it me or is it you
Or the shadow of a dream
Is it wrong to be in love
Could it be the finest love I’ve ever seen