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Monday, January 10, 2011

Over Analyzing and Dating

I am continually struck by the over-analyzing seen in the world of shidduchim and I think it works to the detriment of daters. This recent chat on YWN is yet another example of such. Perhaps the date lacked class. Perhaps the date was simply clueless. Perhaps he was inconsiderate or disrespectful. Perhaps he was "cheap". Perhaps his behavior was odd. Perhaps he was [fill in the blank]. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. There was only one date!

There is a very good chance that this man is "rough around the edges." But, I get the feeling that far too many daters spend too much time (over) analyzing the packaging of the date itself and all the odd behaviors displayed by the date that they don't actually get to the heart of the courting process, i.e. actually getting to know something more substantive about their date.

I find it a sad commentary that the inquiring poster mentioned all of the odd things her date did, but didn't say anything to say about who he is. The poster asks "is this cheap?" but fails to provide relevant information about what stage of life he is in. And it is a sadder commentary that chatters who seem to have the ability to be dan l'chaf zechut just about anything are willing to label a person with very powerful adjectives and labels after a description of a date that could simply have been ill-conceived. And perhaps the date was ill-conceived because he was trying to provide the "required" lounge date, but couldn't provide it in style. And, in a world where many consider it unseemly to meet for a cup of coffee where they might "be seen", I can understand how ill-conceived dates come to be.

Words to the wise:

*there are decent, good spouses that are rough around the edges.
*being an impressive dater does not always a good spouse make.
*it takes effort to get to know someone and if you spend your time analyzing this or that, you might whatever opportunities do present themselves to get to know one another.


JS said...

Didn't you hear? Dan L'kaf zechut isn't meant for your average Joe who may have misspoken or engaged in some faux pas - dan l'kaf zechut is only meant for big-time machers and rabbis who engage in big-time crimes like money laundering, ruining other's livelihoods with slander, etc.

You see it all over the place. Some poor guy makes an unfortunate mistake and he's branded all sorts of terrible names. But, some well-known rabbi or some else "worthy" of respect is caught with their hand in the cookie jar and the same people will yell and scream at you "DAN L'KAF ZECHUT" if you even suggest they might be guilty (no matter how strong the evidence).

As for dating, I'd say it's only a useful indicator of future success in marriage if you date for a very long time and can thus see a person in different circumstances. By this point it's not really dating anymore, it's a relationship. But, what in the world can you tell from a handful of dates? That the person has interesting stories to tell and is creative in picking places to eat a meal?

Ariella said...

My comment got zapped. But I did put up a link!

Chava said...

I think the commenters had a lot of time on their hands, everyone weighing in with this and that idle opinion. There is one opinion that isn't idle, though. It's the opinion of the girl who went on the date. She's the one who experienced it, who had the feeling she was going out with someone whose behavioral standards were not in keeping with what her experience told her was within normal boundaries.

I've been there, done that. During my dating years, every time I would go out with someone whose behavior was inappropriate, I promptly went back to the shadchan and said, "Thank you very much for fixing me up with him. He's a good person, but I don't think he's for me." Shoyn, genug, as they say. This is not an issue of being don lekapf zechus. The issue is going with your feelings and especially your common sense. There's no need to discuss it with your friends, or your virtual friends. It's clear to you what you experienced and what you know in your heart. This is not behavior you feel comfortable with.

She is right to look for someone whose behavior is closer to the norm. As she has been married, she is not without what to compare to.

When I was going out, I was very worried not about my judgments, which I knew were true. I was worried about the judgment of the older women who were the shadchanim and the cluckers and the disapprovers. I was always careful to react to the date in the most positive manner and to be appreciative toward the shadchan so she would not think, "Aha! This is why she's not married. Too picky!" I politely declined to go out again without getting into this and that and wherefore and why not. Thank you, I don't think he's for me.

efrex said...

Hashem yerachem!

Did she enjoy his company? Did the 4 hours that they spent together seem like five minutes or like an enternity? Did she get any sense of this individual as a person, and did she feel that he is somebody whom she would like to spend her life with? How on earth can we mistake the forest for the trees to this extent?

JS said...

Having gone over the original story the girl told, I think it's pretty telling that she doesn't mention a single substantive thing about the guy in the entire story. All she seems to care about is a noisy, long subway ride and that the hotel lounge was next to noisy bars - oh, and all this matters because it indicates he's cheap (no car, no nice lounge, no meal).

How shallow can you get?

Even more interesting, this is frum society approved shallowness. If she had said he was unattractive or poorly dressed, she'd likely be attacked for her shallowness. But, suggesting he's cheap? That's fine as being cheap is a cardinal sin even if you are penniless.

You got to ask what these people are supposedly learning in all those years of yeshiva.

Garnel Ironheart said...

The problem with Orthodox dating is that the superficial "image is everything" attitude prevalent in the "frum velt" is a complicating factor.
Imagine you're the girl: you're raised to want a kollel boy with the black hat and no intention of ever making a living, who speaks a perfect Yeshivish and says "Ah, geshmakt" and "takke" at all the right parts of the conversation. And then the boy, because he's a real live person and not an Artscroll cutout, doesn't meet the girl's expectations. How could he?
Then there's the boy, who's looking for the perfect girl - size 0 but loves to cook, has perfect hair and teeth and looks after her 12 little siblings on a regular basis like a mother without a frustrated "mamash" to be heard. What girl could fit that image?
So the two meet and it's doomed because they're taught that they must only accept the cookie cutter image, not anything that actually exist.
Or worse, the boy and girl realize that the other is looking for a stereotype so he/she behaves like it. Then they get married and oy vey! They discover that they're real people with real issues. Now what's to do be done?
It's a miracle anyone gets married at all anymore.

Chava said...

I understand your comment, Sephardi Lady, that "there are decent, good spouses that are rough around the edges". That is true. However, a girl's job when dating is to distinguish between those with potential and those whose awkward behavior might indicate larger issues that she would not want to become further embroiled in.

The question is, are certain seemingly small indicators evidence of larger problems? I think that's what a girl has to figure out. It's easy to say from one's armchair that a girl should continue going out with someone she did not enjoy being with the first date. The shadchan has very little at stake compared to the girl, for whom everything is at stake - her time, her hopes, her life.

I do not think one should disregard one's feelings that a boy or man is inappropriate in his behavior. The question is how inappropriate. Is a man who takes home your water bottle a person with good judgment? Is a man who takes you to Manhattan by subway frugal or cheap? Life has many challenges, and the most important thing is to read the small clues and extrapolate as to whether there is potential.

I think the comments on that blog though were quite immature. I think that is what you were objecting to.

JS said...


Immature doesn't begin to describe it. I'd sooner die an old bachelor than have to go through this obscene and ridiculous shidduch machine. What the heck do water bottles and subway rides have to do with anything meaningful when we're talking about finding a spouse?

The system removes any shred of honesty or dignity or openness that people are left groping at innuendo and nuance. Hence the obsession over nonsense like water bottles and subways. I wish people could see what they look like to an outsider - you all look positively insane, not to mention incredibly shallow and stuck up.

You said the girl may be wasting "her time, her hopes, her life" - on what? 4-5 hours of her time on one measly date? This attitude is just appalling. Only in the frum veldt is going out on one bad date a waste of a person's time, hopes, and life. For a regular person, it's just a bad date. In the shidduch world, it's a disaster - when you were on that date you might have missed your bashert! The shadchan might think you're difficult now! You may be branded unmarryable!

Equally ridiculous are the silly comments about how a first date is the single most important thing in the whole world and indicative of everything there is to know about a person. And conversely, how a subway ride is only appropriate on the 3rd date. Seriously? Good God.

With all these dumb rules and expectations, the shadchan might as well just make the reservations, order food for them, and hand out scripts of what to say. Then they can make decisions on marriage on how well they can read their lines.

What a sad, sorry state of affairs.

Ariella said...

Rachel would never have married the man who became R' Akiva if she were following today's shidduch guidelines. No way he would have passed muster as an ignorant shepherd, already past the first bloom of youth, with a marked antipathy to the yeshiva world.

Orthonomics said...

Thanks for the link Ariella.

Chava, I am struck that nearly every poster has labelled this young man with rather all-inclusive and all-encompassing labels over some behaviors which may not have been "normal". So little information, yet this man gets called nuts, cheap, and even selfish.

The "girl" has every right to make her own determination if she would like to go out again and I don't expect anyone to disregard their feelings. On the other hand, I don't think the over-analysis (wondering later in the thread if the behavior is creepy?) is of much service to the dater after *one* date.

I guess I have a soft spot in my heart for those who lack talent in the dating arena.

Chava said...

Sephardi Lady, I feel there is too much attention paid to comments on a blog that does not attract the most sophisticated people. I don't think these silly youngsters who are texting on the blog are representative of the serious young girls who are "in the parsha". The commenters are immature, and their comments should be taken with that in mind.

On the subject of compassionate dating: I'm afraid I think differently. I often see the result of compassionate shidduchim, meaning ladies who fix up young girls with boys who are not "marriage material" because they are full of compassion for the boys. I feel compassion for the girls, whose time of youth is awasting. Who listen trustingly to older women who conceal the truth about the boy from them, who mislead them. This is so unjust. There are many boys who are not "the maiden's dream" as the poem goes, and they will definitely get married to girls who are intent on marrying. But not to my daughters! Not to my nieces! And please don't fix up my daughters with boys who you would not fix up your own daughter with. Do not abuse her trust. Compassion is not a reason to make a shidduch.

Anonymous said...

I am married for the past 40 years to one who probably would have been labelled a little "rough around the edges" socially...and definitely "cheap"...but we had great dates...and a beautiful life...we are very blessed with children and grandchildren all living close by...and in this bad economy...we're not suffering...I count my blessings that I was not picky and stupid so many years ago!! As my friend and I always say: Nerds make the best husbands..they are loyal, aren't interested in "running around" and they work hard to support the family...are kovea itim to daven, learn etc...what more can a girl want...??

Commenter Abbi said...

Wow, Chava, maybe you don't know what kind of beautiful souls your daughters and nieces are missing out on because you refuse to have them set up with guys who aren't "the maiden's dream"

I have two cousins who went through the shidduch system and married so-called "perfect guys" - good families, good businesses (diamonds, real estate) seemingly perfect looking, frum homes. One is on the verge of divorce (the marriage is now a complete void, it crumbled a decade ago) the other is married to a paranoid control freak.

But you would have been thrilled to have your daughters and nieces set up with either of these guys- on paper and on dates, they were the perfect gentlemen. They would never have been "wasting" your female relatives' precious time. (Seriously, are all of your daughters and nieces cancer researchers that can't spare the time to check out all types of people?)

I read the post and the guy just seems like a quirky chap who likes to experience different things- sounds like many of the guys I dated with whom I actually enjoyed the dates. She seems completely shallow and will end up with the zivug she deserves.

Commenter Abbi said...

Also, not sure where you live Chava, but most people "in the parsha" are silly youngsters! I wouldn't call 18 or 19 and living at home, barely started on any career or working some meaningless job until you get a ring the pinnacle of mature sophistication. At least be honest.

Avi said...

I am eternally grateful to my wife's policy of always going out with someone at least twice if he wasn't an axe murderer.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-I was given the advice "nerds make the best husbands" when I was a lot younger and stupider. Loyal, trustworthy, hardworking is a good package even where it comes packaged with some socially awkward behavior.

Chava-There are a lot of reasons not to engage in what you call "compassionate dating" or setting up. But what is the reason for rejection? Is it because the person doesn't play a role well, or because there are actual issues? There are many suave, likeable guys with real issues. And there are many socially awkward guys who will prove to be decent, loyal, trustworthy, hardworking husbands despite their flaws.

Either way, marriage is rarely a flawless package. I find it dehumanizing to discount a person becaue of one bad date.

Julie said...

I'm finding myself oddly on the other side. I think that the young woman was correct to question whether her date was cheap or not. And I think that she WAS showing compassion to the date by asking the question. In the non-frum world, she would not even think to give her date a second chance. From the way that she described him--and admittedly we only get her side of the story--that guy was strange! He might be a diamond in the very rough, but someone needs to teach him how to behave in civilized society. Each one of his actions could be explained away: going on the subway on a Saturday night, not offering to buy her a drink of some sort when they arrived, only offering water, taking the bottle of water home with him, etc. But as a whole package, it shows a lack of derech eretz. I would give the guy another chance to see if he gets it right. But I completely understand why the young woman would want to run screaming the other direction.

Chava said...

Sephardi Lady, I think we agree. The reason for the rejection is key. It can't be for superficial reasons. Suave charming men frequently are bad bargains. It is best to marry someone who is kind, trustworthy, hardworking and loyal.

But just as a well spoken man may have bad character, a socially awkward man may also have bad character. Character is key. A young girl must have the insight to perceive character beneath the externals. And vigilant, actively involved parents looking over her shoulder and vetting her shidduchim.

tesyaa said...

I agree with Chava on this. You cannot make a blanket statement like "nerds make the best husbands" (clearly a whimsical remark, not necessarily serious advice)

Orthonomics said...

Julie-While I see no reason to accept a second date, I also see no reason to "run screaming in the other direction." There are many reasons in this world to "run screaming." This ain't it.

Chava-I'm certain we agree more than we disagree. Bad character comes in all sizes and shapes. I just don't think that a single I just find that in the shidduch world, if the packaging isn't quite right, rejection often follows. And, while I generally appreciate activiely involved parents, I'd seen parents of both young men and young women who are much more of a hinderance than a help, engaging in middle school play yard type of behaviors.

megapixel said...

agree that a red flag should be raised. there are a couple of weird things most of all the taking home of her used water bottle. sounds a little creepy.
however there could be an explanation (?)
assuming that in other ways she enjoyed the date, maybe a second date cant be a bad idea.
proceed with caution.

Bklynmom said...

Sorry, this turned out a bit long. Snow on the ground means having way too much free time in the middle of the day.
I have never been on a "shidduch" date (met my husband in college), for which I am grateful. I have also never bben in a hotel lounge. Or a bar for that matter. However, I can venture an explanation for taking a water bottle with him. If he felt others present were ordering more substantial drinks (expensive cocktails or something along those lines) or food, and they were ordering just water for a couple of dollars, could it be he was being considerate of waiters, or awkward leaving a small tip, when the waiters would have to clean up afterwards, the same as after a larger order, larger bill, and larger tip? Yes, he could leave a lerge tip, but that may be more than he spent on the water in the first place. Subway--what's the problem? They were going to Manhattan. Driving would require parking there, at an additional cost. Lots of coupons are available for parking lots, but would he feel comfortable using a coupon on a date? And a subway ride allows additional time to talk, to see how your date interacts with others, to show chivalry--letting her sit, getting up for an elderly rider, talking about culture, NYC and its history, observing how comfortable she is outside her immediate community. Not offering to buy her a drink--maybe he was having a great time talking and time slipped away. Maybe he forgot. I'd like to think I love my children, but there have been occasions when they walk through the door and start telling me about school and an hour passes and I have not offered them dinner. Calling child protective services, anyone?
I'm grateful for having never shidduch dated, and hope and pray my children can avoid it while still managing to meet their spouses.

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