Latest update: February 13th, 2014
Dear Dr Yael:
I am a frum man in his 30s who’s been dating for a while.
Who created the current rules of dating? Why must the guy always pick up the girl by car, and pay for tolls, gas, etc., if things are not guaranteed to work out? After all, I may not be attracted to the girl, or our personalities may not click; thus, it turns out to be a waste of money and time for me.
If a girl wants to date a guy, why can’t she pick up the tab some of the time and do the driving? When I began dating I did not mind being the one responsible for all this, but after a number of years, I have to say the process is tiring.
The few girls that I wanted to continue to date would not even give me a chance. This has made me sick of dating, but I really want to get married. Please offer me advice on my troubling situation.
A Single Frum Man
Dear Single Frum Man:
You are not the first person to ask this question and express his frustration with the frum dating scene. Many men and women are frustrated with the dating process and with the “advantages” they perceive to be enjoyed by the opposite gender.
It is interesting that you write that you’re not attracted to the women you date, that your personalities don’t click, and that all of the women that interest you do not give you a chance. These conclusions indicate that there may be more going on than meets the eye. Are you attracted to women whom are not interested in you? Do you have a hard time being yourself around women who you like? It might be a good idea to seek some professional help as you strive to figure out what is actually the issue in your dating strategy.
Perhaps you will meet your bashert shortly. But then again, maybe you’re doing something to drive away the women with whom you’re connecting – leading them to not give you the chance for success that you deserve.
I am not directing this analysis at you per se. I have found, however, that singles sometimes denigrate themselves on dates, not realizing that this can be damaging to their dating prospects.
Here are seven examples of how singles are sometimes their own worst enemies:
1) The single talks negatively about his or her previous dates or relationships.
2) The single puts down his or her looks or intelligence.
3) The single expresses negative attitudes from the date’s outset – especially about the opposite gender.
4) The single criticizes his or her date during the date’s first few minutes.
5) The single runs late and makes up an excuse for having done so.
6) The single places full blame on the other party for the failure of past relationships.
7) The single gives mixed messages, which usually leads to the disallowance of any closeness.
One thing we must realize is that a good date doesn’t necessarily make for a good marriage partner. And the opposite is true as well, as many girls and boys don’t like small talk during dates. So while those dates may not go well, the couple may still make excellent spouses for each other.
For example, someone who is very exciting but perhaps somewhat erratic may be a great dating partner but may not be a stable marriage partner. Make sure to judge a date by the so-called little things, e.g. how someone treats the waiter, waitress, doorman, toll collector, etc. This can foretell how that person will treat you when he or she is no longer trying to make a good impression, having gotten comfortable after a few dates. And pay even closer attention to these traits as the relationship grows more serious. You’ll learn much about the person’s potential to be a good spouse.
I counsel and, Baruch Hashem, help many singles get married. In guiding them, I often help them change their dating techniques. I have noticed that many are attracted to that which they cannot have. Also, many of them have dated hundreds of boys or girls and have always found something wrong with the one who wants to be with them. One reason for this is the fear of emotional intimacy.
What causes this fear?
1) One didn’t witness intimacy while being raised.
2) The fear that sharing intimate information about one’s self can later be used against him or her.
3) The fear that a negative experience in a past relationship may recur. A bad marriage, broken engagement or painful relationship that didn’t materialize can cause a fear of commitment.
The longer singles date the more they sometimes need to justify their long wait for an ideal partner and perfect spouse. They tend to become pickier about whom they go out with because they question how they could compromise by settling for an imperfect spouse after their long wait.
Speak to a close friend, a rav, or – ideally – a professional who specializes in helping people maintain good relationships (e.g., a pre-marital and/or marriage counselor). Those trained in pre-marital and marital counseling can help you see your relationships in a different light. They may be able to help you better understand yourself and your relationships.
Being in the shidduch parshah is very frustrating and painful. But it is a time when you can work to become a better person. Reaching your potential as a person now will assist you in your future endeavors – as a husband, in your job, and in your relationships with others. Please make every effort to maintain a positive outlook, taking the best from every situation.
I hope you soon find your bashert. Hatzlachah!Dr. Yael Respler
About the Author: Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.
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