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You Know Your Date’s A Mentsch If…


Kupfer-Cheryl

While some people have the extreme mazel of knowing within an hour of their date that the person sitting across from them is the “right one,” the vast majority of those on shidduch (blind) dates aren’t so lucky. I would guess most first dates are parve – with the consensus being, “I had a nice time, but not amazing.”

The big question when the dater comes home is whether to go out a second time. Dating can be emotionally and financially draining – as well as time-consuming, and the young people involved may wonder if another get-together is worth the effort, since the meeting was just “ok.”

Something to consider when making the decision on giving the “relationship” another chance is examining the other person’s menschlichkeit. Its absence or presence should be the deal breaker or maker.

Many inexperienced and naïve young adults, and their equally naïve parents, make the mistake of agreeing to or turning down a second date based on external factors such as yichus, (family pedigree), wealth (or lack off it), physical appearance and the schools attended. Midos are assumed to automatically be part of the person’s make-up, especially if he/she comes from the “right” family and went to the “right” schools.

Sadly that is not necessarily the case. Some individuals are not what they seem to be and are very adept at saying the right things and participating in the right activities, thereby fooling rebbes, shadchans and potential in-laws into thinking more positively about them than they deserve.

However, there are subtle traits that provide clues as to what the person is really like, and certain behaviors or lack of them on the first date should be a major factor in deciding on a second one.

Here is what I believe are some actions that provide insight into a person’s menschlichkeit:

He calls to let her know he’ll be late. In this age of cell-phones, there is no excuse – except for a blatant lack of consideration – not to let the girl know that you are delayed and will be late. She will appreciate the heads up and will likely be relieved to have more time to get herself ready.

Likewise, the girl should not keep him waiting for more than a few minutes after he arrives to pick her up. If she knows she won’t be ready by the agreed upon time, she should call him and let him know. Asking a new date to wait for you can be very awkward for both the young man and her parents. Making a person “cool their heels” after a mutually agreed pick-up time is an act of control and self-centeredness, and conveys the message that the person waiting is insignificant and of small value. Chronic lateness can also be indicative of an unorganized personality. Marriage to someone who can’t get his/her act together can be very frustrating and stressful for a person who is punctual.

If the date involves eating out, insight as to whether a second date should be contemplated can be provided by where he takes her and what she orders. Did the girl take into consideration what is reasonable for a young man who is learning, in college or working, to shell out? A medical student I know took a girl out to a “very nice” restaurant. He was quite attracted to her as she was very pretty and was charmed by her wit and the easy flow of their conversation. But his outlook quickly soured with each course that she ordered – the most expensive choices of the appetizers, salads, entrées and desserts, of which she took only a few bites, before ordering something else.

“I’m a student with huge loans”, he told me, turned totally off both by the waste of good food, and what he perceived as her greed and thoughtlessness. Needless to say, there was no second date.

On the other hand, a girl who orders the cheapest meal may have very low self-esteem. It’s as if she is signaling,” I’m not worth spending money on, I have little value.” An unhealthy self-image can be problematic in terms of a viable marriage.

Conversely, if, on the first date, the guy shows signs of cheapness, the girl should seriously reconsider agreeing to a second date, A divorced friend of mine once lamented to me, “I should have seen what was coming when I saw he tipped the waiter with a quarter.”

One of my most “memorial” dates consisted of a long walk in a park on a cold, wintry afternoon in Toronto, and afterwards being “treated” to a cup of coffee. I was in my late 30′s, wearing dress shoes.

A good indicator if a “parve” boy is worth a second look – or not – is if he walks his date to the door or just drops her off in front of her house or building. Escorting the girl and making sure she gets in would seem like a no-brainer – but it doesn’t always happen. In fact, numerous stories abound of women who after a date, were left off at a subway or bus stop at night and ended up walking home alone. The luckier ones had dates who put them in taxis or car services, but did not take them home.

A man who takes the trouble to walk his date to her door displays good manners and kindness that he no doubt will display to his wife.

Actions that show a person is thoughtful and considerate – or not – should be taken into account when deciding if one should ask, or agree to, a second date. Looks and social status, etc have their place in the shidduch scene, but menslichkeit should be the deal-breaker.

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