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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘matchmaking’

Texting, Chatting, and that Thing We Used to Call a Relationship

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Rachel’s matchmaker had given her the green light. Jacob was going to contact her that night (he was finally available!) and they would arrange a date. As Rachel awaited his call, she thought about what he would look like and wondered where they would go.

Her phone buzzed with an incoming text, interrupting her reverie. To her shock, it was Jacob, texting to schedule their date. “What chutzpah,” she thought (and later told her friends). “He doesn’t even have the courtesy to call and talk to me.”

If you ask someone who was in the dating scene only ten years ago what role texting and e-mailing played in his or her relationship, my guess is that he or she would say it was a moot point. No one I knew had texting (was it even around?), and while its absence may seem inconvenient now, it certainly made dating etiquette less complicated.

The world is a different place today and texting and e-mailing play far larger roles in our relationships. The benefits are obvious; the difficulties less blatant, more complex. Navigating the intricacies of chatting, texting, and e-mailing within the already-complicated world of dating can sometimes require Herculean efforts. When to chat? When to call? Is it rude to chat to confirm a pickup time? Will he think I’m too forward if I text him? The questions go on and on.

With so many uncertainties surrounding texting and e-mailing, why do singles rely on them so heavily? Wouldn’t it simply be easier to rule them out of the dating process?

Not always. Singles often use texting and e-mailing to progress a relationship. Sandy Weiner, dating coach and owner of Last First Date, explains that “you can stay in touch and let someone know you’re thinking of them by texting throughout the day without being intrusive.”

Michael Feldstein, a member of the Advisory Committee for YU Connects, agrees that these modes of communication at times do make things easier for singles – but not always better. “I think many singles are using e-mail and texting as a way to protect themselves from getting too close in a relationship or dealing with issues that they prefer to avoid in a face-to-face environment.”

Case in point? Break ups.

“I’ve heard stories about guys who have broken up with girls after being in a relationship through a text or an e-mail – there is no excuse for doing something like that,” says Feldstein.

As much as a text can help someone express a hard-to-say compliment, its potential to do significant damage to a relationship or allow for such rude behavior makes it a double-edged sword.

Moreover, there have been plenty of cases of mistaken identity associated with texting. “People sometimes text the wrong person, which can lead to pushing away a potential match,” relates Weiner. “For example, you’re set up with two women, and you’re going on first dates with both of them. You’re in communication with both, and by mistake you text Susan and call her Karen. Not a good move!”

At the root of many of these tech-related issues is a lack of protocol informing proper behavior. Many men and women in relationships are flat-out confused by the lack of protocol with texting and the like in dating. There are no set rules and what’s deemed appropriate by one person may be viewed as inappropriate by another.

“Women don’t know if it’s too forward to initiate texting a man,” says Weiner. “And men don’t know if they’re texting too much and possibly pushing a woman away.”

Facebook can also be detrimental to relationships. If people in a relationship post pictures of themselves with members of the opposite sex (who are not their significant others) it can cause jealousy or confusion. Some people go so far as to change their relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single” without informing the person they had been dating.

But more than simply making a dating faux pas, texting, e-mailing and Facebook use can hinder relationships. Gestures, body language, tone of voice, or facial expressions that convey emotions and attitude can never be translated into typed words. As a dating coach, Weiner understands just how vital that face-to-face communication is.

Orthodox Matchmaking Needs Huge Fixing

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

If there is one area of orthodox Jewish life that is truly messed up and needs fixing it’s matchmaking. In our communities we eschew the recreational dating scene of the secular world. As a counselor in that world and someone who once served as matchmaker-in-chief for JDate, I agree that it is too flawed. External qualities like beauty and money play an outsized role. People don’t date to commit but to have fun, except that there is nothing ultimately pleasurable about relationships that are expected, from the outset, not to last. Who needs a broken heart? Life has enough uncontrollable pain not to have add the self-inflicted variety.

So what is our solution? Is the alternative that we offer in orthodoxy of young men and women never meeting at all and connecting only through matchmakers a viable alternative?

Well, it once was when the orthodox community was, say, a tenth of the size it is today. But let’s be proud of our growth. From the time I got marriage nearly 25 years ago, thank God, to today the orthodox community has absolutely exploded in growth. We’re having a lot of kids, which is wonderful but it has strained the shidduch-matchmaking system to the limit. Some would say it has broken it almost completely. How the heck are a few, mostly volunteer matchmakers supposed to cope with this vast demand? Are young orthodox men and women really supposed to sit around, preparing their resumes, as if their on a job interview, and badgering shadchanim to prioritize them amid so many others clamoring for the same attention? Is it a workable system? Is there any dignity in it?

I am the proud father of nine children thank God and I just became a grandfather. My first three children are daughters, all raised with my standards of dating to marry and dating within the shidduch system. This is particularly important to me given my considerable exposure to the romantic and sexual challenges, not to mention the sky-high divorce rate,  that is prevalent in mainstream culture and which I address.  However, I’m not the kind of guy who believes in delegating life’s most important responsibilities to others. But here I am, as an orthodox father, forced to relegate my daughters’ dating life to matchmakers who are very well-intentioned and who care but who cannot possibly know my daughters well or prioritize them, given the vast demands on their time and energies from so many other parents.

In the Chabad system it’s especially challenging because of the absolutely vast increase in the size of the community, thank God, how spread out it is internationally, and because most of the shadchanim, trying to be pure of heart, offer their services in a volunteer capacity rather than professionally. But that also means there is no real accountability.

So, I am being fair to my daughters when I tell them, based on my personal values, that they should only date within the shidduch system? Should they be reduced, like so many other young Chabad men and women, to friends and matchmaker’s introductions? Should their involvement in their own dating life really be so passive?

I have to admit that my own experiences within the shidduch system has caused me to question it considerably, though my own children would probably disagree and say the system functions well enough. They would say that being ‘frum’ means certain things and they embrace the shidduch system, whatever its shortcomings. But Yeshiva University, where my daughter is an undergraduate, does events that brings young men and women together. It is not seen as scandalous or secular. Indeed, I applaud it. Chabad and the more ‘black hat’ communities would not countenance such interactions. And there is a part of me that not only understands that and agrees with it but even, for years, advocated it.

When a leading Chabad Rabbi with unquestionable credentials suggested a few years back in a column that Chabad begin limited interactions between the young men and women, in a controlled environment, to have them meet for the purposes of marriage, I attacked the suggestion as being a slippery slope. I who counsel so many secular singles and know how screwed up the singles scene is in secular singles-events and party communities.

But having said that, I now have a much more open mind. I do not believe it’s fair to my daughters, and my sons when they come of age, that the limited interaction they will have with a potential spouse will come from people who really don’t have a lot of time to commit to the endeavor. Less so do I believe that such an important stage in life become so fundamentally disempowering that one cannot take any kind of personal initiative but is forced to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Indeed, a few years back I was prevailed upon, by young Chabad men and women writing to me, to host a small Shabbos gathering in Englewood where I would offer talks on Judaism and dating and where young Chabad men and women, thoroughly committed to the shidduch system, could have the opportunity to meet. I did it as an experiment. It worked well. It was very educational and, though I don’t know what couples resulted, I know it gave people hope.

And this is but one idea about how to fix a broken system. I welcome all other positive suggestions.

In the final analysis, the Jewish people are still here, after thousands of years of persecution, because our young people have married and produced strong families. This crisis, therefore, is an existential crisis that must be courageously addressed.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/orthodox-matchmaking-needs-huge-fixing/2012/12/27/

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