Dear Dating Coach,
I turned 30 this week and as much as I try to maintain a façade of peace and calm, I am quietly screaming inside. Perhaps I can blame Covid-19, but I am not sure anymore why I have gotten to this point as a single woman. Even more so, I have not had a date in 8 months and I have no prospects for my immediate future. I have noticed that as I get older, that dates are fewer and far between and many of the people who have tried to set me up in the past no longer reach out. My heart is breaking, and I feel like an ancient old maid in a sea of sheitels, strollers, and happy families. I am stuck while the world moves forward without me. What do I do now? Please help.
Having a car is amazing. Getting an oil change for said car is not. Sitting on those uncomfortable chairs inhaling oil and stale coffee while you wait and think of the other millions of better things you have to do (root canal?) is not fun. Then, finally someone comes to tell you that the job is complete only to start the selling process. “Do you want to change your air filters,” they ask? They will assure you that they have never seen dirtier filters and not changing them will ensure emphysema and weight gain. (Ok, maybe that was the doughnut I ate while I waited.) Would you like to rotate your tires? If you don’t, an accident is guaranteed and your car will suffer from anxiety. Would you like to check your coolant? If not…you get the point. At first, I was affronted by this assault, reasoning that I only came to change my oil because the blinking light in my car would not go away. Why do I need to consider the rest of my car when my focus was clear? But the last time I went for an oil change, I agreed to rotate my tires and change my air filter and the whole way home I was absolutely positive I had never driven more smoothly or inhaled clearer air.
I hear you. I feel your sadness and your despair and I know that you feel alone and in pain. We live in a world where we are encouraged to marry young, to have children, and to follow a straight path. When this blueprint doesn’t happen for someone, it can feel like you have been abandoned by a fairy tale you’ve been taught your entire life. It is heart-wrenching to watch siblings and friends get married, as you wait for the shadchan to call, for someone, anyone, to set you up so that you can have your storybook as well. The days can become monotonous, especially when they are compounded by Covid-19, highlighting the silence screaming from your apartment walls, reminding you that you are alone.
Be kind to yourself. This is hard and your pain is real. So first treat yourself with love and respect. Buy yourself something pretty, curl up with a good book, or pamper yourself with a bubble bath, a face mask, or a nice long phone call with a friend. That done, you need to get to work. The shadchan is not going to call. Your friends may not reach out. Your phone is not going to suddenly buzz with the perfect match. Mazel and hashgacha certainly abound in dating, but sometimes we need to fight for that luck and that connection by chasing it down. So, sit down and make a list, a plan of action if you will, because this is your one life and you need to do your part.
Reach out to as many reputable shadchanim as you can once per month (put this on your calendar). Be friendly and sociable over the phone and remind them that you are open to possibilities and options. Sign up for every applicable Jewish dating site, check your profile, and keep it updated. Remind your siblings every few weeks to ask their friends and extended family members if they have any suggestions for you. Attend as many single events as you can (zoom or otherwise), even if they feel like a waste of time. Join Shabbos meals and only allow yourself to stay home for Shabbos when you have no other options. Talk to the guests at the table – smile, be friendly, open, and helpful. Even if you are shy, even if this is difficult, even if you feel like you are marketing yourself to strangers – I encourage you to share, to talk, and to expand your social circle. Ask your sisters and good friends for their honest opinion on how you dress and on how you present yourself. Listen to their answers and be willing to tweak, to update, and to change your clothes, or your hair. This may feel superficial, even petty – but you are a person deserving of beautiful packaging, and these are small changes that can boost not only how you present, but your self-confidence as well. Work on yourself internally; Are you happy with your job? Are you happy with your friends and relationships? Are you happy with yourself? If the answer is no to any of these, make a change. Your self-worth and internal happiness will attract people to you. Exercise, eat right, and sleep properly. Expand your knowledge base. Read, learn, and attend enrichment classes. This will allow you to meet new people, and to grow emotionally and intellectually. Volunteer, and give back to your community, which will also encourage you to meet new people and realign your world-perspective. Finally, daven; talk to Hashem and tell Him what you need and what you want. This connection will remind you that you are not alone.
Sometimes our focus becomes too narrow, and centers on what has worked in the past (call a shadchan, get set up) it is now time to expand your view to include every single option. Fight for your future. Only you can do this. While, this may not offer you an iron-clad guarantee that you will meet your bashert, it will ensure that YOU are running as smoothly as you possibly can so that you can drive with intention – to your happy and successful future.