Dear Dating Coach,
I just spent some time back at home with my family and met neighbors and friends that I have not seen for a very long time. If I had a dollar for every time one of them said, “You are such an (insert positive trait here…attractive, accomplished, lovely, etc.) girl… You MUST be very picky. If you were less picky, I’m sure you would be married by now.” Aside from the fact that this is beyond hurtful to me, I completely disagree with them. I am willing to go out with almost every (rare) name that is suggested for me and think I have been very open-minded. How do I tell them all that they are wrong and rude (without being rude)?
Dear Not Picky,
Disclosure: I wear a small shoe size. Contrary to what every perfectly happy size 8 shoe girl thinks, I do not have my pick of the shoe litter. Shoe stores only order limited supplies of small (and large) sizes and they are often hard to come by. Now, there is a certain half-yearly sale that is always particularly cutthroat. (If you think this is dramatic, you have clearly never been to one.) I arrived to my last one ready to hunt; and literally right in front of me the clouds parted, the sun emerged, and magical music played in the background (obviously by a very talented shoe angel on a harp) to reveal the most perfect pair of shoes. You know which pair I mean – your size, matches everything, half price, perfect construction, and possibly comfortable (even a shoe fantasy needs to be realistic). Just as my outstretched hand grazed the perfect heel, a tiny shoe samurai grabbed them, jammed her feet in, and took that first tentative step. “Please, I prayed to the shoe spirits, please don’t let her like them.” Alas, before they could intervene on my behalf, the shoe ninja nodded her head decisively and ran to pay for the shoes. Of course, reinforcing the old adage, “If the shoe fits, try to mind control the other shoppers into not buying them.” (Second disclosure: that doesn’t work.)
Cinderella Is Proof…
I am so glad that you got to spend yom tov with your family. I am sorry that neighbors and friends (however well-meaning) hurt you with their careless remarks. I’m sure that they spoke without ever intending to upset you, but nevertheless, being called picky when you are single always stings. To the single, it will forever place “single status blame” on their shoulders alone, without any regard for the myriad of circumstances that may attribute to why someone is still not married at a certain age. You did not want to respond with rudeness and for that I commend you. You do, however, want to be able to explain to others that “pickiness” is not an issue for you.
That a New Pair of Shoes…
First, if I may suggest a quick check to remove any doubt that you have a tendency to be overly selective or exacting when it comes to dating prospects. Review the last few times you went out with someone new and review the following: You often have second dates, you do not make a mental pros and cons list after every date, you do not believe in “all or nothing,” when it comes to expectations of a future partner, and you are usually able to pinpoint a specific reason why you did not connect. If you have trouble with any of these, it may be prudent to reevaluate your dating philosophy, because an issue with the above may highlight a propensity to be overly choosy.
Can Change Your Life.
If, however, you are happy to give someone a second chance at a date, you do not box yourself in with lists or refuse to continue dating someone if he doesn’t meet your extensive checklist, and you know specifically why you did not connect, then you can rest assured. Only Hashem knows then why some are blessed with the mazel to immediately find their bashert while others struggle, and the “advice” from helpful friends and acquaintances can only exacerbate the hurt that you already live with. Don’t lash out or even respond with an explanation – merely smile, nod and walk away. Your poise and dignity will only highlight the grace and elegance that you apply to your dating journey. You know that you are doing your best; and without mind control, sometimes, the only solution is to walk away.