Dear Dating Coach,
If one more person squeezes my shoulder at the next event I go to and says, “Soon by you,” I am going to lose it! If one more person at the next wedding I go to, asks me if I traveled to Amuka or tried making challah on Fridays, I am going to scream! If one more person tells me that I am too picky, I am going to start throwing dishes across the smorgasbord! Getting the picture? How do I make these people see that they are not helping me, but hurting me!
There was a stray cat who made our street home. Our neighbors named her Biscuit. William, from across the street, thought Biscuit needed more tuna. Anna, from next door, thought she needed milk. Courtney, from down the block, was sure that Biscuit should only have water and never milk. Jen, who has a dog, was sure that Biscuit would feel most comfortable with them. William set up a crate on his porch, certain that Biscuit would choose their house. We followed the milk, no milk, your house, my house drama day after day; until one day Biscuit simply disappeared. There is a lot of speculation on our block (and even some talk of a pet detective. This is not true, but funny. Don’t mention pet detective to my neighbors. I’m serious. They will find one.) I believe Biscuit is safe and living her best life, perhaps on a street where the inhabitants have cat allergies.
Thank you for your letter. We can hear your frustration as you describe your experiences at the events you attend. Well-meaning people offer unsolicited advice and sympathy making you feel like you have a red “S” across your forehead marking you as single with a capital “S.” They likely mean no harm, but their unwanted and unwelcome approach makes you feel targeted, embarrassed and exasperated. You have not asked for sympathy, guidance or their opinion. Yet, you are not sure how you can stop the onslaught without calling more negative attention to yourself.
Do not stop attending weddings, local classes, or community events. Truly, we cannot control how people may react to seeing us, or what they might say. At the same time, we can plan for these uncomfortable encounters. Whether a sympathetic squeezer, a segula pusher or a direct offender, your smile must remain firmly in place. A smile tells the world that you are fine and may discourage others from approaching only to offer a reproach or hurtful remark.
The goal is to simply smile and say, “Thank you, I was on my way to get a drink. Can I get you one?” Or, “Thank you, I see so and so, please excuse me.” You get the gist. No need to be held hostage. Smile and keep moving. Then use the time to enjoy the simcha, to mingle with friends and family, and to further network with the many lovely people in attendance. Perhaps, additionally, we can all pause for a moment to take note of our interactions so that we can be sure that we receive people kindly, with care, and with consideration. We never want to be the reason someone feels the need to turn tail and run.