Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

We are going to a Pesach Program this year, and while I feel lucky to go, I am already dreading the “singles parade.” You know – where the parents of singles strategically introduce their sons and daughters to parents, relatives, and literally anyone else who may know another eligible single. Now that I am 21, one of those singles will be me and it just feels so inauthentic! To meet and greet strangers just so they might know a suitable match for me feels forced and fake. How do I get out of participating?

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Feeling Fake

 

Dear Feeling,

To all the car connoisseurs, vehicle enthusiasts, and car and driver subscribers, I apologize in advance. In our carpool, my toddler’s ride is occasionally a Tesla. The Tesla glides silently up to her school, a master of its domain, a king among men, as it classes up the carpool lane. On the day my daughter rides in one, she is enthused when she arrives home. Without fail she runs into the house and happily declares, “Guess what? Today I got picked up in the minivan!” I know. I can hear the horrified gasps from car makers and car fans alike. Boldly rebrand a Tesla as a minivan? Impossible. C’mon, you know it’s funny. Makes me laugh every single time.

 

In A World…

You have been gifted the opportunity to join an exciting Pesach program and you are excited to go. You do not however, appreciate what you describe as “inauthentic” connections forged with other program guests merely to further ones shidduch options. You are sure that every encounter will feel forced and contrived and will lack the organic quality that typically draws us to others. You would like to find a way to not participate so that you can remain true to who you are.

 

Where You Can Be Anything…

It can certainly be uncomfortable to mingle and connect with other guests solely to bolster and expand your shidduch reputation and reach. Of course, you might feel awkward making small talk with strangers with this single-minded focus. Furthermore, they will likely sense your discomfort and simulated interest. But this mindset is up to you. It is you who has cast this false label over your fellow program guests. You have already decided to be disingenuous and calculated in your interactions.

 

Be Kind.

The other guests are probably lovely, interesting, and friendly. You have pigeon-holed every program encounter to focus on shidduchim alone. Instead, you can decide to connect because you are a mentch, have good manners, and enjoy meeting new people. You can make the decision to present yourself with authenticity, with grace, and with kindness because that is the right thing to do. A wonderful shidduch opportunity may be a by-product of these interactions, but never has to be the reason you decide to have a conversation with someone over Yom Tov. Meet people because it’s wonderful to meet new people, and connect with others because you enjoy connecting with others; and everyone will only see that you are genuine and true. Sure, some may use the program as a platform, but you can upend that premise and call the meaningful connections you forge over Pesach anything you want.

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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at hennihalberstam@gmail.com to schedule a phone session.