Traditionally, once the Three Weeks are over, and in keeping with the festive day of the 15th of Av – there are singles gatherings – some with shadchanim to facilitate meetings, and some with unmarried adults at Shabbatons in shuls, or hotels.
Unjustified or inaccurate as they may be, first impressions, can make or break you on the singles scene.
Both men and women make snap decisions on people’s “worthiness” based on their physical appearance. This involves how the individual is groomed and dressed and how they carry themselves.
To be fair an initial assessment may be somewhat accurate – if potentially superficial, as the person may be sending significant clues about him/herself.
For example, a man wearing glasses that have been out of style for years, or shoes that are scuffed and scratched, or a jacket or shirt that is so tight that the buttons could go flying if he sneezes – sends a message (true or not) that he does not think that much about himself – so why should you?
If he slouches or mumbles, he may be signaling a worrisome lack of confidence or low self-esteem, traits that gives off a vibe that he is not marriage material.
No one want to be identified with a “loser.”
This is true of women as well. If they are inappropriately dressed for their age or body size; if their hair or shaitel is messy or unflattering – they are unwittingly “advertising” that they are nebbish – although that may not be so. (Subconsciously, without being aware themselves, they may be self-sabotaging because of a deep-rooted terror of being in a relationship.)
Chances are that many of these perceived “misfits” are generous, intelligent and competent people, with great middos and qualities that would make most of them wonderful spouses and soulmates, but most of the people glancing around will not make the effort to approach and engage them in conversation.
Had these individuals been more “presentable” they likely would be given the time of day to get to know them.
Ironically, many people, especially men become put together after marriage, when they are under the loving guidance of their wives who ensure that e.g. missing buttons are sown or stained shirts are dry cleaned and pressed, and fingernails trimmed and clean.
Many awkward “ugly ducklings” likewise blossom and become “swans” in the nurturing environment of a supportive and caring wife or husband.
Sadly, it would seem that many singles are in a “Catch 22” situation – they have to be “put together” in order to attract a spouse – who ultimately is the one that would ensure and help them get “put together.”
To have a more successful social interaction, before going on a date, or to shul or a Shabbaton, or anywhere where you will be seen in public and scrutinized, have a friend, sibling, someone you feel comfortable with and who you trust to have your best interests at heart, evaluate how you look. You might think you look just fine – but an objective, fresh pair of eyes is always helpful.
Likewise, if you know someone who is single and who may not have the know how to maximize his or her looks, or who is preoccupied or distracted by other things like a time consuming, stressful job or running after children, be a friend and offer to help them.
If the person is obese, encourage them to go for walks with you; or be a “diet buddy” or help them shop for clothes that are flattering. Large size individuals can look attractive in the right outfits.
Encourage your friend to set aside money so they can whiten their teeth or fix broken ones.
Most importantly, compliment their efforts and remind them that they are great people and their looks should reflect this to the best of their ability.
Of course, it’s not fair that you are judged primarily by how you look, and if your look is not fashionable or “cool” people will bypass you. It is a component of human nature to want to associate with a “winner” – ironically it helps the other person feel better about him/herself. That’s why people are ecstatic when their sports team is in first place – it makes them feel successful. It’s not that the team won. It’s WE won.
There is a saying – “nothing succeeds as much as success.” If someone looks put together and thus appears confident and in control, people assume they are special. If people perceive you as a “loser ” because a sloppy, unkempt appearance will convey that impression, then that’s what you are in their eyes – even if you’re not.
Even the Torah seemingly values beauty, for it points out that Sarah, Rivka, and Rachel and Yosef were extraordinarily beautiful.
Not everybody is born beautiful and handsome. Some people, despite their best efforts will never be stunning. However, when you walk into a room and it is clear that you have made the most of what potential attractiveness you have, you are letting everyone know you value yourself, and thus are worth getting to know. First impressions count – so be impressive!