Sunday, May 21, 2006

Gotta Get a Gimmick

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch. But Babe Scott wants her due, from you, and you, and you, and you, and you. (That's five of you. Times twenty.)
The Web site Babe has set up,, demands exactly that: She wants 100 guys to take her to 100 fancy restaurants and she'll blog about them afterward, maybe squeeze them into a book. She may even find Mr. Right.
She may find Mr. Right. But she'll milk a lot of guys for free lunch before she admits it.
Because that's her gimmnick. Look, there's enough men in the world. She can have a hundred of them. I don't need a gimmick. Or maybe I do, but don't want one. At any rate, I bet she gets a TV show before I do. Which might be a good thing.

"Living the List"

Living the List NY Jewish Week, May 19, 2006 I only deserve the best,” a friend recently told me. “I’m not just taking the first guy who really likes me because I’m sick and tired of waiting. People who do that are making the biggest mistakes,” she said, noting three such couples in her life, who “got married, not sure that the love was there,” and are now divorcing. “If I have to wait longer, I will.” For those concerned with Jewish demography, women (and men) like my friend are dooming the Jewish people to slow, steady destruction. They’re marrying later, decreasing the number of children each couple is likely to have. And by the time we reach a certain age, even if wanting children is in the plan, we’ve been so single, for so long, that doing our national duty is less important than finding a soul mate, someone who has most of the qualities on their lists. Everyone has his or her deal breakers. But many have cited the mere literal or figurative existence of such lists as illustrations of the “pickiness” and “inflexibility” of singles. If reasonable, the list can function as an independent auditor, which theoretically helps singles to make smarter choices. If adhered to inflexibly, the list can be a single person’s undoing. At the recent “Michael Steinhardt Presents...” series at Manhattan Jewish Experience — named for the philanthropist/event emcee — dating coach Robin Gorman Newman suggested that singles “actually write down” their lists and, after looking inward to determine what they themselves have to offer, to assess whether they were really giving people a chance and “throw half of it out the window.” “Making the effort isn’t enough; the right attitude has to be there first,” the “How to Marry a Mensch” author told the audience of singles ranging in age from 20s to mid-40s. “Everyone wants to be ‘on Cloud 9,’ but Cloud 8 isn’t anything to sneeze at.” Co-panelist and Manhattan Jewish Experience Rabbi Mark Wildes noted that the list “sometimes grows as time goes on,” and suggested reducing the list to one item: “I believe we are incomplete without a partner, someone who understands you. Reduce the list to that one person who understands you.” But therein lies the problem, especially in high-density areas like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, where every night presents a crop of fresh new faces to assess for compatibility: Sometimes choice itself is the problem. Confronted with a veritable buffet of tasty options, even if they find an 80 percent match — by all accounts, a pretty good fit — singles experience the nagging feeling that there still might be someone out there who’s better. Still, singles complain that there’s “no one out there.” What they mean is that they had a certain set of expectations when it comes to dating, and that when those expectations were not met, they were disappointed. The fact that there may be hundreds or thousands of other compatible singles out there might as well not be true, because it feels hopelessly false. While most of the singles in the room at MJE or at Makor or the JCC or any other Jewish meeting place on any given night are looking for love — or answers — with the hope of a committed Jewish relationship, few of us are looking for “baby daddies.” Yes, even without reminders from doctors or demographers, we’re all aware of the biological challenges that face us as we (especially women) age. But we want partners. And we’ve waited this long — we’re willing to delay the procreative process until our lists have more checks than exes on them. My friend deserves happiness, to love and be loved in equal measure. She says she’s not willing to settle. But I like to think that she — and singles like her — are not married to their lists. They’re still open-minded enough to give the decent ones a chance; they’re willing to look at the big picture rather than judging on a sacrosanct list of must-haves and must-not-haves. They’re the ones who refused to date Republicans, until they met one they liked, who refused to date men their height or women they claimed were “not their type,” until they did and found they were. Although they often help us, our lists are not divine, nor even divinely inspired. They’re human, and superficial, and inherently flawed. Just like the singles who made them.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Oops, I Did It Again

I will admit to some bad behavior. Not inherently evil, or illegal in any way. I mean, this is still me. I still color within the lines. I don't shoplift, or cheat at Scrabble or anything. I live within a deplorably boring framework of morality. But damned if I don't still feel it when things don't turn out the way I'd hoped. Even if the hope itself was a hope against hope, it was still small, sheltered, naive...desperate to grow and become something better. Oops, I did it again. Not a girl, not yet a woman. Just a healthy plate of the familiar-turned-contemptible. No choices. All the options I thought I had are mist. Smoke. The vaguest drizzle of a hint of more still slickens my skin. I feel it there. But it's too late. I've gone into my head again. Patterns, man. They're a bitch. And sometimes, as a result, so am I.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Shomer Negiah Blog Profiled in Jewish Week Column

...but not in my column. This time, the Jewish Week profiles NJG, giving a rundown of her site. When was NJG's last post? February. And wait, who's their singles columnist, anyway? I forget... For those of you who've been waiting for more about NJG, how she's doing and what's going on in her life since her last post, well, don't look here. If you've been reading her all along, you'll find nothing new here. And this is why print media is dying a slow death; because things hit the blogosphere first, run their course, and then are profiled in the print editions, finally reaching those who are "internet-resistant." Don't get me wrong, there are those people who will always want to hold the newspaper in their hands, or toss it to the bathroom floor when they're done, and listen to it make a satisfying "thwap" sound that says "I so read that paper." But in terms of showing the world something new? It's all about electronic media, kids. The new revolution--journalistic or sexual--will be blogivised. I know. I'm preaching to the choir.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Question from a JDA Reader: About Matchmaking

A reader writes:

On the Saw You at Sinai site many "shadchans" say they don't charge a fee, but what if they make a match, what is considered a nice "fee/ gift" for making the match?

Is a shadchan "gift" for a shadchan from Brooklyn cheaper than one from Manhattan or out of town? On the Saw You site they have an article from a Rabbi saying it is important to give a gift to a shadchan that makes a match, but doesn't give any guidance on what is considered one. I asked Saw You at Sinai what are the gifts aka "prices", they told me to ask a Rabbi. Can you help?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Interrogating the Dating Guru" (JW-First Person Singular)

If the title of my latest column in the Jewish Week seems a little familiar to regular readers of this column, it's because it originated as a post here...except here, we met a "dating hermit." Well, my editor wasn't fond of "hermit," so it became a "guru." But the concept is the same, and some of your opinions are represented in this piece, so thanks for the help you didn't know you were giving me. Keep visiting and commenting...your feedback helps JDaters Anonymous maintain its place as a dynamic community. Interrogating the Dating Guru by Esther D. Kustanowitz May 5, 2006 When people find out that I write about the single life, they often ask me dating questions. I try to answer on a case-by-case basis, always with the caveat that they understand I don’t have all the answers. Recently, someone asked me, “Why aren’t people meeting each other?” I thought about this. Was it true? I mean, it felt true. But what of the myriad parties, blind dates and Jewish events? Surely people were meeting, weren’t they? “The opportunity to meet new people is always there, every moment you are out in public,” says Aryeh Goldsmith, founder of free Jewish dating site “But people aren’t even trying anymore; you can’t meet people if you don’t even talk to them.” He explains that new people are immediately assessed for relationship potential and written off. “They aren’t given the option of becoming your friend because you don’t want more friends — you’re looking for a significant other. This is basically the act of becoming less and less social.” In effect, the questions may actually be, “Why can’t I meet anyone special?” or “Where do I go to meet someone?” They could be “Will I ever meet anyone?” or “What the hell is he/she thinking?” or “Why am I always confined to the Friend Zone?” And I don’t have any of the answers — if I did, I’d likely skip this Jewish Week gig and go straight to Oprah. On my JDatersAnonymous blog, I asked readers to imagine that they’d climbed to the top of a remote mountain to seek an audience with the Dating Guru — a person who held all the answers to all questions regarding the courtship process. What questions would they ask? One man in his 30s asked how he could “overcome the issues I know I have, and how will I know if I’ve found the right one?” One reader asked if he would be “happier single than waiting around for ‘good ones’ to show up.” Others wanted to know if they’d made a mistake by breaking up with someone who might have been “the one.” One male reader wondered why women don’t give shorter guys a chance; and one female reader asked why men have such difficulty opening up emotionally. One woman just shy of 30 wondered, “If I am as wonderful, beautiful, interesting, funny, intelligent and loving as everyone says I am (and if I know it’s true too) then why don’t I have the relationship I deserve?” A 20-something woman wants to know if she’s wasting her time. “Have I missed my chance or is my bashert still out there? If he’s still out there, I’ll keep trying. But if I know for sure that he’s not, I might take up some new addictions.” The good news is that, on paper, people are meeting. As the New York Times Sunday Styles section or Times Square billboards will tell you, everyone knows someone who met on JDate. Or Or at a party. Or through a blind date. But there’s no guarantee that any of those venues will be right for you, and that’s disappointing. Sure, you try to reframe it. You’re waiting for your bashert, the timing hasn’t been right; you declare a moratorium because you’re too busy for relationships, anyway. You try to take the power back from the ether, hoping it will make you feel better. But with every denial, uttered with the best of intentions — emotional self-preservation — you may be taking a step backwards, retreating from the relationship that you want. By convincing yourself that love will find you when you’re not looking for it (another untrue cliché) you stop looking for love. And that may seem like a positive move, but it’s not very goal- or action-oriented. “We all need to identify the things that trap us and do our best to take responsibility,” says dating consultant Evan Marc Katz. “The right person is out there, somewhere, but tends not to magically appear in your living room with a red ribbon on his head. If he does, you should probably call the police.” Perhaps because there’s such a fine line between doing all the right things and not becoming obsessed with something that’s largely out of our control, these festering questions can drive us right up to the edge of that hazy border between love and insanity. But most of us are just asking “Why is this taking so long?” And that, unfortunately, is a question that only the Dating Guru can answer. Too bad gurus, like a good match, are so hard to find. Esther D. Kustanowitz does not aspire to fill the shoes of any active or retiring Dating Gurus. Still, you can reach her at