Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Not That There's Anything Wrong With That..."

SJM seeking SJM...JDate's now totally gay. And I think that's super, thanks for asking. So if you're gay, and Jewish, and looking for a Nice Jewish Boy, now's your chance to experience the enchantment of online dating, JDate-style:

The popular Jewish online dating site expanded its search capabilities this month to allow gay men and lesbians to seek matches. The Web site, which is popular among Jews of all ages, now asks people for their gender and the gender they’re searching, allowing men to search for men and women to search for women.

[Hey, where have I heard about this before? Wasn't there a site specifically for gay Jews? I believe it was called QJew, and founder Justin offered me an exclusive for my column...maybe I should revisit that. Hey Justin, if you're reading this, tell me why QJew is better than JDate for finding a same-sex bashert...]

Seth Kamen of Bethesda, Md., watched his best friend meet her fiancee through JDate, and said he hopes to meet a Jewish guy through the service as well. “Judaism is a large part of my life,” said Kamen, 28. “I want somebody who can share that with me.” Beyond celebrating holidays, Kamen said he’s looking for someone with whom to raise Jewish children. Indeed, with more gay men considering adoption and child rearing, the issue of finding a mate of the same religion has taken on added significance. “Anything that can bring together two Jewish parents, whatever sex they are, is an important thing to do,” Kamen said.

I hope Seth finds his bashert. But in case he doesn't, and instead becomes as frustrated as we searchers of the hetero-Judaic persuasion, JDaters Anonymous is here to catch him in a community of the likeminded. Because whether you're a breeder or a big old queen, frustration with online dating unites us all.

All Cliches Must Die

Attention Online Daters of America: Cliches are the worst of the worst. They are sins whose names we dare not speak. They are our own worst enemies, our fair-weather friends who seem to comfort until they stab us in the back, the traitors. They are the evil that lives after us. They are the bane of our existence, as they strip us of personality and individuality until we are insipid and undistinctive, people who love to laugh, who work hard and play hard, and whose family is very important to us. We must rid ourselves of these evildoers, because if they give us enough rope, we will surely hang ourselves. I know what you're thinking: "Esther, I'm no professional writer...how do I know if I'm using a cliche?" Don't worry, boys and girls. Clichefinder is here. Type in a word and it will generate a list of cliches using that word. If it shows up on the site, it shouldn't show up in your profile. Of course, nothing's set in stone when it comes to using Clichefinder. But well-begun is half done. And if you find yourself spinning your wheels, stuck between a rock and a hard place for language, and you suspect you might have inadvertently used a cliche, feel free to ask me. I'll give you a piece of my mind (if I can spare it).

Now That Sounds Healthy...

Diane Keaton prefers onscreen romance to off. Why? No nasty breakups. You always know what you're going to get. People stick to their lines, and do what they're supposed to, she says. She also may or may not be dating Keanu Reeves, depending on which tabloid you consult. In a related story, I will be launching my career as an actor in order to court onscreen romance. Because it can't be any harder than actual dating, could it? Thanks, Diane...you're an inspiration!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Internet Dating: A Reader's Response

Just wanted to share this email I received from a reader of my Jewish Week column. A DISGUSTED INTERNET SECOND SINGLE DATER (a divorced single mom to a teenage son who started internet dating within the last year) writes:

I recently got my nerve to take the plunge and start to date via an internet service, a Frum site. And boy my experiences, and opinions can fill pages of the Jewish Week! First off by email and telephone conversations- I have been lied to over and over. About if the guys have kids/ I am divorced single mom who wants only a guy who has been married with kids. So I have had guys lie to me that they did not have kids, but they did. I had guys lie about why they are divorced, ask me out after a few months of being either divorced, or widowered. I had been emailed by guys who were in their 20s... I am Baruch Hashem 40 and I don’t date guys younger than 2 years younger than me. I have been emailed by guys who are 65+. I am Modern Orthodox- I have been emailed by Chasidim.

I have no confidence of finding my BASHERT FROM THIS TYPE OF DATING. I DID try this in the winter and spring of 2005/ and I had a few dates- but no one worthy of being a Bashert. I came close twice but the long distance relationship/ and relocation issues would not work for me. I feel that it is easy to make quick rejections of shidduch prospects when things don't fit right. I have been the dumper as well as the dumpee and the guilt on this is tremendous!

After I asked if I could reprint her comments here, she agreed and added the following about her experience.
I am so glad that I am not alone in feeling this way- I originally thought it had to do with my baggage of my divorce, and my recent broken engagement- that all these wounds prevented me from finding my Bashert through that internet dating! That is what I have been told by the few lucky ones who found their spouses on these sites. But I have an acquaintance who found her husband on one site and she had a lot of baggage from her divorce- worse than me/ and had more kids, and years married at the time of her sudden divorce- so I thought if she had Mazel why not me? But the internet dating is not cracked up to what it advertises. I have weeded out the garbage excuse my directness on this- and I do it via the emails and telephone- I don't even chance the date at all lately--if something does not feel right, I side on caution and avoid the date like a plague!
And now, the audience interaction portion of our program... Some might say she's right to be cautious. Others may call her overly picky. What do you think?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"The Truth About Online Dating"

Remember the way online dating used to be? A secret shame? (Now it's a public shame, but whatever.) Reminisce as you read and record your own memories here... The Truth About Online Dating The NY Jewish Week, 11/24/05
Back in the day, dating online was something no one talked about. Relying on the computer to generate a list of potential dates seemed to indicate a certain desperation, social ineptitude or level of geekdom, and the social stigma was overwhelming. We also had a respectful fear of the Internet; we established emergency check-in procedures, in case the nice quiet Jewish boy without a context turned out to be one of those people who would later be described by neighbors on the local news, as a “quiet, private person who kept to himself — we never imagined he was a cannibal.” Then, slowly, the grudging, sub-audible admissions began. “Well, for the last X [amount of time], I’ve kinda … been … on JDate.” You confessed it softly, in case the music suddenly stopped, yielding to your voice trumpeting truth against a pristinely silent background. Since then, online dating is assumed. We peruse disembodied profiles, no longer fearful of our potential dismemberment, although there is always the possibility of dis-rememberment (“Did I say I’d call her? Which Rachel is that?”) We understand the reality — if you’re really looking, you have to be in many places at once. Attending singles events is a good start, but how many can one person attend in a given week? Online, you can ogle and reject (or even initiate contact with) many eligible singles from the comfort of your own home. Plus, the experience itself becomes an unintentional bonding point: “That guy contacted you, too? I can’t believe he wrote us the same letter.” (Want more proof? Google “I hate JDate” for about 42,600 results.)
Want more? Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Short Takes: Discuss Amongst Yourselves

The perfect first JDate call...and by perfect, we mean perfectly hilarious (JDates Gone Wrong) Here...I'll give you some topics... Men have a tougher time than women in the dating process? Discuss... (The Anonymous Blogger) Hilary's hair is sooo silky that a JDater "wants to cultivate her society" (Superjux) Annabel Lee is "ing"ing and someone tells her to get over her own cuteness, as if that were possible (Annabel Lee) Moxie's attracted to another man, but doesn't act on it -- readers respond (Moxie) P-Life asks whether a woman's declaration of absolute devotion to the spouse she hasn't met yet is offensive and deameaning (P-Life, Orthodox Bloggers) C addresses the eternal question (can you be friends with an ex?) and provides a rundown of bloggers (including Klein, Ken, Karol and Cunning) who are opining on the subject (A Picture of Me) Talk amongst yourselves...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Cutting Room Floor

I just chopped this paragraph from my upcoming article in the Jewish Week about online dating, mostly because it makes so little sense. I offer as evidence of how tired I am...and how many times I've seen a certain dinosaur movie:
But on the other hand, we’ve lost our fear of online dating, throwing life out of balance. As Ian Malcolm, the fictional chaos theorist in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, might have said, we didn’t earn the power to disrespect the system—we were not vigilant about maintaining a healthy respect of and fear for the interface. And because we were that arrogant life--or, in this case, online dating sites--"will find a way."
There's probably some machine conspiracy theory a la Matrix in there as well ("we know it was they who scorched the skies...") -- what can I say? I don't have HBO, so I watch a lot of Bravo and TBS/TNT/USA. The whole, hopefully much more coherent article, to come Wednesday, as usual.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sex Columnists Tell All

...and that's how they're different from me. New York Magazine is all about sex this week, with a Mating feature containing what appears to have been some sort of drunken columnist round-table that was eventually hijacked by the Washingtonienne, who provided helpful hints from her experience ("when I wrote my book, I got Adderall from my friends, and I was typing like a maniac. And that’s the thing, yeah, that and snorting coke helped me write the book really fast.") Note taken. Normally, my sense of jealousy flares up when I'm not invited to columnist bashes or given publicity like other writers. But frankly, I'm glad to have been left out of this one. I just finished reading it at the gym and was a little sickened by it. I try to be tolerant of the choices that people and writers make in their personal and professional lives. But some of these statements just seem like cries for attention writ large and often within this article... Plus, any of my regular readers know that I write more about trends and less about individuals I've dated. That, hopefully, keeps me connected to other people, not just to my own experiences. Of course, keeping "real people" out of the discussion, I hope that I'm being respectful of their privacy. And these women, as entertaining and honest as their writing may be, do that writing at the expense of other people's privacy. My writing may suffer because it's not as honest as these other columnists. As long as my writing lacks their explicit, NC-17 quality, I may never grab the attention of New York magazine. But I think I'll be okay with that.

Monday, November 14, 2005

"Appalling Shadchan Behavior, Aisle 3..."

For the benefit of my non-Hebraically inclined readers, a shadchan is a matchmaker. The matchmaker's job is, of course, to match an eligible, perhaps compatible man with an eligible, perhaps compatible woman. Depending on the matchmaking organization, eligibility may be determined by middos (ethical values), net worth, geographical location, religious hashkafah (point of view), or middos (physical measurements). Without arguing the relative merits or meanings of these criteria for matches, let's just move on to the subject at hand. Sweet Rose, a longtime reader of this blog and bloggerette herself, writes about why she's not rejoining Saw You At Sinai, an online matchmaking service--she's had bad experiences with the site, having not matched with a single person during her membership (I feel ya, sister--that's my story too). But beyond that disappointment were experiences like this one:
But last night's story is the absolute worst. A friend was telling me about a friend of hers (who I have met several times) who recently got dressed up, put on make-up, did her hair, and had someone take a very nice picture of her. She posted this photo on SYAS and received an incredibly rude e-mail, completely unsolicited, from a shadchan on the site. This e-mails subject line itself was "EW." The e-mail consisted of berating and ridiculing remarks regarding this woman's picture. Name-calling was even resorted to. The woman who received this e-mail was in tears after reading it. This is the worst e-mail I have heard of, but not the only one. Who on earth gave the shadchanim the idea that it is okay to treat anyone in such a manner? Who taught these supposedly frum individuals that it is under the guise of Torah to give unsolicited criticism in a mean and cruel manner? What on earth was this woman thinking in writing such an e-mail? Just because a person is single entitles no one, not even a shadchan who is "helping" that single, to be rude and cruel. I know many shadchanim received less than grateful responses from singles, and that is absolutely not justifiable either. But calling names and breaking down the self-esteem of women, for no reason that I can fathom, is ridiculously disgusting.
She's right, no question. I've heard decent things about SYAS and about its leadership, so I'm going to assume that this one person is an aberration. An unforgivable aberration, but still not the norm. The worst thing I can say about SYAS is that for me it was ineffective, not further damaging to my self-esteem. She continues:

What worries me the most is that this is not an isolated incident…One of my friends questioned whether men on SYAS get the same treatment, considering the fact that I have heard there are many more women on the site than men. I honestly don't personally know any men who are on SYAS, but I would be interested to know whether any of them have received such e-mails.

I haven't done the research and therefore may be speaking out of turn (or out of my, well, you know), but I feel comfortable saying that men don't get these sorts of emails. Like it or not, there's a huge imbalance in the way women and men are treated by traditional Judaism, and the imbalance is also clear when it comes to the value of a single Jewish man as opposed to the value of a single Jewish woman. It's no secret from anyone who reads my column or this blog that one of my central issues with the Orthodox movement is the way it treats singles, especially single women in their thirties and "Godforbidforties": as "a crisis," thinking that if the community puts enough pressure on singles, they'll marry and do their due to the Jewish people by procreating. Never mind that some people, for whatever reason, may not WANT children...Or that most singles aren't just sitting around twiddling their thumbs, waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right to knock at their doors. There are those who say we're being too picky. And then there are others who say that dealing with the nightmare of dating in the (let's just say) traditional Jewish world -- as evidenced by creepy guys at kiddush, nightmare singles shabbatonim and horrific shadchan encounters -- are enough to turn anyone off, not just to the process of looking for a soulmate, but to the traditional Jewish community in general. And that is--or soon will be--the true crisis.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Singles Columnist War

I know two people who have written for the Jewish Week Singles column. Both of us are unmarried. Two columnists for the Jewish Journal, however, are engaged and/or married. (The first one proposed here, and assured us all that she had accepted, here. The second one announced his engagement--by cursing JDate for ruining his chances of becoming a singles columnist--here.) The two JW columnists are women. The two JJ columnists are men. Plus, more than one someone has suggested that the reason I'm not dating more is that men are afraid they'll be under a microscope and pop up either here, on My Urban Kvetch, or in my Jewish Week column. My predecessor told me that she experienced the same thing. But these JJ columnists, both men, don't seem to have experienced that fear from women. What does that say? Maybe it's just a difference between L.A. and NYC...a more laid-back, sunsoaked approach leads to sunnier, more optimistic choices? (The other JW columnist is now in the L.A. area, in a serious relationship, so we'll test this theory in vivo.) What, dear readers, are we to surmise from this sample of four? Is the divide along lines of gender, or geography? Or is the coincidence just that, a meaningless item of non-information, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Blaire's Latest Brilliance

From she who brought you MarryBlaire in a search for her husband-to-be: The "Do You Know My Husband" t-shirt....available in the figure-embracing and realistic body image-promoting sizes of small and medium. Wanna create a knockoff and sell it out of a garbage bag on a folding table near Times Square? Not so fast...they're trademarked.

Monday, November 07, 2005

"Is He Interested?"

He's flirting with you at the office. At least, you think he is. Actually, now that you think about it, it's kind of hard to tell. Is he a) interested in you romantically or b) does he just feel comfortable enough with you to push certain boundaries over the line into murkiness without feeling obligated to follow up with any kind of risky overture? If you're the author of this blog, the answer is b. Oh hell, let's face it...in most cases, the answer is b. If you're not, you may enjoy reading/participating in this discussion over at DoctorLoveCoach. UPDATE NOVEMBER 8, courtesy of tonight's episode of "The Office": "You know it's not a date when she goes home to her fiance."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Random Thought of the Day

How the hell did I become a dating expert?

Threatening Chain Letter or Fun, Friendly Meme?

I get at least six chain emails a week, all threatening me with dire luck in love unless I pass the email on to anywhere between four and four hundred friends...well, I'm taking control of my life back. This used to be a chain email, but now I'm declaring it a fun and friendly meme that functions much as those "fortune tellers" we used to use back in the elementary school day. (Did anyone see that episode of South Park? Spot friggin' on.) So here it is, and this absolves me of the "responsibility" of passing it on and therefore circumvents my potential for even worse luck in love than I'm having now. And I've actually done you all the service of deleting the threat at the end about bad luck in love, so the karma, such as it is, stops with me... And if #11 actually happens as a result of my posting this email to the blog, I'll print out a copy of this meme and eat it. Enjoy, or skip...totally up to you... By the way, I'm a 42. And way too sexy for this test. The "How Sexy Are You?" Test..... GET A PIECE OF PAPER AND NUMBER IT 1-11 (NO CHEATING) SEE YOUR RESULTS BELOW: WHEN YOU SEND IT ON PUT YOUR SCORE IN THE SUBJECT 1. WHAT SHADE ! OF HAIR DO YOU HAVE? a) Dark b) Light 2. OUT ON A DATE WOULD YOU WANT TO: a) Go to a party? b) Go out to eat? 3. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR OUT OF: a) Baby-Pink b) Yellow c) Baby-Blue d) Turquoise 4. PICK YOUR FAVORITE HOBBY OUT OF: a) Surfing b) Skate-Boarding c) Skiing 5. IF YOU COULD PICK A STORE OUT OF THE FOLLOWING, WHICH WOULD IT BE? a) Louie Vuitton (shoes) b) Coach (Sport) c) Against all odds (Clothes) 6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE OUT OF THE FOLLOWING? a) Hawaii b) London c) Florida 7. IN THE SUMMER WOULD YOU RATHER GO TO: a) The Beach? b) Somewhere Cooler? 8. WHAT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY MONTH? a) January b) February c) March d) April e) May f) June g) July h) August i) September j) October k) November l) December 9. WOULD YOU RATHER: a) Chill at home b) Go out with friends 10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INSTRUMENT OUT OF: a) Guitar b) Bass guitar c) Drums d) The Triangle 11) NAME A PERSON OF THE OPPOSITE SEX ====NOW MAKE A WISH!== **ANSWERS** 1. a) dark=sexy [5points] b) light=sweet [2points] 2. a) go to a party=playful [2 points] b) go out to eat=romantic [5points] 3. a) baby-pink=cute [2] b) yellow=loud [3] c) baby-blue=cool [5] d) turquoise=sexy [5] 4. a) surfing=active [2] b) skateboarding=determined [2] c) skiing=daring [5] 5. a) Louie Vuitton=tasteful[7] b) Coach=laid back[2] c) Againt all odds=stylish[5] 6. a) hawaii=you like being around people [2] b) London=You are quiet,and like the cold [2] c) Florida=You like to party! [5] 7. a) beach=tan, likes the sun [5] b) somewhere cooler = pale and original [2] 8. a) January=popular [5] b) February=lovely [2] c) March=loud [2] d) April=playful[5] e) May=happy [5] f) June=chills a lot[5] g) July=smooth [2] h) August=fun [5] i) September=quiet [2] j) October=out-going [2] k) November=pimpin' it [5] l) December=warm [2] 9. a) home=quiet, romantic [5] b) go out with friends=crazy [5] 10. a) guitar=eye-catching [5] b) bass-guitar=mellow [2] c) Drums=loud [2] d) Triangle=crazy [5] 11. This person will fall in love with you! SCORES!!!! UP TO 20 = Not so Sexy 21-35 = Rather sexy 36+ = Too Sexy for this Test!!!! IF YOU SEND THIS TO: 0-5 people: your wish will not come true> 6-9 people: your wish will come true within 6 months 10-15 people: it will come true within 2 weeks 16-20 people: in a day or 2 it will come true 21-30: sooooooo soon

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Isn't It Ironic? Don't You Think? Or Is It?

Rain on your wedding day is not ironic. It's unfortunate. But hey, at least you're getting married. Having ten thousand spoons--when all you need is a knife--is annoying. (Who ever wants ten thousand spoons? I mean, really.) Win the lottery, and die the next day? That just sucks. Tragic, yes--ironic? Not so much. I've never been good at providing a one-sentence definition for irony (admittedly, Alannis is even worse at it). I always have to look it up. Still, it strikes me today that the initial post on loneliness I did a few weeks ago was inspired by someone who asked me about its nature and then proceeded to drift away. He hasn't been in touch in a while, leaving me lonely. And I can't decide if that's irony or tragedy. Or maybe it's just symbolically appropriate--as if by initiating the discussion, he primed me for the loneliness that followed.