Marry first, date later


It was a short but fascinating discussion. I had about a dozen singles over for Friday night dinner — as part of Lori Pietruszka’s “Shabbat in the Hood” program to connect Jewish singles with a Shabbat experience — when a cryptic exchange caught my attention.

Someone mentioned that a girl sitting to my right was “the new face of JDate,” whose picture was gracing those ubiquitous full-page ads. A girl to my left then asked the JDmodel if her prominent exposure made it easier for her “to find a husband.” At which point, a guy jumped in and snapped: “What do you mean, husband? You mean date, right?”

“No, I mean husband and soulmate,” the girl snapped back, coolly sipping her rosé.

Well, about half an hour, several digressions and many sips of wine later, a few of us had come up with a theory to help answer one of the great questions of the Jewish singles world: Why is it so hard to find a soulmate?

In fact, a few people suggested that I touch on the subject in my next column, and with the romantic winds of summer in the air, I couldn’t resist.

No one wanted to rehash the usual explanations for the failures of dating that have been covered in hundreds of singles columns — bad chemistry, different values, fear of commitment, gender and family conflicts and so on. Those are all valid, certainly, but we were looking for a different angle. We wondered: Is there something else going on, something in how we approach dating itself?

In his book “Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments” (Doubleday, 2000), Rabbi Shmuley Boteach explains that “to find the perfect soulmate, you should focus not on what you have, but on what you lack.” He goes on to say: “You don’t go into a relationship because you have something. Rather, you go into a relationship because you are missing something. And only by identifying that one big thing that we are missing are we guaranteed to find someone who actually makes us feel whole.”

The problem, of course, is that dating is rarely about showing off what we are missing. It’s more about showing what we have — and what we can get.

In this mating dance, we’re either seducing or evaluating. It’s a low-risk mindset. We put “our best foot forward” to show what we have to offer, and we constantly evaluate what we can get in return. There’s little room for weakness.

But this protective posing comes at a price. If we have passed the initial test of mutual attraction, we can end up in relationships where we simply float on the surface and never connect deeply enough to know if we are dating a potential soulmate. And when the inevitable break-up comes, even the explanations feel superficial: He wasn’t “emotionally available,” she didn’t really “get me,” we weren’t “on the same page,” etc. How many witty post-mortems have we all read in singles columns documenting these break-ups?

Assuming there’s some truth to this theory — that our dating has a tendency to be superficial — are Jewish singles doomed to squander millions of soulmate opportunities? Is there a way to create deeper connections?

At that point in our Shabbat dinner, with the wine continuing to flow, I blurted out the idea that maybe we ought to “marry first and date later.” Not literally, of course, but in terms of how we approach both dating and marriage.

Perhaps one reason why so many dating relationships peter out, I said, is that we are relating to a boyfriend and a girlfriend — a date — instead of a potential soulmate. If we’re really looking for a soulmate, shouldn’t we be looking for the soulmate inside the person we are dating?

Dating with a soulmate energy means having the courage to show that we are not complete — and knowing that we are looking for someone who will, as Rabbi Boteach explained, make us whole. With this approach, we can look for deeper, more meaningful things in our dates, and show the same. This means being more vulnerable, yes, but it also means getting closer to the soul of a person we might be spending the rest of our lives with.

But what if a guy is just not ready to make the commitment needed to become a soulmate, as one of my guests asked? Well, if you follow our theory, taking a deeper approach to dating will put people in touch with their deeper needs. The commitment-phobic guy won’t be the same after he realizes he is not complete without his soulmate, and that no serial dating will ever fill that emptiness. And if he still can’t take dating seriously and keeps floating on the surface, then he doesn’t deserve to be rewarded with a long relationship. (In other words, dump him.)

Ironically, the liveliest part of our singles evening came when we talked about married life. Someone who was previously married shared the insight that just as dating relationships can fail if they don’t incorporate a deeper soulmate energy, marriages can fail if they don’t incorporate a lighter dating energy. Like a friend once said to me, when you’re married, reality can beat “the crap out of you.” But that’s precisely when the seductive traits of dating are most needed: the courtesy, the caring touches, the cafes, the laughter, the flowers — that whole mating dance we did before going under the chuppah, when the electricity of romance made everything seem possible.

Thinking of seducing your spouse while immersed in the often mundane realities of marriage, like thinking of a soul connection during the dizzy swirl of dating, requires us to break our patterns — to leave our comfort zones.

So after finishing our last bottle of wine, at least some of us concluded that in relationships, whether you are married or just dating, sometimes the path of greater resistance is the most rewarding.

How very Jewish.

David Suissa, an advertising executive, is founder of OLAM magazine and Meals4Israel.com. He can be reached at dsuissa@olam.org.

And nothing but the truth


Internet dating — everyone does it, and everyone complains about it. Why? The guys think the girls lie, and the girls think the guys lie. And the truth is: everybody lies.

Well, almost everybody — not me, of course.

It’s a familiar problem that both genders complain about: the photos aren’t current, the ages aren’t accurate, the incomes aren’t honest and half the time the people don’t even write the profiles themselves. Did you know you can hire someone to write your profile? A “regular” profiler is $59 — but if you want a “master” profiler — it’s $299.

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So just imagine: You walk into Starbucks and scour the place for that gorgeous, young, rich and intelligent hottie you found on the Web.

Who taps you on the shoulder? Your “perfect match”: 20 years older, 40 pounds heavier, and who, according to their profile, sounded like the funniest, most clever and romantic person in the world.

But face to face, your “hottie” is a boring dud who can’t put two sentences together.

How can people lie like that? And what do they expect their “match” to do when they meet them? Fall in love? I don’t think so.

So, after much thought, careful consideration and a gigabyte of not-so-perfect “perfect matches,” I have decided it makes much more sense to have a dating Web site that not only requires people to tell the truth, but emphasizes that its precise mission is for people to list in complete and larger-than-life detail all their flaws. Even the very worst ones. Consider what a delight it would be to meet people and think, “Hey, you’re really not as bad as you said!”

Here’s an example of what some of the profiles might include:

His

Screen name: Mr. Hunky — oops, I mean Mr. Chunky
I snore.
I have a beer belly.
I get drunk every night.
I have a hairy back.
I’m bald.

Hers

Screen name: Real Fox — oops I mean, Real Lox
I snore.
I have a beer belly.
I get drunk every night.
I have a hairy back.
I’m bald.

There are all these “reality” TV shows. Why not have some “reality” dating sites?
Here’s a comparison of how people’s descriptions might differ on these Web sites:

What MEN say:

MillionaireMatch.com — I make more than $500,000/year.
TruthfulLosers.com — I’m on unemployment.
Matchmaker.com — I want a woman who’s independent, strong and feisty.
Tell-It-Like-It-Is.com — I want a doormat who will cook, clean and slave for me.
JDate.com — My interests are cross-country skiing, the opera and the symphony.
BrutallyHonest.com — I watch Jerry Springer every day, and at night I go for lap dances.

What WOMEN say:

Match.com — I’m toned and athletic.
I’mNotLying.com — I’m flabby with sagging buns and cellulite.
DreamDate.com — I’m 36.
Old-Maids-R-Us.com — I’m 52.
AmericanSingles.com — I like to eat healthy.
If-I-Don’t-Meet-Someone-Soon-I’ll-Kill-Myself.com — I’m anorexic, so you won’t have to spend money on dinner dates.

So you’re wondering: Would anyone ever want to meet someone on my Truth-in-Advertising website?

Sure. Myriad women who aren’t tall, blonde, blue-eyed, silicone-breasted beauties. And all the shy geeky guys with heart and no hunk. Not to mention all the gals and guys who auditioned for “Extreme Makeover,” “Average Joe,” “The Swan” and “The Biggest Loser” — but didn’t get on.

I believe there is hope and love out there for everyone. When I went to New York last year, I saw the revival of the musical “Cabaret.” There was a wonderful song in it, called “Meeskite” — which is a Yiddish word meaning “ugly.” It told a charming tale about two lovely but ugly people, who meet, fall in love and get married — and then have a baby who turns out to be … gorgeous. I loved that song!

It gave hope to all the people who weren’t born (or transformed by plastic surgeons on reality shows) — beautiful.

Whoever you are, know that there is a soulmate — young or old, tall or short, skinny or chubby, obnoxious or timid — waiting for you somewhere! Whether you’re at a party or a bar, on a blind date or on “Don’t-give-up-even-if-you’re-homely.com” — someday you’ll meet them and happily ride off into the sunset together. Just remember, you don’t have to lie to find love — so tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

Marilyn Anderson is 25, blonde, blue-eyed, toned & athletic, and loves to cook….

P.S. On I’mNotLying.com: Marilyn is over 40; brunette; brown-eyed; average build; and the one time she tried to cook dinner for a guy, she cut her finger opening a can of Spaghettios and had to go the emergency room to get 10 stitches. And that’s the truth!

Marilyn Anderson is the author of “Never Kiss A Frog: A Girl’s Guide to Creatures from the Dating Swamp.” Her website is www.neverkissafrog.com.

Love ‘n’ Bloomers


The tomb of a venerated rabbi has become the apparent final resting place for the underwear of hundreds of Israeli women looking for husbands.

Israel’s Maariv newspaper reports that authorities have collected around 400 pairs of knickers and bras from the grilles of the tomb’s window and on nearby trees.

According to believers, an unmarried person will meet his or her soulmate and marry within a year after visiting the grave of Rabbi Yenothan Ben Uziel in northern Israel.

But as for leaving undies behind at the tomb, that’s going way too far, say local clerics, who want to nix that ritual.

In fact, Rabbi Israel Deri, who has jurisdiction over protecting holy sites in the north, suggested to Maariv that would-be romantics risk a sort of love curse if they insist on dropping off their unmentionables.

“Having consulted with the chief rabbis, I can say with certainty that not only are these women guilty of a profanity, but they will also never gain benediction,” Deri said.

 

The Perfect Woman


One of the greatest mysteries in my life, besides how to program my Tivo, is why it’s taking me so long to meet my soulmate.

After all, Los Angeles is filled with hundreds of thousands of women, maybe even millions, looking for their soulmate. And I’ve had coffee dates with seemingly most of them. You’d think by now we would have run into each other. Perhaps we’ve passed each other on the way to coffee dates with others who are wrong for us. That makes me sad.

Granted, I did not appear in People magazine’s most eligible bachelors issue — I guess they didn’t receive my photo by press time. Still, what am I, chopped liver? I’ve got all my vital limbs and organs. Original teeth. Original hair. Fairly decent personal hygiene. Gainful employment. Far more attractive than the Elephant Man, and capable of cooking an omelet in a single bound. Take that, Orlando Bloom!

So, what is it? Am I being too picky? I don’t think so. I mean, it’s not like I’m asking for the moon and the stars. My place doesn’t have room for them anyway. All I want is someone who’s reasonably attractive, preferably brunette, not yet collecting Social Security, with a slender to athletic figure, who’s a nonsmoker, eats healthy, regularly exercises, has a sense of humor and fewer than nine cats. There should be a few women like that in Los Angeles, wouldn’t you think?

Of course, as with any fully evolved human being, I’d expect her to be optimistic, enthusiastic, energetic and creative — not to mention considerate, affectionate and passionate. And, of course, I wouldn’t say no if she turned out to be giving, flexible, romantic, spontaneous and communicative. Considering the fact that this person will hopefully be my life partner, is all that really too much to ask? I’m even willing to help with the intensive training on the affectionate and passionate parts.

All the above qualifications would naturally be the absolute minimum I’d expect, for her to even be in the ballpark of consideration, which is located just a few miles from the soccer fields of possibility. Additional icing-on-the-cake qualities might include trust, commitment, sensitivity, intellectual curiosity and a love of intimacy. Aren’t these things everyone wants and deserves? I mean, come on, folks, this is basic, Relationship 101 stuff, isn’t it? Hello? Operator, I think I’ve been cut off!

Am I being absolutely out of line to expect my romantic partner to enjoy Chinese, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Thai and vegetarian food? Is it crazy to think she should be fond of big band, swing, classic rock, classical, folk, blues and rock music? Am I really stretching things to expect that she’ll join me in biking, bowling, hiking, jogging, swimming, tennis and weight lifting? And that she won’t say no to movies, plays, bookstores, comedy clubs, poetry slams, museums, concerts, walks and exploring ethnic restaurants and festivals?

Am I being outrageously unrealistic in having these kinds of expectations? And please don’t misunderstand — I’m not looking for a carbon copy of myself. I just want someone who shares most of my interests and traits and beliefs about a romantic relationship. It’s not like I’m not flexible or don’t accept people’s differences. If she doesn’t enjoy playing Scrabble, that’s fine. She probably has some hobby or interest that I’m not into as well — such as Parcheesi or the Republican Party. As long as she’s Jewish.

Even if my potential soulmate has just 50 percent of the above attributes, I’d be thrilled and consider myself very lucky. And I can’t help but noticing that that percentage figure seems to be shrinking as time marches on. Catch me in five years and it should be down to 10 percent. Five years after that — if she’s breathing and female, it’ll be fine with me.

OK, forget all the above. I’m basically looking for someone who’s nuts about me and vice-versa. And if she turns out to be a Tibetan yak-herder obsessed with barbecued pork and Yoko Ono music — well, she’s my dream girl!

Mark Miller has written for TV, movies and celebrities, been a professional
stand-up comedian and a humor columnist for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. He
can be reached at markmiller2000@comcast.net

Haven’t I Seen You Before?


There are many pitfalls of online dating. Posting your own profile can make you feel exposed. You can be e-mailing someone whose photo promises that he looks like Brad Pitt’s younger, taller and more handsome brother, whose profile pledges that not only is he poetic, sensitive, kind and creative but he is also the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, only to find, once you meet him, that he is an octogenarian troglodyte ax murderer.

"Online dating has no valid reference point, and there is no way to gage a person’s interest level," said New York based management consultant Marc Goodman, who set up his own site www.sawyouatsinai.com — a matchmaking Web site to rectify these and other drawbacks of online dating. "But in the matchmaking world, the intentions are very clear, and the matchmaker can verify the information about a person."

SawYouAtSinai — the name coming from the midrashic aphorism that every Jewish person met his or her soulmate when we received the Torah on Mount Sinai — is a site where users can fill out a profile, and then choose one or more matchmakers out of the 46 (four are from California) currently on the site to find a match for them. The matchmaker either interviews you or uses some other criteria to verify your information and then sets out trying to find a mate for you. There is no mate shopping on SawYouAtSinai — only the matchmakers can trawl the site seeking out matches. Once they think they have found someone who meets your criteria, they will e-mail you his or her profile, you can e-mail back your thoughts and feedback and then the matchmaker can facilitate the shidduch. If you decline a person’s profile, then you no longer have access to it.

The site has been up for 10 weeks and is currently free, with about 1,000 members in it. Goodman hopes that, within the year, the site will have more than 5,000 members, will sponsor classes and a wedding charity for poor couple, and offer the dating advice of psychologists and rabbis.

"We want people to go out on quality dates," Goodman said. "And obviously we want to get as many marriages as possible."