adj. - (1) Trying something different. (2) The art of being smooth.
Admittedly, not the actual definition. But that's what I've been feelin' recently.
One of the things I heard and adopted when I started shidduch dating is creating a habit out of a series of steps from the moment I speak with a Shadchan until I'm on a date (and even during the course of the date).
Some things, like always expressing gratitude and appreciation to the Shadchan, I really feel are important and a part of who I am. Others, like the trite and rote way I had initiated contact, were deserving of some... revisions.
When I started down this path, I wanted to learn what the expectations are and what's generally considered polite and nice. I'm not the type to blunder my way through, I'd rather gather up as much intelligence and information as I can and formulate a plan. I'm a plan man.
The plan I'd initially formulated went thusly:
Once I had a suggestion and we'd mutually agreed, I'd get her number and text her to introduce myself and arrange a time to speak on the phone. And then we'd have a short conversation before arranging a first date. And then we'd go on a first date.
One of the most frustrating issues I feel I've faced is that all of the niceties and expectations set a particular tone for the course of interacting/dating. So, I'm thinking it's time to change the paradigm.
Naturally, this means shaking things up and some people may not be so interested or enamored by my alterations to the fabric of the dating universe, but it's my dating universe and I decided to work it my own way.
So now, I'll talk via text before setting up a time to converse on the phone. Test out the waters, put out a bit of overconfidence and humor, maybe even -gasp- flirt. See how responsive she is. Find some commonalities, make personal jokes out of them. Use the personal jokes incessantly (assuming they actually get a laugh). Have her wonder if I always do this, tell her only with those who inspire me to (which, for you cynics shaking your heads right now, is true... a woman who isn't receptive or responsive to any sort of playfulness won't encourage me to express that part of myself).
I'll call and have a long conversation, ask about motivations instead of mere facts about every "what, when and where" in her life. Weave in the personal jokes. Talk seriously about my own passions. Tease and make nicknames and laugh. Ask her what she really wants out of life. Sarcastically self-deprecate. Then I'll check in, see if she's still interested enough to go out. If she is...
There is a precedent -a framework -to have both lighthearted and exciting exchange as well as tachlit/tachlis talk. To be able to check back with how she's feeling and listen, but also to tease and play. To be serious and completely silly. Have an open heart and an accessible soul. To be a youngster and an adult. To be genteel and a bit of a jerk, but not really.
Perhaps I push boundaries, maybe even unintentionally slightly offend (or more than slightly), but I can take that as an opportunity to take responsibility and make amends if I go too far. I can learn something by observing how she handles that. There's something about that process -about having those experiences -that changes the way we interact, and avoids the antiquated paradigm of dating as I'd originally adopted it.
Okay, maybe I am blundering my way through. But hey, I might as well enjoy the interactions as I am. Plus, I'm not sure anyone is really doing better than blundering through the dating part of being single. At least this way, I get to blunder with a spring in my step.