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Jan 29, 2012

The Breaker

Over here, I posted my recent dating record, and one thing that stands out to me is that I haven't yet rejected an option for another date. Part of that is my belief that you don't really know a person after spending just a few hours with them and refusal to make the blind assumption I do (if I've got an issue, I'd rather confront them about it and see if we can understand one another and work through it; that's kind of an important skill in life and relationships). I'll note that I have broken off relationships in the past, and I have been dumped; it is painful and tough to deal with.

But to that point, Tania posted here that when a guy breaks up with a woman, she has the right to consider him a jerk for it (and vice versa, since she notes at the end she's willing to "pay the price.")

I think that is ridiculous.

If you have to berate someone (even just in your own mind) in order to get over them, that's a difficulty you have with how you are feeling. Yes, it's (very) painful. But tearing him (or her) down for your own gratification or justification is immature and just awful. Own up to the reasons, if there are any. Listen and internalize any feedback, if you can learn and gain something from the experience.

It comes from the assumption and position that if/when a guy hurts a woman's feelings he's a jerk. That's the kind of thinking that leads to generalizations and beliefs that all men are jerks, and a deep-seeded fear in men to do or say anything that would be emotionally painful or hurtful to a woman (i.e. the prototypical pushover nice-guy who keeps apologizing for everything). While I believe being empathetic and sensitive are positive character traits that should be encouraged and cultivated, pushing fear on a man (or men, or women for that matter) is nothing short of abuse, especially within a relationship.

You want to double-bind a man to either (a) stay in the relationship when he's unsatisfied/unhappy and be a jerk for leading her on (out of fear for hurting her) or otherwise (b) be forever considered a jerk for dumping her?!

On a different track, what if -heaven forbid! -in a relationship the man does something that is hurtful; not that he intends to hurt (and how many of us do?), but when his actions or words have consequences he did not expect or consider? He's a jerk for it? Undeserving of the relationship? Undeserving of love? For making a mistake?

Utter ridiculousness.

Some people even berate the guy to their other friends (or their friends will berate him to her) to help her feel better; spreading that kind of venom can really hurt a man's reputation and reduce his Shidduch opportunity. Which is a whole other issue that infuriates me. Even when I talk to people about my dating experiences I am always extremely careful about names and identifying information; I take care in how I speak about others, especially those I date and I often spend more time talking about the positive than my own frustrations or concerns.

People can be wonderful and not for each other. They can date and break up and that can be painful and tough to deal with. And people can learn to deal with the pain (without having to blame or tear at each others' character). I hope we are not so weak or immature that we must tear another person down rather than face our own pain. I shudder to think what that means for a relationship if they can't handle the pain and feel the need to rip at each other to avoid their own feelings.

Jan 28, 2012

If I Didn't Have You

By Tim Minchin
Some choice lyrics:   "And if I may conjecture a further objection love has nothing to do with destined perfection
The connection is strengthened; the affection simply grows over time, Like a flower
Or a mushroom
Or a guinea pig
Or a vine
Or a sponge
Or bigotry
... or a banana (banana)
And love is made more powerful by the ongoing drama of shared experience and the synergy
Of a kind of symbiotic empathy or something like that..."

Jan 26, 2012

Winter of Discontent

I have noticed a very interesting trend, perhaps not just for myself, though I can comment most on my own experience.

Winter is a much harder time for me, in terms of frustrations with dating, feelings of loneliness, issues with touch. Perhaps it's the cold, perhaps it's the "holiday season," perhaps it's some instinctive desire to hibernate that triggers a greater sensitivity. Maybe it has to do with my own relationship experience, since the times I have been in serious relationships and considering marriage -with all the feelings, attachment and experiences that are associated with those relationships -were at their height primarily in these months of winter time.

Who knows, really.

But at this time of year (December-ish and throughout winter), it just hits me harder. I'm often less interested in dating (paradoxical as it may seem), and I feel like my choices in planning dates are much more limited. The upshot is that I get to focus on myself during this time, sleeping more, taking more time to do the things I like and spending more time enjoying my friendships. I also know that I'll bounce back in terms of dating, and I'll be so much the better for it.

The point, perhaps, may be to keep track of the seasons, how I'm feeling, and what's going on in my own dating life. Think about it for a moment -anyone else ever notice a similar trend?

Jan 19, 2012

Sticks-and-Stones and Touch Frustrations

I'd like to thank Heshy Fried for the recent upsurge in attention to my blog. Since he commented on my blog post, Untouched, on his facebook and then blog, I've been enjoying by the thoughts, responses, emails and comments that have followed.

In his blog, he makes the following argument:
Shomer negiah is great if you can be a regular person about it, but when anything leads to such pain it seems like a bad idea.
Which is really interesting to me. Who can "be a regular person about it" when they're Shomer and single for five, ten or fifteen(+) years? I think that person is likely not the normal, average person.

Given the people I've known and spoken to who maintain Shmirat Negiah, it leads to frustration and difficulty in everyone. I've even posted (here and here) about the development and the circumstances that have magnified that struggle and frustration nowadays (and my perspective in dealing with it). In any case, that's the argument to let go of being Shomer Negiah, in a nutshell, and some of the feedback I've gotten has said that perhaps I'm a unique or extreme case and should specifically re-examine and re-evaluate my choice (and I really appreciate how much everyone cares and wants to help me out, it's great to see people so passionate about each others' well being!). It can be a powerful argument, because the frustration or pain can similarly feel powerful.

It reminds me of an old adage, and the way we've responded to it:
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. 
Of course my Mother, and every other mother I've ever spoken to, adamantly objects to the phrase, touting how the exact opposite is true; our physical wounds will heal, but our emotional ones will stay with us much longer. So we've become very sensitive and aware of emotional pains as a society by recognizing the powerful influence of emotions on our psychological (and physical) health in the long-term. Awareness about bullying is at an all-time high. Such emotional pain is to be avoided and prevented if at all possible. Which is great and everything, but disappointment, upset and emotional pain is inevitable in life. Trying to prevent all of it -which essentially is the point in using distraction as the primary way to deal with a child when they cry or get upset about not getting a lollypop or whatever -espouses certain values. Namely, that emotional pain is really bad, that we can't handle it and therefore any degree of emotional hurt should be avoided at all costs

 (It's the same argument that leads to using the [Ultra] Orthodox Shidduch system, having lots of research and going through an intermediary to avoid -as much as possible -the possibility of hurting someone or being hurt and the challenges of being Shomer Negiah, etc. Especially since the pain of breaking up -and temptation to touch -is so much harder to deal with after a two year relationship versus just a few dates.)

While I think it's incredibly important to help prevent bullying, I also value teaching our children and learning ourselves about handling the disappointments and challenges in life. Developing the coping skills and tools to manage the tough times, frustrations and setbacks we experience -even the chronic ones that won't just go away -is a an integral element of becoming an adult and learning to handle life well.

Thus far, my perspective is that the feelings don't have to be avoided but managed; interestingly enough that doesn't mean we have to do or say anything special, but acknowledge them, express and show our acceptance/care. Being able to feel and tolerate strong emotions isn't a bad thing; in fact, I think it's a highly adaptive skill to have in life. My experience with being Shomer has been that kind of learning experience; or rather, that's what I'm choosing to make of it. Still, I acknowledge that being Shomer is not only tough, but an issue that won't go away (even in marriage) and will be frustratingly painful, sometimes to the point of extremity. I just don't think that the pain would always justifiy tossing away my choice for observance.

I will say, though, if it's a choice between marrying someone immediately just for the touch, affection and sex versus keeping Shomer, I'd be more likely to stop being Shomer. Religious observance is not a good proxy for healthy relationships. But I do think there's a third option, and that's my current road; struggling, working through it and learning to manage. I think there's a plus buried in there, the meaning I make of it and the choice to develop myself through it.

That option, I think, takes strength to stick to. But I also think lots of people are strong enough, and we get stronger as we learn to understand, accept and cope with those feelings. 

Who knows, maybe I'm doing mental back-flips to make light of a crummy situation that I'm choosing to stick to. Or perhaps there's something real to gain and grow through the challenge. Maybe one day I'll get fed up enough to change my mind about being Shomer. Anything is possible... But until then, if it ever happens, I'll be working through it.

Jan 17, 2012

Dating Stats Update

I've been keeping track of my dating experiences, particularly since I started online dating (see here for the first update). Here are the bare numbers... 

Time Elapsed: 9 Months
     Number of Breaks: 3 (inlcuding Chagim time)
     Time Spent "On Break": ~2 Weeks per Break

Total Opportunity: 75
     Number of Suggestions from Online Dating: 62
          (Number of those I was interested in: 23)
               (Number of which I declined because of long distance: 7)
     Number of Suggestions NOT from Online: 7
     Number of Women I Met/Pursued Myself: 6
Total Pursued: 29

Total Number of Dates: 18
     Number of First Dates: 11
          (Number of those through online dating: 7)
     Number of Second Dates: 6
          (Number of those through online dating: 4)
     Number of Third Dates: 1
          (Number of those through online dating: 1)
     Number of Fourth (+) Dates: 0

Who "Made the Choice"?
Number of Times I declined another date: 0
Number of Times the Woman declined: 11 

Total Cost: ~$500 (including travel, restaurants, etc.) 
Average Cost Per date:  ~$29.50

60% Women Dated are Sefardi (20% Ashkenazi, 20% Mixed)
About 80% of suggested women are Sefardi and/or Mixed (the other 20% being Ashkenazi)


Qualitatively speaking, I'm appreciating the suggestions I get (the percentage of interest is slightly over a third, including the long distance suggestions); many of them fit very well with what I'm generally looking for. Perhaps that's a flexibility thing, who knows.

While I'd like to have a higher interest-to-date ratio, of the ones I'm interested in I have a decent rate of actually going out on a date. However, most of them thus far haven't really gotten anywhere; none of them have netted more than a third date.

Also, dating can quickly become expensive! While my number is more inflated as a result of a few costly early experiences (like this one), it's not difficult to spend around $30 (or more) for a date, especially since there are only a finite number of times you can conceivably grab a cup of coffee.

Just as a last note, while there's a big list of numbers, I really enjoyed and appreciated each person for who they are and the experiences I had with every single one. Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to get to know them better.

Jan 15, 2012

Singles' Shabbaton, Round Two!

After my first experience on a singles' Shabbaton, I wasn't too eager to jump into another one.

Eventually, I realized I'd just have to get over myself; there's a lot of opportunity out there and letting some experiences get in the way of dating would be a tragedy, only serving to holding me back. I refuse to allow such things to get in the way of finding a wife; there's no reason to spite myself because of some negative experience.

So, I finally decided to sign up and attend another one. Funny thing about signing up for a singles' Shabbaton, though. They make you sign up a couple weeks in advance. For me, it's like magic; every time I get busy or start to pursue a suggestion, something new pops up. So when I sign up, inevitably someone makes a suggestion and/or I go out on a date, because that's God's ironic sense of humor.

((Looks up)) I mean seriously?! Really?! Hilarious. May that be the worst of my conundrums.  

Somehow I'd manage to put myself in "no man's land." On the one hand, I like to focus on one person at a time when I'm dating (see here for why). On the other hand, I can't predict what happens in two weeks and I don't like the idea of being "closed off" to opportunity because I've signed up for a Shabbaton or vice-versa. Kind of an awkward place to be in for a couple weeks, at least for me.

Go figure. "I'll manage it somehow," I tell myself. Moving along...

Of course, as expected, the location was some suburb-like area with plenty of matchmakers to help encourage and facilitate talking (and/or cultivating a dating interest), not to mention the necessarily inordinate number of shiurim and speech-like divrei Torah. (I mean, how else can they legitimize the Shabbaton experience for the frum community? Clearly dating isn't a legitimate enough purpose.) I remember thinking that at least half of them would probably connect the Parsha with dating, relationship or marriage in some convoluted way. Still, it's inescapable, and some of them even turned out to be enjoyable. 

When I'd finally signed up, I made the mistake of not dragging a friend along with me, a bit of wisdom I've learned from women who may even drag a friend off to the restroom. So when I got there, I was prepared to be my own wing-man (a la "Hey! Have you met... me?")  or perhaps having to enlist the services of a matchmaker as a wing-man-by-proxy. I have to say, as much as I value and appreciate matchmakers' time, experience and intuition, I tend to lean on the side of having less involvement with a third party; plus, I'm not entirely confident of their wing-man skills. Just my own personal pause. 

But, as fortune would have it, I ran into a buddy of mine when we all convened for Minchah. Once davening was done, we got to talking and he told me that he didn't expect anything to come from the Shabbaton; if nothing else, he decided to come and just have fun.

I have to say, that's the best bit of advice I'd ever heard. What a perspective! There's no pressure, no expectation, no need to be nervous. Be myself, enjoy myself, let it flow. My immediate thought was "that's my wingman!"

(And for those of you already formulating comments about how dating should be taken seriously and how much you hate those jokers on the Shabbaton, I have to say for anyone who already takes it seriously and has a tendency to get nervous it's quite liberating. For people who just don't care to begin with... well, let them be. At least there's some life in the party with jokers around.)

And good times were had. I think, in the end, it's really what you make of the experience. If you like to be loud, be loud! If you like to sing, tralala away! It was so much easier to be myself when I wasn't worried about being evaluated (even if I was, which no doubt occurred).

We'd pick the women we found interesting -or anyone we had the slightest desire to talk to, or just anyone in the vicinity -and we'd strike up conversation; but not the boring "who are you, what do you do, where are you from?" Jewish-geography-meets-twenty-questions game.We'd ask for the wackiest dating story, or their most awkward experience on the Shabbaton thus far. We'd joke and tease and kid around. Give the women a hard time for giving boring answers, challenge them, tell them we know they could do better.

We were mixing it up, and our mission was to have a good time. The degree to which we were noticed for our (perhaps more than slightly) unconventional approach was an ancillary benefit that only spurred us into a greater frenzy. More positive, upbeat, exciting energy. At least in our little warped bubble of the Shabbaton.

So I've decided that is how it's done. If the air is so full of tension and so thick with expectation that people are suffocating, what's the point? Likewise if it's full of the waking dead who have little more to say than "brrrrraiiiiins." It's great to meet people, to have good times, to wing and help people connect. It's fun to joke around.

And sometimes, it's just nice not to care. There is far too much pressure, especially at some of these events.

Jan 11, 2012

Men Should _______ on a Date...

I've heard one too many things about what a guy should do on a date.

From car doors to eye contact and compliments, from planning protocol to asking if she'd like to go to the bathroom. From initial contact to engagement... and even how to ask out and dump a gal he's not into. Even reading minds.


Just take a guy as he is. With all those expectations and protocols imposed on us (that's right, imposed), a guy can't just be himself and be a date-worthy, marriageable, good guy.

Did he text you to come out and meet him? Did he open the car door? Did he forget to ask if you need to use the ladies' room?


Perhaps it's more important that he's caring and respectful. But somehow it's all about the little details. You can nitpick, but even a guy like me won't fit into it. And heaven forbid he just doesn't spontaneously read your mind and figure out what you expect him to do next... of course that just means he's not good enough. Or a jerk.

There are great guys who don't fit into that. Really. Ask me how I know. 

A great guy might not keep track of how much you've been drinking and how likely you are to need the bathroom. He may not realize that your toes are freezing off. He could forget that you like it when someone opens a door for you. He might think that walking up to your front door and having to greet and chat with your parents for ten minutes before taking you out is too formal, or perhaps assume it's too early on.

But a great guy will respond when you let him know your needs and expectations clearly and respectfully. He will listen when you let him know what you need him to do. He will stop giving advice when you let him know you really just want empathy. He will respect your boundaries, when they are clearly laid out.

No man, however great he is, can know and fulfill everything in your mind. No human being is designed to serve you based on your own expectations.

For a man, a woman's heart and mind is unknown, foreign, confusing and doesn't follow our conventional logical process. But a great man -he will listen, respond and show respect and care when you let him know what's going on in there.

Of all the women who know me well, most of them are shocked when I tell them that I routinely hear from women -after a couple dates -that they're not interested in dating me anymore. But this is precisely the reason why. The little, ridiculous things that I couldn't possibly do. Unrealistic expectations and snap judgments based on the tiniest of "mistakes."

I have news for all you wonderful women out there looking for Mr. Right. This is how we are as men. The best of us will respond well when we're clued in. The worst of us won't care. The best of us want to know. The worst of us really don't care. But none of us can read minds.

We don't know how you -as a woman and individual -see the world, and the only way we'll find out is if it's communicated in a way that we can process it.

Jan 6, 2012

Drum Roll for the Poll

After asking random questions and collecting the answers (which are all posted at the bottom of the blog’s homepage) I present to you... ((drum roll))... the first set of informal poll results:

#1: Date Planning

When a Man plans a date, 46% said they appreciate is and 54% said they are impressed. Even If the planned date is uninteresting, 97% of you said that don’t mind, and of those 25% showed interest in seeing the guy “in his element.”

Lesson Learned: GUYS, PLAN THE DATE! It’s impressive or appreciated, even if it’s not what she wanted to do. Women like it when men plan a date.

#2: Dating Time-Frames

One third of respondents think one date is enough to decide someone isn’t for you; the remaining two thirds would give it one more chance. Nobody said they would give a person three or four dates before making the decision. For the first three dates, 55% of you admitted to being reserved and holding back, 45% would talk about yourselves early on.

In terms of actually getting to know someone, 70% of people think it would take anywhere between 2-6 months to really get to know each other in dating, with two-thirds of those saying it takes 2-3 months.

Lesson Learned: PEOPLE MAKE SNAP JUDGMENTS. The first few dates (and beforehand) are “decision time.” After that, people relax a bit more and actually start getting to know each other.

#3: Dating Modern Man

One third of the poll answerers describe men as pushy, stubborn, self-centered and/or a jerk in dating. One third would describe men as confident, taking leadership and/or competitive.  A little more than half of you see men as respectful, and a little less than half experience nice-guy qualities.

Lesson Learned: PEOPLE ARE NOT DICHOTOMOUS. The vast majority of men aren’t jerks, but most aren’t “nice guys” either. There’s plenty of middle ground, and a veritable cornucopia of variety. 

(Though, in all fairness, it could be that we are all just subjective. Two women may look at the same man and have very different experiences of him. Either way, there's a lot of variety out there.)

#4: How to Respond to Women

When a woman asks her husband “do I look good in this outfit?” the vast majority (72%) gave answers indicating that she wants to feel attractive and loved, though they varied on how a man should show it. The other 28% took the question literally, and would answer suggest men accordingly with honesty or admitting to being biased.

Lesson Learned: CALIBRATE AND INTERPOLATE. There’s no single right way to respond when a woman asks her husband “do I look good in this outfit?” But remember, it is very likely the question may be her way of communicating that she just wants to feel loved, beautiful and desired right now.

Jan 4, 2012

Separateness, Sameness, Equality and Relationships

America is built on a great many values, one of which is the idea that separate is inherently unequal (learn about the Civil Rights Movement for a detailed history). That difference either "is" or "leads to" oppression of some kind -as a law of reality. In that sense, "equality" is often measured in "sameness," assuming that separation inherently devalues one side. Which leads to the thought process that difference means one is better. Not that one is better in some ways and worse in others (and vice-versa), but that one is simply better overall.

Most days I really question that assumption. Sure, there are many situations where there are differences, separation and inequality. I'm just not sure that pointing the finger at the differences really helps. I think it's important to understand and handle the underlying values. Because whenever we value one thing over another, we separate them and create an imbalance; just because we attempt to re-balance doesn't mean our values will change, per se. Still, that is the hope and expectation behind ridding ourselves of difference -to restore a sense of universal value.

In some ways, I think that may be immature, to attempt to put everyone on "one side" because that's the "side" we value, but that's how it's going nowadays. The result of these different perspectives has interesting implications for shidduchim. One can split approaches to dating/matchmaking into a spectrum that has two extreme poles:

One perspective values differences that complement each other –both in terms of personality and in life roles –fitting together like two pieces of a puzzle that are opposites in ways that fulfill one another while completing a picture. Spouses could be very different and make it work by taking up different responsibilities and (hopefully) learning from each other. Roles like one person working and being the breadwinner while the other takes care of the home and children.

(Whether the man or woman is doing either one is less relevant to this discussion, as the focus here is on polarity, though it must be acknowledged that the traditional and more common way of dividing often places the man as the breadwinner and woman as the homemaker. This system, of course, cares little for individuality that would allow for a business savvy woman and nurturing man to switch roles comfortably within society. Again, that’s important to acknowledge, but not the discussion point here.)

The other extreme revolves around sameness, equality and fairness in finding someone similar to themselves so that they could look at the other person and almost sees themselves as though in a mirror, validating their own perspective through consensus and requiring minimal accommodation or change. Ideas like both the man and woman working outside the home and inside the home –both doing pretty much all the same things. Each person would have to wash dishes, vacuum, work, change diapers, feed kids, etc. all because this is how the arrangement is set up.

And so, sitting at a particular meeting with a shadchanit, I found myself hearing about suggestions talking about how a particular woman is practically the same as me, or picking on a few qualities I have and talking about how she is the same way on those points. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “how far do I want to take this obsession with similarity? Does it really matter if she’s from the same Sefardic background, or even Sefardic at all?”

Clearly the “golden path” is important here, recognizing that either extreme can spawn all kinds of trouble. Sure, it’s easier when more things line up. Sure, I have certain values that I feel must exist to create the foundation for a unified home, in particular raising children. But maybe I want a woman who has some differences, a woman who will inspire me to grow in my spirituality; a woman I admire and want to learn from.

I’m just saying.

On the other hand, it really bothers me when I see someone who is preoccupied with sameness or fairness in a relationship. At this point, I recognize and have no issue doing dishes, changing diapers or taking care of whatever needs to get done because, well… it needs to get done. But when I hear that phrased as an equality or fairness issue it seems somewhat immature to me. Tacking on a reason like “fairness” or “sameness” implicitly (or often explicitly) points a finger at the other person and says “you’re not playing fair! Do what I’m doing!”

Here’s why –I have no problem giving. That’s what relationships are about. At the same time, I feel that they must be built on a foundation of respect and desire to fulfill each others' needs. Not based on ideas like "fairness," which vaguely remind me of two kids arguing about who has more orange juice in their cup. If someone has a need in a relationship, being there and helping them with that need is a core part of that relationship.

Perhaps my issue boils down to this: When someone communicates their needs, I'm right there wanting to give. But pointing the finger at "fairness" or "sameness" as the reason communicates nothing about needs, giving, connecting or anything else I value in building a relationship. It inspires resistance, defiance, defensiveness and justification ("but I do such-and-such, and you don't do such-and-such!"). Just own up to your own needs, we all have them and we should not be afraid to show them to others, least of all our (potential/future) spouses. Being so afraid that it goes unsaid... speaks volumes about the relationship and/or the people involved.

At least, that's how I see it. But I know fantastic couples that scrupulously keep track of who does what and makes sure it's all even. Hey, if it works, it works... right?

Jan 3, 2012

Outcome Based Emunah

People are often preoccupied with outcomes. For many reasons, in many ways, this makes complete sense. The outcome often has a direct impact on me as an individual. For things like results of test scores or licensing/board exams and whether I get hired, the bottom line really does make a difference in my life.

But what about when things don't necessarily go the way we want them to? I've been hearing more and more (see here and here) a logic that examines outcomes as a reason for Emunah. Here's the train of thought: the way things went (though it wasn't what I'd wanted) would have been disastrous if I had been involved and things went forward (like seeing someone you seriously dated end up divorced). So I should trust that's always the case (when things don't go my way).

What's this obsession with other outcomes? Why do negative outcomes provide a singular proof that I should trust all is for the best when things do not go my way? (And what does that say about the other people who deal with those outcomes?)

There are so many stories that focus on what happened after the supposed disaster, seeing the consequences as the focal point of why we should believe it's all for the best. Such an Emunah is based on hind-sight bias. Only after-the-fact does someone see or have relief. A person in the throes of turmoil often cannot listen to hindsight bias, and such a basis for Emunah will tell them that they must simply "wait and you will see." (Not to mention that someone else having a "happily ever after" would completely shatter that perspective.)

This is not the version of Emunah I grew up with. Other outcomes are irrelevant to my experience; the degree to which they give me relief is emotional (a "that was close, thanks you God for getting me out of that one!" feeling). But my Emunah isn't an emotionally driven belief. Emunah isn't about saying that everything God sends my way is preventing greater calamity or more pain and therefore believing that whatever happens is for the best. I don't need to know all the outcomes of the people, events or opportunities I missed in order to believe in my own challenges as having purpose. 

I believe in the richness of experience. Especially challenging experiences. I believe in all challenges as opportunity. Experiences are given to us as opportunities for personal growth and to connection with Hashem. Whether they are calamities or wonderful experiences, every moment presents the potential to learn, to bring The Almighty into my life and to make something greater of myself and my connection with Him.

Emunah really comes down to that connection and a willingness to accept that I neither know exactly what's best nor do I control most of what occurs to me; it's a dedication to making the most of each experience, to seize the chance and build something more -for myself and with Hashem. Emunah is always looking up at Hashem and inward to myself, not around at what happens afterwards or who is dealing with the mess. Focusing on what is always going on with others and being so concerned with the outcomes (for example, with the people I've dated that haven't worked out) is to completely miss the mark on what I really should be doing -digging deep into myself and strengthening my relationship with The Almighty.