I get all kinds of questions in dating, and people seem to answer specific questions in particular ways (regardless of how they are asked). Here are some of the more common ones and a few ideas I have and use in answering them.
1) What is your "look"?
My Answer: I don't have a
"look." I have some preferences, but hair color, eye color, height,
age... are not as important to me as wanting to be around her, being
proud of having her at my side. A woman with great character -and who
wants me -is far more attractive than a picture perfect smile from a
magazine. How many women do you know that would elicit those feelings?
2) What kind of personality are you looking for?
My Answer: I'm not picky about personality, per se. A little more outgoing or less outgoing isn't the biggest deal. A little more homey or outdoorsy doesn't make or break a marriage. I care about character -how does she handle differences between herself and others? Is she kind to herself and the people closest to her? How does she experience and interact with the world around her? What are her relationships with family and friends like? How does she act under tremendous stress and pressure? How does she handle anger (both her own and that of others)? How does she handle her own flaws, how does she feel about herself? I'm not looking for perfection, heaven knows my list of flaws is longer than my own new roll of toilet paper, but it's about how we handle them -individually and together. Admittedly, I do believe a little playfulness and laughter go a long way. Openness and receptivity are, I think, really important for all good relationships.
3) Do you want a woman who will cover her hair? (Alternatively: How do you want her to cover her hair?)
My Answer: Tell me, do you know what covering hair means to her? Does she struggle with it? What does Halachah mean to her? Those are the important questions. We all struggle and have our own challenges, I want to know her values. Whether she covers one way or another isn't my greatest concern, it's engaging in the Halachah, struggling and working through it that I value more.
4) How many hours do you learn?
My Answer: Let me tell you what learning means to me...
I'm going to stop here and ask -do you see a theme? Maybe it's just me (though I certainly hope not), but I think we need to start encouraging a different kind of question asking and answering process for dating. Instead of asking about details like how often someone goes to minyan or learns or whether she knows how to put on make-up, how about asking questions of values and meaning.
We all have a tough time with certain things, but instead of categorizing based on how many years the guy/gal went to HASC, how about asking what the experience of chessed is, what it means to the person? Because after 25 years of being married, the number of years in HASC matter a lot less than the value or perspective a person has in doing acts of loving kindness, or how they handle frustration -especially with their closest friends/family.
I certainly don't answer the questions that are asked of me much of the time, and I think that we have opportunities as single daters to change the questions that are being asked, if only we would answer the questions we want, and encourage our friends, family, matchmakers and websites to begin asking a different type of question.
I'll acknowledge that we often implicitly assume that something like
one's kippah choice or time spent engaging in organized chessed
represent something, but we have replaced seeking values with seeking
culturally/communally determined outward expressions of those values instead. I don't think it's working very well. In fact, I think it's getting in the way of having the important conversations and focusing on the important values in dating, relationships and marriage.