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Dec 27, 2012

The Magic Number 2

I've noticed an interesting pattern in my own dating behavior, and I thought I'd share and get some perspective from the peanut gallery too...

I've written before about the importance of responsiveness (or receptivity) when it comes to interacting with a woman, and in the dating world generally. In the absence of an adequate level of responsiveness, I'll usually give it two tries, but then my motivation to continue plummets. This can be with respect to phone calls, texts, or other forms of contact as well as attempts to schedule another date. I'm tempted to generalize to all forms of initiation in the dating world (and possibly within my relationships as well). But let me not get ahead of myself yet.  

For example, there was a young woman I went on a first date with. It was a nice date and I felt that we began getting to know each other, so I called her up and asked her out again. She responded, "one of my friends is in town, so I'm busy that day." 

"Okay," I thought to myself "that happens. I like to spend time with my out-of-town friends too." So I suggested another potential time and venue. "That's not a good time for me either, I have a work function that night," she replied. At that point, I was simultaneously frustrated ("Well then, just tell me what works for you!") and in doubt ("Okay, I get the message. We're done here.").

It was seriously disheartening. So I said "Alright, let me know if your evenings open up" and I was done. Needless to say, I didn't contact her again.

Was that a mistake? God only knows. But I can say that my motivation plummeted as she told me she was unavailable, yet made no attempt to suggest a viable time. Twice.

In another situation, a mutual friend had followed through with a suggestion, giving me the "a-okay" to contact the lovely lady whose qualities had been so eloquently lauded. I texted her to see when she would like to talk (with the intent of setting a date, of course). A couple -there's that number two again -of quiet days later, I called her up. After ringing all the way to voice mail, I left a message. A day or two later and I'd mentally washed my hands of her. Did she ever contact me back? Yeah. Two weeks later (and no, she wasn't in a different country)... By which point I was long gone.

I've also been on dates that I felt it were dragging on. I don't need a woman to hang on my every word, but it's important to have more than a one-way conversation that feels like a therapy or interrogation session. I can ask a hundred questions, but after just two carefully crafted open-ended inquiries that are reciprocated with monosyllabic answers, I'm practically resigning. While I'm fairly confident I might be able to continue the line of inquiry -and even though I often will, for the sake of getting through the date -I'm usually giving up on the inside. 

On occasion I'll be more persistent. If there's something really pulling me, a strong point of connection, an emotional hook-point... I'll be motivated for longer. When I've had strong feelings, I've been known to pursue with more zeal. However, that is fairly uncommon in the  earliest stages of dating.

Could I be too sensitive? Sure, that's a definite possibility.
Am I missing out on opportunities? I'll submit to that potentiality.
Should I change my modus operandum? Ay, that's the question... I'm not so sure.

I can imagine I'm not the only guy who reacts that way. Part of me wants women to understand that just replying without giving more -be it a question or a suggested date option -will probably be taken as a sign disinterest (at least by me). Another part of me wonders if I'm just letting go too soon. Then again, in the wonderfully diverse world of dating my style is -like ice cream -just one flavor of many. I'll have to keep tabs and see if it's actually working for me or not.

Feel free to add your two cents.

Dec 23, 2012

Hide your feelings!

While I will pursue a woman when I have a particular interest, it helps to know she may like me. In fact, the greatest predictor of whether we like someone is often whether we think/know that they like us... 

And yet every so often I'll hear about a missed opportunity, someone who harbored secret feelings for me and worked to hide them rather than allowing them to be known.

How unfortunate. 

Dec 7, 2012

Dating Towards a Shared Vision

The Gottmans are a power couple in the field of relationships. Dr. John Gottman is a relationship researcher and his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz, is a clinician. I attended a seminar about their perspective on couples in which Dr. J. Gottman talked about his research on successful couples.

One of the most striking pieces of his work that struck me is the concept of a shared vision. Practically every successful couple has a shared vision, a set of goals and values that the partners lean on one another to achieve together. During the seminar, he posited that the shared vision is created together.

Which got me thinking about how we date, or at least what I'd thought about how we date. The impression I had when I entered the dating world is that each person has their criteria, their list, their image of what marriage, life, children should look like. We are each trying to find the other person to fit that bill.

I started wondering if maybe instead of looking for that image in another person we should be looking for the person with whom we can create a new image.

Perhaps it wasn't so relevant when we consider the dating history of frum Jews. Living and growing up in small communities may have created a community image, a shared image that children grew up with. Variations may have been smaller. Perhaps in some ways we still have those small communities and still look within them for that shared image. It may have worked then, perhaps it still works today for some.

On the one hand, it seems easy to choose someone based on their fit with our image, and then we stay with them because we like their character and find them attractive. However, it can be quite difficult to find someone who fits that image, and to expect or look for character and attraction in addition can sometimes seem like a tall order.

On the other hand, choosing someone based on character and attraction may seem difficult too, and with the added work of creating a shared image, of having to work and not so easily have the life, marriage, family that we expect or dream of in this moment can also feel like a tough expectation to swallow.

Which way resonates with you?

Dec 3, 2012

Dating: Traditional Vs Feminist

Every not-so-often, I get a suggestion from someone -family, friend, a random disgruntled date -that I should probably go for a woman who is more traditional.

Personally, I feel conflicted. On the one hand, I was raised in a very traditional family. My Mother felt a deep sense of responsibility and fulfillment in taking care of us kids, cooking and creating a home environment, while my Father was the breadwinner and head of the household. On the other hand, my family also has some distinct non-traditional leanings. My Mother has more formal education than my Father, while my Father was more than happy to change my diapers and get to cooking/cleaning when he got home from work and my Mother was busy (either playing with us kids or with work/school). In many ways, I'd like to think my parents were flexible in their roles.

But there's more to it than that. I saw bits of both the traditional and non-traditional relationship in my parents. Truth be told, I think I absorbed a value for both, and I want both -or parts of both. Which can all be very confusing, since at times they seem to be in conflict with one another. On top of that, I grew up exposed to American culture and media, which has a whole other set of values and expectations for relationships. Of course it's not so simple, and I'm working through my own values. 

As much as I feel conflicted and confused about my expectations and values, I can imagine that it might be just as conflicting and/or confusing for women. So I'd like to throw a question out there for all the ladies out there: Do you experience a similar conflict for yourself? How do you deal with it?