Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Research: A Waste of Time, Or Useful?

I set out to write a post about research. I searched my drafts, and found this from almost 2 years ago! Updates have been made, but it is just sad how much things haven't changed.

I don't have much exposure to the MO community, but one thing I've noticed is that they don't research Shidduchim nearly as much as the yeshivish. Why?

I'm not even talking about the ridiculous questions, whether they use a plastic tablecloth on Shabbos, or if the wife comes to the table in a robe Friday night, or whether they stack dirty dishes at the table. I am hoping that questions like that are asked by just a tiny percentage, and tend to be repeated because they are so inane and simply meaningless.

I just mean the phone calls in general. When I go out with out-of-towners, and I used to beg my parents to at least make two phone calls, the guys got suspicious. The references are annoyed and don't understand why we call to ask about the guy, if I can just get to know him on a date.

The attitude among the MO is, "let the kids go out." They won't ask a million questions to make sure the couple is 100% compatible. I have mixed emotions about this practice.

I've done it; no research, just giving it a shot. Obviously, thus far it hasn't worked. Then again, I've done research, found out great things, only to find on the first date that it was a total load. So thus far, neither method has worked. I don't think either method particularly will lead to success; although some might contend that with less research, I'd be more inclined to date someone that I hadn't previously considered, and find out that he is my soulmate. (IY"H, when I am successful, I will bli neder let you know which method led me to it.)

The way it works among the Yeshivish is that conclusive research is conducted before their first date. So much research that the only thing left to find out is whether they get along, their personalities mesh, and whether they're attracted to one another. Well, as part of research, the boy's mother has already seen the girl in one way or another, and determined that her son will find her attractive. (In other words, she is pretty enough for her to proudly express, "This is my brand new daughter-in-law!" at the next neighborhood or family gathering.) So, basically, since the girl is not allowed to ask much about the guy's looks, they have to find out whether she is completely repulsed by him or not.

Sometimes you find things out on a first date that you couldn't have found out by asking information anyway.

One time, my mother agreed to make a phone call about a guy. He lived nearby, so she called a neighbor of his that she knew. His neighbor said to stay away. I called a guy I knew from college who learned in the same bais medrash as he did, and the consensus was to stay away. But that was once. Obviously the guy is some sort of freak show if everyone we asked about him didn't even do the phony "he's such a great guy" shpiel. In this case, research proved useful.

On other occasions, the guys sounded great on paper and turned out to be nothing like they were described. Their references described them a certain way, but I learned on the date that it wasn't accurate.

I've discussed ridiculous phone calls I've heeded in honor of my good friends. And many of them appalled me. "How does she dress?" "Why does she wear a ponytail?" "Why did she attend this high school?"

One person was turned down before a first date because of a reputation of being "quiet."

The problem is, let's say you've gone out twice, and decide, well now is the time for research. The couple has already built some sort of a relationship. Those are based on trust. Doing research at that stage shows a complete lack of trust. "I know we've met and everything, but I don't trust you, so I am gonna go call people to ask them about you." That'll go over well.

So? Research or no research?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Top Turn-Ons and Turn-Offs

I've actually been working on this post for close to a month due to its sensitive nature. I consulted with Isaac Kaplan and other male characters to determine what the top turn-ons and turn-offs are on the guys' side on shidduch dates.

I consulted with my friends for the girls' aspect as well; I have included their submissions within the girls' lists. (Thus, do not assume I completely agree with everything that follows)

It's obviously really important to keep in mind that personal preference makes a plays a large role in these situations; when I was consulting with different people about these lists, sometimes people suggested polar opposites of one another. Some people mentioned things that I didn't really agree with, or fully understand, but I included them anyway; it isn't about me and my preferences. It's a collection of a bunch of people's preferences.

Turn offs:
GUYS (In no particular order)

  • Girls who don't talk at all/Talk too much - this is complicated since the whole date is based on talking, and how are people supposed to know what's too much and what's too little?
  • Girls who can't make a decision - "wherever you want...whatever you want...I don't care..."
  • Finicky - "Well, we can't go here, we can't go there..."
  • SuperJaps - self-explanatory
  • Bad table manners - slurping your soup is not advised
  • Arrogant/Showing off - they get it! You do chesed! You're frum! You're smart. Let them figure it out in context!
  • Perfectionist - "Ummm, there's too much foam on my grande nonfat half-caff vanilla latte"
  • Inappropriate dress - leave SOMETHING to the imagination, will ya?
  • Loud and whiny - think "The Nanny"
  • Lies - it'll all come out in the end anyway, one way or another
  • Very negative - "This stinks, this is terrible, I don't like this..."
  • Saying, "cool" or "like" too much - Do you, like, think you're, like, too cool or something?
  • Drama Queen - "OMG he didn't open the door for me, does that mean he doesn't like me?"
  • Girls who talk with a yeshivish accent - It's not quite geshmak
  • Trying to impress me with her knowledge of sports when in reality, she's clueless - give it up! - it's okay, we get it, you're a girl. You don't like sports. You don't have to.
  • Refusing phone calls before the first date - If you're not able to handle the call, I don't think you can handle the responsiblities of marriage - grow up.
  • Girls who dump you for not wearing a suit - It's not Shabbos.


  • The guy shows up late without calling/apologizing - you have my number, buddy, USE IT. Fashionably late need not apply
  • Keeps checking his cell phone, or you hear it vibrate - you wanna answer it already?! You think I can't hear it?!
  • Is rude/unfriendly to the cashier/waitress - I don't want to be ashamed to go places with you if you'll talk to people like that
  • Aggressive driver - Wouldn't you like my dinner to stay down? So would I.
  • Egotistical - Are you on a date with a girl, or yourself?
  • Shlumpy - Did your mother take a look at you before you walked out the door?
  • Lack of Eye Contact - Apparently this issue arises in the more yeshivish community - Just pretend we're your sister, or Hillary Clinton
  • Very Quiet - "Yes and no" are not adequate responses. I don't enjoy giving three-hour monologues.

Turn ons:

  • Attracted to her - on most planets, the guy is supposed to be attracted to the girl. Yes, he should know the difference. It's not his mother's job to decide whether he's attracted to the girl. (-- Note that I didn't say "pretty," because as cheesy as it sounds, I believe that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.)
  • Smiles - "I can't stand a girl who won't crack a smile on a date"
  • Contributes to Conversation - What did I tell you about the talking thing, eh?
  • Girl who knows what she wants - make suggestions, agree to what we present enthusiastically if that's what you want. Don't just agree to what we suggest to make us happy. We'll see right through it.
  • Girl who doesn't girl who doesn't blush when you mention a TV show, movie, etc. - Just keepin it real
  • Initiates topics of conversation other than "how many siblings do you have" or "where did you go to yeshiva in israel"? - a little depth never hurt anyone
  • Competitive when you go for pool, ping pong, etc and doesnt feel like she has no shot just because she's the girl - we can handle being beat by a girl. We think. We hope.
  • Good taste in music - Yeshiva Boys Choir fans need not apply
  • She offers you gum - rules are made to be broken. Well, that one, anyway


  • Friendly/Down-to-earth - Girls like smiles, too.
  • Shows that he's listening - We like when you ask questions about what you heard, and seem interested in what we have to say.
  • Nice to the cashier/waitress, etc. - The way you treat them reflects on how you might treat us in the future (if there is one)
  • Deep/Mature - Jewish geography won't get you to the chuppah; we like to see a thinking process behind all that magic
  • Not cheap - You don't have to order the most expensive thing on the menu, but don't make us feel guilty for ordering something other than dessert
  • Prepared - Mapquest or GPS always makes a good impression; have a destination in mind. Better yet, a reservation if necessary. Know the nature of the date beforehand, casual or formal - nobody enjoys Starbucks in their Shabbos suits.

What are yours?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Am I Keeping Busy, or Doing Stuff?

To those with whom I have consulted regarding another post I am working on: Due to my bad internet connection and unreliable computer, a close-to-finished draft is saved on MS Word on my other computer. I hope to have that post up as soon as I can.

Meanwhile, please enjoy another supermarket story:

"So, how you keeping busy?" a well-meaning acquaintance asked when I met her at a supermarket.
"You mean while I sit on my butt and wait for my zivug/bashert?" I wanted to respond.
"Working," I said, with a subtle raise of my eyebrow, and a matter-of-fact tone. Like, "what did you expect?"
This situation reminded me of Constructive Waiting, an excellent post on Still in Shidduchim.

Did the woman at the supermarket think that's all I'm doing? Sitting and waiting?

When I meet acquaintances on the street, I usually greet them by asking, "Whatcha up to these days?" Even, "What are you doing with yourself nowadays?" is a little less demeaning than
"How ya keepin busy?"

It's interesting; I consulted with a few friends before posting this. I told them the story and awaited their reactions. Some gasped in horror, "So what did you tell her?!" Others wondered why I told them about some lady I met at the supermarket who wondered what I'm up to these days.

So, take it how you want it. The outcome was pretty much 60-40, mine. It's not like everyone agreed with me necessarily.

Let's say someone would ask me that when I'm married. I'd have a different retort. "Kids don't keep me busy?" "Ever seen laundry up to your eyeballs?" "Cooking, cleaning, the usual," I'd respond.

I just think that's a condescending thing to ask anyone, really.