Saturday, October 15, 2005

Too picky or just slim pickin's?

A few days ago, a blogger who calls himself "Not the Godol Hador" wrote an angry tirade about singles who complain about being alone, when actually (according to him) the problem is that they are too picky and they should just "get married already." He writes:

Any older single who tells you that they just can't seem to find their bashert is being too picky. I absolutely guarantee it. Either that or they have emotional problems and need some serious therapy. Or more probably both.
Later, he writes "What the vast majority of older singles need is a good kick in the butt."

Gee, thanks, Godol. How kind of you.

In his compassion to, and deep understanding of, older singles, he actually names two in particular as the targets of his ire, singles columnist and blogger Esther Kustanowitz, and the more-open-on-her-blog-than-I-will-ever-be Nice Jewish Girl. Never mind that Nice Jewish Girl has already explained her whole dating history (link to come if I can find it), which includes: the one man from ages ago she was too picky about and regrets not marrying; the guys she could have married but they dumped her, sometimes without even giving a reason; and the guy she dumped because he was a gambling addict. Which of these suggests that NJG is "too picky"? (As for me . . . let's just say that the concepts of being dumped and doing the dumping for very good reasons are all too familiar to me.)

The most glaring flaw in Godol's theory, that the main problem is one of pickiness, is that he assumes that:

All of these people have dated hundreds (if not thousands) of prefectly eligible people and have rejected them all, except for some really hot ones who of course rejected them first, because they were too picky.
Hundreds of dates?


Ha ha ha ha ha!

Haaaaaa haaaaaaaa!

::Chayyei Sarah wipes tears from her eyes and tries to stop laughing.::

Oh, ha ha. ::sigh:: Hm. Ha.

Thanks for the laugh, Godol, I really needed that.

I am not going to go into the specifics of my own dating life, but I can attest, from my own experience and that of my many single (female) friends, that getting a date once one is out of college, and particularly once one is past her mid-twenties, is not easy, particularly if the woman has anything "unusual" about her, such as an advanced degree. Or a personality. Or any sort of physical flaw, such as not looking like Christy Brinkley did in 1983. There is a reason that people say "in dating, a man needs a secretary and a woman needs an agent."

And when one does get a date, a woman might be excused as not being "too picky" if the man never calls again. Or if she, say, chooses not to go on a third date with a man who talks relentlessly about his mental illness and how he really has it under control now. Or the man who talks for 85 minutes straight without letting the woman get a word in. Or the man who, in addition to having all sorts of important differences with the woman, for both of the first two dates, has breath so bad she can smell it from across the table and she wants to gag. Or the man who spends the whole first date talking about how much he hates his family, and then does deep-breathing exercises at the table because "after a big meal, I like to let waves of pleasure wash over me."

Is a woman "too picky" if she went on two dates with a man who was paralyzed from the chest down and actually really liked him, and would have dated him again, except that he wouldn't go out with her, ostensibly because she is three years older than he? Or if she goes on 6 dates with a man with Cerebral Palsy, and really gives it her best shot? Is a woman "too picky" if the smart, otherwise nice man she went on several dates with and really likes tells her that he "just does not want to have the responsibility of having to call her"?

Not that any of those things have ever happened to me. No. Of course not. I just made those up . . . um . . . from my fertile imagination. By the way, I'm also making up all the shadchanim who tell me and my women friends, straight up, "it may be a long time before I call you, because there aren't a lot of good men out there." And I'm also making up the singles events with 15 women and 2 men. And the singles events I've been closed out of because dozens of women were on the waiting list, and not enough men signed up. And the many friends who say "I wish I could think of someone to set you up with, but I don't know any guys. None I would set you up with, anyway." None of those things could really be true, because obviously most singles get their hundreds (if not thousands), of dates from somewhere, right?

Let's move on to the internet. I've actually had quite good experiences with the Jewish dating websites, as far as they go. Meaning, I've gotten several dates out them, and most of those dates were very reasonable (except the one with the man who talked for 85 minutes straight, who was one out of maybe three who ever contacted me again). Actually, I met R. on the internet, and he was fantastic . . . until after his involvement (as an army officer) in the disengagement from Gaza, when he started exhibiting signs of post-traumatic stress before unceremoniously dumping me (I say this, actually, with complete sympathy for him, given what I know was a horrible experience for him. But just because I feel bad for him doesn't mean I can date someone who has dumped me).

But, anyway, let's look at Sarah's most recent foray into internet dating. Perhaps this will help illuminate the current situation for older singles, at least for women. Recently, I bought a one-month subscription to Dosidate. Within that month, I contacted 13 men whose profiles led me to believe that they might be reasonable matches for me. Here are the results:

Three men never bothered to read my message (the system tells you whether the message has been opened).

Three men read my message but never bothered to reply to me.

Two men wrote to say simply that they are not interested.

One man wrote to say that he is not sure and he'll think about it. Um, OK. Never heard from him again.

One man, from Haifa, wrote to say that his last girlfriend lived in Jerusalem, and he found the long-distance traveling to be too difficult, so he's not interested.

One man who lives in Tel Aviv said he'll be happy to meet me . . . the next time I'm in Tel Aviv.

One man said he'd like to call me. I gave him my number. He never called.

One man -- out of thirteen -- responded positively and called. We've spoken twice and both conversations went well. We'll meet "as soon as he can come to Jerusalem" (he lives in Netanya). I am hopeful, but it ain't over til the fat lady sings. To make things easier for him, I might offer to meet in Tel Aviv instead, since he works there, but again . . . you can't count your dates until they've hatched.

Meanwhile, two men initiated contact with me. One, who is 43 and divorced with children, sent a message saying that I have a well-written profile, but he didn't ask me anything or say anything that led me to believe he expects me to write back. It was very odd. And the second, who looks eerily like my father (I get this a lot), lives in Queens, New York and has no plans to come to Israel any time soon.

Of course, Godol may simply argue that I'm not, in fact, too picky, I'm just one of those people who "have emotional problems and need some serious therapy." Because that would explain why I'm still single, given that everyone who does manage to fall in love and develop a stable relationship and get married is, by definition, perfectly emotionally healthy and doesn't need therapy at all. They give you a marriage license only if you are completely free of hang-ups. It couldn't possibly be that I'm simply unlucky, or the victim of other people's pickiness, or that I have an unusual set of qualities that makes me hard to match up, or that there is some wider social problem going on that I would happily escape if I could.

If I didn't have "emotional problems" before, I probably do now. You would too, after hundreds (if not thousands), of dates.

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