Category: Jewish Dating

A New Record!

I don’t want this to turn into Unbroken Glass especially after my earlier two posts about my personal life. However, I think I broke my record for quickest dating rejection:
Time: 50 minutes.
Reason: “Not mentally attractive.”
Completly unrelated, I have to send my laptop back for repairs, so blogging may be slow for a while. It’s really bad timing especially with the end of the quarter approaching, but dem’s the breaks.

Waiting On A Friend

My previous post “The Harm In Being Nice” generated a great deal of feedback. Thanks to everyone who posted, IMed, e-mailed, voted, and threatened. Although some people missed the point, just about everyone contributed something positive to the discussion.

I’d like to address some of the issues raised in the subsequent correspondence. I tried to address the phenomenon of why women would want nice guys as “just friends” as opposed to a more serious relationship. I argued that when a guy is loyal, considerate, emotionally sensitive etc. the woman would have the primary effect of a relationship without the commitment, employing the metaphor of “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.”

This was just my attempt at explaining a phenomenon. Obviously, relationships are as complicated as the participants. Many people suggested contributing factors as “two sides of the same coin,” but the complexities more closely resemble AD&D dice. However, I couldn’t very well write about relationships with disclaimers every five sentences.1 That’s what followups are for.

Most people responded to the following scenario: woman breaks up with guy using the ever popular “you’re really nice, but…” line. Most of the time, this completely ends the relationship. My theory applies more to women who don’t want to date someone, but still want to maintain some friendship with the guy. I’m not saying that women should just continue dating someone just because. It’s possible the woman has her own legitimate reasons for not wanting to marry a guy, and she has her own reasons for not articulating them. I was taking the woman at face value: 1. that she thinks the guy is nice and 2. she just doesn’t “feel” it or see it going anywhere and that is why she is ending the relationship.

There could be any number of reasons why a woman wouldn’t want to continue dating a particular nice guy. She might not like the way he looks, they could have incompatible career goals, etc. Sometimes men come on way too strong which is also a turnoff. I also must stress that “niceness” is not a substitute for “personality.” Simply going through the motions of politeness just means you’ve been trained well – but it doesn’t say anything about who you are.2 Niceness might not cause a breakup, but niceness alone will not lead to marriage. If I may get biblical, sur mera must be followed by ase’ tov.

Can mixed friendships exist as healthy relationships? I think so under certain circumstances.3 Being able to talk to the other gender is not only useful for advice or different perspectives, but it also trains people to view the other gender as “people.” As early as high-school (perhaps earlier) the Orthodox world indoctrinates men and women about the dangers of temptation.4 The intent is admirable – to prevent rampant immorality and various other forms of sinning – and for the most part it succeeds (or at least better than the alternative). There is however an unintended consequence. By constantly emphasizing the avoidance of temptation, one is in fact placing temptation at the forefront. If every time I look at a woman I think, “must…avoid…temptation,” then I am really looking at the woman as a sex object to be avoided, rather than as a person.5

On the other hand, there can be downsides as well (aren’t there always). The hurt of the rejection will be proportional to the feelings felt by the rejected person. If these feelings are too strong, then a person might not be able to “get over” the rejection while maintaining a friendship. To use another personal example, there was a woman whom I liked and dated, and we broke up in the typical fashion. When I found that maintaining contact was too difficult for me emotionally, I withdrew. Recently, I was able to speak to her about a personal event,6 and she provided very useful insights.

As I mentioned, relationships are complicated and no single theory will account for all cases. However, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about it and see what patterns have effected our own personal lives. For yet another perspective, see this salon article which comes courtesy of Dr. Manhattan.7

On that note, the poll results are in. With a whopping 68 people voting:
49% – Stay nice – just stop being such a wimp (33 votes)
43% – Stay nice – Something good will turn up eventually (29 votes)
6% – Get a complete attitude adjustment – might require mental reprogramming and/or lobotomy (4 votes)
3% – Stay nice – might not work for you, but why should everyone else lose out? (2 votes)

The clear majority says I should stay nice, with some discrepancy as to how or why. Some are pure optimists, while most voted that I should develop some sort of spine. I will start by not letting a silly internet poll determine my behavior. (I’ve been getting better at being nice without becoming a doormat and I will continue to do so).

I’ve also tracked down one of the people who suggested the lobotomy, and I’m looking for the others.

The final 3% of you are just selfish bastards.

1. And really, who reads footnotes?
2. Ignoring for now how long someone should give as a chance to “be him/herself”
3. Yes, I have seen When Harry Met Sally.
4. For more details and what some people are doing about it see End The Madness.
5. Before people start yelling at me about this, I’m not saying that we should let everything go. I’m just saying that there can be unintended consequences. When I was in Gruss a few years ago, R. Miller gave us mussar that married couples were too friendly with other’s spouses. He did not elaborate as to what “too friendly” meant, but I can assure nothing major happened. I think that this mentality reinforces how the people were raised in treating interactions with women as primarily being sexual.
6. The “.5” from the last post found this website.
7. Who ironically lives in the Bronx now.

The Harm In Being Nice

I’ve resisted posting things based on my personal life mostly because I don’t know who reads this site. (Or paradoxically, because I know exactly who reads this site). However, I think the following observations might be useful to enough loyal readers to warrant revealing part of my personal life to the public.
Skipping most of the back-story, I recently went out with someone. We had a total of two dates in the span of roughly three weeks1 and things were going relatively smoothly.2 This past Friday, I called her up to wish her a “Shabbat Shalom” and to shmooze for a bit. Long story short, after telling me how nice I am, what a great guy I am, and what a great time she had, she said she didn”t want to continue dating because she couldn”t see it going anywhere, or in her words, “I can”t see us raising grandchildren together.” 3
This is hardly the first time this has happened to me, and I think it”s happened to several other guys as well. We”re nice, considerate, otherwise great guys and perhaps what a person is looking for, but for some reason this isn’t enough.
This used to frustrate me greatly. Honestly, I don’t hold a grudge against anyone – everyone is entitled to make decisions which they feel will gring them the greatest happiness. However, being at U of C pretending to be an academic, I decided to analyze this phenomenon. And like all good pseudo-academics, we have to first define our terms. What makes a guy a “nice” guy” My experience is that generally they will have several of – but not limited to – the following characteristics: kind, polite, sensitive, considerate of others feelings and emotions, often funny, often intelligent, good sense of the world, and will treat someone with respect. Sounds like a “nice guy,” no? If you’re female, it might sound like a typical shidduch offer, and odds are you’d be turned off immediately. If you meet someone like this in a normal setting, you might like him, but only as a friend – even though he might be a perfect match for you.4
Why then is it that the nice guys so often finish last? How can being nice actually be a turn off and harm someone”s chances for a meaningful relationship? I think the answer can be found in an old adage which usually has a different connotation:

“Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?”

The usual interpretation is that since men are only interested in one thing. Once they get it, they would see no need for a commitment i.e. marriage. I think the same logic holds true for women. Assume the popular myth that women want an emotional connection of some sort. If there is a “nice guy” around, she can the emotional support she needs from someone without having to commit. She may be able to confide in him, have him work around her apartment, help her with just about any crisis, and she doesn”t have to make any sort of commitment back to him. The guy will obviously put up with it, because after all, he’s “nice” and this is what nice people do.
So if there’s a person who is willing to do all this for you – with nothing in return, why would you consider a serious relationship with this person” You can go find someone else who is cooler, richer, better looking, or anything else and still have that “nice” person around when you need him or if nothing else works out.
Cow, Milk, Free.
I should note that there can be exceptions – in my case roughly 1.5 exceptions.5 But overall, I see that there can be a few options and I”m opening this up to discussion. What should people like me – us “nice guys” – do to get out of this?
The poll is open and will be for about two weeks. Comment as necessary below.
Poll Has Been Closed
See the followup post: Waiting On A Friend
The poll has now been closed, You may still view the results or if you’re too lazy to click the link:
43% – Stay nice – Something good will turn up eventually (29 votes)
3% – Stay nice – might not work for you, but why should everyone else lose out” (2 votes)
49% – Stay nice – just stop being such a wimp (33 votes)
6% – Get a complete attitude adjustment – might require mental reprogramming and/or labotomy (4 votes)

1. We were supposed to have had a third date sometime in there, but I got stood up.
2. Intentionally omitting details.
3. Which reminded me of the most comical breakup line I once got from someone in Israel: “I can”t go out with you anymore, because if I keep speaking to you, it would be bad.” How true. How very true.
4. I’m not talking about guys who come on too strong. I can understand how guys who throw themselves at women aren’t terribly attractive, and could probably use the system
5. No, I will not elaborate.

Frumster Rant

Normally I’m better tempered than this; it takes a lot to get me annoyed enough to blog. However, in one day I’ve gotten messages from Frumster people who probably should….well you can decide what to do with them.

Person 1 (intentially leaving out their screen name) messages me with a “Hey – What’s up?” I was planning on ignoring it until somone who will remain nameless for now said that it’s hard for girls to be so forthcoming. So I politely responded. Then I get the generic message that she read my profile and doesn’t think we’re compatible. Meredith suggested that she could be a “Frumster Spammer” which I suppose is possibly, but unless she’s a hacker, she’d still have to look at my profile before sending a message. “What’s up” indeed.

Person 2 lives in England, doesn’t want to make aliyah, and isn’t even sure if she wants to relocate. She simply said, “Hey Josh, I likeyou rprofiel!!!” (sic). Best I could respond was “Thanks!” Then she e-mailed me asking if I’d consider living in London. For the record, I never want to be accused again of moving to fast.

Look, there are obvious problems with the dating world which have been explored at length elsewhere. Grayson Levy starts up a great free website to help people out, and yet people still can’t take the time to use it properly – or perhaps they’re just illiterate or confused by the color scheme.

My suggestion: A programmer with sufficient free time on his/her hands should implement an “Intelligence Factor” based on typos in a person’s comments and e-mails which would help weed out some people. Downside would be the increased odds of such people hooking up and eventually breeding….

Never mind.