Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Your Story is Not My Story II

On Super Soul Sunday, the formerly Christian, currently Muslim religious scholar Reza Aslan was expressing his frustration with the world's typical view of Islam.
For instance, he compared, if all we knew of airplanes came from the news, we would never fly. Planes are only featured in the media when something tragic goes down (literally). Ergo, Islam typically only gets airtime when a minority does something violent, and people judge that religion accordingly. Yet still opt for aerial transport.

It made me think of featured stories in another way. Some I come across, in an attempt to highlight my obvious pickiness and need to be more open-minded, "casually" share stories about two decided opposites—typically in hashkafa—who dated for some reason. Then one cheerfully "converted" to the other's mindset, the two married, and lived happily ever after. Pause. Pointed look at me. Hint hint, woman. 

I smile widely and blink innocently. Cute story!

The reason why these tales stand out are because they are exceptions to the rule, not the rule. For every "interesting" story, there are fifty "girl marries guy from similar background sharing similar hashkafos" non-tales that don't get retold as they are incredibly boring and have no punch line.

"You know my neighbor? Lovely girl. She was clear about what she was looking for. One day she was set up with a guy who knew what sort of person he was looking for, too. And they hit it off, isn't that amazing? Then they got engaged!" 

Yawn, right? 

The "interesting" story is so very interesting that it gets featured in Jewish publications. That's because—I apologize for the comparison—it is the equivalent of a plane crash. It's so rare, it has to be told over. 

But it is not the norm.

It is not feasible to date every individual that possesses a different outlook than me. I'm gun-shy as it is; piling on countless "who knows?" dates would drive me to a convent.

There can be a "we had nothing in common on paper but clicked instantly" saga, while simultaneously there are one hundred "what in the name of all that's holy was the shadchan thinking!?!" setups. Those outings take a toll. They aren't fun, they aren't easily shrugged off, and they destroy the soul, bit by bit. 

My policy is, as well when I have tried to set up dates, would be to consider: Does this make sense in any way? My reasoning regarding the shidduch that could have been mine was a shared background. The shidduch that Ma made was also based on that.

There is a possibility I could end up with a story so "interesting" that it'll be told over to strangers at Shabbos meals. Yet we don't pasken from maaselach. I can't date under that assumption. It's just not viable.

Oh, and Reza Aslan? He's married to an evangelical Christian. Wild, right? Ain't that a plane crash.  


Daniel Saunders said...

I imagine that even with the different hashkafa stories, there is a solid basis of similarity on some level. I can't imagine two people with different hashkafas AND different values AND different interests AND different personalities would get past the second date. OTOH, if a couple have shared values then I can see how they could compromise on hashkafas.

Sarah said...

This was so on-point and timely for me. I am not interested in the not-shomer-negiah guy, no matter how nice and sweet and smart he is, because I am shomeres negiah. I'm not interested in the guy who's doing...nothing...but "finding himself". (Really.) Not interested, either, in the creepy guy I met at a Shabbos table, who kept giving me weird looks and an ax-murderer smile. I couldn't believe the shadchan had even suggested I go out with anyone with such obviously different values (or totally not in a place to get married and support a family, or who was downright creepy).

On a tangent, do you have an opinion about dating friends' brothers? As a somewhat awkward person, the thought of more awkwardness, between the friend and me, if the shidduch doesn't work out, isn't very appealing.

Princess Lea said...

DS: In most cases, hashkafa sort of equates with values. Chances are there will be similarities on some level, but chances are shadchanim aren't astute enough to winkle them out.

Sarah: Ah, ye old "finding himself." But I found myself, so I suggest that before he finds someone to marry he should locate himself first. Seems only responsible. What if he finds out he's someone else after marriage? That can't be good.

Ah, the creep-azoid! Any other takers at the table? No? So I guess let's dump him on some unsuspecting thing. Don't be picky, dear.

I must say, in these last few years I've really honed my sarcasm skills.

I would, personally, be a nervous wreck. If it made sense, I would feel obligated to go out, but would lose a few inches of intestine in the process, because what if it's a no from me? If it didn't make sense and the friend would be insulted like "what's wrong with my brother?", I would feel obligated to go out and would lose a few inches of intestine in the process, because I know it is a no and now things will be awkward. Either way, my bowels are done for.

Serenity NOW!

Daniel Saunders said...

I thought you might say that, but I'm not sure it's always true. I would say that hashkafa includes things like openness to the outside world, views of Zionism, thoughts about kula vs chumra vs the middle path. Those can translate to values (e.g. work vs. full-time learning is hashkafa and probably also values), but I'm not sure that they are always identical.

I don't usually intrude on other people's conversations, but I dated one of my sister's friends. It didn't work out, but everyone stayed friendly. I don't know if I would do it again, though.

Anonymous said...

How can you show a picture of a girl who is not dressed modestly?