Monday, April 16, 2018

How to Stay Sane While Dating: VIII

Before I began dating, I was a wide-eyed, gullible innocent. I grew up, B'H, in a wholesome home. I was truthful to the point of self-incrimination. I truly thought that the world was the same. 

Well, I learned otherwise soon enough. 

Even though I had been bullied and teased in school, I associated that behavior with children, not adults. I didn't realize that "grown-ups" are just as capable of interacting with others by less-than-noble means. 

I also naively assumed that those who called up redting had my best interests at heart. It was more like "good enough for yenem." He's a wonderful boy! For you! Not my daughter! No way! But for you, perfect! 

Slowly, to avoid post-date barfing, I began to toughen up. I knew I could no longer believe anyone—and I mean anyone. The self-proclaimed stranger shadchan certainly didn't know me. But when close family and close friends began messing up, that's when I knew I was pretty much alone in this.

It doesn't mean I morphed into a hard-eyed, tough-talking jade. I like to think I maintained my composure, refinement, and dignity (in public, at least. I ranted enough behind closed doors, to fellow single friends, and on the blog). 

Staying politely firm to one's convictions by straightening the backbone can be a challenge. 

Han says that who, in the end, gets the happy ending, the title of "hero"? It's the person who didn't give in. That remained true to his (or her) values, struggling through the obstacles, and emerged—muddy and sweaty, valiant and triumphant—at the top.

Those who gave in, those who "settled"— they don't get the closing movie credits of swelling violins. Would you root for the character who sold out? Not likely. 

The shidduch world barriers are different from ToughMudder, but no less exhausting. Your supposed advocates may turn on you and call you "picky." You will be harassed by complete strangers to go out with their suggestions, who on paper, are totally cray-cray. You will go on dates that you knew were fruitless, and may have to hurt and reject and feel like scum. You will develop heightened senses for detecting potential false information. You may have a frustrating dating drought, and then when a shidduch finally comes your way, wish you were back in that drought.  

I probably left out a few other givens, but you get the point. 

Discover your strength. Not bitterness. Strength. The strength that comes from self-belief and self-conviction.


Anonymous said...

So true. I find this to be one of the hardest aspects of being an older single.

Years ago as an impressionable teen I read an old back issue of the Jewish Observer (this was frombefore there was a whole "crisis" or at least, there just didn't exist the number of 25+ singles that there is today, I think), with an article by, IIRC, Yaakov Salomon, about his impressions of a singles shabbaton he and his wife had attended along with some anecdotal stories supposedly from various interviewee "experts" on older singles, mostly how blaming their singleness on being picky.

There was one that has stuck in my mind all these years, a woman saying that her good friend told her she wasn't interested in hearing about any prospect unless it was a perfect one with no issues (or something to that effect). Sure, at the time I took it at face value, mentally shaking my head at this unrealistic picky single along with the narrator.

It wasn't until many years later that I really understood the truth of that single woman that her friend wasn't willing to hear (and maybe wasn't even capable of understanding), after awhile you develop an antenna and you recognize the glaring, glaring red flags about a person just from the way he is being described and there is no way in hell you are willing to put yourself in such an emotionally wrenching situation. I'm not talking about somebody who is basically normal, just not a good match. Plus the sucker punch of being yelled at and bullied and cross examined when, as politely as you know how, you tell the shadchan no.

Princess Lea said...

"after awhile you develop an antenna and you recognize the glaring, glaring red flags about a person just from the way he is being described"

It's frankly terrifying when you realize you can deduce all sorts of things from picture choices to self description to what one is looking for.

I'm freakin' Sherlock Holmes.