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The Dating Question

Monday, January 30, 2012
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While the following question wasn't exactly submitted to Miriam's Advice Well, it was submitted to Miriam at least three times just last week. It is the ultimate question, the raison d'etre for many of the Jewish events happening around the city and the motivation behind GradMatch and many other sites just like it. It is the grandmother calling her granddaughter and saying, "Give me great-grandchildren before I die." It is the lawyer pulling aside a new client to say, "I have a son about your age." It is the mother paying for the J-Date membership and the sister reading the OK Cupid profile. In honor of the successful Grad Network speed dating event that took place yesterday and in tribute to the many wonderful Jewish singles whom I talk to every day, I'm giving this one a shot.

Dear Miriam,

I'm Jewish and single, and I live in Philadelphia. Do you know anyone for me?

Signed,
Everyone

Dear Everyone,

I'm always so honored that people approach me about this, and I always want to find ways to help. But it's rarely as simple as getting a flash of inspiration, setting up a phone number exchange and waiting for the wedding invitation. Dating involves real people (a fact that often gets forgotten in this era of online dating), which means it's real complicated. The truth is, I want to help, and I do know an awful lot of singles, but that doesn't mean I know someone who's right for every other someone.  I can make the introductions I can make, and I can offer a lot of advice to help you on your way, but at the end of the day, or the end of the date, you're better off being a good dater than just having a good matchmaker.

So, yes, I might know someone for you, but in the meantime, read on:

  • Look the part: You're not going to meet anyone, to date or otherwise, if you appear unfriendly or unapproachable.  Represent yourself accurately and appropriately, whether you're going to the grocery store or to a singles event.  That includes how you dress and how you carry yourself.
  • Sound the part: No one wants to date anyone who mainly talks about dating. Work on finding interesting things to talk about so that you're always ready to help drive the conversation with someone who strikes your fancy.
  • Be flexible: While online dating has created amazing opportunities for people to meet, it has also created unrealistic expectations.  People seem to think that entering a series of preferences is akin to custom-ordering your perfect partner.  It's not. The characteristic I most often tell women to be flexible about is height. Women: BE FLEXIBLE ABOUT HEIGHT. But the importance of flexibility extends to a potential partner's career, his or her religious observance and anything else that you consider a deal breaker but might not actually be.
  • Use the Internet: It might be obvious, but I'm often surprised by how many people are NOT dating online. There are a lot of great sites. Pick one and put yourself on it. Even if you are absolutely sure you will not meet your beshert (soulmate) this way, it will give you practice being a good dater so you're ready when the right person magically appears in some other context. For more online dating tips, check out this post I wrote on my Shabbat blog about a year ago.
  • Don't rely on the Internet: The flip side of the previous point is that some people rely so heavily on online dating sites that they stop meeting people in person. They get totally wrapped up in who's messaging them and how many winks or pokes or whatever they have that they forget the importance of actual face-to-face interaction.
  • Have fun: There's two parts to this. First of all, dating should be fun, so try to enjoy yourself. Second, and separate from the act of dating itself, go out and enjoy Philly. Do things you love. Go to museums alone. Try new restaurants. Go places where other singles might be, but more importantly, go places you want to be, with or without a partner.

If you have specific dating questions, I am so happy to tackle those, and if you want to ask me if I know anyone for you, ask away.  But I'm going to make sure you've read this first.

Happy dating, and be well,
Miriam

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