By Craig LEVIN, AKA – The Dotage Dater.
One of the benefits of getting married was not having to go on dates.
No more anticipation of a dull, boring evening across a table from a perfectly nice person whose only shortcoming was having absolutely nothing in common with me. No more need for inquiries, doubts and worry that if this is not the one – and she does not seem to be – will the one ever come along? Eternal daters could write a self-growth book called How to Fill a Thousand Awkward Silences.
No more feeling betrayed by your friends and acquaintances. “Oh, she’s such a lovely girl. We thought she’d be perfect for you!”
Sitting across from Miss Imperfect, you think: “What do they think of me if this is who they’ve set me up with?” Or: “Am I so undervalued?” Soon you’ll want nothing more to do with amateur and incompetent shadchanim whose idea of a perfect match is simply a ‘he’ and ‘her’.
You want to scream: “Don’t tell me she’s pretty! II can determine that for myself.’ Eventually, you do not know whether you want to get married or simply run away from all those trying to shidduch you off to people who have characters like Lady Macbeth’s older, more ambitious sister.
Then there is all that self-doubt you haven’t experienced since being a teenager: “Will she, won’t she? Does she doesn’t she?”
Of course, if she ‘doesn’t’ or ‘won’t’, then you are probably better off without her.
My marriage consigned all this to the scrapheap of nostalgia. Then I found myself going through divorce. A work colleague asked if I would like to marry again. The truthful answer was: “I would like to marry a second time. I just don’t want to go through all that dating again.”
I am not yet ready to start actively seeking a second spouse. Yet, curiosity (I can be a very suicidal cat) tempted me to log-on to a few Jewish dating sites. Getting a date appears to have become even more complicated. Applying for a job with the CIA requires less scrutiny.
First there is the issue of religious categorisation. Are you modern Orthodox; Charedi; Chassidic; modern Orthodox with Yeshivish tendencies; modern Charedi with ancient tendencies; modern Yeshivish, or ‘Conservadox’ with a Chassidic slant or all or none of the above and beyond? And that’s just the Orthodox choices.
Once you have decided which of these labels broadly fits you, there is the choice of selecting which camps you would be willing to consider as potentially containing someone you might date, let alone marry.
Of course you will choose certain categories within the Orthodox camp, but soon find that the only members of the opposite gender that show any interest in you are almost exclusively from the camps you have not chosen.
You might elect to be, for example, ‘right-wing lunatic fringe’ and some latter-day Communist who lists Rosa Luxemburg as her ideal Jewish mother and her hero and pork soufflé as her favourite Yom tov food will email you with eagerness and zest.
Then there is an even more baffling aspect. Most women profess to want a warm, caring sensitive and serious man with a good sense of humour. There are a few individual variations on this, but these are the dominant wishes.
I cannot profess to know what any other men might have included on their profiles, but I have little doubt that there are no men who would describe themselves on their resumés as ‘smelly, arrogant and opinionated Neanderthal with record of domineering, bullying and violence, seeks vulnerable, insecure victim to submit to my every whim and fancy’.
Yet there are hundreds and hundreds all describing one another but not actually finding one another.