The Way to a Man’s Heart

22 Jun

It’s not through his stomach.

Girls, friends, comrades and fellow shidduch daters: I assume that you are dating because you do in fact want to be married. You want a husband– a good one at that– and therefore, you go out with men of all heights and humor, searching for the one with whom you can build a lovely, sturdy bayis ne’eman b’yisrael.

But as you might have noticed, finding this Knight in Black and White (or Sruga and Techeilet or whatever you like), isn’t so simple. If anything, the dating process has worn you out, slowly sucking the hope out of your once positively optimistic eyes. At one point, maybe your first few dates, you were enthusiastic and excited to start this new chapter of your life…but as the rejections became more frequent and the success less so, well, you became jaded. The process was no longer fun, your patience had run out, the jig was up. You have been waiting very patiently for the Fat Lady to sing so you can start calling caterers and examining halls but the Fat Lady seems to be taking her time. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating and you. Are. Tired.

So let me bring you back to the starting point; why you got involved in this dating business in the first place. You want to meet your future-husband. You want to be a wife; a partner in life– the peaches to his cream, the milk to his cookie, the beat to his heart. If this is true, if you are looking for the man who will ultimately be your best friend, then you have to search for him like you are looking for a best friend. You are not shopping, you are not going down a checklist– you are meeting with another human being, thus, you should treat him like one.

I hear it all over the place, during afternoon shabbos schmoozes, on blogs, at various shabbos tables, in the newspapers, on Facebook and the train: men are just no good. They’re insensitive, they never call back when they say they will, they’re immature… he didn’t take me to a restaurant, he better take me to one next time, he got lost on the way there, he got lost on the way back and didn’t bother to ask me what my favorite flower is (it’s the Chrysanthemum, by the way).

This kind of thinking isn’t exclusive to those who have been on the dating block for a while. Yes, I’ve heard this kind of talk from newbies, complaining about being taken to a coffee shop for a first date. I’ve heard ultimatums– “I told the shadchan that he better take me to a nice restaurant for the second date. It’s the least I deserve for taking all this time to look good for him!” And then these girls go home, open up their tear-stained siddurim and pour their hearts out to Hashem, begging Him to help them find their proper zivugim swiftly bsha’a tovah.

Rachmana litzlan.

Mamash, I really feel bad for these girls. They begin to believe they have no chance when in fact they do, they just need a tweaking in perspective.  I admit, at one point I thought like them too. I was all tachlis and no play. But with time and reflection, I learned how to date, not like a girl looking for her bashert, but like a girl who is looking for her best friend.

So here are a few tips; take ’em and leave ’em as you please:

1) Put yourself in the right mind frame. If going on a date is only about seeing if he is worthy of your lifelong companionship, then you are automatically making this date a jumping-through-hoops experience. He has to measure up. He has to prove himself and ultimately redeem himself from the wretched male race.

Scratch that way of thinking.

Get it out of your brain and into the past along with Ferbies and non-Kosher Tootsie Rolls. He is taking you out to talk to you and to get to know you. You. Not your neighbor or the valedictorian of your high school class  but you. Isn’t that nice? You’re a lucky girl, you have a date. Not all girls are as lucky as you are. They’re at home crying into their pillow about how lonely they are. That might have been you the other night, but tonight, you’re off the hook.

2) Speak to him in a warm, friendly tone. When he calls you to arrange the date, make a conscious effort to be kindly and genial. Remember, he has just worked up the guts to call a complete stranger (you) and ask her if she would let him take her on a date. Chances are, he is nervous, and though yes, formally it is the man’s responsibility to orchestrate the conversation, turn up the friendliness and be an active contributor to the dialogue. He might even let you know just how relieved he is that the conversation went so well.

3) Keep the conversation flowing. Again, I understand that it’s technically his job to keep the gab going, but in reality, if you  are genuinely interested in getting to know him, you also have to make an effort. Don’t sit there cleaning your nail as he flips through his mental file of safe topics. Don’t be shy. There is nothing untznius about being yourself. Smile, laugh, talk about that time your bio notes fell off the ledge of your classroom’s window and into 5 PM Avenue J traffic. It’s always refreshing for a bachur to discover that his date is human.It’s his job to keep the conversation afloat, it’s your job to make him feel comfortable.

4) Steer away from woeful shidduch stories. At least in the beginning. No guy, let me repeat, NO guy, is looking for a jaded, scornful girl. Males don’t like weepy females; it’s known and proven. He’s not your therapist, he’s not your confidante. As a girl, I will speak for others and say we do not enjoy hearing about your ongoing shidduch sagas, so kal v’chomer, the bachur sitting across from you has no interest in how much you hate the system.

5) Show interest in him. I’m not suggesting that the date should be all about him, but your goal should be to get to know him as best as you can. Don’t just answer questions, ask questions. Does he talk about his family a lot? Ask questions about his family. He likes to organize blood drives? Ask him what is involved in organizing blood drives. Does he have to know about blood types? Is there a reason why you’ve only seen New Square orange juice offered after most blood drives? Why not Tropicana or Minute Maid? Why is he so interested in blood drives anyway? If you are more of an intellectual, focus on the scientific side of it; it really doesn’t matter as long as you convey that you find him interesting.

6) Make eye contact. Your soul will not burn to smithereens nor will you be be put under an irreversible spell if you look him in the blinkers. We modern-age women don’t believe in that love-at-first-sight hooey anyway.

7) Ease up your body language. Be turned toward him, shoulders relaxed and head leveled. Why are you so tense? You afraid that you might marry this guy? Maybe you aren’t sure if he’s worth your effort yet. Well he is. Unless he has demonstrated that he is a first class jerk or a horrendous slob, there is no reason to not give him a chance.

8 ) Be thankful. And by ‘be thankful’ I mean demonstrate some HaKarat Hatov.  He paid for your food, activity and the gas to get you there and back if he has a car. You start your date with the right mind frame and end it with the right mind frame. Say, “thank you, I had a great time.” Be specific– “the restaurant you picked was so nice. I can already tell you have great taste in food/ambiance/etc.”

9) Reciprocate Feelings. Playing hard to get is for amateurs. If he is clearly sending signals of interest, don’t ignore them. You are not a prize to be won, you are a gem to be discovered. Help him discover who you are. Make it easy for him by just being yourself. Speak your mind. If you like him, let him know. If you don’t feel comfortable saying something, then tell the shadchan to give over your message. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I like him.”

You may think I am being old fashioned or being mevatel all my rights as an independent woman of the 21st century. But the above tips are the same ones that will follow you into marriage. Once you marry a man, it is from then on your responsibility and privilege to make him feel important, just like it is his responsibility and privilege to make you feel like the most loved and cherished woman on earth. Love is a two-way street, and it all begins with that first warm and welcoming hello.


20 Responses to “The Way to a Man’s Heart”

  1. Shades of Grey June 23, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    This is an amazing post. You’ve written a very provocative (in a good way) answer to women out there with excessively high expectations/demands from first dates… makes me want to write a male version…

  2. Shades of Grey June 23, 2010 at 1:25 am #

    This is an amazing post! You’ve written a very provocative (in a good way) answer to all the women out there who are too-jaded too-soon and have excessively high expectations that simply can’t be met. You make me want to write a parallel guy’s version that will also knock some sense into people that simply don’t “get” dating as it should be understood/approached.

  3. SternGrad June 23, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    I agree with Shades of Grey- this is a good list and it makes me want to write my own, if I can think of enough things to add.

    Two things: About #2,(your second #2) I don’t think it’s the guys job to make conversation, it is both people’s job to do this. If the guy is shy and the girl is outgoing, then it might be the girl who is doing more to keep the conversation going. But I agree that it’s a point girls should know- it shouldn’t be all on the guy.

    Also about #8, Reciprocate feelings- girls have to be careful with this one. Definitely if you like a guy you should not be afraid to show it, but in my experience some girls unintentionally lead guys on because they reciprocate feelings. The guy makes it obvious that he likes them, and they “feel bad” so pretend they are interested in the guy. Don’t be afraid to express how you feel, but if you’re not feeling anything and the guy is, don’t recirpocate.

  4. Bluestocking June 23, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    I’ve never been that demanding – I’m okay with coffee, I don’t mind slapping on face paint, and I don’t have a favorite flower. Nor do I proclaim all men as drek. Some of us spinsters can still exist without being overly demanding.

    I’ve made my peace with silence. I find that when a guy is being non-chatty, and you make an effort but then shut up, he suddenly opens his mouth. If there is a companionable silence I’m not bothered – maybe because my brother and his wife’s dates were so quiet you could here a grasshopper chirp.

    As for peaches and cream, Barry Louis Polsar’s “All I Want is You” puts it perfectly.

  5. SternGrad June 23, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    ps It’s crazy that there are girls complaining, as you put it, “I told the shadchan that he better take me to a nice restaurant for the second date. It’s the least I deserve for taking all this time to look good for him!”
    I am actually in the middle of a post that relates to this.

    • coralcap June 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

      Shades- I’d be very interested in reading a male version, I’ll be looking out for it. I’m a big fan of hearing the other side of the story. Do guys get jaded to same same degree as women tend to? B”H not all women get jaded but the ones who do..boy oh boy is it hard to listen to them.

      Sterngrad- I’d love to see your take on this subject too. About my 2nd #2 (thanks for pointing that out, by the way, in reality you are correct simply because it takes two people to have a conversation. However, for some reason it has been decided that the man has to take the lead. My question is, who gets to decide such things and why won’t they change it?

      About #8 (now 9), I can see what you mean. There are some girls who either feel bad or are eager to be doted upon that they reciprocate feelings that are not really there. Maybe they are hoping that with time the feelings will come, but I agree with you, a girl has to remember to be true to herself and her date.

      To your ps– I hate how girls make it sound like they’re doing the boy the favor by going out with him. What a bad way to start a relationship. A relationship isn’t about doing favors, so going into dating with such an attitude is quite antithetical to the purpose. Also, let’s be honest, he probably has more options than the girl does, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, ladies. You’re not a catch that can’t be replaced (at least statistically). Obviously a girl should have confidence and be assured that she is a catch, but there’s no need to be haughty.

      Bluestocking– First off, welcome to my blog and thank you for taking the time to write a response. I don’t want you to think that I believe all women who have been in the dating pool for a while are ungrateful and unrealistically daters.As I mentioned, I hear 20 year olds talking and acting this way. I believe that it’s because they are insecure and are putting up a front of confidence and indifference. There are cases in which the guy does little or no talking, and in such a case, I would keep making an effort until he either warms up or continues to demonstrate no interest in talking. If he’s not interested I wouldn’t waste my breath but until I am sure of that, I’d try. Or like your brother and sister-in-law, two people may enjoy the quiet. It’s very special to be able to be with someone and comfortably enjoy each other’s company in silence, but that usually doesn’t come until later on in the dating process.

      And thanks for sharing “All I Want is You!” I looked up the lyrics on Google and I have to say I find them endearingly tender. It’s so funny that you bring it up because I spent a good deal of time thinking up “peaches and cream” type of comparisons. If I knew about this song I would have had it a lot easier. 🙂

  6. (not) The Girl Next Door June 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    Wow, this is a GREAT post. So right on. I think that a major pitfall of our dating system is that we kind of encourage this bad behavior. We start to think that we can be so picky. I can just picture the right out of seminary girl sitting in a chair while saying to her waiter, “Oh, I’ll have the black and white one. Make sure he’s the most good looking of the batch. Just make sure he knows that I’m not cheap, and he’ll have to take me out to eat on my terms. make sure he understand that he’ll pay for it to. And when I’M tired, he’ll have to drive me all the way home. Oh and he needs to realize that he’ll have to learn the whole day without complaining. It won’t look good to my friends if my husbands not doing what everyone else’s is doing. And make that a quick order please…” The advice you give is priceless, and something we all need to incorporate. Although I have lost my initial enthusiasm in dating, I still maintain the upbeat attitude on a date. It’s not fair to me or the boy if I let myself appear “jaded.” I sincerely feel that I already do what you list above. If my dating woes would be solvable with the above mentioned list, life would be a lot easier…..

  7. Bored Jewish Guy June 23, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    I wish every girl would read this before going on a date with me 🙂 excellent advice. I’m also interested in seeing a male version.

  8. Princess Lea June 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    “All I Want is You” was the opening song of “Juno.”

    Maybe that’s why I avoid 20 year old girls.

  9. coralcap June 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    (not) The Girl Next Door- I like your impression of the picky girl! Funny and true to life (unfortunately). I’m glad you have been able to maintain an upbeat attitude. I’m sure it’s very hard but it’s the best way to face dating as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Trust me, it’s nt always easy to take my own advice, but I try to put myself in the right mind frame as much as possible before a getting to know someone new (especially on a date). WOuldn’t it be nice if dating advice solved all our problems? 🙂

    BJG- You could make it a standard procedure for any girl who wants to go out with you, kind of like Dor Yeshorim. 😉

    Princess Lea- Ohhhh that’s where it’s from. I never saw that movie. Could be why I didn’t recognize it.

    Oh 20 year olds. They think they know all there is to kno about the world, those rascals. Why when I was 20…oh wait…nope, still am, bH 🙂

  10. harryer than them all June 25, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    “He is taking you out to talk to you and to get to know you”- this is i think the most important part of your whole post. I don’t mind talking about myself as my slightly narcissist tendencies lead to that (i do blog, don’t i?;-)) but yes, i would like to know my dates, what makes them happy/sad, and generally get to know them.

    “Reciprocate Feelings”- i don’t mind being led on as much as i mind not knowing that she likes me and doesn’t show it, or I have to pry it from her. I was told (by people who are married several years, so therefore experienced) that if the guy is into the relationship, it will cause the girl to be more than pareve about it. But if she only views him as being pareve and aloof, she will be even less enthused

    • coralcap June 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

      Harry- Are you saying that whether the guy is into the relationship or not that the girl will not be excited about it? If he being into the relationship causes her to be pareve and him being pareve about the relationship makes her pareve, what makes her enthusiatic?

      • Tzafnas Paneach June 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

        I read his comments at first the way are reading it. Then I reread it. He is saying that if the dude is into it then the dudette will be more then pareve [more into it than neutral](even if she would have been pareve if he did show her feelings).

  11. Shades of Grey June 30, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    I posted my reply/companion post to yours: enjoy!

  12. Devorah Leah Leopold July 1, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    Wow. I really liked this post.

    These are definitely things to keep in mind.

    Are you married?

    • coralcap July 1, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

      Tzafnas Paneach- Wait, let me see if I understand. If the guy is into it then the girl will automaticallt take more interest in him, even if let’s say, she wasn’t so excited to go out with him. Did I explain that correctly?

      Shades- I read it and love it! I’ll write more about it on your post.

      Devorah Leah- Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I find them to be practical; not always easy to carry out but certainly practical.

      Am I married? Not yet, but iy”H by me 🙂


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