First let me ask a dumb question – isn’t ALL dating shidduch dating? I mean, even if I don’t go through “the system,” aren’t I still searching for my shidduch? I feel like I have a lot of dumb questions when it comes to this system. My ex and I didn’t get set up the old-fashioned Jewish way, so I don’t have a clue what I’m doing here.
I’m used to being free to flirt and develop a connection naturally. And quite honestly, that method has failed me. Ha. I’m laughing, because it’s actually failed me a lot. Thank G-d I can laugh about it. I see the best in people. I believe people. I connect with (most) people. So bottom line, I need some sharks to swim around me and chase off the bad guys.
Wait, Rina, you’re dating? Haha. Not yet, but soon. Soon enough that I jumped the gun and joined a Jewish dating site. (Burying my face in my hands in embarrassment.) I mainly need to know that men exist, so I joined. Impulsive.
It has been a long four years. Four years of shaky marriage, divorce, and a boyfriend that ended in disaster. Two years of divorce dragging and dragging and dragging (and dragging!)… I thought I was getting divorced last week. Nope not yet. Hashem, am I ever going to be free? Last week when I thought I was going to be free, I geared myself up for some fun and excitement and G-d willing the next step by joining the dating site to see what men exist in the world.
Then they started messaging me. Oops. Yeah, that is the point of the dating site, but I didn’t think that far in advance. Then I started freaking out (but I liked it), but I’m not exactly dating (but I’m so wanting to be), and I really want to talk to my rabbi about this whole system (but what if he says wait some more?) and figure out a system for myself (even though I know I can’t orchestrate a perfect system. ) A big part of me says, Rina, chill, just go with what happens. My friend and trusty adviser Tova hates that part of me, haha, but it really is coming from emuna and knowing that Hashem’s got this and I can’t mess it up and I can’t control it.
So the men start messaging, and I start responding. Yep, I sure did. Some were too old, some were too far, some were too weird, and others were handsome, successful, gentlemen, and close enough to be real candidates. It was a really fun three days. Until I started asking myself questions like, “How do I know if these fun conversations are a complete waste of my time? I haven’t met these people. Do they even look like their pictures? Do they even have a rabbi? Do they even have a job?” Some started asking to meet. Eeek. Nooooooooooo. Not ready to meet you, stranger. All my flirting graces died. Back off. I called Tova. Semi-panic. Confessed my sins.
“Tova, I joined a dating site. How do I screen these guys?”
“Rina, why are you on that site if you’re not ready to get married?”
“I’m ready, dammit!”
“No you’re not. You’re waiting on your divorce ruling, and you’re waiting to talk to the rabbi.” Dammit. (My mom says I swear too much on my blog and I’m going to offend people. I used to be a goody-goody about bad words and never say them… now I’ve loosened up a lot. Sorry if I’m offending you. I love you, dear reader, and would never want to do that.)
Tova was right. I have to be patient. I’m not ready. I’m ready emotionally, but not ready logistically.
“What’s the point of these dating sites if shidduch dating means screening the references first?” I ask her. “I’m not allowed to chat a little first? All the guys are chatting.”
“You want boundaries and clarity,” she says. “You want to know it’s worth your time. Texting and chatting creates a false familiarity. You don’t know him. You don’t know if he has a rabbi or a job or a crazy ex or if he’s the crazy ex.” (She didn’t say that part about the crazy ex, but I think it fits for the storyline.)
So here we are at my hopes and fears… which should be first?
1.) The cool guys will think the shidduch system is stupid and won’t want to give references or will at least want to chat a little before giving references, and I’ll miss out on the cool guys.
2.) Shidduch dating will be cold and boring. Where’s the suspense and build-up? Where’s the bantor and fun and romance? Sorry but having my friends call your friends is not romantic. Tova wants me to give up on Disney and use my head until I’m under the chuppah.
3.) Even with all the screening, I won’t be safe. Men have secrets, sometimes bad ones, and no screening in the world can protect you from all the evil in the world.
1.) My guy, the BEST guy, will do what it takes to meet me, even if it means all the hoops of references and what-not.
2.) We’ll somehow find a way to make the shidduch system romantic. Sorry Tova, I’m not giving up on Disney. Ever. I’m totally planning to swoon, way before the chuppah. If I don’t swoon, I’m not going under that thing.
3.) The screening will give me a layer of protection and insight from other opinions, and then I’ll be able to trust myself and my intuition for the rest.
For now, my dating site profile is sitting lonely out there on the Internet. For hopefully just a little while longer.
Hashem should give Rina Miriam bas Sarah Imeinu and her children the best outcome on the divorce ruling soon and revealed good moving forward.
(Say that last sentence out loud with kavana, thanks!)
Love to all,