Funny/Sad or Sad/Funny
It’s one of those seasonal romances, the kind in which you’ve totally forgotten that your partner is there, waiting for you, and then you realize all the time you’ve wasted. You rededicate yourself, knowing that if you’d been more attentive all along, the effort now would be less strenuous, and you resolve to never let it happen again. It’s spring, and suddenly you see the optimism of possibility. You spend late hours together, over lunches and dinners, tea, coffee, or sometimes a glass of red wine or a shot glass full of Bailey’s as you drift past midnight and worry that your brain is buzzing too much with stimuli to sleep. Occasionally glancing at the window, you know it’s late enough at night that some people consider it early morning, and you might just see day beginning to break over the trees in the yard.
Sadly, the situation above is not one of romance, but one of tax frustration. The long hours come before and after a long day at one or more jobs, and the exhaustion level is considerable. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my receipts, categorizing and adding them together, trying to figure out how they all fit into the financial picture that is my state and Federal income taxes. This year, I’m consulting an accountant, and hope this will make the process easier at some point – if not during the birth pangs of this startup reorganization of my finances, then hopefully by next spring.
And it occurred to me that perhaps there is a lesson here for some of us, especially those who tend to read into things a lot.
There are things we do because we want to do them so much that they become a life requirement; these things are intrinsic to our self-identity – if we ceased to do them, we would cease to be the selves we have constructed ourselves to be. Other things we do because we have to do them, but if someone – a parent, the government, society – was not forcing us to do so, under penalty of fees, imprisonment or being grounded – we would not do them. The looming threat of jail or going to bed without supper or being shunned by society is what motivates us to do these things. This is why we do an annual tax review or pay our bills even if we think the cable bill or the rent is too damn high.
But then there’s everything in the middle. We might enjoy doing some of those things, but we don’t make them a priority. If we happen upon them – if we see someone post a funny video on Facebook, or if we note that someone is on GChat and has changed his or her message, we might check it out, but if we didn’t, we wouldn’t feel a void because we wouldn’t know what we were missing. If we really see something in that middle zone that catches our attention, we might change its status – realizing it was something important, either because of obligation to a person or relationship, or because it was something that we realized we wanted to do a lot more of.
During the busy day-to-day of any given year, we can forget about the things that we have to do, and only see what we want to see, and do what we want to do. Around tax time, it becomes all about the obligation – to count the literal level of our own worth and submit a report to our supervisors so we can make sure we are pulling our own weight in this crazy world. But there’s a middle ground full of possibilities, some of which can move and inspire us in the months ahead to achieve a more steady, committed pace – we can send some of those minor attachments up to the majors, making them priorities instead of past-times, and maybe break it to some of the devoted, but limited, pursuits that they’re better suited to minor league play.
Perhaps a bit of attention to the middle, on a more consistent level year round, can help strip the literal or figurative Tax Days of their power to terrify; without a threat looming and forcing us into drastic action, we can identify the ideas and pursuits with staying power and invest our energies and resources accordingly, and hope that our investments enrich our lifestyle in inspiring and energizing ways.
Communication today is a series of short missives, texts, instant messages, tweets, or if we’re feeling verbose, emails. And none of us has figured out quite how to do it: either we self-edit like our lives depend on it and parse every letter of a person’s response, or we don’t edit at all – saying whatever we feel and then “unsaying” what we wish we hadn’t said with a simple “J/K.”
What if we were more honest with each other, turning off the self-editing and being real with each other in every medium – from the instant message to the text to the in-person conversation? Is that too risky? Too scary? Too unreasonable?
My friend J is funny, smart and sassy, and gets a lot of attention from men. During a recent conversation, I was relating the latest in a string of men whose interest (with a small i) I had mistaken for Interest (the capitalized “Interest” to indicate not just liking someone, but like-liking someone – this is part of the complex language of dating). Then she reminded me of her foolproof way to know if a guy likes her “as more than a friend.”
“You know how to know if a guy likes you? He asks you out.”
This is very simple advice, perhaps brilliantly simple. But I’m not convinced it’s always true. Just like women can be shy around guys they like, couldn’t the same be true for guys? Aren’t there men who need the encouragement in advance, to bolster their confidence that, if they ask, they’re assured a ‘yes’? Or should we assume – a la “He’s Just Not That Into You” – that if he hasn’t asked you out by now, he’s not going to?
I turn this question over to you, the JDA audience, for discussion. Remember: be respectful in the discussion, and generally excellent to one another. Thank you…
While you might be caught up in cliches or otherwise struggling with online dating, your grandparents are scoring big-time.
Initially considered to be the realm of the desperate and the serial killers, scam artists and losers waiting to meet them, Internet dating is now a mostly socially accepted way of meeting potential partners, especially by 20- and 30-year-olds who grew up with the technology.
Honestly, they had me at “serial killers.” I do have to say that there’s not much of a transition from that rogues’ gallery of what internet dating used to be to it being “socially accepted.” From a research and world trends perspective, I think the jury may still be out. But back to the piece.
But according to experts like online dating coach Laurie Davis, “the over-50 crowd is the largest growing segment” of singles looking for love in cyber space on sites like JDate.com. PlentyofFish.com, Match.com, eHarmony.com and others.
Of course, this is probably known by women who are internet dating in their 30s. (Men in their 30s and 40s are typically chillin’ with the 20-something ladies, whilst the 50-something gents are all up for some hot 30s action.
But here’s a piece of advice for those 50-somethings who may want to jump start a reality television career: Kate Gosselin, of Jon Minus Kate and We’re Not Really Sure What Happened to the Eight, is apparently on internet dating sites like JDate. So that’s Kate Plus (J)Date. (Still no word on “the Eight.”)
(A longer version of this piece appears at MyUrbanKvetch.)
Recently, Jews observed the holiday of Purim, which thematically centers on disguise, withheld information, and political intrigue. To commemorate these themes and celebrate the inner parts of our lives that we might not always feel comfortable expressing, Jews traditionally dress in costume. Some costumes are fun, or (taking a cue from secular cousin Halloween) present an excuse to sex it up a little, at least for the one day. But if the theme was exposure and honesty, my costume choice was clear: I would become the clichés that people write (over and over again) in their online dating profiles.
How would I do this? Could I wear “a little black dress and jeans and a t-shirt”? How would I visually manifest “working hard and playing hard”? Should I get a fake arm, throw it around my shoulder, and label with a sign that says “my ex – but don’t worry, he’s out of the picture”?
I started with the little black dress, and attached to the front of the dress a whiteboard of sorts – then let people add their own clichés via stickers. And then the public art/commenting phase began. Afterwards, I knew I needed to analyze this piece of public commentary for the audience of online daters and beyond, so that we can all learn to be ourselves and not clichés.
Alongside “work hard and play hard,” “I like a fancy night out, but also a night in,” “friends and family are important to me,” and “a perfect date is when you don’t want it to end”- as well as “looking for someone with a good head on his shoulders,” which was scribbled on a sticker in Hebrew – were several categories of clichés:
The Blame Game: These comments blame someone else for your presence on JDate, usually a parent or a friend. “I never do this,” “I can’t believe I’m on JDate,” “my friends made me join.” However you got here, you’re here and so is everyone else, so get over it.
“Duh” statements: “I love travel and sushi,” “I love to laugh,” “communication is the most important thing,” and “love to hike and bike.” They don’t really tell you anything about the person in question: it’s like saying “I’m a carbon-based lifeform who enjoys breathing oxygen and locomoting bipedally” (except less interestingly). And as for “my mom thinks I’m a catch,” we’re so glad for you, and are certain that this focus on your mother during a search for a life partner is not at all negatively influencing your results.
I was working on another post when I found this story via Twitter. If you think your city’s dating life is lame, maybe try San Francisco’s brand of excitement. In SanFran, you can meet a guy at a party, if he turns out to be straight and single (“Although the man smelled a little funny, the two spent the whole night talking”), you can make out with him, start dating him, and then realize that the reason you never went to his place is because he doesn’t have one. Knowing that there’s a scarcity of straight single men in the dating pool, you’ll probably continue to date him anyway, just to give the relationship a chance. And then, you’d get dumped. By a guy who’s homeless.
The woman in the story above is real. And now, according to the SF Gate, she’s one of the single women in San Francisco who find themselves turning to an unlikely source for help: the #8 Pickup Artist known as “Soul.” Previously, he focused on training men to pick up women. Now he’s launching “Girl Game,” to help the ladies find the guys:
The thrust of his advice was that they should forgo aggression, and instead create a “window of opportunity” for men to initiate a connection. This can be as simple as using eye contact, body language, or, if absolutely necessary, starting a “functional” conversation. For instance, “How was your week?”
What I learned? Women shouldn’t be too aggressive or put guys on the spot. They should flip their hair when they’re interested. And I also learned that there’s apparently a “seduction community,” a group of professionals who help (mostly) men pick up the ladies. More tidbits in the full article, here.
My friends and I often find ourselves talking about “the age thing” – this can include men’s propensity to seek out younger women (often excluding women in their own age group), how older women dating younger men are generally frowned on and assigned an animal nickname (welcome to “Cougartown”), how an age difference can either matter or not matter in choosing someone to date, and the degree to which online dating – filtering primarily by age – creates unnecessary and unimportant hurdles in front of someone who could be great.
For instance, this “Vows” couple who almost didn’t make it, because of her list, and because of “the age thing.” They went out twice, had two great dates, and then she called it off – not because she didn’t like him or have fun with him, but because he was nine years older. True, part of that was because she was feeling her youth and her newness in a big city with lots of (perceived potential) – at that point, to her, 26/35 was a huge difference.
Don’t cry for him, though – he became a “serial dater” in the ultimate serial dater city, and along the way, stayed in touch with the lady in question, meeting for drinks and listening to her kvetch about other guys. Eventually, the stars aligned, something shifted, the bride-to-be got older and wiser, and the couple dated, got engaged and got married.
The bride said she could not believe she wasted more than 10 years without him. “I look at him now and he’s the hottest guy on the planet,” she said.
What lesson should we learn from this couple?
That the right guy at the wrong time is the wrong guy?
That attraction sometimes takes 10 years to develop? (For women – if he hadn’t been attracted from the beginning, I don’t think we’d be reading this story…)
That we shouldn’t cling so tightly to our “lists”?
That age ain’t nothin’ but a number? Or that age unfairly assigns a set of stereotypes to a person who may not remotely fit them?
Maybe JDate was as sick of those “chemistry-inspired matches” commercials for sites like Chemistry.com and eHarmony.com as we were, and figured, “if you can’t beat them, join them by creating a personality test that assigns a color to you as a dater and indicates what kinds of things you may need (if not be actively looking for) in a date/partner.”
Ever wonder why some people are so easy to love, work for, and befriend, while it’s difficult to build and maintain healthy relationships with others? All of these relationships begin with you. Imagine the power of truly knowing yourself, including what motivates you, and how the relationships in your life are impacted as a result. The Color Code is one of the most revolutionary and accurate measurements of your personality and is your best bet for understanding how to make sense out of your relationships.
JDate’s new way to self-analyze toward trying to discern a potential chemistry with someone asks a series of questions about the reactions you had to situations when you were a child. You choose “the best” answer, which may not accurately describe you, but never mind about that for now. It creates a personality type that, instead of a Myers-Briggsian “INFJ” or something like that, assigns you a color. The 15-minute test (unlike JDate membership that enables you to actually interact with people on the site) is free, and promises to help you:
“determine your own Color, or driving Core Motive, “speak the language” of others by identifying their Color, and build stronger and more meaningful relationships by understanding what drives people and their behavior. The Color Code Personality Test will provide you with in-depth understanding of why you do the things you do and how you can best interact with the other Color personalities.”
The test determines which personality color is your personality type, which determines which color drives your “Core Motives.”
- RED (The Power-Wielders): Core Motive = Power, or the ability to move from “a” to “b” as efficiently as possible
- BLUE (The Do-Gooders): Core Motive = Intimacy, this doesn’t mean sex, but the need to connect, share feelings, and build relationships with others
- WHITE (The Peacekeepers): Core Motive = Peace, or calm even in the midst of conflict; clarity in the midst of confusion
- YELLOW (The Fun-Lovers): Core Motive = Fun, or always enjoying the moment
My results will be no surprise to anyone who knows me. I was 66% Blue, followed by a 19% White and 13% yellow. Only 2% Red. According to the test, this means that I am (in alphabetical order, apparently) “analytical, committed, compassionate, dedicated, deliberate, dependable, emotional, loyal, nurturing, quality-seeking, respectful, sincere, thoughtful and well-mannered.”
I’m not sure this helps me understand my dating preferences – it’s more about me identifying the patterns that make me me. (Plus, my parents will be very glad to learn that their raising such a responsible, reliable child has been independently verified by JDate.)
But perhaps it will help daters – if not to understand the way they themselves are wired – understand how to communicate with other people on the site. For instance, after taking the quiz, I clicked on the profile of a guy with a great smile, and learned he was a “yellow.” “The best way to communicate with this member is to try a positive and upbeat approach. A joke or two wouldn’t hurt either,” JDate advised me.
Pretty general: be upbeat and be funny. That’s pretty much my strategy anyway, especially in a first communication. But will I think about this as I craft an opener to him (or someone else)? Probably, and maybe that will help keep us all on track, so there’s less insanity in first contact emails. But then again, if the insanity of those emails disappeared, we probably would have to shutter JDatersAnonymous. So the conflict continues.
Have you taken this quiz? How did you rank? Were your results accurate? Has it helped you in your use of JDate? Send us your experiences.
If it’s New Year’s week, and you’re a single woman, and you have a TV, you’re probably watching “When Harry Met Sally” right now. From “BabyFishMouth” to “tell me I’ll never have to be out there again,” you’re equal parts loving and hating yourself as you watch for the 20th time. The film itself has some of the most perfect comedic timing ever seen in movies over the past 20 years, and, since we’ve all grown up on this film and experienced it deeply personally, we can’t help but feel that since Harry and Sally got their perfect wedding to their perfect soulmate, so should we. In short, it built romantic expectations for a generation.
But then we run into the central premise, and debate it ad nauseam with our male and female friends. Can men and women be friends? And is that really what the movie is about? Let’s hear from co-author Nora Ephron. (I read this in the book edition of the screenplay and copied it out to share with you.)
…What “When Harry Met Sally” is really about – not, as i said, whether men and women can be friends, but about how different men and women are. The truth is that men don’t want to be friends with women. Men know they don’t understand women, and they don’t much care. They want women as lovers, as wives, as mothers, but they’re not really interested in them as friends. They have friends. Men are their friends. and they talk to their male friends about sports, and I have no idea what else.
Women, on the other hand, are dying to be friends with men. Women know they don’t understand men, and it bothers them. They think that if only they could be friends with them, they would understand them and, what’s more (and this is their gravest mistake), it would help. Women think if they could just understand men, they could do something.
I’ve been thinking about these words, and Nora Ephron’s wisdom about this topic. What we’re really trying to achieve is not friendship, it’s understanding why they do what they do (presumably to us). It’s only fitting, since I’ve spent decades thinking about whether men and women can be friends, that I try to give this some serious thought. I have some men friends, but the level of friendship isn’t even close – the trust, the reliability, the sympatico…it’s just a miss. And when they’re in relationships, they’re just gone. If the relationships don’t work out, they’re back. And then, when they vanish again, I know there’s someone else.
It’s fine. I mean, I get why it happens. But the fact that I get it doesn’t mean that I think that’s optimal behavior for friends. But of course now, we have a new definition for friends. And so I declare, “we have reached a new era, an era when men and women can be friends. On Facebook.”
If you have thoughts on this issue, please, share with the group.
And whatever you do this New Year’s Eve, keep your expectations reasonable, and find a designated driver. Wishing you all a safe and happy new year.
Yes, there was the Details article (which, by the way, was more about Jews in porn than it was about Jews being seen as desirable). And also some brouhaha about Jewish girls being called “Coasties” (to the delight of some and the chagrin of others). And now, the topic continues (sort of) with a segment from LoveNation about “The Desirability of Jews,” then rendered by one of the hosts as “the uprise in the desire of Jews,” and then, ultimately as “the uprising of Jewish people.”
Thomas: Over the course of time, I guess there’s been a growing popularity of Jewish people. Apparently, Jews are popular, I think it’s great. Obviously, it wasn’t like that back in the day with anti-Semitism and complete prejudice against Jewish people. And now, everyone loves them! Why?
Laurie: There is this term “JILF” that’s going around right now…I don’t know who started it, but I most recently saw it in Details. [explanation of JILFs] It’s because women are so career-oriented, also even for guys they are so family-oriented. And especially in Gen X and Gen Y, religion is becoming less important. But with people who are Jewish alot of them are pretty practicing, […]or if not practicing, their culture is still really important to them. And so family values is something that when religion isn’t important anymore gets left by the wayside, people don’t care about having kids, taking the legacy forward.
Thomas: Also, pop culture has had a huge influence on the uprise of Jewish people. Remember Seinfeld? Jerry was definitely Jewish. [lists additional Jewish comedians] And also Madonna.
Laurie: And Madonna has helped bring Judaism to the forefront also because of her cool Kabbalah thing that she has going on. She kind of brought everyone’s eye to it. […]
Thomas: When it comes to dating, there’s even a website for Jewish singles to get together, called JDate.
What? Jerry Seinfeld is Jewish? And there’s even a whole dating site for Jewish singles!! That’s crazy talk!
I love Leah‘s response to the comment about JILFs: “There’s this term ‘JILFs’ going around right now.” There’s also this term OMGWTF going around. (via Twitter)
I appreciate that the duo believed they were providing a vital service: a discussion of the purported rise in perceived desirability of Jews. And I know that it was probably extremely well-intentioned (with tips for how to date Jews and everything!). And with only a few shows to their history together, it’s possible that the hosts will develop better chemistry and more of a flow as they practice more. But the content of their advice in this video was less factually substantial than the “Christmas Song for Mormons” featured on Conan’s show – which took most of its information from Wikipedia. These two – both dating “experts” in their non-video lives – should have delved a bit deeper and more intelligently into the issues, instead of this shallow rehash of the fact that Jerry Seinfeld was Jewish, and that Madonna’s involved in Kabbalah (which, by the way, isn’t the same thing ask Judaism). The content’s style most reminded me of some of the English papers I read in college, written by friends who hadn’t quite finished the books necessary to have an intelligent discussion on the subject, but who had to turn in the assignment anyway.
Toward the end of the advice section, Thomas – who noted that some non-Jews pursuing Jews are just “going after a stable person who happens to be Jewish” – advises that those who court Jews should “NOT crack jokes about stereotypes of Jewish people in general: perceived to be really cheap, whether Jewish women are not good cooks, whatever stereotype you’ve heard, don’t mention them” because “they don’t appreciate it at all.”
I understand that the discussion of Jewish (or any) stereotypes is a sensitive subject and the hosts felt the need to tread lightly, but pointing out stereotypes to avoid (including one I’ve never heard of) is using those stereotypes. Can you imagine getting the advice, “If your date is Irish and orders a drink, try not to comment on it, because it’s a stereotype and they don’t appreciate it at all”? I think that trying to avoid calling your date “cheap” (whether he’s Jewish or not) is a bare minimum to strive for on dates. And if you can’t get through a date with a Jewish person without calling them cheap or calling attention to some other purportedly Jewish attribute – whether it’s true or not – then you probably shouldn’t be out in public to begin with.
There’s a lot of video drivel out there, and when it comes to dating sites, everyone’s out to make a buck or self-promote. But if you’re going to launch your own show on a topic as rich as dating (online and off), why not contribute something meaningful to the conversation?
Want another opinion? Check out the 16th Street J’s take, “JILFing Us Softly“.