It’s been a while since I posted here, I know. I’ve been running around presenting at conferences like a crazy person, or at least the type of crazy person who’s asked to speak at conferences. And a quarter of those presentations centered on our topic at hand: dating and relationships.
This past weekend, I spoke to a crowd of 200 people – most of them students in their early 20s – about the challenges of dating in the age of technology. The session was titled – somewhat obscurely – “JDaters Anonymous Live,” which led people to make their own assumptions about what the session would address. Some thought it was going to be speed dating, or me talking about my dating horror stories, or an opportunity for the participants to share their horror stories. And as a result, although I tried to keep the conversation to the topic at hand – technology, and how it complicates our communication process even as it keeps communication more frequent and varied – people just wanted to vent.
They were angry. Angry about being rejected. Angry about being deceived. Angry about not being called back, or being passed over in favor of a friend. But one of the comments made by a twentysomething male really gave me pause. He stated that he knows, definitively and always, whether it’s going to work (he meant a date) within the first five minutes of meeting someone. Shocked, I polled the room, and most of them agreed, not just about a date/potential romance, but about a potential friendship. When I suggested that perhaps it was because the people in the room were under 25, I almost had a mutiny on my hands. The room was fairly united. Five minutes. And they’d know.
Maybe I err on the side of believing that first impressions, while often fairly accurate, do also contain a margin of error – some of the people I met and instantly liked I’ve since fallen out of like with, and others, who were slow starters for one reason or another have emerged as some of my nearest and dearest. While I’m talking about friendships mostly, I find the same is true for me in dating…I think most people become more interesting as you spend time with them, and it’s not fair to judge someone from five minutes of interaction.
Here’s the part where all y’all weigh in and tell me what you think…
JDate‘s launching their new reality web series about JDaters starting February 14th. Tune in to meet some of JDate’s finest, like “Guy Who Prefers Brunettes But Would Also Be Game For Redheads,” “Woman in Love Who Sits on Couch With Boyfriend and Smiles,” and “Woman in Bathtub.”
Many of us are out of work, and are spending all day and likely evenings and nights cruising the internet looking for the right job. We’re preparing and sending resumes and interviewing in person, and waiting for a callback when we think it’s the right fit. We experience the disappointment of having interviews that we tank, and others that seem to go well, but the interviewing company either tells us “it’s not you, it’s us” or just gets hit by the equivalent of the Bus.
And then, for a change of pace, we’re on JDate or Match or anywhere else, going through exactly the same process – creating our online resume, contacting potential people who might be interested in our services and experience, waiting for a response or a callback, praying that we get a face-to-face meeting, and hoping for the right chemistry…sometimes ending again in “the Bus.”
The Boston Globe notes in a recent article that “it’s hard to find a date when you don’t have a job.” It notes the problems, particularly from men who like to pick up the check but who can’t afford more than a beer at the end of the day.
In tough economic times, do you pay JDate or a headhunter? Is “between jobs right now” the kiss of death (or rather, no kissing at all) for potential daters? Or does a happy love life make for a happier jobhunter? And should we create an “economic stimulus package” or “bailout” for singles to make our dating lives a little easier? Or maybe we should just enact legislation that until both parties are gainfully employed, we’ll all pay for our own drinks?
If asked, most people would say that they try not to judge people by their age. I was born in the 70s, and most of my friends were born in the 80s. Fine. No problems, except for when they refer to 80s music as “oldies,” which makes me wince a little.
If age is really relative, it might seem strange to establish age as a determinant in either dating or not dating a person. If theoretically, you’re only looking for someone to age 40, it makes no sense to reject someone just because he’s 41 – in all likelihood, he’s no different in terms of his ability to enjoy life and act young than any 40 year old is. And also, we all know people who act way older or younger than their actual calendar age, and so we know not to judge a book by how old its birth certificate says it is. (Yes, enjoy that mixed metaphor.)
But what’s happening online is something different. Everyone who fills out an online dating profile indicates a preferred age range for potential partners. And a woman in her thirties who indicates that she’s looking for a man in his thirties or forties will likely encounter that the men in their thirties and forties are looking for women in their twenties. Then comes the next part: men in their fifties contacting women in their thirties, even if that’s not the age range they’d prefer.
Of course, we’ve already said that age doesn’t matter. But is a woman still entitled to reject a man’s advances online if he’s over a certain age? After all, some of the men online are employing artificial age cutoffs themselves, mostly because it’s required by most dating services. Does this make her a judgmental person? Or is she just using her best judgment?
In this excellent, sure-to-become-a-classic post, Leah Jones enumerates a helpful list of “How Social Media Ruined Jdate For Me,” which is less a complaint and more a series of observations about how JDate isn’t living up to the technical expectations of a generation that lives increasingly online, and which increasingly requires more advanced features in order to surf and connect effectively.
If Jdate is monitoring any of the blogbuzz about their product and if they care about creating a system that works better (two assumptions, I know), hopefully they’ll take this free advice from someone who could actually fetch a high price for this kind of corporate technology assessment. But we’ll see.
A friend IMs me today…she says she “NEVER” gets e-mailed on JDate. But in the last week she’s had 3 e-mails:
One from a gay guy telling me I’m cute and he’d date me if he was straight.
One e-mail from a lesbian asking me if I ever get curious.
And the last e-mail was from an Italian guy who is not Jewish and does not believe in religion.
And now, cue the reader who tells me how great JDate is and that her cousins and her best friends met on the site and are now happily married with lots of little rugrats. Also, the reader who tells me that I’m just bitter. And then the other readers who leap to my rescue.
I love you guys!
So, isn’t McSweeney’s supposed to be a journal of advanced thought and/or humor? Isn’t it supposed to be boundary-pushing and inventive?
Because seriously, I can’t even find one thing about this piece that’s even approaching any of those things. I wish I could.
Maybe I’ve just seen too much.
In perusing some of my regular dating-related reads, I caught up on my friend JDater Joe, who had the following to say about JDate after corresponding with a woman who then disappeared. (Hilary? Is this another victim of The Bus?)
“When you havenâ€™t met the other party, you end up having a relationship with yourself so itâ€™s always better than it turns out.”
Is this the problem? Should we meet immediately, to avoid becoming lulled into the comfort of a relationship with ourselves, whose company we already love?
We hear a lot about non-Jews using Jdate to seek out Jewish dates. One more recent post is over at the JTA, actually not written by me. (As the descendants of the Marx Brothers and Woody Allen, we’re not sure why anyone would want to be part of the club that would have us as members, but…) But here’s a new spin, as someone named Fake Jewess writes in the Jerusalem Post about falling in love with a Jewish guy. They’re together, they’re magic, and then they’re over:
We had an awful fight. We said awful things. I cried every day for weeks, until he called. He sounded meek, not the blustering, brainy jokester I knew. “I miss you,” he said. “Me too.” We agreed to be friends. And with some prescience, I made him swear he would be the one to tell me when and if he got married.
Being “just friends” was rough. He scrutinized me for flaws, determined to find them. (I sometimes made this very easy for him.) “You and I are not viable,” he wrote tersely. Soon, we were no longer talking.
Selfishly, I could only think of how achingly I missed him. He had once told me that he used JDate to meet women. I began checking the site to see if any profile rang a bell. It wasn’t long before I recognized him. Oh, he had fudged some facts, but I would know him anywhere, my Jewish Guy.
I had to talk to him. But I was afraid, as “not viable” me. So I created a JDate profile.
What happens next is actually a surprisingly touching story of how love gone wrong remains a mystery and can eat at our curiosity, and the lengths we go to to learn the sources of our disappointment. Not everything has a rom-com ending. And maybe that’s ok.
I’m kind of surprised that Gothamist didn’t think of this first, but LAist has joined JDate…or at least one of their writers does. Calling herself Jewgirl, one of their writers submits to JDate membership as writing and dating experiment:
Iâ€™m not necessarily looking for â€œthe oneâ€, but certainly someone who is nice and cute and funny. Thatâ€™s not too much to ask for, right? I mean, if they happen to be nice, cute, funny, tattooed, artistic AND Jewish, all the betterâ€¦
I guess she thinks these are realistic expectations. And maybe they are. And I applaud her decision to keep her own identity–and the identities of the men she has dates with–anonymous. As you know, I’m a firm believer in “just because he’s not for me doesn’t mean he’s not for someone,” and keeping it all anonymous helps us all stay positive, and not drag anyone’s reputation unnecessarily through the dating mud.
I also have questions: how long do you think it will be until she goes out with Evan? Or will she use E-Cyrano’s services to help improve her profile? Does she know Hilary? Does being Jewish really matter to her, or is it just a parental preference she’d like to satisfy?
Whatever the answers, I hope she has better luck than most of the others of us who have dated and documented our efforts. May she experience some great men who give us all reasons to believe that there are others–maybe even non-tattooed ones–out there.