Miss Middot: Manner Up. Don’t Date Down.
It's that time of second semester again: engagement season. Although we all joke that matrimony is in the air all year round for YUskies and Sternzies, everyone at Yeshiva knows that springtime is prime time prep for the summer wedding season. Jewtube is exploding with musical proposals, every door in 35th street is plastered with metallic wrapping paper, and shomer pictures and marital statuses are changing faster than Facebook statuses. However, many feel a bit behind on the matrimonial trend. Not because they have been bitten by the marriage madness, but because they are so afraid of the opposite sex that they have trouble relating to their peers on Only Simchas. The result of the sex separation of both social stigmas and years in the Yeshiva schooling system can leave the world of dating super intimidating. Far too many have spent far too long buried in their studies and not enough time honing their social skills.
Many feel so overwhelmed by the laws of courtship that they simply abandon them altogether. However, as Judith Martin, Miss Manners says, "When a society abandons its ideals just because most people can't live up to them, behavior gets very ugly indeed." And in the world of dating there is no place for ugliness. So please remember: these rules are not meant to intimidate us. There were put in place in order to guide us on how to respectfully communicate with our potential mates.
If you read this year's Purim Observer article with the picture of the telephone you will learn that ladies overanalyze just about everything that you say or do. This can make dating them incredibly intimidating for any gentleman. But don't worry: you are about to learn about the world of dating from a real-life Sternzie!
Researching for Love
The first step to dating, naturally, should be asking for the lady's hand in courtship. However, unnaturally (in the YU world) it often becomes researching your potential mate. But there are a few common questions that perhaps we should question.
Q. Does she wear pants?
A. To find our more than you ever wanted to know about how I feel about this question, see the piece that put yours truly on the map and the shidduch black lists: the 2009 Observer's Frumshanista article.
"Often, these gentlemen, fresh off The Bet (shana bet, that is) have mindsets as stiff as their black pants. Often, gentlemen look to the way a girl dresses before even taking the time to get to know a girl. Granted, your manner of dress can express a lot about both a person's personality and hashkafa. But there are so many other ways to see the true character of an individual that go much deeper than a once-over ever could."
Q. What seminary did she go to?
A. While a person's seminary/yeshiva can certainly tell you something about them, you need to truly get to know them to learn what it actually says. Is it really fair to judge a person based on a choice they made in high school? Shana Aleph was a long time ago and hopefully you are a different person than you were back then. I know I am. If your neshama is pure of any growth since you stepped off the plane then you should get back on it.
Q. Has she dated any of my Besties? Brother? Chevrutas?
A. The separate hours pool that we use for dating has certainly expanded since the shtetle days. We now have so many more options available to us and are able to expand our gene pool far beyond our cousins, thereby expanding chances of producing children who are contributing members of society. However, it is still much too small for you to rule out everymaidel that your lab partner's roommate's RA has ever been on a date with. Please try and keep an open mind and an open heart.
Q. Okay, but are we hashkafically compatible?
A. Before you ask this one please ask yourself this: how hashkafically compatible are your parents? I know that I most certainly would not have played shadchan with the future Mommy and Daddy Kaufman if I had known them in their Stern/YC years. Not only would that be pretty logistically impossible and awkward, but while my Dad's idea of a crazy Thursday night involved a date with his organic chemistry textbook, my Mom was busy sneaking boys up into Brookdale (okay, granted it was only her cousin). So please know that if y'all have chemistry and a mutual respect for one another you may learn something from your differing religious views.
Popping The Little Question
This does not need to be uber complicated. If you see a girl who you think is cute, just ask her out. Simple as that. You do not need your mutual Facebook friends to do the job for you. Promise. Although this approach may seem super forward and secular college, there is so much or lagoyim to natural initiation of courtship. When you really just put yourself out there and ask a lady out it eliminates so much of the awkwardness you would have experienced in Café K. When you get the initial uncomfortable confrontation over with, both know that you truly want to be on the date and this will boost your ego enough that you can maybe attempt to act like yourselves. Also, she will be super impressed and flattered that you were smitten with the real life her and not her profile picture. She will be so caught off guard that she won't even have time to GoogleMap your house before accepting.
The Mating Call
Okay, so now you have a date for this Thursday, you stud you! Now all you need to do is call her. This nonsense of waiting a week is just a joke. We all know that you're not too cool or too busy for your own love life. Call her. You need to pick up the phone to officially plan your date and then again the night before your date to confirm the details. Tell her where you have planned to go for your little rendezvous and around what time you will be picking her up. Ladies need all the information that you can provide – outfit planning is an intensive process. Also, try and charm her a bit over the phone. Worried that an extensive phone conversation will cause you to run out of things to say on your date? If this is indeed a legitimate fear for you then perhaps try being more interesting.
Research shows that as women's incomes begin to rise, so does the amount that men are forced to spend on their appearance. Gone are the good old days when a woman's only requirement for a man was his being a sugar daddy. In today's egalitarian age you no longer have a chance of charming Bar Rafaeli with cankles and a pizza face. Thankfully, Jewish women have through the ages come to accept yall's under-average height and learned to look towards your shining neshamas and Jew-boy charms. However, there are still so many ways for you to work on your appearance before you step into the Brookdale lounge. So be proactive and get Proactive, dress up, work out and floss! You will find that once you are looking your best you will begin to feel that way as well. And the ladies will surely notice your new look!
Hot Spots for Hot Dates
Okay, so now you need to pick a place in which to impress her. Contrary to popular misconception, you do not need to be fancy to woo a lady, but you must show effort. You must have a game plan, and you need to use whatever you have, be it money, creativity, or some talent. Have nothing to offer? Then perhaps you should be going to therapy instead of on dates. You need to take charge – put your Facebook research to good use.
Pick an activity that you think she will enjoy doing. This is really what ladies want – no, not to be Facebook stalked, but to feel special. The generic hot spots are not always your safest bets, since you're always better off doing something that she will actually enjoy doing. All it takes is logic: Have you ever heard of ladies heading to Dave and Busters on a girls night? I'm sure that many Starbucks first dates have ended in happily ever after, but if you are at all interested in dating someone a little bit interesting then perhaps try and take her somewhere semi-original. It's totally understandable if you don't want to invest too much in first date, but if you are craving a warm beverage be a little more creative and find a cool tea place or an off-the-beaten-path coffee shop. There I am sure you can talk about how many children you would like to have dirtying up your white Shabbat table cloth while getting your caffeine fix.
If you are low on ideas try TimeoutNY.com or Nymag.com for inspiration. There any so many affordable and fun things to do outside of a hotel lobby. See a play, attend a festival, or tour a new area of the city. An activity will help you two love birds with making a connection and moving along your conversation.
Chivalry Isn't Dead. In Fact, It's Pretty Cute.
Many are under the misconception that chivalry is outdated and anti-feminist. This lazy excuse is simply illogical. Any intelligent modern woman is capable of asking herself, "Why is Daddy paying for my dinner any more empowering than my date footing the bill?" In fact, many modern day feministas are so empowered that they believe they deserve to be courted in the proper manner. These gestures, of course, should never be belittling. Most women are confident in their abilities to open doors or pay for their own coffee, but these are still traditional signs of respect.
Gentlemen, please man up and come into the lounge. We know that Stern dorm lounges are super intimidating, but don't worry – the security guard will give you your ID back. They might be a little bit scary, but they are just being protective of us. And they are super machmir on yichud, so what's the worst that can happen in there? She won't confuse you for another Jew-froed bachur. She has already seen already seen a picture of you, and if she agreed to go out then you can come pick her up in the lounge.
Throughout the date you should continue to woo her with your excessive displays of chivalry. Please open the door for her, take our her chair (this does not require you to break negiya. Super kosher.), offer to hold her jacket and walk on the outside of the sidewalk, in order to protect her from the puddle splashes from the oncoming carriages or the sewage.
You also must ALWAYS walk a lady back – it doesn't matter if you're catching a shuttle to the moon. However, it is certainly possible that some chivalrous gestures may be a bit too grand for the first date. If your first date is indeed your first meeting, please don't tell her she looks pretty. You are most likely not at that stage in your relationship yet. We all know that you think she's pretty or you wouldn't have agreed to go out with her, so please save it for the second date, you charmer you.
Guy Hock: Don't ask. Don't tell.
For some reason in our circles asking whether or not one observes negiya has become socially acceptable. However, that is not only an incredibly personal question but also a pretty rude one. Whatever halachot d'rabanan you chose to break is your business. However machmir you choose to be, no one needs to hear about it; in fact, most of us don't really want to. Guy hock may get you boy points in certain circles, but a real man keeps his mouth shut.
Not only is it a classy, respectful and gentlemanly must, but it's in your best interest too. People get mad about fauxmernagia, and they will judge awkward shomer pics on OnlySimchas. Although no one ever has the right to judge you, you should never give anyone a reason to. And so I beg of you hormone-filled couples: please refrain from excessive interaction on campus. No one wants to see that. Please just get a room. Or an apartment.
Imirtze Hashem by Y'all!