How to Improve the Dating Process at YU
The dating process, which can be exciting and fun, has unfortunately turned into an anxiety-producing nightmare for many. I set out to write this piece in order to help those who are participating in the YU dating scene and have thus far been unsuccessful in finding their match. Based on conversations with friends, alumni and my own life experiences, I suggest the following advice, which will hopefully ameliorate our anxieties on dating in general, and particularly at YU.
For starters, joining YUConnects, which “offers unique social events, targeted matchmaking and educational programs to foster healthy relationships toward marriage” can be very helpful. Despite the advantages of signing up, some people refrain from doing so because of the negative stigmas that surround dating services. Let me be clear: It is not a sign of weakness to join, nor does it mean that you do not have enough friends to set you up on your own. It is a supplement to your personal search, connecting you with people who you might never have otherwise met. YUConnects adds you to an entire network of like-minded, wonderful YU (and non-YU) students and alumni who are waiting to meet people like you. The cost for signing up ranges from $12.95-$18.95 a month, but for YU undergraduates, “we have a special rate … close to 50% off the regular price.” YUConnects is also more than just an online dating service: “[they have] a friendly office in Furst Hall 419 where guys and girls are constantly coming through the doors for advice.” “It is such a great resource,” said Margie Glatt, special projects coordinator. “YUConnects has proven to be successful, facilitating 359 engagements and counting. Sign up and maybe you’ll be number #360!”
Next, consider attending co-ed events. Instead of going on a potentially awkward first date, skip that step by meeting someone organically, in an environment where you have a reason to be there, outside of just meeting someone else. Students feel less pressure at these events than on first dates, since your peers are near and you can leave whenever you want without being rude. There is a misconception that attending YU co-ed events is inherently not “frum.” I challenge this notion with the following example.
This year, there was a co-ed event called “Do It Yourself Chassidic Pop-Art,” in which students, led by a respected artist, painted abstract Chassidic portraits. The activity was centered around the expression of one’s soul in the form of art. The vibes were laid-back, and most certainly tzanua (modest). It was an ideal, kosher environment for religious singles to meet. However, some did not attend because they figured that since it was co-ed, it could not have been “frum” enough. Oy (on the topic of Chassidus I must use at least one Yiddish idiom) — perhaps this misjudgment caused two compatible souls to not cross paths! To clarify, I completely understand why those of you who are not currently dating would not want to attend co-ed events. However, for those of you who are, I would caution against automatically not attending because you assume that the events and the people there are not “frum” enough. I am also not implying that the primary purpose of co-ed events is to find a partner, however, it can be a bonus for those who are interested in dating.
Many students feel lost in the current YU dating scene because few people are even attempting to set them up from the opposite campus. “It doesn’t feel like anyone cares about helping me with dating. Setting people up on dates is holy too, not just learning. I wish they knew how much it hurts my friends and I [sic],” said a female YU student who prefers to remain anonymous.
Mothers have angrily complained to my peers and me that the weak efforts of the students, particularly on the Wilf Campus, to set up their children is pathetic. Ask your fellow NCSY or Yachad advisors if they are dating and if they say yes, try to set them up with your friends. For those of you who went to co-ed high schools, think of people you were friendly with, and ask them if they need help with dating (or ask them on a date?). On a daily basis, we are surrounded by hundreds of quality students; it’s not that hard to think of someone for your peer. Making a shidduch (match) ensures the continuation of the Jewish people and is one of the most praiseworthy things you can do.
I’ll be the first to admit that being single sometimes feels lonely, especially when your friends are in relationships. Who can blame us? The Torah states: “It is not good for man to be alone” (Bereishit 2:18). However, we can use the psychological technique of reframing to improve our perspective. Linda Bloom and Charlie Bloom, authors of “Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truths from Real Couples About Lasting Love,” write: “Reframing requires seeing something in a new way, in a context that allows us to recognize and appreciate positive aspects of our situation”. One advantage of being single is that you have more time to pursue interests and focus on personal growth. Being in a relationship is heavily time-consuming; you will never again be as free as you are now. Ask yourself: what productive things can I do now that I will not be able to do when I am committed to my partner? Is there any specific character trait, like anger, that I can improve on before I find my match? Additionally, I question the usage of the word “single” in the context of dating. We live in N.Y.C, which has a population of 8.6 million people. You are surrounded by people who love you: friends, mentors and family. Just because you have not found your match yet does not mean you are “single” and alone. You are important and loved, regardless of your marital status.
P.S. Know that your partner is waiting for you just as you are waiting for him/her.
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