Thursday, May 29, 2008

Is This The Newest Dating Craze... Don't Compliment Your Date?

A few months ago Chananya Weissman posted on his website about an article that he saw in the Jewish Press's Im Yirtzeh column. The writer was a kollel boy who had gone out on three dates with a "Bais Yacov type" girl. All was fine and well until, on the fourth date, he made a fatal error.

He told his date that she looked nice.

Now, neither Chananya and I were present when this dreadful act occured, so I can't relate exactly how he said it. My guess, however, is that he didn't start howling like a wolf and have his eyes grow to the size of saucers and bulge out as in a Tex Avery cartoon. My guess is that he didn't start drooling over her in public. My guess is that he didn't say something along the lines of "Hey hot mama, you're one fine lookin' dish." What probably happened is that he politely, respectfully thought that his date put a lot of effort into looking nice for him and wanted to acknowledge it and compliment her. He probably said something to the effect of "you look very nice tonight."

Wrong move. Apparently, with this girl, a compliment is the kiss of death. Things quickly became awkward. The date was cut short and the girl immediately telephoned the shadchan and said that it was over. His compliment showed that he was "just a guy," whereas she thought he was something else.

When I first read his posting, I thought it was strange, but, okay... you have some people with strange ideas in every group. So she doesn't want to be complimented. How many like her can there be?

Well, apparently, there is another. This week's Letters to the Editor in the Yated had a letter from a boy in yeshiva who started going out with a girl. Here are some excerpts from the letter (any typos/misspellings are mine):

The first three dates were amazing. The conversation flowed beautifully and I felt that we were both enjoying it. There were more than 10 hours of enjoyable time spent together. After every date, I was getting more excited. The sahdchan even asked you afer every date if you ahd any hesitations and you said there were none.

Then came the fourth date.

It definitely had a more serious tone than the first three, but that is normal. Then you told the shadchan that it's over. No reasons, no explanations, nothing.

I was devastated.

I sat for hours trying to figure out where I messed up. I was shocked and couldn't figure it out. The shadchan finally got one sentence out of you: "It was too personal."

Then it hit me. Towards the end of the date, after discussing hashkafah and feeling that we were on the same page, I complimented your looks. You thought/think that I'm a sick, one-track-minded pervert.

OK, so that's two people who think that way. Lest you think that that's it, there is apparently a third person who holds this opinion... the guy himself!

You see, however, I don't either believe that it's 100% tzniyusdik to give a personal compliment until after marriage.

So, why did I do it?

Because a famous shadchan recently told me that, if things are going well on a fourth date, I should find something to compliment the girl on. I put aside my own feelings on the matter because I figured that the shadchan had more experience than I do. I was wrong. I made a mistake. I admit it. I should have followed my own feelings and not followed the professional advice.

My guess is that once three people have a certain opinion, probably more do as well. So, now we've come to the point where if you dare to compliment your date on how nice she looks, if you even think to acknowledge and appreciate the effort that she puts into looking nice, if you have even a single thought as to her physical appearence, you must be a "sick, one-track-minded pervert."

At this point, I'm beginning to wonder what the point of shidduch dating is anymore. After all, everyone is expected to follow a script. Don't do this before the second date. Don't say that before the third date. Wear this. Don't wear that. The only acceptable places to go are a lounge, airport or other similarly boring place. Anything that uniquely shows you to be an individual is to be discouraged. In short, if you don't follow the script, you're toast.

So, what does that leave? Why even date? Well, I suppose that one way in which you are unique is in your appearance. Unless you have an identical twin, no one really looks like you. So, even if you have to follow a script and act like everyone else, at least you can be distinguished by your appearance. This includes your physical appearance and your "presentation" (i.e. how you dress, how groomed you are, etc.). But if we're now to not even notice the physical appearance of our dates, then what reason is there to even engage in the activity anymore? Why not just go back to completely arranged marriages and be done with it? Have the parents arrange the marriage, let them meet for a few minutes so that they can see that each "taka has a nose" and that's it. If we've reduced the dating activity to one of actors following a script so that you can't get an indication of the real personality of the person you're dating (to the point where if you minorly deviate from the script then you're out) and where you're not even supposed to notice the appearance of the date, then what is the whole point?

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

"Have the parents arrange the marriage, let them meet for a few minutes so that they can see that each "taka has a nose" and that's it."

Reminds of the old Jewish joke about the guy who refused to marry the girl until he saw her naked. The girl agreed to a "viewing." Afterwards the guy rejected her. The shadchan asked, "Why?" The guy replied, "Her nose is too big."

Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

I was once on a third date with a girl, and I really liked her. There were a few other shidduch dates in the pool hall that we were in. Towards the end of the date I remarked that I definitely had the prettiest date there. It took a lot of courage to say that, I didn't want to risk coming on too strong.

I found out from the shadchan that she was having doubts, but my remark actually helped; she wasn't sure I was into the whole thing.

Bottom line is that people like to be complimented by people they like. I'm sure your wife likes it when you tell her she's pretty. I don't think she likes it when a creep says it. These girls were just looking for an excuse to say no.

Anonymous said...

What's even worse is that these young women will probably complain that their husband's don't compliment them at all(If and when they actually get to that point in their shidduch dating! The way things are going seems to indicate that the hall need not be booked so soon). Of course he won't compliment her or show that he appreciates her at all - that was hammered out of him during the dating process!
Lawyer-wearing-yarmulke is absolutely right on both counts..
I love it when the Wolf compliments me (and not the creeps; and I also think the girls were looking for some flimsy excuse. I'm hoping they aren't so stupid to actually believe that a properly phrased compliment is grounds for a "go away"!

ProfK said...

I have clearly flown through a time warp and landed in a parallel universe that only looks like it is still earth but is truly "out of this world." When I was dating, albeit in that "other world," had my now husband not paid me a compliment at some point in the dating process he would not have become my husband. For pete's sake--for whom was I making the effort to get all dressed up for if not for him? For the waiters in a restaurant? A nicely worded compliment was as good as a "green light" in indicating feelings present. Girls don't know how to graciously take a compliment today, perhaps because boys aren't making them any longer. Or maybe boys aren't making them any longer because girls don't take them graciously. Either way, what a loss. And you are so right eeeeees, because they have had no training or practice in complimenting, young husbands are not likely to do so for their wives either. Practice makes perfect.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure this is all that new. Three decades years ago I was told by a young couple I knew that jewelry (I think it was a necklace) was "too personal" a birthday present for my then affianced bride. I bought it anyway. We are still happily married; the other couple was married for less than a year.

Larry Lennhoff said...

There are even worse quotes in that letter, IMHO.
90% of us boys have rabbeim whom we speak to during the dating process. From the girls I have dated and hear about, it seems that only 10% speak with someone smarter than them to help make the right decisions (and parents don’t count).
Parents don't count?

Recently, a major shadchan wrote an article stating that 80% of the time, it’s the girl who says no at an advanced stage because “it just didn’t click,” which is not a real reason that any rov would say is enough to break a potential shidduch.
So once you accept the first date, a woman needs an objective reason to not marry the person?

Jack Steiner said...

One more reason why the separation of sexes creates more unnecessary issues.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Wolf. If things continue on this path, eventually the yeshivish will end up with beshows, just like the chassidish.

Anonymous said...


Not exactly. But she *should* have an objective reason to end the process. If it's simply that "it didn't click", that's something that should be discussed with a mentor. In some cases there's an underlying issue that she's unable to put her finger on but can be uncovered by an experienced mentor (and in such cases the process should be discontinued) and in other cases it's merely nerves, anxiety, cold feet, etc. and the mentor should work with her toward overcoming these issues while the process continues.

Orthonomics said...


Bas~Melech said...

Your math may be a tad off -- I thought that the Yated and JP pieces were about the same person.

Anonymous said...

Many girls are force to go on a second, third, fourth and etc. date eventhough they don't feel a connection.

I know because my daughter's friend went out with a guy and she simply didn't like him. Everything about him was perfect, but she did not like him. So, she was forced to go out a second time, and a third time and etc. This girl was miserable but no one would listen to her. They all insisted that if there is nothing wrong with a boy then she should go on more dates. They said she could have as many as 17 before she gets ingaged. Imagine being in her place. She couldn't sleep. She was a nervous wreck. Finally, the boy made a mistake, he went away for Succos and didn't call her for three days after Succos to say that he's back. This girl was so happy to now have an excuse to break up with him.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

people go on dates to airports?!

Anonymous said...

Mlevin: who forced your daughter's friend to go out with a guy she didn't like? And why did she listen?

And what kind of date can you have in ana airport? Waiting on the ticket line? Most of the places to sit are past security anyway

Anonymous said...

Sometimes this rigamarole seems so programmed that no personal connection could be possible. The girls have generic perfect resumes, and their references when phoned say generic perfect things. The date is supposed to occur in some faraway lobby where no friend of either would ever venture. The girls work from a checklist of stylized silly questions, and the boy is supposed to read them like a book anyhow. The date becomes more like a job interview than a friendly, informal meeting. The girl then often says "no" through the shadchan, even after many seemingly successful dates, but with no explanation or none that makes the slightest sense. Jews are blessed with enough seichel to know how to fix this system.

I'm sure girls have similar issues with the system, which often doesn't work well for them, either, as we know.

Anonymous said...

Airport hotel.

I know - the first time someone said "airport" to me I thought we'd be watching the planes take off. No such luck. Hotel lounge.

It's a tough call - I think it depends how you do it and at what stage you do it. I would think 4th date is advanced enough for a small compliment. But I guess you gotta know your audience.

Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

One more reason why the separation of sexes creates more unnecessary issues.

My thoughts exactly. When a young woman is so inexperienced in dealing with men that a simple "you look nice today" is reason to break off a date and even then she can't drum up the courage to tell the poor guy that she didn't appreciate those sorts of comments, then maybe she isn't mature enough to get married.

But then again, I'm not a fan of the whole shidduch dating process, I think it infantilizes people at a point in time when they should be anything other than childish. People old enough to get married should be mature enough to tell someone they're dating whether or not they want to go on another date without a third party intermediary. So take my opinion with a grain of salt if you think shidduch dating is the best thing since sliced bread.

Anonymous said...

I left this post by Ezzie, where I found this link, but I wanted to repeat it here.

Don't get me started, this entire process is a joke. People are paired up for the most idiotic reasons. They are scared into following the most moronic stereotypes and directives.

I council people all the time to go wherever they want and say whatever they think is appropriate.

If a girl or guy is offended or shocked by a comment they say or a place they chose to go then they shouldn't be together in the first place.

People need to show as much individuality and personality as possible on a shiduch date, because otherwise if you act like a robot and follow a script after the wedding its like you are married to a different person. Which is a recipe for disaster.

90 percent of all the Shiduch dates I went on were wastes of time. I hate to say this but I met my wife in a very informal shiduch situation. The more hard line the shadchun I used the more ridiculous the people they suggested.

Mindy Schaper said...

Jack- separation of the sexes really does not neccessarily cause this. I can see what would make you think so, but really the same thing could happen in a co-ed environment. The factors involved in creating this sort of scenario are rigidity in following rules that while may be generally applicable, are meant to be taken as a GENERAL RULE and not as Torah M'Sinai. What will create this silly date-breaking and superficiality is not going by one's own common sense WITHIN the rules, which as a general outline, are sensible. I think this theory makes sense- since there definitely are certain structures and conventions that apply everywhere- and this is with all rules in life and society- what we have to take care not to do is not see the forest for all the trees and temper basic rules of society with a lot bit of common sense and binah.

G said...

Re: Complimenting

I don't see what the big issue is.

Some people are okay with it and some are not. It is as good a criteria as any to see if two people are compatible with each other.

smoo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
smoo said...

In those frummy crowds, everyone has airs and everyone is so phony.

Why can't people just be REAL and be themselves? You like it- marry me. You don't- move on. Why find all the crap out after marriage, when the government and corrupt Beis dins stick their noses in your life?

If you are afraid to be open and honest and feel free to speak your mind, what kind of relationship do you have?
Possible answers:
a. marriage
b. dysfunctional one

Anonymous said...

The most important questions to ask a young lady on shidduch dates should be about mishpocha,her likes and dislikes,and philosophy.You want her to know that you are interested in family,her tastes,and her mind.Hence the following questions : (family)Do you have a brother?....(likes and dislikes)Do you like noodles?.... (philosophy)If you had a brother,would he like noodles?

Mindy Schaper said...

Anonymous, that was funny. :)

Thanks for the joke.

I'm passing it on.

Anonymous said...

I've been told that you can compliment your date, if it's done with a shinui....

frumhouse said...

Isn't getting engaged or marrying someone the most personal thing you can do? Or is the goal of Jewish marriage to make things so impersonal that any Jewish male and female should be paired up like generic (pardon any pun) nuts and bolts? I really don't understand the evolution shidduch dating has undergone...