EmunaDating: Dating Outside Your Comfort Zone

By Samantha Hulkower

"(S)he sounds great, but just not for me."

How many of us have uttered this refrain, after hearing what we thought was a completely inappropriate date suggestion? Sure, the guy may have the right career and is a good age, but he grew up so differently than you. Or the girl may be funny and pretty, but she's older than you. When is it appropriate to reject a date, and when are we limiting ourselves and our opportunities?

I love telling this story.

Last year, a very good friend of mine was ready to start dating, but was running into a small problem - she's 6 ft tall. That's the kind of tall where people say to her, "You're really tall," like she didn't already know. It's not really a problem for her - she's completely ok with her height. In fact, she made a match because she was able to see over a fence (another great story I'll have to share with you some other time). But, any time she would mention to someone that she's looking to date, in case they knew any guys, the potential matchmaker would get flustered. One actually said to her, "It makes me anxious that you are so tall, who is going to want to go out with you?!" 

This was the kind of encouragement she was getting - people telling her that she was going to have a hard time finding a boyfriend because of something completely out of her control.

She signed up for a dating site, and made her requirements pretty broad, not wanting to limit what she figured would be a very narrow pool of guys willing to go out with her. Her first match was a guy in a city two hours away, who grew up in another country (granted it's Canada, but still). And...he's 5'8''. 

"If he doesn't mind the height difference, why should I?" she told me. So they went out. And had fun. And went out again, and again, and again. After a while, you could tell it was getting serious. She always had a smile on her face while talking about him, and would get worried if  the cookies she made for Shabbat dessert didn't look nice. I asked her if her height has been an issue. "Because I'm taller, I feel like a supermodel walking next to him," she blushed. Seriously, how cute is that. I pressed further - how did he feel about it? He had always dated girls shorter than him, but when he saw her profile he said to himself, "I guess I like tall girls." 

And now, they're engaged.

I used to visit an elderly woman who was homebound. We would talk about anything, and she would always inquire about my dating situation. If I told her that I went out with a guy, but it didn't seem right for whatever reason, she had an example of a relationship that thrived in spite of that exact thing. I guess when you get to be 92 you probably have an example of anything life can throw at you. Her big thing was age - I wasn't allowed to discount a guy just because he was younger than me. Her husband was actually 5 years younger than her. She was 30 and he 25 - and this was back in 1950 they got married! 

Another friend of mine is a successful businesswoman, very respected in her field. She only wanted a guy with a white collar job who pulled in a significantly higher income. She couldn't imagine herself making more money than him. I think you can see where this is going - she ended up marrying a teacher. It was hard for her to deal with it at first (not that she let him know that). Before she met him, no one could convince her that she shouldn't limit herself based on something that is as fluid as a career - jobs come and go. But once she met him, she realized that it wasn't worth throwing everything else away for this one issue, and she saw his profession as ultimately superficial in light of the fact that he had everything else she was looking for.

In an age where the options seem almost limitless thanks to online dating, it's easier to dismiss someone because - who knows what's around the corner - but it's that kind of mentality that can leave you treading water in the single pool for years. Now, I'm definitely not suggesting you lower your standards. As a single women who is 30 I've had people suggest divorced guys in their 40s with kids and balk at me when I respond it might not be an appropriate match for me. It definitely helps to have a friend or mentor to bounce ideas off of, to know if you have a legitimate concern or if it's something frivolous (parents desperate for grandkids are not recommended sounding boards). You just never know where one date can lead....

Yashar LaChayal

The majesty of the Western Wall

Nefesh B'Nefesh