EmunaDating: Dating Smart Book Review!!

By: Samantha Hulkower

Things in life are easier when there is an instruction book. Ever try assembling Ikea furniture without the helpful pictograms? Or hooking up a stereo without the directions? Basically impossible. The new book Dating Smart aims to be the instruction book to help you navigate the world of dating. We've all encountered well-intentioned strangers trying to help us get hitched, so we know that sometimes it's best to just leave it to the experts (would you let your Aunt Gertie tell you how to assemble that bookshelf?).

Dating Smart starts off by laying out all the pieces you should have before trying to assemble: knowing yourself, identifying goals in life, what to look for in a potential spouse, and reasonable expectations in dating and marriage.  You might be saying to yourself indignantly, "I have been dating for years - I know myself and what I want in a partner! "You may be right - or you may be fooling yourself. A friend of mine was recently talking with a well-known Rabbi in Jerusalem about her life. He asked her about dating and what she looks for in a potential guy. She confidently listed five or six things that are on the top of her list. The Rabbi was quiet for a moment and then responded, "That person doesn't exist, you need to be more reasonable about your expectations." At first she was hurt, but slowly realized he was probably right. 

There is an often-told story of a good-looking, successful man trying to find his wife. He dates scores of women over the years, and can't understand why someone, who seems to have it all in life, can't get married. He finally goes to a well respected Kabbalist and asks what is going wrong. The Rabbi looks deeply at him and explains, "You already met your basheret (soulmate), but you thought her nose was too big." The moral is not that you have to go out with every person who crosses your path - but that everyone can benefit from guidance along the way.

The book takes you along the dating process - from how to find a date, to what to talk about on a first date (good advice: come with things to talk about and don't worry about whether or not you can marry this person on a first date!), we go out to see if the relationship can grow in a timely manner and doesn't fizzle out too quickly (or drag something out that isn't going anywhere), and the answer to the ultimate question: how do I know if he/she is the one?

In addition, there are exercises to help you figure out your priorities, as well as identify things you may be doing wrong (for example, if you don't show gratitude to people who are trying to set you up, they might feel unappreciated and stop trying to help) and tips for how to open up on dates beyond the basic things like your favorite books and movies. The book also gives you advice on when to consult a mentor, especially when it comes to difficult things like disclosing mental or physical ailments. Even telling you when to put down the manual and talk things out with a mentor during the process (sometimes you need to call an electrician friend when your stereo doesn't seem to be working right, despite following all the instructions).

Unlike most dating books I've read, Dating Smart wades into one of the darker areas that keep singles single - fear and baggage. Whether we want to admit it or not, a lot of us hold ourselves back from dating successfully because of fear: fear of rejection, fear of commitment, fear of really looking into ourselves and what we want. There is also a whole chapter dedicated to letting go of baggage. Many years ago I went out with a guy who had been divorced for a couple of years. He had just ended a subsequent relationship and I was concerned he would be too wrapped up in his previous girlfriend to connect with me. I slowly realized that it wasn't his previous girlfriend he was still attached to - but his ex-wife! Hardly a date would go by that he didn't mention something about her, whether it was why they got divorced, something she didn't like about the TV show we were watching, or how she never wanted to eat at the restaurant we were at. I otherwise really liked him, but finally told him that I couldn't date someone who was still so attached to his ex-wife. 
You might have guessed he wasn't very receptive to the constructive criticism. But we need to be able to hear what is holding us back if we want to move forward successfully. Dating Smart is a great book if you are interested in evaluating your dating skills and looking for ways to date smarter.

1 comment:

YHC said...

Bless your heart: a man is an oleh chadash (new immigrant)--you are an olah chadasha. That is, "chadash/a" means "new", although yes, you can be a new "new immigrant".

Yashar LaChayal

The majesty of the Western Wall

Nefesh B'Nefesh