EmunaDating: Bonds and the Ties that Bind

By Shayna Hulkower

I found myself in a conversation with a stranger on the bus, something quite typical in Israel. It was mostly small talk due to my still-limited Hebrew, but we were able to cover the bases: where I was from, what I was doing in Israel, and of course her inevitable question of how old am I and am I single. When I responded in the affirmative she sighed and said in English, "Young people and their FOMO - this is why no one gets married!" Aside from being impressed at her command of modern slang (FOMO for the uninitiated stands for Fear Of Missing Out) I knew she was right. It's no coincidence that the increase in the median age for marriage correlates to how much easier it is to meet other people. Forty years ago when you mostly met people through friends or in school, once you met someone that you clicked with there was no incentive to see what else was out there. Today, with the ability to have three dates in one night thanks to social media and a plethora of online dating sights, why settle down so quickly? Who knows if there might be someone slightly more מתאים (appropriate) for you out there? 

Whether you are still single because you are always holding out hope that the next one might be better, or due to situations beyond your control, this is a great week to work on your ability to commit. As we are winding down Sefirat HaOmer, we find ourselves in the week of Yesod - or Bonding. While pleasant interactions we have with strangers every day are nice, it's the relationships that we invest in that are so gratifying. While most people don't have problems building platonic relationships, things get trickier when it comes to dating. Even if you like the other person and want to invest in something, as we said before, often there is a fear that committing to this one relationship will exclude us from something better down the road. 

So how do we rid ourselves of this negative trait and replace it with the ability to form a lasting bond with a person without the constant fear that we settled? First off: recognize that no one is going to be perfect. A few years ago, several of my friends got married at the same time. All of them had been dating much longer than they wanted to, and as women in their early to mid thirties, they were often told they should just take what they could get. This of course, did not give them encouragement that they would ever be happily married. Each one of them met someone that they told me was ultimately worth waiting for. They were all everything each one wanted - and they all also had things they weren't as thrilled with. It came down to a matter of being willing to live with the things they don't like knowing that ultimately it would be worth it. One of these friends is perhaps the most orderly people on the planet, and her husband is ... let's just say less organized. Does it drive her crazy that things get left all over the house? You betcha. Did she think it was worth not getting married over? Obviously not. She saw all the ways they were compatible and made a decision to commit to this relationship, despite the things she didn't like about him. Another friend was nicknamed 'The Mayor' of her shul thanks to her uncanny ability to befriend everyone in the room. She is very social and loves being with people. Her husband Moshe is more of the strong, silent type. Would she have preferred someone who could keep up with her at cocktail parties? Yes. Again, she didn't think it was worth breaking it off to see if there was someone else who also enjoyed this. She explained it this way, "Sure, the next guy might also be more lively at gatherings, but he could also be missing the things that I love so much about Moshe." 

Accepting people for who they are and not who we want them to be also provides us with an opportunity to practice our own humility. Here we find the key to breaking through the FOMO that can keep us single for longer than necessary - accepting that we are not perfect.  Please don't shoot the messenger, but most likely you come with some less than desirable characteristics yourself. We know what they are (often they are things we intensely dislike when we see them in other people), and hopefully are working on them. In the meantime, we'd like our potential partners to be accepting of our eccentricities rather than dumping us to the curb in the hopes another model with fewer flaws will pull up.  A friend of mine went out on a date with someone who offered, on the date, to buy her a jump rope - a not too subtle way of saying he wanted her to lose weight. She laughed it off, telling me, "I know I need to lose 20 lbs, but I thought since he needed to lose 40, it wouldn't be such an issue!" 

Believe me, I'm not suggesting anyone settle on something they don't like because they don't think they can do better. All I'm asking is that we change FOMO to RUT NOIP: Realistically Understanding That No One Is Perfect. Ok, it doesn't flow off the tongue as nicely, but hey, no one's perfect!

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