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Website sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Malkiel Goldberger in honor of their precious children
info@shidduchcenter.org | 443.955.9887

Yated Shidduch Forum 3/17/17: Does Anyone Actually Enjoy a First Date?

Question:

The standard reply the shadchan gives when the girl says “yes” is, “She had a great time and she wants to go out again.” 

Now, who on the planet has a good time sitting with a stranger (from the other gender) for three hours, over a cup of flat Diet Coke (and water, of course, for her), talking about seminary, schools, shvuggers and summers, without any purpose other than the sake of making conversation?

Isn’t it a little strange to hear that the girl had a good time, when it is expected of her to have a miserable time? Why can’t the shadchan just say the truth: “She wants to go out again #FullStop.”?

 

#LookingForAGirlWhoHadAMiserableTime

Answer:

While I believe, or at least fervently pray, that much of your phraseology is meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek, I remain concerned that it does not actually belie your true feelings about certain fundamentals of dating, interpersonal interaction and relationship building. As such, there are a few items in your narrative which I would like to address.

Perhaps most essentially, for many people, the opportunity to sit down with another human being and converse, discover common interests, and take part in the simple pleasure of enjoyable conversation, would very accurately be categorized as “having a great time.”

I would imagine that there have been instances in your life where you first met someone – perhaps at a new school or camp, or when sharing a table at a chasunah – got to talking, and walked away thinking, “Hey, he was a really nice guy, I’m glad I met him and schmoozed for a while.” If that has not ever happened to you, there are likely some matters here which are far more basic than dating which ought to be attended to sooner rather than later.

Dating is not at all dissimilar from the above scenario. It is an opportunity to meet a new person, hopefully someone whose company you will enjoy sharing, and quite possibly someone with whom you may even spend the rest of your life. The very first step of the dating experience is spending time with someone and discussing matters which are mostly superficial in nature. The next step is discerning over the duration of the date whether you are becoming suffused with feelings of increased interest or increased malaise in the person sitting across the table from you.

Granted that dating, and shidduch dating in particular, comes with inherent stresses and pressures which may preclude to some degree the ability to relax and have simple and enjoyable conversation, the basic premise remains that doing so is the goal at hand.

The purpose of making conversation on a date is not just to make conversation because what else is there to do while sitting in a hotel lobby. The purpose is to determine if the conversation and company were comfortable and created any interest in spending more time together. If so, the two people can then begin to discuss matters of hashkafah and life goals to further determine if there is not only the enjoyment of the present company, but the possibility to build a life and a home together.

Although it is entirely possible for someone to walk away from a first date thinking to themselves, “Well, that was a pretty miserable experience, but he/she didn’t seem to be exceptionally atrocious as a person, so I’ll tell the shadchan I’m good to go for a second date,” that is most certainly not the objective. The objective is to recognize that despite the fact that a first date may come along with some combination of unpleasantries, disquieting silences, and awkward moments, overall, if the conversation goes well, there are some laughs, and a nice connection begins to form, it can actually have been a great time.

It is also certainly possible that those of the female persuasion are more in tune with this phenomenon, as, in general, they are more innately connected with the processing of emotionally related experiences. Perhaps what has appeared to many a young man as having just barely survived the necessary evil of a first date, was felt by his counterpart as having been a wonderful time.

In any case, it strikes me as neither myth nor mystery that either a young man or young woman could indeed walk away from a successful first date feeling elated – even after the deliriums and doldrums of Diet Coke and the slogging through shared stories of schools, shvuggers and summers.

B’ezras Habochein klayois v’lev, you will speedily experience a truly enjoyable first date, and may it lead you down the aisle towards chayei simcha v’nachas.

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