As a boy in shidduchim for a number of years already, I noticed something about myself: I no longer go on dates with “jitters.” Unfortunately, it is almost like I am going on a business meeting or family outing. As a result, I am much more natural, must less rehearsed, than when I started shidduchim. I am still obviously appropriate and respectful, but other than the first few minutes when I first meet the parents and the girl, I have completely let my guard down.
My parents have commented to me about this, telling me that I am not taking dating seriously enough. I have tried to explain to them that it is not that I am not taking it seriously. It is just that I’ve been doing it so much, so often, for so many years that it is hard to maintain that same “aura” about shidduchim.
I am merely seeking validation here. Are my feelings wrong?
If it is validation you seek, then validation you will receive, as you are more than deserving of it. The dating process can be exhausting and enervating – especially for those who have been submersed in it for many consecutive years – and perceiving oneself as beset with apathy and fatigue is both a common internal and external response to the rigors of the ongoing process, and is perfectly reasonable and understandable.
However, and not to diminish the above even one iota, while an indomitable vote of confidence equitably addresses the past and present, the future must also be considered. Consequently, whereas it is crucial that one’s parents recognize this reality as fair, and lend support and love to a son or daughter who is experiencing such lassitude, it is equally vital that the weary and worn out dater unearth the means to mount a resurgence. This is not to say that the charge is simple, but it is necessary, if one hopes to redevelop the faculty to date from a place of strength, rather than one of weakness.
With respect to accomplishing this task, a number of avenues may prove beneficial, and to that end, I would like to offer a handful of suggestions. They may be open to exploration independently, or concurrently, and though some may not feel like the right fit, perhaps others will resonate as effective and uplifting.
1. Take a break. There is nothing wrong or dangerous with stepping away from dating for a few weeks, or even a couple of months, in order to recharge one’s batteries, and doing so may be the key to revitalization, and returning to dating with gusto.
2. Mix it up. If the old dating activities and venues have growing stale, even those that may have been tried and true on many previous occasions, it could be time to try something new. It may even be prudent to venture into uncharted territory, and do something outside one’s comfort zone, in an effort to recreate the butterflies that keep one on their toes when they need to be.
3. Normalize the feelings. When one is sustaining a challenge, it is not unusual for the feeling of being challenged itself to exacerbate the anguish. Exponentially so when one believes that they are alone and picayune for having such a misfortune, and that there is thus something wrong with them for contracting the hardship to begin with. The more one can be accepting of themselves, and appreciate that they are not isolated in shouldering that burden, the more capable one might be when it comes to conquering it.
4. Separate and clarify the problems. Whilst in the midst of distress, emotions and cognitions are easily conflated or misconstrued. For instance, one may be feeling a combination of fear, frustration, anger, and anxiety, all at once, and those feelings may then coalesce into one resulting behavior. Alternatively, one could be conducting themselves in a manner which indicates feelings of aggravation, when, in fact, it is actually a sadness that one has become indifferent towards that is the real underlying emotion. Accordingly, it is imperative that one identify exactly what it is that they are feeling or thinking if they are to succeed at tempering any emotions and/or cognitions which are preventing them from accomplishing a given objective.
Parenthetically, though one may be able to get the wheels turning on their own, when it comes to internal processes and how they manifest, it is almost always best to secure a qualified professional who can properly map it all out. Moreover, having someone to talk to, create strategies with, and provide caring direction throughout the duration of the obstacle, can go a long way in aiding someone to get back on their feet.
5. Acknowledge the loss. As one matures and changes, the manner in which they approach their goals often needs to be modified commensurately. The vim and vigor with which one had been entering prior dates may now need to be replaced with a mien that is more aptly described as dignified and discreet. This is not inherently an obstruction, but it is different, and it is a loss of youthful energy and exuberance. If one can successfully concede to, and subsequently surmount the loss, and learn to not only consent to it, but welcome the transformation, they may discover a novel and refreshing persona to embrace and cultivate, instead of descending into an outlook of dispiritedness, and an approach of triviality.
6. Celebrate the victories, large or small. Without disregarding the overall issue which must be attended to, if one can remain aware of any accomplishments made along the way, it may assist in maintaining an optimistic outlook. For example, having the capacity to be natural and authentic on a date has its advantages. Offering a genuine approximation of who one is while on a date, as opposed to misrepresenting due to a bad case of the nerves, is a great achievement. And if that feat can be conjoined with an overall sense of sanguinity, and transcend any lingering feelings of dispassion, it may markedly suspend the setback.
7. Be confident and courageous. As the well known adage goes, “Gam zeh ya’avor.” Sorrow and struggle are synonymous with, and inseparable from, the sublunary human experience, and, b’ezras Hashem Yisborach, they are also transient. When one retains an entrenched position that the pain will be permanent, it can be a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts. On the other hand – and although it is admittedly decidedly difficult to pull off, and always far easier said than done – when one can assure themselves that something great is just around the corner, it can help ease the pain, for the period for which it persists, and even accelerate the eventual reversal of the tides. Positivity should never be undersold.
May the Nosein Layaeif Koach give grit, gumption, determination, and resilience to all those who feel laid low, and see that they are elevated, posthaste, to a place of emesdik, enduring menuchas hanefesh.