Monday, December 24, 2007

Enough enough enough

I have heard many, many times that the definition of insanity is to keep trying the same thing over and over and expect different results. Is that insanity or just stupidity? Or is that hope? Or are they all the same things?

Lord knows, I was guilty of this during the course of my marriage. I was ready to leave The Ex before my first anniversary. He begged me to stay, saying we had to try, that we could fix what was wrong, that we owed it to our marriage to work it out. Sucker that I am, I stayed. Five years later, what was wrong then was, well, a bit worse. But boyohboy had we given it the old college try! Marriage counselors, endless discussions, strategies, etc. I kept thinking that if we wanted to save the marriage, we could. And then five years went by. And we couldn't. And for my troubles, I got:

1. A full set of Samsonite in terms of emotional baggage.
2. An almost lost opportunity to have children.
3. I am alone.

As Stephen King says, "the world has moved on," but I am back to where I was years ago. The eligible, frum guys in my age range and religious sphere are now married. My dating pool is full of crocodiles and swamp rats. And frogs, lotsa frogs. Pucker up, Princess.

So you would think that I would smarten up and learn something from my marriage. What should I learn? That just because you try hard at something, doesn't mean it's going to happen. That after trying unsuccessfully for some period of time, you need to give up the ghost and try something else.

As I've said before, I was traveling recently and visited the city that I lived in when I was married. I had dinner with an old acquaintance, Sherry. Sherry is in her late forties, divorced, Conservadox. She's never going to win the Miss America title and she's a tiny bit annoying. She wears very flamboyant clothing and jewelry, and the older she gets, the more flamboyant her style and personality become. (I'm a teensy bit terrified of eventually becoming Sherry. There but for the grace of God go I.) She told me that she has given up on dating "the kosher way." She joined a secular dating service and while she told them that she preferred to date Jews, she was also open to dating non-Jews. This is a huge departure for Sherry. Even though she is not really observant, she knows a great deal about halacha and in the past was always very strict about dating only Jewish men. I reacted with shock and even scolded her. She said "insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting the same results. I don't want to be insane anymore."

Now, don't worry, I'm not going to start going out with non-Jewish men. That's not my point. I guess my point is, I don't want to be insane anymore either.

I dropped my SYAS membership a week ago. I have to say, the SYAS matchmakers are diligent. I used to get close to 7 or 8 suggestions a week, and I would go out with 2 or 3 guys from the list. So today, I got emails from both of my SYAS matchmakers saying that they had some ideas for me but that I needed to reactivate my membership.

And I did (can you say "sucker?"). And after seeing the guys that were suggested, I can only conclude that I would have been better off spending the money on a manicure.

What is it about me that keeps hoping? How stupid am I? I have been out on dozens of dates since my divorce, but most of them seem to get rolled into one big hazy scenario: he's sorta decent looking if you make squinty-eyes (I keep thinking that I'll just drink a lot of wine on my wedding night), he usually does something uncouth, like hold his fork like a garden tool or scratch himself, but I dismiss that, and we make pleasant conversation, which usually includes some mind-numbing Jewish geography and of course, the mandatory interrogation. I find my eyes going blink-blink-blink at some point and I start thinking about which shoes I'm going to wear tomorrow or if I am getting a good yield on my savings account. I go into auto-pilot, which is a handy-dandy thing to go into. He drops me off. I almost always get a second date from the guy. After all, it's pleasant, I'm not Quasimodo, I didn't wear a tube top on the date or pick my nose. It's pleasant. La la la la la. How are you, WebGirl? Bee-Aitch, I'm fine, I am just so amazingly fine. I Heart Dating!

Again, I ask, am I stupid? Am I optimistic? Am I a complete friggin idiot? Why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep trying the same thing over and over and expect different results? Why do I think that this will get me married with a family? How many damn frogs do I have to kiss before I acknowledge that there is no such thing as magic. I have an extraordinarily high IQ. And yet, I keep repeating the same asinine things, over and over again. Maybe I'm an idiot-savante. Maybe I really am insane.

I think it's time to explore some alternatives. I don't want to be insane anymore. But what alternatives are there?


Nice Jewish Guy said...

I told you what you need to do, sweetie. You need to expand your dating pool to left-wing (or even middle of the road Modern Orthodox. Depending on who's swimming in the pool at any given time, you are likely to get a better caliber of man that's still observant. I know you want a certain hashkafic flavor. But what's more important.. a man who needs social coaching and can learn or a man who is educated, polished, keeps shabbos and most halacha, and can learn a bit if 'noodged'? I know you don't want to be the frum police. But you can inspire someone to do and learn a bit more, and it's a lot easier than teaching them how to hold a fork or not fart in public.

If that doesn't work, go Conservadox, or at least someone who grew up Yeshivish or Orthodox and went Conservadox. You might be able to find more common ground than you think.

abandoning eden said...

I'm assuming that since you were married for at least 5 years that the last time (pre-marriage) that you were dating, you weren't internet dating. Well, as someone who did 3 years of jewish internet dating before meeting my current bf (who isn't jewish, but that's not the point) advice is that internet dating is a numbers game. I know it seems frustrating to go out with a ton of people and not feel that spark with anyone, and even going on second dates, and feeling like you've met 100 people and all of them suck. I've totally been there.

I used to be on jdate a lot (I never paid for it, but if you have aol IM, a lot of people use their screennames as their jdate name, plus you can get incoming IMs, so I never had to pay for it). I'd say for every 5 people who IMed me or tried to contact me or something, I was interested in maybe 1 or 2 to the point of even responding to them. I made a rule of having to talk to someone for at least a week or two before making plans to meet up, because in that week, out of every 5 people I talked to online, maybe 2 were interesting to talk to past the first conversation, and I met up with 1 in person. Then when I met them, out of every 5 dates, maybe 1 was someone I was interested in going on a second date with...

anyways, you get the point. Internet dating is inherently different from the way dating used to be because the whole strategy is bascially go out with a ton of people and very few are people you connect with. You just meet as many as possible and hope you click with one of them.

So things to try differently? Well SYAS is a shidduch thing isn't it? (i've never used it personally, but doesn't someone set you up with "matches" or something?) Are you opposed to non-shidduch dating? If you haven't tried it yet, Jdate is a great way to see profiles of pretty much every jewish person in your vicinity, and you can limit your searches to people who are orthodox or whatever you are looking for. Also try going out with people you wouldn't normally..maybe not on the religious-level thing, but on other factors that you are limiting yourself to (i'm not sure what they are, but everyone has their list of features of people they won't go out with).

And i'm just playing devils advocate here...but maybe the people you are going out with think the same thing about how mind numbingly boring jewish geography is or the interrogation thing can be. So why don't you be the one who starts asking weird questions or make jokes about how horrible dating is? I've found in my dating experience that once you acknowledge that dating is formulaic and boring and awkward, some people (and generally these are the good kinds of people) start opening up a little more, and you figure out the interesting things about them...which is where that "spark" comes from :)

Finally, and I know this is getting long and rambeling got divorced around a year ago right? I never got divorced, but I was in a 4 year relationship where we got engaged (had a vort and everything, made wedding plans) and then we ended up breaking up a few months before the wedding...anyways, I went on a bunch of dates the year after trying to get over the awful experience, but it took about a year and a half until I was even able to care about anyone i met enough to go into a relationship. Relationships are scary, and even though you were over your ex long before you divorced, that doesn't mean you can instantly get over the experience of a bad marriage. Cut yourself some slack and take some time off from dating completely if you want to (the best thing I ever did was dedicate a couple of months to figuring out everything I didn't like about my life, and then changing those things...with no dating. It made dating a lot easier and funner and less crappy when I knew I was happy in my own life no matter how things with boys turned out.)

WebGirl said...

NJG, it's a good suggestion and I've thought about it. I could probably go a little more modern, but you know what? I've dated those guys too. Hell, I married one of those guys. And truthfully, I don't think I could respect them. I don't mean that I couldn't respect them as human beings, I mean respect them as a spouse. In the same way some guys can't compromise on looks in a spouse, I can't see myself compromising on religious practice. Been there, done that, and it hurt too much. I want to look up to my husband and be proud of him. I want us to grow together. I want him to be someone I can lean on. In my marriage, I spent most of the time making excuses for The Ex's religious slacking, both to myself and to outsiders. And Conservadox? Not in this lifetime. I've got Conservadox friends and kol hakavod to them, but to have one as a life partner? Nuh uh. Would rather stay single (and sadly, I probably will).

AE, I totally agree about online dating being a numbers game, and that's basically what I've been playing (I'm on Frumster too, btw). It's not like EVERY date is horrible. There have been a few very nice ones. I'm just tired. Even the very nice ones have been mediocre. I want this part of my life to be over already. As far as taking time off, that's what this year was supposed to be about...getting my act together, losing weight, recovering, getting back to myself. I've taken some time off here and there from dating, but the truth is, I'm in my late thirties and I want to have kids and I don't really have the time to throw away anymore. Though I think at this point, I am going to take a little time off to breath, because if I don't, I'm going to pop a vein.

abandoning eden said...

yeah i didn't mean like take another year off, but it seems (from your posts) that you've been going on dates all the time. take a week or two off at least :)

And lets face it, dating sucks, until it doesn't (when you meet someone you like) but the meeting someone you like and having them like have to go through a lot of suckiness to get to that person. I don't know what to tell you. Maybe don't go on second dates with people when the first date was mediocre? That seems like a waste of time to me.. (i'm all for giving people second chances, but in my experience if i'm going to like someone, i usually like them by the day after a first date, when i've had some time to digest what happened...i've never started to like someone after a second date if i didn't feel all the butterflies after the first one)