Deep thoughts, random insights, and musings by Susan Jacobs

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Some thoughts on dating

I recently attended a large singles Shabbaton. While these events can sometimes be horribly awkward and disappointing, this time I genuinely had a good time. I was reunited with some female friends from college and had a few enjoyable conversations with some guys. I’m not sure if the Shabbaton will directly lead to any dating prospects for me, but at the very least, it made me feel good to know that there are still a lot of single people in my age group who are intelligent and attractive, and reasonably normal who have simply not yet met their matches. Being among such company reassures me that there is nothing wrong with me.

The Shabbaton was also somewhat eye-opening. Among the hundreds of people there were quite a few whose photos I had seen online on various dating sites. It was fascinating to see how different many people were in person than I expected them to be from their online profiles. When people post photos of themselves online, they are generally looking their best and exuding confidence. But in person, I realized that many of the guys I met, like me, have their own insecurities about dating.

I am not saying this to demean the guys I met. Rather, the weekend made me more sympathetic to the difficulties of being a guy who is expected by society to take the lead in dating, but who may be uncomfortable with this situation to begin with, and, over time, may be worn down by repeated rejections.

As a single female, among other single women, I have often discussed the frustrations many of us share with some of the men we have dated. It is generally accepted that being single above a certain age is more difficult for women than for men. While I think there is a lot of truth to this assumption, the singles weekend helped me to realize how difficult the dating landscape can be for men as well. The bottom line is, for all of us looking for our basherts, and being unsure what exactly we should do to meet the right person, the process is fraught with difficulty.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Thoughts on Tisha B'Av

As we head into Tisha B’Av in a few hours, there is a lot to think about. For the past week or two I’ve been more or less numbed to what is going on in Israel, but in these hours before Tisha B’Av, the threats against Israel are hitting me with a bit more gravity.

Like most people who observe the day with fasting, I truly dread Tisha B’Av. It is uncomfortable and depressing and just really hard to get through. Although I am excited about my plans for this coming weekend, it is hard to think that far ahead with this big cloud of a depressing day hanging over me. I know I will get through it as I always do, but it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that there is this one day of the year when we are supposed to be sad. So much so that, like shiva, we are supposed to avoid going to work if we can, lest we be tempted to let the day fly by in a flurry of productivity.

When I was a teenager, I was nervous about fasting, and dreaded that lingering feeling of hunger and the sense that the day would never end. Now that I am older, the hunger itself doesn’t bother me as much, and the day doesn’t seem quite as endless, but it is still a long, difficult day.

With the three weeks and nine days preceding Tisha B’Av, the restrictions on listening to music and eating meat create a sense of growing frustration, more than sorrow for me. Every year, I enter the three weeks with the resigned knowledge that I just have to get through it, all the while feeling that nothing good can really begin until Tisha B'Av is over.

Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling this way, because this time period is supposed to inspire deeper reflection than just, “I can’t wait until this is over.” But, I suspect that most people struggle with similar feelings about the day, and most of us feel we have achieved what we should if for just a few moments during Tisha B’Av we can mourn for the pain that our people has experienced over so many generations.

Let us look forward to a day when it will no longer be necessary to observe Tisha B’Av.