Elul 5770 – Genuine Relationships in Dating – Part 1

Elul 5770
Part 1 – How do I create a genuine relationship in dating

Dear Chana,

Though I am embarrassed to say this [thus, I will remain anonymous] I have been dating for awhile and though I should have a basic understanding of how to be a good dater at this point – If I am to be perfectly honest with myself – I do not have this basic understanding or knowledge. I really need help with the dynamics of conversation and what sort of things to talk about etc. What I find very difficult is how to conduct oneself during the 1st date or 2 – and how this is supposed to actually transition into a real relationship from something so superficial. So, please give me some how to’s – I really need some direction here!

Thanks so much for this amazing site! It’s so needed!

Midreshet Tehillah [name and year withheld upon request]

Dear Jemsem Reader

I must tell you that I am so happy that you have asked this question. You are in very good company, as I get this question quite often from many people that I speak with. Whether it is in class, or former students speaking with me on the phone or emails, it seems that people today are need of the ‘how to’s’ of exactly how to communicate and in your words be a ‘good dater’. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to share some important ideas.

The 1st and 2nd date – though definitely more superficial, are quite important in laying the groundwork for the beginning of the possible relationship, but it is complicated. On the one hand you are trying to figure out commonality, personality, hashkafa, etc. of the person you are dating while at the same time it’s a process and you can’t reveal too much about yourself or ask incredibly personal questions of your date [which is sure to scare them off!]. So during these dates, you’ll basically be ‘refinding out’ things you already know from your checking out of the boy – but you are hearing it directly from him, and there’s a lot to learn and consider in that process for you, and visa versa.

Being a competent dater means working on your interpersonal skills and communication. [These are good things to know when you are dealing with anyone! :)) ] Here are some pointers:

* Get your date talking. Think of it as if you are writing a book about this person you are dating and you have to start getting info about their life. Learn how to ask questions, especially open ended ones that require explanation in the answers and not just a yes or no. Just because you are the girl, doesn’t mean that you must be so meek. You should ask questions of your date and be interested in what he has to say. [many a boy has complained to me, that their date doesn’t seem interested in them and doesn’t seem to want to know anything about them]

* Learn how to be a good listener. Be interested and fascinated in what your date is saying. Show genuine curiosity, be absorbed and enthusiastic. They are revealing things about themselves and are deservent of your full attention. Whenever we are having a conversation with anyone, isn’t that just what we adore? To have someone really listen to us and actually care about what we are talking about? Well, this is magnified on a date.

* Don’t interrupt when your date is in the middle of a thought or story. You may have 2 cents to add to a saga that happened to you on that topic, but wait until they finish. How annoying is it when you are talking and people aren’t listening at all, and they just start in with their story or idea smack in the middle of your words? When it is appropriate for you to add in your contribution to the conversation – [ie: your story – or your thoughts on the matter] always make sure to bring the conversation back to their story or their point, to let them know that you heard what they were saying.

* Ask questions on what they are saying. At the appropriate times in the conversations, ask questions on what they are talking about to show your interest and to let them know that you are really listening.

* Learn the art of active listening. When your date is making an important point or explaining something that is significant to them, repeat back/ summarize in your own words what you think they said. This is called active listening. If you are correct, they will feel that you in fact heard them, and this is important when you are trying to connect to someone. If not, they will restate what they said and make it more clear.

* Don’t monopolize the conversation. It should be a give and take, a mixture of both parties being able to speak and help the other person get to know them, and listening with active interest.

* Eye contact. Do make eye contact every now and then. No staring or gazing incessantly or anything like that, but eye contact gives the person whom you are speaking with a sense of chashivus, and it will help them see that you are interested in being with them and talking with them. It is an important part of communication.

Here are some conversation topics for the the 1st few dates:

  1. General background about yourself / interesting info of your life/ what is was like growing up where you did etc., things that aren’t too personal.
  2. Discussion of why you chose the Sem that you did / your profession etc.
  3. General hobbies and interests that you have.
  4. Jewish geography.
  5. Speaking about grandparents. What you’ve learned and gained from them, etc.
  6. Who are your role models and why? What have you learned from them? Favorite Teachers and Rabbeim, and why.
  7. Your 1st Shabbos away at someone elses house [don’t mention who it was] and what it was like.
  8. Things in general that you have gained [good and bad] from being in other peoples homes for Shabbos. Things that you definitely would like or not like to be in your own home.
  9. What inspired you to pursue______? What it was like on your 1st of _____?

All these interesting things speaking about yourself and ditto finding out all this info about your date.

To be continued next month……. More dating pointers on how to build a genuine relationship. [heads up…. Opening up, making yourself vulnerable, and more….

Stay tuned!]

I hope this is helpful to you! Thanks again for this very important question!

With Warmest Wishes,