Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blind Dating

Blind dating is pretty much the only sort of dating that goes on in the frum world. We call the system of matchmaking, "Shidduchim". The process consists of being set up on dates, whether through friends, family, or the good old shadchan (matchmaker) in order to find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. You've never met or talked to him (or her, as the case may be) before, making them blind dates, yet you're supposed to figure out within a couple of weeks whether you want to marry them and bear their children.

I haven't talked much about my dating experiences on this blog, mostly because there's another blog out there,, who seems to say everything that needs to be said, but since it's a pretty prominent part of my life, I figure it's time for me to put my own two cents in.

For now, all I'm going to say is that there are times when you almost wish you were blind. You're supposed to be deep and spiritual and not care about their looks, but when you go on a date and the guy's hair is greasy, or he's wearing ridiculous clothing, or he's just plain, erm, not very good looking, what are you supposed to do? Tell the shadchan (matchmaker), "Well, I couldn't look at him during the entire date but I'll go out with him again because I don't want to judge someone too quickly based on their physical appearance"?

That happens to be precisely what is expected of us ladies. When I came home from a date recently and told my family that the guy I'd gone out with wasn't very good looking, to put it kindly, I got every response from, "Well, you need to give it time," to, "You're being so mean! How could you judge a person by their looks?"

Is it really so shallow to want to be attracted to the man you mean to marry?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Secret Handshake

There's a secret to handshaking in the frum world. An unspoken arrangement in which handshaking is (no pun intended) handled. To outsiders looking in it probably looks like we just don't bother with handshaking at all, but there's method to our madness.

It starts with the Halachic prohibition forbidding physical contact between members of the opposite sex. This prevents handshaking between the sexes in the frum community. Then once we're all accustomed to the "no handshaking with men\women," rule, we often just forego handshaking altogether.

It's all pretty simple until you take it out of the frum world where no one else is aware of this "secret" to handshaking. When a frum person is out in the secular world, they're faced with the decision of how to avoid handshaking with member of the opposite sex without appearing rude or insulting.

Most guys are fine when I tell them that I don't shake hands with men. I've only had a few instances where people have taken offense to my "no handshake" deal. I've heard of people getting highly insulted and I've never understood it. So I don't shake your hand - what's the big deal?

My sister was scolded by an employee in a store she was patronizing for not shaking hands with him. Needless to say, she hasn't gone back to that store.

I had a black guy reply, "I'm a person too, you know," when I excused myself from shaking his hand. But when I explained to him that it was for religious reasons, he seemed to feel better about it.

It occurs to me that some people might find my, "Sorry, I don't shake hands with men," thing sexist. What do you think?