By Baila Sebrow

Question

I have a few questions. My daughter was set up with a young man who has a very busy schedule with work, graduate school, and learning. The only day he claims to be able to date is on a Sunday. My daughter was out of town this past Sunday, so they would need to wait until next Sunday, even though they were introduced last week. Do you think that he should have made more of an effort to get together during the week?

They spoke for about a half-hour for their first conversation. He called today and he only spoke to her for a few minutes, saying that he was on his way to work. It was puzzling why he didn’t call yesterday when he didn’t have to go to work.

Also, my daughter mentioned to him that she does not drive in New York and that it would be very helpful if he could pick her up rather than meet her somewhere. He called to arrange to meet next Sunday at a restaurant, saying that it would be more convenient for him to meet her there. The location isn’t very convenient or close to where my daughter is going to be. What do you think?

Response

Dating has changed so drastically today that unless one is involved in matchmaking, they are shocked when their own children enter the shidduch parashah. It doesn’t matter what age or hashkafah we are talking about, chivalry, I am sorry to say, is not alive and kicking as it should be. Not only that, but expecting that one will keep his or her word is not a given anymore either. This applies to both genders. I imagine that as a mother who dated many years ago, what you are witnessing today can be quite disheartening.

To tell you that what goes on today is normal would be validating bad etiquette. The advice I will offer is how to help your daughter navigate in the best way with whatever is available to her. My advice will not be just about your specific questions, but so that you understand what’s going on out there, I will disclose some of the troubling issues.

For starters, any man or woman who is serious about dating for marriage is expected to make the effort to meet or communicate when appropriate. Sure, life happens, and things come up, but just as one would do their due diligence regarding upholding other important obligations in their life, that should also be the case where dating is concerned. As a shadchan, I see more often than I would like that people push off setting a date to meet after a pleasant conversation, or, as in your daughter’s case, they are stuck on only dating on one specific day. And there are cases where the person will even just call to cancel a date using some rehearsed-sounding excuse.

The young man your daughter has been communicating with sounds busy. With work, graduate school, and learning, dating cannot physically hold a place for him in a 24-hour day, assuming he still needs to make time for meals and rest. That begs the following questions. How does he expect to carry on a relationship if he is that busy, and what does he do about invitations to weddings that take place midweek? I try to avoid speaking for others, but, based on what I witness, people manage to make time for the things that are of great significance to them. That said, while I respect this young man’s work and academic ethics, embarking on a dating relationship with him at this point will lead to much aggravation and require a great deal of patience, assuming he will not break things off because it will all be too much for him to handle.

Whether it is this guy or someone else, this business of men not picking up their date from her home and returning her safely has gotten out of hand. Unless a woman insists on meeting the man somewhere other than where she lives, it is his obligation to pick her up. Friends who hang out together meet at a designated spot, but a man who invites a woman out to spend time together in order to get to know her should put in the effort to bring her there himself.

Even if the man offers to pay for a taxi service, it is still in poor taste. I will ask the same question in this scenario as I did earlier. If the man who prefers to meet his date somewhere rather than pick her up from her home has a wedding in her vicinity, would he then make the effort to drive or get himself over there by whatever mode of transportation? Of course! He wouldn’t expect the wedding party to change locales just to accommodate him! The bottom line is that people will go out of their way for the things that they feel must take priority in their lives.

There is another prevalent phenomenon in our society that must change. Women of all ages have become so accustomed to feeling that it is they who must make every effort in dating relationships, because, according to some beliefs, “It’s a man’s world.” Whenever I hear anyone make such a statement, my response is always, “No, it is not a man’s world, nor is it a woman’s world. This world belongs to G-d.”

When people are empowered to behave in distasteful ways, it not only encourages them to continue in that pattern, but they begin to believe that whatever it is they are doing is how society expects them to behave. And that applies to the good as well as the bad.

Your daughter, and every woman, should never believe that she has to put up with anything that makes her feel uncomfortable, or that she must excuse herself for not going along with something that is not right for her. Now, let’s go over every nuance that you complained about. You indicate that they spoke for an appropriate length of time for their first conversation (half an hour), but he was unable to make a date with her because he was too busy during the week to go out. Just so you know, my advice in these situations, when talking to a busy young man, is that I tell him to hold off dating until his schedule is a bit more flexible, unless he is introduced to a young lady who is ready to treat dating in the same way.

He then called her a second time and only spoke to her for a few minutes, saying that he was on his way to work, yet you are wondering why he did not call her the previous day when he did not have to go to work. There is nothing to be puzzled about here. This guy is making it very clear to your daughter that she is not his priority right now. And if that is not enough, whenever the date will take place — on a Sunday when he is off and not busy with work, school, and learning — he expects her to get herself over to the restaurant to meet him. Why? Because it is convenient for him! Not only that, but your daughter does not feel comfortable driving in New York, yet the location that he chose is not close or convenient for her to get there. The answer is that she should make it very clear to the guy that she will not be able to accommodate him.

I realize that if you were to ask other people, they would tell you that it is perfectly OK for her to go along with it, and not be so picky about things, because that’s how things are today. However, the problem is that if she goes along with it, she will be setting an unhealthy pattern for herself in not expecting that a man must respect her. Moreover, she is enabling him to behave unchivalrously towards her.

I wonder whether it is you who feels more bothered about this entire scenario than your daughter. If so, you must explain to her everything that appears wrong with this not-yet-established relationship. You do not say whether she already agreed to meet him, fearing she will lose him. If so, she needs to contact him and explain that she would prefer that he either pick her up from home or meet somewhere that is convenient for her, too. His reaction to her request remains to be seen. He might not agree and end it. If so, then your daughter was lucky to have dodged a bullet, as he would not treat her the way she deserves.

It is interesting to note that there have been many cases where the circumstances were similar in the beginning to your daughter’s situation, yet the woman made it clear that she expects to be treated like a lady, and the man not only accepted it but also respected her for speaking up. Sometimes people must put their foot down and set the tone for how they expect others to treat them.

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to 5townsforum@gmail.com.

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