I am a 32-year-old guy, raised Modern Orthodox, and I guess you can say I lean towards being machmir. I have gone through all the systems in dating: shadchanim, events, websites–you name it. I find that religious girls are not proactive in making things work when it comes to dating, while girls who are less frum, or not frum at all, are. What would be the big deal if a girl would make the first move? For example, sometimes suggest date ideas, and just in general make things happen.
So many girls these days are lazy. Why can’t a girl walk up to a guy at a singles event and start a conversation? Why does it always have to be the guy? Particularly frustrating to me is the beginning. Why can’t girls just stop with the silly stereotypes and actively pursue making the relationship work? At the start, I wish girls would be more active in getting the ball rolling. Once they are actually dating, then yes–chivalry on the guy’s part is fine.
Think about this: If a girl wants to get a good job, does she sit back and wait for companies to magically find her? Or does she apply and try to get a job? Dating should be no less important.
By Baila Sebrow
I sense that a lot of aggravation has been building up from your experiences in dating. I also understand where you are coming from. It seems you have done your utmost in actively seeking your bashert. From what you are relating, you have not seen positive results, although you tried most if not all methods available in the frum dating world. Understandably, you feel disappointed at being unsuccessful while trying so hard to attain that which you desire most.
Not to undermine or challenge your complaints about frum girls, but you also have to understand where they are coming from. Girls raised in frum circles, by and large, with a few exceptions, are educated in all-girls’ schools. Whether these schools are of Bais Yaakov hashkafah or even if a bit more to the modern side, the fact remains that when these girls start dating they might give the impression of being withdrawn and lazy, much as your viewpoint depicts. However, that is not the reality. Many frum girls are outgoing and forthcoming, and commonly take a strong initiative in matters other than dating.
You are correct in analogizing that if a girl would seriously be seeking a job, she would not passively sit and wait for the company to seek her out. Rather, she would do whatever it takes to get that interview in an effort to be hired. So why do these same girls behave in a manner that you find upsetting? Because, the plain truth is that these girls are shy around guys.
Girls who are raised in a traditional Orthodox environment not only attend same-gender schools, but same-gender camps too. Extracurricular activities, whether done for chesed or just plain fun, are also done with girls only. Concerts, weddings, and even family gatherings have separate seating areas. Some even have separate entrances for men and women.
Students in high school and seminary are instructed by the administrators that if they are seen talking to boys, they can expect to be expelled–no excuses will be accepted. When the day finally arrives that these girls are of marriageable age, many have no inkling of how to talk to a boy. This might sound far-fetched to you, coming from a Modern Orthodox background. I know many girls who come from such an upbringing. One of the strong concerns I hear from seminary students, specifically those who have not been raised in households with male siblings, is “How do you talk to a boy?” I am not joking. And when these girls start dating, they tend to be quiet on dates, and will make no initiative to suggest ideas of where to go for a date.
Approaching boys is something not even Modern Orthodox girls are necessarily comfortable with. And many guys, even those of Modern Orthodox backgrounds, are also not too comfortable approaching girls. This is not a matter of being frum–it is about fear of rejection. Worse, it is the fear of being snubbed. Have you never approached a girl at a singles event or other function only to encounter a rude rejection?
In addition, most girls–whether Modern Orthodox, frum, or secular–are of the school of thought that approaching a guy can come across as being presumptuous, aggressive, and too forward. They also believe that guys would prefer that they not make the first move in a social setting.
Girls have told me of circumstances where they felt bold enough to walk up to a guy at a singles event to start a conversation and later hand him a card with her phone number and or e-mail address. Many of these girls have reported that these guys did not take them seriously and they never heard from them again.
You feel as though you are doing all the work and would like to see a little more effort from the other side. Yet I believe that what is most irritating to you is not having met someone similar to yourself in thoughts and action. You might see positive results if introduced to a girl who is similar to you in where you come from and how you have grown. “Like marrying like,” in this circumstance, is not overrated. You are best off meeting and being introduced to girls with backgrounds more compatible with your own. A girl who had a Modern Orthodox upbringing but has veered to being machmir might be a good option for you. A girl of this type is generally more comfortable around guys. Talking to guys does not feel intimidating to her, and if she believes that there is compatibility, then suggesting ideas for a date will feel natural to her.
Applying that same strategy at singles events will also present happier results. Before you attend, speak to the producer of the event about the types of girls who will be attending. Stress your needs beforehand and be reassured that there will be girls who are similar to yourself. At the event, being that you are not a shy person, introduce yourself to the facilitators and ask them to suggest girls who they think might be compatible with you. If there is a girl whom you might be interested in, ask them to find out more about her.
Focus on your goal of finding your soul mate to spend your life with. In the end, when your lucky day arrives and you walk down that long-awaited aisle to the chupah, it will not matter who made the first approach, or who suggested what on your dates.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com.
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