A Personal Experience that Transformed the Way I Dated

A few years before I met my wife I took a trip to a major US Jewish community to visit a friend. It was a short visit, just a few days, but I planned to turn it into sort of a scouting mission to see if there were women there whom I might want to date.

Since I was there for Shabbat a single friend of mine invited me to a friday night “singles” Oneg at someone’s home that was meant to be quite popular so, of course, I decided to attend. I figured that there weren’t that many single Modern Orthodox women in town and that most of them would be at this Oneg, which means that I would get a pretty good picture of my dating prospects from that one close encounter. Pretty efficient, don’t you think?

I entered the Oneg that Friday night and did my usual quick scan of the room. Do I need to explain the quick scan? A veteran single can scan a room of a hundred people and in about 10 seconds determine that there’s absolutely no one there worth dating (yes, that’s part of the reason they’re veterans). My initial post scan reaction was not good. I wasn’t knocked off my feet by any of the ladies. I was about to bolt.

But I didn’t. Instead I played a hypothetical scenario in my head that went something like this: Imagine that you’re living here permanently and these are your only options for potential relationship partners. There’s no “next” event to meet people at. This is it. You either date someone here or remain alone (forever?).

What would you choose in that scenario? Many singles would choose the remain alone option. Not me. I wanted to get married and be a dad, raise a family, build a home. So I played along with my self-imposed test and scanned the faces in the room again. This time I didn’t compare them to women I knew back home or dreamed of knowing. I just viewed each woman as an individual, no comparisons. What a change.

I ended up asking one the women there out. Ok, it didn’t end up leading to a second date, but it was a huge step for me and a fundamental change in my thinking. On that weekend I decided that from now on I would focus on an individual not on an option. If I liked her it wouldn’t matter if there were other women who might be pettier or smarter or funnier. No one has it all. No one’s perfect. Focus.

From that time on I stopped chasing options and started dating individuals, and focusing completely on who they were and how I felt about them, not how they matched up to what else might be out there waiting for me. It took me some time but I continued focusing and was finally lucky enough to meet my wife, and give her the attention that she deserved.

I really believe in the power of focusing on the person in front of you.

It worked for me. Now make it work for you.

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