Updated: Jun 7
I have this thing that I like in my relationships. It's pretty kinky and weird but try to understand where I am coming from:
I like the guy to plan the dates as if he cared about my time and put some thought into enjoying a date with me.
I know. It's way more hardcore than Fifty Shades of Grey.
Because I have had so many experiences (See: this entire blog) where the guy has fallen short, I've started to question myself and wonder if wanting this is more my problem for wanting than it is his to provide.
I'm also a feminist and think I can do anything a man can do, like explain things people already as if they were a toddler. I'm a planner and there are many parts of the city I would love to explore with someone else. So, why shouldn't I volunteer to set up the date, arrange the time and make it perfect for both of us?
Trust me I can and I have done this before. And it was nice. I got everything together the way I wanted it, made sure I had enough to eat and that our date was a good mix of fun and serious.
Then, when I put the responsibility on the guy again, just to see how he'd do, he was completely flustered.
I should probably keep this job for myself forever. After all, I could wear the pants in my relationship and be fine. After all, I will be planning our days and months and lives once we are married, so I may as well begin now.
Perhaps because I am a frum jew I continue to cling to this older notion that the man should prepare the dates. Judaism is the first patriarchy and will continue to be a patriarchy until the end of time. Patriarchal societies dictate that the man arranges the dates, drives the car (usually badly) and holds the door open.
He is also supposed to provide for the family and be the strength around which the family is built but I know not to set my hopes too high.
As I questioned this, I discovered the book How to be Alone by Lane Moore, a comedian and singer. This book was recommended by a group of Self Partnered people on Facebook. There were several parts that really struck me.
The beginning of the book details Lane's escape from her abusive home and her attachment issues in her first few romantic experiences outside of that home. Then she talks about a guy who saw her stand up routine and reached out to her with a detailed response to and compliment of her work. He asked her out immediately which is a big step 1. Many guys even struggle to ask.
Lane writes "So later when I agreed to a date and he asked me about all of the things I like to do and said he would make a plan (!!!!) for us based on that, I was ecstatic. He asked me for a list of things I loved and then said he's spend the week thinking of some elaborate, wonderful thing for us to do together."
That was all straight from the book. This guy sounds above and beyond. Not every date needs to be, oh I don't know, a fall hike followed by a dairy lunch and then two hours in a bookstore, followed by some cultural event that is in town for a limited time followed by an early dinner of steak so everyone is home by 9, (or something) but it could at least be something a little different.
Now, imagine Lane creating her list. She probably put on some of the mainstream things she loves (sunlight, walks, movies, books, Harry Potter, the ocean) while keeping her niche hobbies to herself (Taylor Swift's songs that she writes in the bath, a perfect laid out full in, watching the Sound of Music on Christmas day.) She possibly consulted with friends to make sure nothing she said was too weird or crazy and would put him off.
And what did she get?
"Later the plan turned out to be 'Yeah I couldn't think of anything. You just wanna walk around in the blizzard outside?"
Lane is, understandably devastated. She wonders if there are any good men left, if romance is dead (sound familiar?) She says "I'm tired of pretending I'm cool with whatevs. I'm tired of pretending that laziness can replace thoughtfulness and still be acceptable to me. I want it all, man. I want someone who asks me out to make and actual plan, whether that plan involves a jet or a stack of nickels (money is not the issue here), the picks me up at my house and takes me on an actual date [...]not for any kind of financial display necessarily, but because they want me to know that they know that I'm special and worth it."
Because they want me to know that they know that I'm special and worth it.
I've been working on being more present on my dates in order to show the guy I am with that he is special and worth it. Every single time I put on the makeup and blow dry my hair and wear something nice to show him that he is special and worth it. Is it perhaps not enough?
Marriage is his mitzvah, not mine. It is his mitzvah to pick me up and make me feel good and then to eventually build a family. I want to help with this mitzvah, but I can't do it on my own.
I'm so glad that Lane, who has no connection to the Jewish world, agrees with me on this. That we are each special and worth it. Worth more than "Yeah I couldn't think of anything." Lane, like me, lives in Manhattan. When you google "Things to do in Manhattan" the list isn't 100 things. It's 10,000. And yes, they may be touristy or cliche, but they will show that you tried.
Later, a different guy asked Lane out and she was more careful. When she asked on the day that would have been their date what they were doing he said "Let's just figure something out."
Lane writes "I told him we could go out when he had a plan. He never rose to that hilariously simple and reasonable request, and it felt not only fine but good. Because I hadn't sat passively, hoping he'd become someone he never indicated he could be. And sure, you could argue that I could've made the plans, but I've done that for so many years and I don't want to. It's as simple as that! It's not a gender thing, but I want to be courted."
Lane is not religious but she still holds on to wanting to be courted, even without a patriarchal religion.
I know I have written about this issue before but Lane's work here felt very validating to me. I want to be open to new guys and new opportunities but I also want to balance knowing innately that I'm special and worth it.
I want to stop playing the maybe game.
The maybe game goes like this:
This resume is for a learner from Belgium and I'm looking for an American earner but maybe he's a learner earner and is willing to move
This resume has grammatical and spelling errors but maybe they only showed up when he moved the file from Word to PDF
The guy said on the date that he doesn't want a TV in his house but maybe he won't notice it if it's in the kitchen
The guy showed up at my door in a dirty shirt and took me on a 2 block walk around my neighborhood but maybe he was just nervous
The guy showed up in a car that was dirty that I had to detach lollypops from the front seat before I could sit down but maybe the mess was from all the Chesed he does
The guy asked me why I wash before I eat bread but maybe he was being sarcastic
The guy said "I like watching girls eat steak" but maybe that wasn't meant sexually and was meant like when two year olds say "I like watching Cocomelon." Actually, that's worse.
The guy took me to coffee for the third time but maybe his internet broke so he couldn't research anywhere else to go.
The guy has a picture of his sister and just his sister as the background of his phone but maybe he just likes the bathing suit she's wearing.
And MAYBE some of these are true. People have bad days or smelly cars for reasons they can't help and that's part of what being present is: trying to see the big picture instead of the little details.
But the big picture should add up to making me feel special and worth it. The resume should reflect someone who wants to put in time to making me feel special and worth it.
I want to believe that I'm working on myself to be better for the person I will eventually meet. I fear that if I overcome some of my struggles I will further throw off the balance between me and some of the people I date. If I give in to my base instincts and become someone who, as Lane writes, will settle for 'Netflix and chill' I may have a better chance of escaping this rat race.
So I remind myself again and again that the work I do isn't about him. It's about bettering myself and making myself a vessel for and an example of G-D's presence in this world.
But I want a him, and like Lane, I want him to treat me well.