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Dating Advice #45 - Too Much Tension

May 8, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

He's working 80 hours a week, and it shows on his face. No wonder he's having trouble meeting the right woman.

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I'm a first-year resident at a hospital and I've just moved to a new city. I just broke up with a non-Jewish woman that I'd seen for about two years. Now I'm trying to meet a Jewish girl, but I'm having a hard time meeting people in general. I'm also very picky.

People have told me about how intense and focused I seem. Also, people comment on my lack of smiling. But that's just not my personality, and being in a hospital 80 hours a week doesn't help. It takes time for me to trust people and be open with them. Sometimes when I talk to new people, I feel like I may be going over their heads. I think I might be intimidating. Is that possible?

I feel like I'm missing out on a lot out there. I see people confined to their hospital beds all the time and it makes me want make the best of life. Yet when I go out, I can't seem to relate to all these people in a bar -- even though I'm there doing the same thing, I suppose.

My questions are: Do you think I should try to change? What does it mean when women (even ones I don't know) tell me to smile? Could I actually be intimidating to women? I really appreciate your comments on this. Thanks.


Dear Mark,

It seems that you may be unconsciously sabotaging yourself. First year residency is a very stressful time, and you are preoccupied with a heavy workload and the human suffering you observe each day. It's natural to worry about the future, to feel pessimistic, and to express your sentiments through negative body language.

We suggest that you try to lighten up a little. It's healthy to try to disassociate yourself from your work during your "down time." Many people in demanding professions such as yours find that this is the only way to enjoy a personal life.

Your first step should be to find an activity that you enjoy or have always wanted to try. You don't have to be an athlete to take up something like fencing, ice-skating, long-distance biking or any kind of dancing. Or try another action-based activity like a cooking class, musical instrument or vocal group.

It would be good to also find a second enjoyable activity and spend some time at both each week. If you're a workaholic, you may have to push yourself to enjoy leisure activities, but taking time out for fun improves your mental and physical health and makes you more productive when you are at work.

Also, try learning some relaxation techniques (tapes are helpful) to help you unwind when you are not at work. As you learn to distance yourself emotionally from work during your time off, you may hear fewer people suggesting that you "smile," since your facial expression will be more relaxed.

When it comes to finding suitable women to date, take a few hours to figure out exactly what you are looking for in a marriage partner. Look inside yourself -- what do you want out of life in terms of education, career, lifestyle, talents, special interests, Jewish life, finances, family? The women you date should share a similar outlook on life and have goals that are compatible with yours. Once you've identified the type of woman you'd like to date, plan a strategy for the best way to meet her.

Networking with friends, co-workers, local rabbis and dating introduction services are a good way to be introduced to suitable women. We also suggest checking out singles programs in the local Jewish community -- preferably an interactive activity or a lecture that combines something educational, entertaining or useful, with a chance to meet Jewish women. Also check out some of the better internet dating services.

Shop carefully, and good luck.

Rosie & Sherry


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