Supporting Jewish Singles
5 things we all need to understand in order to provide advice and support.
The dating process can be extremely draining. Singles looking for that special someone with whom they can share their life often turn to those they trust for validation, advice, and emotional support. But many of us don’t know the best ways to effectively support the ones we love along this journey, and sometimes end up doing more harm than good.
If you want to support the journey of a friend or relative toward marriage and provide positive change within the singles community, it will be useful to understand the following:
1. Choosing a spouse is not what it used to be. The task of choosing a single life partner in a sea of seemingly endless possibilities can seem insurmountable. Oftentimes, our true inner desires and values are clouded. Delusions of Hollywood romance easily warp our senses and expectations, making an already far-fetched committed relationship seem all the more elusive. Improving our own ability to love and trust will bring the dream back within reach.
2. Nagging singles about their relationship status will not change their relationship status. If anything, this type of meddling just creates feelings of guilt and resentment for those who feel stuck in their fate and deter the person you’re trying to help from sharing their real struggles and emotions with you. If you want to be helpful, refrain from passing judgment and listen to their concerns. Pressuring someone to “just get married!” only erodes their self-confidence and may leave them feeling more hopeless and/or inadequate. Similarly, “Stop being so picky,” is often an unproductive cliché. At times, it may accurately describe someone’s external behavior, but just telling a person to “stop being picky” does not resolve the root problem or help them to emotionally internalize what really is important in a relationship. On the contrary, it more likely causes their defenses to spike in the face of such a critique. (You also do not know the kinds of people that person has been set up with and if the people they’re meeting are, in fact, marriageable.)
3. Genuine emotion and vulnerability are hard to come by. We’re all so guarded and fearful to let our true colors show in a relationship. It’s no wonder why. Elusive standards of beauty and “perfection” in our culture make dating with confidence almost impossible – especially for women. Am I thin enough? Smart enough? Funny enough? Too flirtatious? Too blunt? Not candid enough? The list is unending; the standards unforgiving. As a community, we can start by supporting and encouraging the expression of our true selves within all of our relationships, and building each other’s self-image in the process. After all, vulnerability is a prerequisite to building true intimacy, which is the basis for any lasting relationship. We can also work on being a source of trust and kindness in a world that often seems to project the opposite.
4. We need skills. All of us do – not only singles. We ALL need to become better listeners, givers, and communicators. We need to constantly reinforce the true definition of love and what it takes to make it last, through our own living examples. And we can only achieve this by actively learning and implementing these essential skills that are the building blocks of a great relationship.
5. Don’t be “insane.” As Albert Einstein put it: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Within the Jewish community, we’ve attempted both informal and organized solutions to help singles meet each other for the purpose of getting married. And while many couples have met through traditional “singles events,” the overwhelming majority report their experiences to be discouraging and socially uncomfortable. The concept of going to “just another singles event” is growing stale for many – and so many of the same faces appear at these events month after month, year after year.
From Thomas Edison to the Wright brothers, history has proven that “necessity is the mother of all invention.” Whether it’s light bulbs or lasting love, the power of ingenuity to change our collective fate is real. And, in this case, it is the responsibility of those who have been fortunate enough to find their other half to help find and develop effective solutions for those who (until now) haven’t.
One critical element of taking a new approach is to realize first and foremost that single-hood itself is not a disease that needs to be cured, nor some rampant epidemic in our society that is the fault of the single men and women themselves – as many sadly believe it is. Whether you’re single or married, we are all one family, one community, striving to grow and thrive in our relationships in the face of common obstacles. By approaching single men and women with respect, dignity and understanding, we acknowledge that we all have challenges in our relationships, and together, we can strive to overcome them.
By acknowledging the obstacles faced by today’s generation of Jewish singles, and adopting an approach that is both empathetic and nonjudgmental, we will be able to successfully support those around us on their individual journeys toward finding their soul mate. By building skills and fostering healthy relationships, we can facilitate (and even shorten) the dating process for many people in a profound way.
Now that’s what I call real support.
For more information on groundbreaking programs for Jewish singles that impart the wisdom and skills to achieve lasting relationships, visit www.BreakthroughWorldwide.com.