Should You Have a Dating Shopping List?
By expressing things the way we do now, we run the risk of rejecting an incredible opportunity of a date because he doesn’t fit into the perfect little picture that I have painted in my head.
“I’m looking for a guy who is a lawyer or a doctor.”
“I’m looking for a guy who’s very out of town, who wants to do college kiruv.”
“I want someone who’s going to learn for three years and then go into business.”
These are things we hear regularly. The sort of demands that go in one ear and out the other with nary a second thought in between. After all, in her mind she is just answering the forever redundant question of: “So what kind of boy are you looking for?” The assumption in her mind is that she must know every last detail of what she is looking for. The result of that is the sort of answers stated above.
The problem is that after a while it starts to sound more like a shopping list and less like someone looking for a life partner.
Crisis hits when your shidduch doesn’t exactly fit into the corner you’ve cut for him.
We engage in incredible amounts of preparation and thinking ahead of the process, but we miss the step that comes even before that. Consider asking yourself what preparation for a process like this one even means.
Maybe the questions we should be asking ourselves are: what are my values? What are the core values that I want in a husband? What are priorities that I want to make sure that we share? What are the guiding principles on which I want to build my home? These sorts of questions do not describe a to do list. These are important questions that clarify what is important in a spouse and not deciding how he must express those traits.
For example, I can want my future soulmate to share my value of ahavas Yisroel. This is fair and valid but saying that I am looking for a guy who is in kiruv is putting him in a box that demands he express his ahavas Yisroel in a certain way. My way.
By expressing things the way we do now, we run the risk of rejecting an incredible opportunity of a date because he doesn’t fit into the perfect little picture that I have painted in my head. We need to think more broadly, explore what we’re really looking for in essence, and not focus on the specific way we think it should look.
Marriage is about two individuals merging from a relationship of love, respect, acceptance and trust. Calling a shadchan with a shopping list in hand is an attitude that places me at the center. I am the focus, and there is no room for connection and building with someone else. What do I want him to be and how will he fulfill my wishes. All that remains is a list of demands to please me and my desires. And when reality strikes, and I cant check of every item on my shopping list, all that is left is desperate disappointment. In him, in my marriage, and in my fantastical life that is in ruins. My friends, this is a dangerous game to play. The time has come to move past the checklist and embrace the truth that with marriage we want to transcend beyond the me. This necessitates letting go of your shopping list and leaving behind all the unrealistic and unnecessary requests. Let us focus on what truly matters: building a beautiful home in Yisrael, a place of love and peace.
“ I want a guy who is very out there, involved in the community and a very available husband and father.”
“I want someone who is very responsible financially and is very large with me.”
“ I need someone with high EQ who is very sensitive to people’s feelings and is very manly and strong.”
Once again this is a list of perfect combinations. A detailed description of the life partner of your dream where he/she has this perfect blend of the characteristics you admire. Without dwelling on the repeated shopping list attitude, another issue must be pointed out. That is the understanding that every quality is a beautiful package deal.
Let us take the first example. The guy involved in making a difference in the community is likely too often be busy and be unable to attend to his family. When looking for the first quality, were you willing to take the other side of the deal? A community activist like that will be involved in many projects which will distract and engage him, resulting in his having less time for his family. The idea of a man who is capable and impactful, yet we fail to appreciate and embrace all aspects of a dream we have.
In our second example, we see a girl who wants a guy who is responsible financially. This comes with a sense of awareness and culpability when handling money, not someone who spends freely and easily. The flip side must also be considered. She wants a generous guy, but generosity isn’t limited to one’s wife. A person who is giving by nature, may give in ways that wont please her.
In our third example, she wants a man who is sensitive and emotionally in tuned. These characteristics often coincide with a nature that is gentle and soft. We are unhappy that he is not tough, strong, and flowing with confidence. The fact she asked for a guy that was sensitive seems to have gotten lost in the midst of the rest of her fantasies.
When stating your requests, ask yourself, “Are you focusing on the part you want and simultaneously wishing that he also fit the character traits of your friend’s husband?” People are not custom made to suit our desires. When we decide we want a certain trait, we don’t get to choose the amounts we want from each characteristic.
This is where we need to come to the realization that every person is wonderfully unique, and this means that there will be valid things that are important to you. The danger lies in assuming we can shape these things exactly according to our myriad wishes. In every quality there is beauty, yet those same things can create a recipe for an unanticipated challenge. However, it is this that is the beauty of marriage and life. The aim is not a perfect life, rather a life in which we perfect ourselves.