Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dating Rules

Let me start out by saying that rules are often a good thing. They allow people to avoid having to make the same decision over and over again. They codify conduct to prevent indecisiveness. In the shidduch dating world (it's a broad world), rules can be effective because guys and girls are often segregated until they are in the parsha ("ready for marriage") and have no clue how to interact. Rules give them guidance.

That said, many of the rules suck. This list is not nearly exhaustive, as there are dozens of rules: Let's list the ones that bother me the most right now while I'm studying for evidence:

1) Guy picks up the girl. Why? How old are we? The girl can't find her own way to wherever they are meeting? She can't take the subway? She can't drive?

The idea behind this rule is twofold: It allows the girl's parents to meet her date and shows he's willing to go out of the way to make a good impression. Neither of these reasons makes sense in the 21st Century.

Girls are more independent today. Certainly the parents should meet their daughter's perspective husband prior to marriage, but there's no reason to meet him on the first date. Girls are intelligent enough to make their own decisions without her parents getting involved. And obviously this rule makes things uncomfortable for the guy.

On the second issue, picking up a girl is an indicator of nothing. Here's why: in most circles the girls do not expect the guy to spend a lot of money on the first date, the reason being that it's stupid to go broke over someone he hasn't even seen before. This logic applies to picking her up as well. Why should the guy go out of his way to pick her up when it's possible the moment he sees her he'll know it's over?

I'm not asking the girl to pick up the guy (although that's not the end of the world either). I'm asking her to meet him in a central location that's convenient for both parties.

Note: This rule makes sense when the girl would have to go home by herself after a certain hour. Maybe I'm a chauvinist, but I believe girls are more likely to get attacked than guys and he should bear the cost of protecting her.

2) Guy makes all the decisions. In some ways this makes sense. He pays, so he should decide. But guys often ask girls for their opinions and get back the inevitable "whatever you want." Why can't girls give advice on dates? Do they not have opinions? I was once told girls really don't care. That's hogwash. Maybe they don't care if the choice is between Dougie's and Kosher Delight. But they don't have an opinion between dairy and meat? Between ESPN Zone or Toys R' Us? That's highly unlikely.

This rule probably has its origins in the idea that the guy is the man and he should be making all the decisions. Of course it never works like that in marriage, so this aspect of dating is completely unreflective of marriage. Plus, it puts all the pressure on the guy to make the dates, and forces the girl into annoying situations (perhaps she doesn't like bowling).

3) Girl can't call the guy before a certain number of dates. This rule even applies when the guy calls her first and leaves a message. This one is beyond me. He called her, left a message, and told her to call him back when she has time. Wouldn't the most efficient step call for her to return his phone call when she's available rather than have him keep calling back? Am I missing something?

This rule probably has its origins back in the day when women were less pushy and didn't want to seem forward. I'm not expecting girls to ask the guy out. I'm asking them to return a phone call.

OK, my study break is over. Can anyone think of rules that hurt the girl more than the guy? And I mean rules, not expectations. There's no rule that requires a girl to be a size 4 even though many guys (stupidly) require it.

Update: After a whole bunch of arguments with people I know about this issue, I'm going to retract rule #1 as long as the guy has a car. I'm still sticking to my original point when the guy has to rent or borrow a car for every date.

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