It’s true that sometimes there is a gap between generations. My nieces and nephews can’t understand how their mother and I would endure long car trips without iPod, DVD players, or phones to occupy our time. I often hear, “Your childhood was sad.” It wasn’t sad by any account – but with all the gadgets and gizmos that are now common for children of all ages to have, they can’t imagine life without them. So, too, there is a gap in understanding the way we go about dating in today’s world. In old movies and TV shows, dating would be depicted as sitting in a parlor with or without a chaperone to ensure that everything is above board and there isn’t any hanky-panky afloat. In today’s world, it’s very common to go out and have a fun-filled time on a date, depending on the venue you are at. We don’t have to sit all stiff in a living room or on a park bench making civilized conversation. We can go ice skating, to the movies, a baseball game, shoot pool, play miniature golf, painting… But alas some of the older generation can’t understand how two people can get to know each other if they aren’t always sitting face to face and talking.
Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t understand how this generation dates. I hear from my grandchildren and nieces and nephews that on their dates they do things. They go ice skating, play ping pong, go to a “lounge…” I’m not exactly sure what a lounge is, but from what I understand, it’s a loud place with music where you sit around, drink, and relax. I am not an “old fuddy-duddy,” as one grandchild jokes with me. I’m in my lower 60s and I like to think that I am still with it. But I just don’t understand how you can get to know someone and have serious discussions about life if there is so much going on in the background.
I’m not saying you need to sit across from one another in a library, but how can you get to know the real person and if you share the same beliefs and want to live the same life with if you don’t really get to know them? One of my grandsons became a chasan. My daughter-in-law told me that they dated for a month. I know that my grandson is a modern boy who doesn’t learn in yeshivah. Nothing is wrong with that, but to get engaged after a month? Especially if they aren’t from the chasidish families that really investigate and find out about the girl’s or boy’s family, upbringing, and personality. After a month of playing miniature golf, what do you know about someone? I was told that they really got to know each other because their dates were long and intense. But when my grandson spoke with me, he told me of all the fun dates they went on: to a basketball game, boating in Central Park, a concert… Maybe they spoke while in the boat, because I can’t imagine getting into a conversation at a concert or loud basketball game.
I’m just worried that people are not paying attention to the important things and are swept up in the whirlwind of dating and the glamour of it and not concentrating on getting to know the person they are with or deciding if they have common values. With all the stupidity that goes on with dating today – yes, I said stupidity – someone can end things with someone else because she wasn’t impressed with where they were taken to on a date. I can see it now: a girl saying, “He took me to a café. He didn’t even spend money on a full dinner. What a cheapo!” That has nothing to do with the boy who took her out! I happen not to agree on spending so much money on dates, especially not on a first date when you hardly know the other person. So a relationship ends before it can even begin because of the location of the date? I think the younger ones are too shallow if that is what they base their decisions on. I’m including my grandchildren in that statement, too.
You can go on a nice hike or walk on a date. You can go to a restaurant (that doesn’t put a hole in your wallet). You can explore museums. There are plenty of places people can go on dates where you can talk and really get to know the person you are with because you are making a life commitment to someone; wouldn’t you want to know all you can about him or her?
I’m all about having fun and enjoying yourself. But sometimes you must be serious; dating for marriage, in my opinion, is one of those times.
Thank you for your letter, Savta.
I can understand how you can think that the younger generation isn’t taking dating seriously if you hear about all the venues they go to on dates. You may think it’s all frivolous and the wrong settings where two people can get to know each other. I know that dating was different many years ago when you were dating. Whether or not it’s moving in the right or wrong direction is not for me to say.
Nothing is wrong with taking someone out to see how they behave in different environments. You can tell a lot about people when you see them in different settings. One may have wonderful table manners and know how to carry a conversation nicely, yet when that person is at a sporting event, he goes all in. He or she stands up and cheers for their team, yells at the refs when there is a bad call, and participates in “the wave” and YMCA dance. You would never know that the person you are with has so many dimensions to his personality if you only strolled through the MOMA or the American Museum of National History. Personally, I have gone to museums on dates and it was in those settings that I didn’t know what to say; and when I did speak, I felt I sounded foolish. What was I supposed to say about a piece of art that is loved by millions, yet, I can’t understand what the point of it is. Yes, looking at relics from the Gladiator era is very interesting to me, yet, my date found it boring, so I didn’t linger in that exhibit long or speak about how it fascinated me.
Mazal tov on your grandson getting engaged. Yes, it seems like dating for a month isn’t that long when trying to make a lifetime decision. But don’t “poo-poo” their dates. I don’t think being “modern” and not chasidish should have any bearing on the case. If two people feel it’s the right time for them to take the next step, they should. I’m sure between the fun activities they had the “serious discussions.” Dating doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, I have been bored on dates, but not because of the setting, but because of the person I was with. The fellow didn’t hold my attention. I wasn’t interested. But, I can recall just sitting in a car with another fellow and having a great conversation on a date. I considered that date to be very good and we spent the last hour talking in front of my house.
I do agree with you when you said that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a date. And I hate to say, but I know that there are those out there who don’t want to go on second or third dates because they didn’t enjoy where they spent their previous date. I know someone who complained about being taken to a park on a first date and to Starbucks on a second date. She complained that her date was “too cheap” to spend money. I thought that was a harsh statement. You don’t really know what someone’s financial status is, even if you were told that “he has a great job.” No one is under any obligation to spend more than $25 or $50 on a date with someone who is basically a stranger. And if the only reason why you are dating someone is because of where you get taken to on dates – then you are not dating for the right reason. And maybe you should reevaluate what is important to you in a relationship.
Hatzlachah to you all!