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Archive for the ‘Yenta Power!’ Category

L shared with me a valid pet peeve: Sometimes, people in relationships, when attempting to set up single friends, seem to think that all pairs of single people will hit it off. That’s sort of like the assumption that all gays like each other. Not true!

When setting friends up, keep in mind the personalities of your friends. Think about whether or not they’d make a good pair. Then introduce them! Just throwing two single people together can be a recipe for awkwardness. Now, if you’re throwing a party and you’ve invited a bunch of single people and phone numbers get exchanged, awesome! But for actual set-ups (going on a double date with them, or getting them to go on a blind date), think it through.

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I promised to review this book, so here goes!

For those of you who love Patti Stanger’s no-holds-barred advice on Millionaire Matchmaker (and there are more of you than I realized, as I learned this weekend when talking about TV viewing habits with some people I just met, all of whom watch the show religiously), she wrote a book. Not all of us can afford her services, so for $25, she spells it all out for you. It’s a quick read and is written in a conversational tone (it sounds a lot like she dictated it and had it typed out), and it offers step-by-step instructions. Sorry guys, it’s written for women, but maybe she has a book for men in the works? I think that would be the logical next step.

The subtitle is “8 Easy Steps for Attracting Your Mate.” Well, they’re not all that easy. First you take some time off of dating and make lists of what you’re looking for. Then you make yourself over so you’re up to snuff physically, because as Patti says, men are visual creatures. Then you get out there, armed with a three-pronged strategy for meeting people (date online, meet people through people you know, and go out and hunt on your own).

Anyway, I don’t want to give all the goods away. I don’t normally have the patience for the list-making that comes with self-help books, and I generally also don’t have the patience for self-help books. When bored, I usually just re-read Atlas Shrugged. But Patti, I love you, girl. So I did the list thing, breaking down what I liked and didn’t like about the past few guys I’ve dated, and using that to create a list of five essential characteristics in five categories (spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and financial). Then I whittled it down further, as instructed, into my list of five “non-negotiables.” I don’t really know if this list is comprehensive. There are some things I know I must have (same religious beliefs, responsible spending habits, readiness to commit) but I feel like everything else I came up with was negotiable, depending on the guy. Do I need a sarcastic sense of humor? Must he be a head taller than me, or is it enough that I can wear at least modest heels in his presence? Is it okay if he’s prematurely graying or balding? For me, those things are flexible. Other women freak out about guys who are 5’6″ with a bald spot. But then, some men freak out over flat-chested women. And let’s just say that when God was handing out boobs, I was stuck on the line for a great butt.

So, then, what I need is a relationship-minded, fiscally-conservative Jewish guy with a thing for poorly-endowed girls in tight jeans.

Should you read this book? If you’re looking to get married, or at least to find someone to be in a long-term relationship with, sure. A lot of people suffer from the they-have-to-like-me-for-me-and-I-refuse-to-change syndrome. Patti will tell you to snap out of it. You are who you are and you shouldn’t water yourself down, etc., but if you’re perpetually single, you’re the common denominator in all of your failed relationships. You have to figure out what you’ve been doing wrong and work to improve yourself. We’re all works in progress, after all, even if we’ve already found The One.

Will I follow this book to the letter? I don’t know, it recommends Comic-Con as a great place to meet men. But I come from a family of geeks, so maybe she’s onto something.

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When you’re in your 20s and 30s, you’re not going to stay in the same life stage as all of your friends for long. In college, you were all students. Now, some are in grad school, some work. Some are married, some are dating, some are single. Some own their own homes, others rent, others moved back in with their parents. Some have kids, some are pregnant, some are years away from having a family.

Sometimes being in different phases can tear friendships apart. One friend wants to talk about the hot guy she met at a party the weekend before, the other wants to discuss her colicky baby. A single friend of mine was telling me about a married friend of hers, who appreciated the precious girl time she got when hanging out with my friend. My friend felt a bit off-put, because she’s a few steps behind, not having a husband of her own to periodically escape from, so it was like she couldn’t relate.

I told her to think of it this way: Your friends are going to be all over the map right now. You and friends in other stages need each other. For a single or engaged woman, a married friend can give relationship advice. She’s gone down the same roads before, after all. For a married woman (and possibly a mother), a single friend provides much-needed time away from the husband, kids and home. It’s healthy to want to escape from that once in awhile and spend time with friends. And you never know, single ladies, your married friends might have someone to set you up with.

Embrace whatever stage you and your friends are at. Life’s not a competition to get engaged or married or pregnant first. You’re exactly where you need to be right now, and you and your friends need each other.

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The art of asking someone out by e-mail

Either your personal yenta worked her magic and got you the e-mail address of, she swears, your soulmate, or you met someone and later procured their e-mail address through nefarious means. Though some people believe that asking someone out by e-mail is impersonal and cowardly, I disagree (breaking up with someone by e-mail, however, is a different story). Having seen my guy friends agonize over every word they type, I know that way too much thought goes into this.

The beauty of the e-mail date invitation is that you can get out what you wanted to say articulately, without sounding awkward or babbling over the phone. The key, of course, is to actually sound articulate. I’m in favor of keeping it simple. Like Coco Chanel said, when accessorizing, remove the last item you put on. So too with e-mails, edit what you write so every word is relevant.
1. Perhaps when today’s middle schoolers are adults, e-mails will read like this:
“yo,
wats up?? u busy 2nite? i got sum natty ice i need 2 finish. wanna help?? lol!!!111”
I weep for the future. Anyway, at least until 2018, spelling and grammar are important. If you aren’t strong in these areas, enlist a friend who majored in English to assist you.
2. Identify how this person would know [of] you. Mutual friends put you in touch? Met at a concert? Say it.  Maybe mention something specific you talked about.
3. It’s okay to inject humor, but know that some jokes, while funny when said aloud, don’t translate too well to the written word. It’s probably better to avoid jokes altogether rather than be cheesy. If you don’t want to come across as too formal, just keep your tone light. You’re not writing a cover letter.
4. Get to the point.  Like I said, this isn’t a cover letter.  You don’t need to give your life story, just say how you met, segue into mentioning some activity, then ask them out.

An example:
“Hey Joanna,
We met last weekend at Brian’s barbecue.  I remember you said you have two golden retrievers who chew your furniture when they get bored.  They’re opening that new dog park on Sunday.  I was wondering if you and your dogs would like to accompany me and mine?  Maybe a few hours running around will wear them out enough so that your couch is spared!
–Steve”

So that was the best date idea I could pull out of the air, but you get what I mean.  You get brownie points for remembering specific parts of the conversation, you already have a specific activity in mind, and watching dogs run around is totally a fun way to spend an afternoon.  Aww.

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A great way to meet people is through other people.  Much like asking a friend about a job opening at their company, getting inside information about a potential date is key.  Women in particular enjoy helping friends out in this regard.  We don’t find it intrusive or strange if you ask us for the phone number of our cute friend.  We love it.  It makes you look adorably vulnerable, and we’ll tell our friends as such.

It’s not hard to turn a female friend into a yenta, and I mean this in the Fiddler on the Roof matchmaker sense, not the gossipy old hag sense.  How do you do it?  Just ask if her friend is single.  Alarms will immediately go off in her head, and she’ll give you the girl’s number and then nag until you call.  The girl will likely be advised of the imminent date offer.  Note that the yenta sense is strong, and you probably won’t get a number if she doesn’t think the girl would be interested, or if she thinks it wouldn’t be a good match.  Think of the yenta as your dating resource: Friend, negotiator and gatekeeper.

That being said, I’ll address the topic of follow-through.  There are two vital components to this:
1. Yenta follow-through.  Yentas, take your single friend’s desire to find a solid relationship seriously.  Set them up with quality people.  Don’t make empty promises about “having the perfect person for them” if you’re not going to go all the way.  If you know of someone good for your friend, and your friend seems receptive to the idea, try and set them up.  Then it’s out of your hands, and you can sit back and hope they hit it off.  Don’t soil the yenta title by not acting in the best interests of your friends.
2. Dater follow-through. A few times a year, a friend or relative will tell me about a guy they know who just moved to my area.  They claim he’s wonderful, and they ask if they could pass my e-mail address along.  I give them permission, because I know and trust these people.  If they say a guy is nice, he’s nice.  Nine times out of ten, the dude never e-mails, which is odd because I’d actually give him a chance.  A blind date can result in one of four outcomes: It’s either great and you met your next significant other, the sparks aren’t there but you become friends, the sparks aren’t there and you never speak again, or it’s so bad that you have a hilarious story to tell your friends afterward.  What would I have to lose?  So I’m surprised that these guys don’t take their friends and relatives up on the offer of a set-up.

Good yentas are everywhere.  Know how to be one, or know how to get one to help you.  And when they tell you to ask someone out, listen.  It worked for my parents!

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