You’re on your first date, a little nervous, trying to loosen up, so you have a martini –or two or three – before dinner. Then some wine with dinner. Suddenly you find yourself talking about your ex-boyfriend and don’t hold back on the disparaging comments. And then another ex-boyfriend (no expletive spared here either)
A debauched dating history is not the best way to engage the man of the moment and it is more than likely the last thing he wants to hear, now if ever.
I was wondering, is a mensch of today the same as a mensch of 20 or so years ago? I found this great interview in Time magazine and thought it a perfect companion to my book launch.
In 2006, Wendy Cole interviewed somewhat of a mensch expert for Time Magazine. Here it is for you.
Q & A: Finding a Mensch Mate
By WENDY COLE Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2006
Not long ago, a mensch was the kind of guy your mother wanted you to marry. A devoted and kind Jewish son, no doubt, but someone with as much zing as a glass of warm, flat, seltzer.
But what a difference a few pop cultural references make. Menschiness has suddenly become cool. Desperate husband Carlos on Desperate Housewives described his parole officer as one, while the term came up in an episode of the generally un-menschy ‘Jake in Progress.’ John Lithgow was just singing about them on Broadway in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
And a guest on Oprah even described her as ‘Mensch of the Year’ last month for admitting her mistake in initially defending fact-challenged best-selling author James Frey. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, TIME Correspondent Wendy Cole spoke to Mensch expert Robin Gorman Newman about her new book How to Marry a Mensch.
TIME: What’s the story with so many mensch mentions these days?
NEWMAN: It’s become hip. The definition has changed. When I wrote my first book on mensches in 1994, a lot of people didn’t even know what it meant, and if they did, they thought it meant someone was a nerd or a bore. As a dating consultant, I met women who would specifically say they didn’t want to meet a mensch.
TIME: How do you know so much about mensches?
NEWMAN: I like to think I am one, and my husband is even more of one than I am. He’s very loyal, dependable, and big-hearted. He does things for people and he doesn’t expect anything in return. He’s a CPA, and he actually enjoys it, which is a menschy thing right there. A real mensch doesn’t need to get a lot of pats on the back.
TIME: Are mensches better for dating or as marriage material?
NEWMAN: Both. But it takes takes a while to know if you have a real mensch. A mensch will stand the test of time. You can’t know it right away. A lot of them are mensches in wolfs’ clothing. Brad Pitt probably thought he was one. But he sure fooled us, and especially Jennifer. Bill Clinton is another mensch in wolf’s clothing. You can’t be a mensch on demand, it’s got to be a consistent part of your character.
TIME: Can you become a mensch if it doesn’t come naturally?
NEWMAN: You can work at it. It does have a lot to do with how you were raised. It helps if you have mensch role models. One thing that gets overlooked sometimes is that you have to be a mensch to yourself before you can become one to others. If you’re not good to yourself , that’s a turnoff. An uber-mensch might have the inclination to save the world, but if you’re tired or stressed you can’t spend your time doing favours for others. You have to strike a balance.
TIME: Where do you meet mensches?
NEWMAN: Doing volunteer work is good. It attracts those with a big heart. But you have to trust your gut. They don’t play games with you. I’m a fan of Internet dating, but you have to be more astute to find a mensch that way. It’s tricky to find a mensch online.
TIME: Once a mensch, always a mensch?
NEWMAN: Always. Your character doesn’t change. If it’s in your heart and soul, it doesn’t go away. There can be times when you’re busy and can’t be there for everyone all the time. That’s when it’s most challenging to be a mensch. Your menschiness might have to take a back seat for a while, but that’s okay.
TIME: You have a two-year-old son. how are you helping him to be a mensch?
NEWMAN: We’re very conscious of his manners. We remind him to say please and thank you. He’s already good at saying he’s sorry. But he needs more practice socializing with other children. He’s still a little territorial.
TIME: Any downsides to being a mensch?
NEWMAN: You can get dragged though the mud and taken advantage of. You could burn out. It is hard work to be a true mensch. That’s why I’m a little concerned that the word is being tossed around so casually these days. We have to preserve the integrity of the word.
TIME: How would a classic mensch celebrate Valentine’s Day?
NEWMAN: Every day is Valentine’s Day for a mensch. You don’t need a holiday to show your affection. Whatever you do on Valentine’s Day is just the icing on the cake.
Growing up with older sisters, I always longed for a brother. A male friend, the next best thing, remained an elusive entity for much of my life, with the refrain ‘there’s no such thing as friendship between men and women’ holding true.
Dating is not immune to the Internet -of -Things. In fact, the opposite is true. Online dating is increasingly popular as a platform for meeting your significant other, if not the platform of choice, particularly for those who consider themselves internet savvy.
If you are thinking of venturing into online dating, here’s something to think about from the get go.
According to CBC, there are over 40 million visitors to online dating sites in the US and 7 million in Canada.
It was love at first sight.
I thought Gean was gorgeous. With dark hair, black eyes and sallow skin, he had just those Middle Eastern looks I have always fancied.
After an awful night at a miserable hen party (I’ll spare you the details) he asked me for my phone number.
We were soon in the bloom of a full –blown relationship despite my guilt of dating a non-Jew. Not Jewish is a slight understatement. Gean was his elected anglicised first name, for ease of getting on in the Western world.
So what was his surname? Mohammed. You can’t get more Muslim than that. And what was his birth name? Mohammed.
I gulped in a rather dramatic fashion when I realised I was dating Mohammed Mohammed but I by-passed the initial shock by sticking strictly to Gean and avoiding any reference to his last name. Soon enough the relationship arrived at that point where I had to tell my parents who I was seeing.
When my mother heard about his religious affiliation her words to me were: “Over my dead body.”
So I told her she would then have to die because I was very much in love with Gean at that stage and I wasn’t giving him up for anything. In fact, I was planning to do the big reveal at my cousin’s wedding in a month’s time.
Surprisingly, our relationship survived this pressure test, but we went on to break-up and make up repeatedly for at least two years.
For some of that time he was on another continent and he would phone me at times that were very disrupting to someone who likes her sleep. My defences were weakened and I would always agree to see him on his next arrival in Johannesburg.
It wouldn’t take long until we were back to our old familiar ways and I fantasised about a serious future with this man.
But during one of these dead-of-night conversations, I learnt that he was more in love with his mother (forgivable) and that he was a cool, calculating liar. And that’s where I drew the line, no matter how sweet the fruit.
In my adult life, I have had a diverse dating platform, suffice to say some relationships were extremely complex. More so when my partner at the time was not Jewish, very far from.
So why date a Jew?
What makes Jewish dating different from any other kind of dating? Jewish singles by nature tend to seek out other Jewish singles even if they aren’t particularly religious.
There’s something about being Jewish, either genetically or as a society, that keeps Jews together as a group. Not completely, of course, as there are many Jewish people who have married outside the religion.
But there still remains today, even in our enlightened, high tech society, an invisible force field surrounding the Jewish people and pressuring them to stay together. How it all began is a mystery but it does, in fact, exist.
As a result of this religious cloistering, there are more Jewish dating services around than any other religion can lay claim to.
Most dating services don’t differentiate their clients by religion and this broader group of matchmakers is by far still the largest in the United States.
But when it comes down to different groups of people who are only interested in meeting people of the same religion, Jewish dating is the largest.
In purely quantitative terms, the Jewish population of the world is almost negligible. There are billions of Muslims, about a billion and a half Catholics and only approximately 20 million Jews on the planet.
And yet Jews remain the most influential group of people in the history of the world. Why that is and how that happened is a question for scholars and historians, but how Jewish dating has become so dominating is something that should be understood by anybody seeking to enter the dating world.
Adjusted with permission from: http://plrplr.com/12156/an-introduction-to-jewish-dating/
I met Brolin through a set-up scenario: ‘Can I give so-and-so your number?’
By no means an oil painting, he had a strong extrovert personality that made up for that. A true salesman, mark my words.
Things got off to a roaring start, middle and end.
By date number three, in as many days, we were already serious. Naturally he had sold me the dream. A life of instant wealth and luxury, meaning that I would no longer have to work to support myself?
Who wouldn’t buy that?
I was sold (down the river) .
When he said, ‘Let’s go away for the weekend to Sun City,’ an upmarket resort outside of Johannesburg) I did not hesitate. When he explained that we would be joined by his slowly-but-surely-coming-to-terms-with-it gay son, I was less certain.
Here’s where Mr Sell-You-Ice-In-Winter closed the gap. ‘It’s a big unit, we won’t even see him.’ Not much.
What we also didn’t see at the nearby Pilanesberg Game Reserve billed to be home to Africa’s Big 5 most sought-after wild animals, were lions, rhino, leopards , buffalo and elephant.
What we did see was zebra, giraffe a singular warthog and buck, in abundance.
Nursing my disappointment over a gameless weekend, and a thorough opportunity to observe Brolin from close range, I reflected to my new-found treasure, ‘Don’t worry honey, you’ve got a big heart (softy) a big mouth (persuasive) a big attitude (arrogant) a big ego (self-important) and a big Dick. I’ve seen the Big 5.’
He must have seen me in close range and decided me unfit for the dream because I got the little 5 (a handful of words that tell it all):’It’s not you, its me,’ delivered by SMS 24 hours later!
He picked me up in a non-descript vehicle, appropriate for his 26 years and for a second I admired his unpretentious, down to earth approach.
Then we went to a trendy bar that was starting to fill up soon after we arrived.
He got himself an orange juice and return to stand with me. I had to remind him that I would also like a drink. “Oh, what would you like?”
When I told him “a gin and tonic” he struggled to put the two together, “A gin and ..?”
“Tonic,” I said, “gin and tonic”. I went with him to stand at the bar to make sure he carried out the detail correctly, realising intelligence was not something he had in abundance. But when he pulled out a wad of notes to pay, I assumed money was plentiful.
We proceeded with strained conversation and the oddly understood intention of continuing to supper as that was the programme for the said date.
Driving around Johannesburg, I suggested a few places as we past them. He declined on all of them until a KFC came into few. “Let’s go to Kentucky Fried Chicken,” he said. “Yes let’s go there,” I said, thinking I was in on the joke.
But then he quickly pulled into the KFC parking and we went in to order. By this time I had a debilitating stomach ache which seemed to fit in perfectly with his plan. “Let’s get nuggets,” he said. “Okay,” I said, not given a chance to order for myself.
Before getting back to the car, he made a trip to the toilet, information he was eager to share with me, not so the nuggets. Lucky for him, I could not trust where his hands had been and since the six tiny nuggets were to be shared with Gods own utensils, I called off sick and told him to take me home.