I felt the pressure: The future of my people was at stake! The school was arty, musical, nerdy, and had a substantial Jewish population. Even though I no longer felt outside the norm, I still had trouble getting dates … Every Jewish woman I asked out on a date rejected me.
I resolved that I would only go out with Jewish girls. I attributed this to the fact that I was kind of nerdy: My extra-curricular activities included musical theater, video games, and Dungeons & Dragons, not exactly the types of things that made a guy popular with the ladies. I had numerous opportunities, on the other hand, to date non-Jewish women.
(As a Silicon Valley firm, we have been in the online dating business for over 16 years!
Once they’ve gone off the path, for a variety of reasons including loss of faith, distaste for the lifestyle, and longing to educate themselves beyond the Jewish texts, OTD’ers are like immigrants in the secular world, unsure of the language and customs of dating, battling the voices of their parents and rabbis, who warned them that touching the opposite sex before marriage would incur God’s wrath.
“There are three problems specific to the ex-religious when they first try to date,” Irenstein says.
Sam looks terrified behind his wire-rimmed glasses.
Clutching the strap of his bag under the table as if it’s the leash of an unruly dog, he displays an impressive commitment to deflection—responding to Irenstein’s personal questions by spouting perplexing theories, including, “A major aspect of the notion of getting better at dating is not about increasing the total numbers, but increasing the yield of the process.” ).
It was the day I’d long hoped for, marrying a nice Jewish girl. In fact, by the time we’d started dating, I’d given up on Jewish women, and my dream of a perfect Jewish wedding, altogether. The intense pressure I felt to date and marry within the tribe damaged my perception of Jewish women and my ability to be myself around them.