Jewish geography

You may be somewhat hesitant to date your preschool playmate - but it's exactly what you need to do.

Jewish geography dating 521 (photo credit: Pepe Fainberg)
Jewish geography dating 521
(photo credit: Pepe Fainberg)
When you start seriously looking for your beshert – your intended – you soon come to realize that many of your prospects are people you already know. And although you may initially be somewhat hesitant to date your preschool playmate, it’s exactly what you need to do. Due to the number of Jews around, you must at least consider everyone, no matter when in your life you may have first met each other, because there simply aren’t enough of us to allow vetoing people just because we already know them.
Suddenly, everything – or rather, everyone – “old” is new again. Your study partner from Torah school, the nerd from eighth grade and that kid your mom made you invite to your bat mitzva all belong to your dating demographic.
I got married in kindergarten. It’s true!
Lawrence and I were a pair of inseparable five-year-olds.
We carpooled to school, we had playdates after school, and we sat next to each other in class. So it was only logical that when we started learning about moms and dads and marriage, we would pretend to be husband and wife, complete with a wedding ceremony in which I used a pillowcase as a veil. By first grade, boys had cooties, so our friendship faltered, but I never forgot my “first husband.”
Fast forward 20 years, and suddenly the idea of a(nother) romantic relationship with Lawrence was upon me. I had run into Lawrence’s mother at the JCC, where she showed me photos of my old playmate, all grown up. He was now taller than me and had taken his arguing skills into the courtroom. I had to admit I was impressed. But I was also a bit weirded out – this was the same kid who used to chase me around the yard with a booger on his finger! At first I thought I must be really desperate if I was willing to consider Lawrence as romantic material; but then I realized, why not? Aside from the fact that we would have an adorable story, I didn’t know the grown-up Lawrence. Grown-up Lawrence was, in essence, a stranger to me, so there was no reason I shouldn’t give him a chance.
Our date was fun: We spent a lot of time catching up on each other’s lives, reminiscing and laughing, and time flew by. We made plans for second date and that night began just as promisingly; but soon we found that aside from our past, we had little in common. It was a mutual decision to remain friendly, and I know I walked away from the restaurant that night content that I had given Lawrence a shot and tried my best.
I know a guy who would be perfect for my friend Julie, but Brad used to be in a serious relationship with our close mutual friend, Rebecca. Rebecca broke up with him, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t feel very deeply about him and could have a problem with women she knows dating him.
Both Rebecca and Brad are really active in our community, which means everyone knows both of them; which means it would be nearly impossible for Brad to date anyone Rebecca doesn’t know – including her good friend Julie.
But both Brad and Rebecca are one day going to have to date someone else, and the odds are that someone will know their ex.
It’s not fair to have to eliminate possibilities based on their past relationships any more than it’s fair to eliminate possibilities based on having known them in your past. If you discount everyone you already know, then utilizing “Jewish geography” and our (less than) six degrees of separation, you will quickly run out of options.
A simple mental chart will reveal that you already have some connection to everyone in your local dating demographic, which is why it’s important to be willing to consider everyone – whether you knew them in your childhood; whether your friend’s friend was in a semi-serious relationship with them; or whether he works for your uncle’s cousin’s business. Everyone ought to be a contender.
Narrowing the pool because a guy used to tease and call you “Freckle Face,” or because he was known as “Smartypants” is silly, because nicknames such as those would now be deemed flirting!
The Jewish community is already small. It’s even smaller when you’re dating. And it shrinks to minuscule proportions when you take into account only those who are seriously looking for their beshert. Chances are you’ll see the same people on J*Date, at singles events and when you’re set up by friends.
If you happen to run into to someone you’ve never seen before, odds are they’re the friend or relative of someone you’ve already dated, or your friend or relative has already dated them.
The Jewish dating world can quickly become incestuous. But Jewish geography can be good for the most part: You know what kind of company someone keeps, who their friends are, and if they’re an allround good person. Use that knowledge to your advantage, and give everyone a chance.