I was doing some self-reflection lately (as usual -- sometimes I wish I could just press the OFF button for a few minutes), and I realized that my outlook towards dating has changed a lot throughout the past year or so.
So what's the result of this metamorphosis?
Well, overall, I'm a much happier, less depressed dater. Here's why:
1) Emunah in HaKadosh Baruch Hu
I realized that when I just commenced on my dating journey, I thought I had emunah in HaShem, but I really didn't. Sure, I was davening, but I felt a certain amount of disdain and discomfort before and after a date. I had feelings of skeptism and bitterness.
I read an incredible book called Growth Through Tehillim by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. It shaped my perspective towards emunah, and therefore, having emunah throughout the dating process.
Even though I'm still on the journey, and I'm not sure when I'll meet my zivug, I feel a lot more confident that HaShem is with me. I'm not worried anymore. I know that everyone and everything has a "sha'ah tova" (right timing).
2) Learning Opportunities
I view each date as an opportunity to get to know another fellow Jew and learn something from him. I remember writing about that in the early days of my blog (over a year ago), but I don't think I really internalized that concept.
I now have a mental list of at least one new thought/fact/inspiration/halacha that each person I've dated has taught me.
For example, one guy told me that it's halacha to wash your hands before davening. I kinda knew that before, but I barely followed it. But after he mentioned it, I decided to take it upon myself. (Okay, I admit that I didn't do much research after he told me that -- but either way, he taught me something & had a positive influence on me.)
3) No More Settling
I often felt like I was settling (on hashkafah, religious level, physical appearance, age, etc.) and I realized that settling isn't exactly helping anyone. It was hurting both my dates and myself.
So why was I settling??
Because I allowed shadchanim to push me. I had a problem with saying "no", which led me to 1st and 2nd dates that I was dreading, and negative feelings towards both shadchanim and dating, in general.
I'm still working on it, but I've learned to say NO to shadchanim...no matter how much they push. Regardless if they're rude or tell me I'm being too picky. I've learned to stop giving pity 1st, 2nd, or 3rd dates. I've learned not to give pity dates solely because I feel guilty rejecting the person and think that mayyyybe there's a 1% chance that it will work out between us.
I now have my set list of what I'm looking for. The list doesn't consists of dealbreakers; the list consists of what I AM looking for. Positive connotation.
There are qualities I will absolutely not settle for. Shadchanim have gotten upset, and so have the guys. And I'm sorry. Be'emet. I don't want to hurt or frustrate anybody.
But honestly, this is MY life. At the end of the day, I'm the one who will have to deal with the person; it's going to be my marriage -- not the shadchan's. Nobody has the right to tell me what to do (except HaShem, and in certain cases - my Rabbi and Parents.)
I realize that might sound somewhat arrogant, but I'm a stubborn (read: determined :D) person, and I don't appreciate other people running my life.
4) Refer To A Friend
Whenever a match is suggested to me, or after a date that I clearly know is not for me, or after I hear of/meet a new shadchan, I carefully try to think if any of my single friends would be interested. If so, I refer them to the Shadchan/the guy. B"H I have set up quite a few friends, and one of them recently got engaged. :)
B"H being a happier dater has definitely contributed to me being a much happier person.
May we all have the clarity to make the right decisions regarding dating and marriage!