Feb 24, 2012

The Second-Time Single Trend

I didn't know there was a name or a category for what I am, but someone sent over a Tablet article today that gives me one of those fancy ways to describe myself: "Second-Time Single."

Now, I know that I'm not technically single because I'm currently in a very happy relationship with Taylor, but for the greater Jewish and Orthodox world, what I'm doing isn't dating, it isn't serious, it isn't real in a sense. "She'll come around!" they say. "She's divorced and acting out!" they say. "Let us know when you're ready to date a Jew again!" they say.

At any rate, the article is quite interesting. I don't know that if any of these kinds of Second-Time Singles events would have "saved" me from my current situation as I don't think I was ready to date when I met Taylor. Sometimes, life just happens. I am glad, I will say, that the Jewish community is attempting to do something for the demographic of 20s, 30s, and 40s who are divorced or widowed -- it's a lonely, confusing road.

Statistics about the number of Orthodox second-time singles are hard to come by. Dr. David Pelcovitz, professor of psychology and education at Yeshiva University, said that while there is no “reliable, solid, empirical source” for such information, “there’s a sense that there are more divorces. It’s incredibly unscientific but, for example, when I give talks at rabbinical conferences, I ask, ‘How many of you have experienced a divorce in your community in the past few years?’ You get more people raising their hands. When I ask the people who are doing work in Jewish divorce courts, they tell me that they seem to be busier.”
I think a lot of people fall into bad relationships after divorces just to continue fitting the mold of their community. It's as if there's a conveyor belt of spouses ready to go just so everyone can fit that perfect get married, move to a newly marrieds community, have a baby, buy a house, move to a family community kind of plan. I worry about a lot of people I know who get back into it too quickly.

Also, I have to say -- not unpredictably I might add -- that (in the article) the shadchanim (matchmakers) that set up Second-Time Singles often set them up with other Second-Time Singles, and that grates my cheese. I think it's one thing that will never fade in the Orthodox community: Once you get divorced, you're damaged goods so you get married off to another divorced individual or an older individual. It's the same with converts, as matchmakers often try to pair them with other converts. I understand the sentiment -- oh, we've been through something similar, right? -- but no two people go through an experience and come out on the other side the same, so why try making that connection?

Maybe I'm just grumpy today. Anyway, let me know what you think about the article.


Anonymous said...

It depends on your perspective. When I was dating for the second time around I needed to date someone who had been divorced - someone who understood the reality of what I had gone through. Maybe it was different for me because I had kids, but still any divorce has baggage. Damaged goods? A divorce or broken engagement always adds that label - and it isn't a pretty one. However, it's very rare for a divorce(e) to meet and marry a single guy/girl who has no baggage of their own - at least in our religious world.

A said...

It was very important to me to move to a Frum community where I wouldn't feel like everyone gets a label and people want to box everyone else in to a category. We had to leave the New York area to find such a thing! I don't think it's a divorced thing or a georet thing, I think it's an EVERYTHING kind of thing. When Frum communities get to be over a certain size, everybody ends up getting categorized. I am an FFB married to a long-time BT and I gave gotten comments about how open-minded I was to be willing to marry a BT! How crazy is that? Is it so absurd that I married someone from another "category"? I found a nice guy whose values were compatible with mine and whose life seemed to be headed in the same direction as mine. So, I married him. End of story. If people are perplexed as to how to categorize me now, then that's THEIR problem!

-Former Cousin, now Friend Aviva

Anonymous said...

"Also, I have to say -- not unpredictably I might add -- that (in the article) the shadchanim (matchmakers) that set up Second-Time Singles often set them up with other Second-Time Singles, and that grates my cheese. I think it's one thing that will never fade in the Orthodox community: Once you get divorced, you're damaged goods so you get married off to another divorced individual or an older individual."

Not to be rude, but THAT comment really grated my cheese. Um, why do you assume that, being a divorced convert who has already dated out of the community- you're entitled to grab a Jewish-from-birth-never-been-married guy?
Honestly, a LOT of Jewish men will not even look twice at converts (I am secular, Jewish-born, in a long-term relationship with a secular, Jewish-born man), and he would only date Jewish girls. That's just one example- even guys who were born into very secular Russian Jewish families, for example (like mine, and my boyfriend's) would not date non-Jewish women. And Jews from birth are 100% entitled, and are not horrible people for doing so, to not want to date a divorced convert.

Why do you think that you are better than women who were born into the faith and have never been married? Why SHOULDN'T you be set up with other converts?! You act like it's such a terrible thing- but it's not WRONG to be set up with converts if you are one yourself- why are the ones you're being set up with so bad? Why are you better than they are? Are you more observant (clearly not)? Why is it wrong for you to be set up with older individuals? Those individuals have been divorced, just like you- and there are plenty of very good relationships with an age gap. Why do you discredit older men and converts when you stand here shouting about how everyone should accept YOU- a divorced convert who dates non-Jews??

I'm not trying to be insulting here, though I'm sure it comes off that way- I'm just not sure why you won't get off your high horse and think you're entitled to only be set up with young, never-married Jewish-from-birth guys, when plenty of Jewish women are stuck dating converts or non-Jews because of the shortage of Jewish men everywhere.

Try being humble, you are far from being the #1 most desirable and successful woman out there- ESPECIALLY if you're considering dating within at least a Modern Orthodox framework.

Anonymous said...

While I understand how you feel - I'm sure I would feel the same in your position - I don't agree with your interpretation of the deep motives for how Shadchanim pair up people. Naturally, such a discussion involves (seriously biased) generalizations, and I'm sure like in all professions, there are good and bad apples. But your critique is a bit too general for my taste.

I contend that a Shadchan SHOULD use the demographics of all their "pool" of singles in making matches - just not exclusively, depending how deeply they know the persons involved. They should use this information not because similar people by definition should be together, but because the people they connect with each other care about these things many times. For marriage a person looks for a blend of same and different, and for the most part there is no right or wrong here - just different tastes. A person who will not date a convert, for example, might do so because of their own prejudice, that of their families, or because of bad experiences in their past with such dates. The same applies to most any demographic (i.e. looks, height, occupation etc.). In the end, the Shadchan is exposed to alot of these things, and integrates them into their consideration to avoid wasted time. As a person who went on more than 30 blind dates before I found my wife, I can vouch for this being a very tiring process.

As for divorcees being "damaged goods" - I think that statement is a bit unfair. When a person gets divorced, it means that something went wrong in the first relationship, and since nobody from the outside can really know what went wrong (and inevitably there are two sides to the matter) it is normal and justified for people who don't know the person on a personal level to make use of this info in matchmaking decisions. I would agree with you 100% if someone who was your friend before the divorce would shun you after it for social reasons, but a Shadchan is just doing his/her job and don't know you (or any other divorcee) that well. So they work with what they have.

Basically, to expect Shadchanim to ignore this type of information, or other singles for that matter, would mean they should do random match-ups, which is just as bad.

And for the record - my story touches similar issues. I have told my wife (who I met in University) many times that had she been offered to me as a blind-date, I would NEVER have gone out with her. So my life is proof-positive that going outside the lines of stigma can yield great rewards. But at the same time, we all look for some rationale to guide our decisions, and before you meet someone, they are (unfortunately) nothing but a list of specs. Would you have me ignore those things and randomly select who to date?

-- And finally, for the record, if you ask me I think you are a real catch, so nothing personal here...

Anonymous said...

"Honestly, a LOT of Jewish men will not even look twice at converts (I am secular, Jewish-born, in a long-term relationship with a secular, Jewish-born man), and he would only date Jewish girls. That's just one example- even guys who were born into very secular Russian Jewish families, for example (like mine, and my boyfriend's) would not date non-Jewish women."

I am also Russian Jewish. I'm not secular personally, but most of my relatives and nearly all my RJ friends are pretty secular. I am very familiar with the community. The secular Russian outlook is that Judaism is a race/ethnicity and that halacha is irrelevant. That's why they (like you are doing in the above quote) think that "only dating Jewish" equals "not dating converts" even though converts are 100% Jewish. On the flip side, nearly all of those secular Russian guys who claim to only date Jewish girls are perfectly happy to date and marry halachically non-Jewish women of half or 3/4 Jewish descent. I don't think that the quirks of the secular Russian community have much to do with this post and they definitely should not be projected onto Jewish men generally.

Anonymous said...


In secular or even Conservative communities, where halakha might not be such a big issue, people generally ask if someone is Jewish by "race," and don't mean if someone converted. They generally want to know if one's parents (or parent) are/is Jewish. Not that it matters here, since Chaviva is blogging from an Orthodox perspective.

If a guy cares about his wife's conversion, he generally (not always) cares about some level of observance. Yeah, once in awhile a woman "converts" to make her in-laws happy and to secure a marriage, but we all know how that usually turns out- the family doesn't become observant- because if the guy had been that observant in the first place, there's a good chance he wouldn't have married a convert (there are exceptions, but there you go). And men who really care that their wives have converted generally care about maintaining at least a basic level of observance, and not condone romantic relationships with non-Jews.

And if he is observant enough to care that his wife went through an Orthodox conversion (which means that she must continue to be observant, keep laws of kashrut, taharat hamishpacha, etc.), then he certainly would not want to be married to someone who had dated non-Jews after her conversion. Once again, I'm not trying to be offensive, but Chaviva being so offended that she is being set up with other converts is her being REALLY ungrateful. Does she really think a frum-from-birth guy should welcome the things she does with open arms??

Or should a Conservative guy (with Conservative parents), who may not be as observant, be rushing to marry a convert who dates non-Jews and eats non-kosher food (I'm presuming that the vegan food at restaurants in Denver is not kosher)?? I'm sure that would go over really well....

Chaviva blogs from within an Orthodox framework (where else are there shadchanim? They're generally used in the Orthodox community, not in secular ones). What does she expect? Her complaining about being lumped in with other converts is REALLY annoying- especially when she does things that other converts would never DREAM of doing for fear of jeopardizing their status!

Remember when she posted after her divorce about signing up for some website and wanting to date Lubavitchers? ;) Quite a 180 from the current situation.

Anyway, people should do what makes them happy, as long as it doesn't interfere with others- but complaining about the matches she may get (being in her current situation) is pretty darn ridiculous.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

Pretty sure I'm not complaining on behalf of me -- I'm happily in a relationship and have no desire to change the situation. I'm complaining on behalf of other converts.

That being said, you clearly know very little about what happens with converts of all stripes post-conversion. In most cases -- Reform and Conservative -- the convert becomes more observant than the born-Jewish spouse, which can cause tension, but often results in the dragging of the family back to synagogue and observance in some way shape or form.

I do not blog from within an Orthodox framework -- I don't claim to. That changed, and when it did, I stated that.

Your insensitivity to the reality that everyone is on a journey and that things can and do change in the blink of an eye shows your immaturity and lack of information on the issues of being a convert -- let alone a human being. People are not on a straight path from point A to B. If we were, HaShem wouldn't need anything from us and we wouldn't need anything from HaShem.

These twists, turns, and conflicts in identity are what make us who we are, and they are what make our relationship with HaShem more significant and important.

But, of course, I wouldn't expect a mud-slinger to understand that.

Anonymous said...

Why are you even complaining so vehemently about the matches that shadchanim make, then? Why does this bother you so much?

Since you are clearly outside the Orthodox framework, why are you writing entire posts expressing your anger at the way that shadchanim operate?? People who don't use shadchanim due to their level of observance and are very far outside the Orthodox community shouldn't be sooooo offended.

Why are you pointing out that converts tend to make the other partner more observant because they themselves are very observant?! Um....

And why are you complaining on behalf of other converts if you are not dealing with the issues they deal with? Why do you think that YOU are the spokesperson for other converts?? Believe me, if converts wanted a spokesperson, I am pretty sure you would not be it.

I'm not a mud-slinger, and I believe I originally made my points pretty constructively- YOU are the one who is immature thinking I'm "immature" because I pointed out the reality of your situation to you. I'm sorry if it's not the back-patting, congratulatory drivel you were hoping for.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

Listen, I started to write a response and then realized how absolutely silly it was to continue speaking to someone who clearly has a beef with me and not the post.

If you want to talk, email me.

DS said...

I don't know you, and I've found your blog very interesting and your sincerity evident. I've been reading your blog for months

I do, however, understand the frustration inherent in previous commenters' reactions.
Why would you care how orthodox shadchanim make their choices or feel you have a perspective to criticize? Most well meaning shadchanim try to put together people with similar frames of reference, whether based on hashkafa or personal situation. What's wrong with setting up second time singles with each other? Convert, divorced, older singles, what's the difference?

Why assume that makes you damaged goods, rather that the shadchanim are trying to see what would work based on common experience?

Anonymous said...

DS: Clearly, making the statements I've made means I have a personal "beef" with Chaviva- and not the fact that she (based on this post, and other posts) acts very hypocritically.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

How is having a normal life experience, with all of its twists and turns and unexpected changes, hypocritical?

DS said...

I personally don't understand why you would feel the need to criticize the practices of orthodox/modern or otherwise shadchanim if you're not interested in their help or in need of it. I'm very interested in that.

Other than that, I'm not interested in nasty comments, from anyone. No name calling or thoughts of hypocrisy here.

Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes Powered by Blogger | DSW printable coupons