This Week in the War on Women (February 1)
More Snow Days

The Pain of Dating

Grey heron

Grey heron that lives in the pond near my home. 

Last Saturday night’s first date managed to be boring in a pleasing way because it clarified that there doesn’t need to be a second date to know that there is no potential. I understand and accept that we’re all basically dull, but some people manage to ignite a spark that brings out your very own somnolent spark, and, my, then there is charm and passion and potential. That, of course, is why I keep going on these first dates.

What set this date apart was when we veered into the banality of his anti-Semitism. One moment he was saying that he has no desire to travel to Israel, and then he was saying, “Jews should atone for killing God.” I’m sure my face reflected the surprise and horror that I felt. My saying “Jews didn’t kill Jesus, the Romans did,” was not met with a silly me, of course they didn’t sort of “taking it back” comment from him. I attempted a mini-lesson, but when I broached the idea that even if they had, it happened more than 2000 years ago, so why continue punishing Jews now was met with incredulity, which transitioned to shock when I stated that I didn’t think Jesus was God, but a Jewish guy who wanted to shake things up. It was as if it was the first time he had ever heard that someone didn’t believe in Jesus. A bit like what it was for me to hear such blatant anti-Semitism spoken right at me—and for him not to even realize that he had said something offensive,  

It’s odd, isn’t it, that we know that other people have different ideas and beliefs than we do, but when we’re confronted with them in the guise of the person you had been sharing a meal with it becomes a wall instead of an abstract idea.

He stopped my explanations by stating that he has his beliefs and I have mine, and that’s that.

When I told a friend what he said, she suggested that I use this opportunity to instruct him about the repugnance of his comment and that it is not a matter of opinion, but of bigotry. I spent a day considering what to say to him; in the end, I opted for simply stating that I found his comment about Jews to be offensive—that it was anti-Semitic. His response? None.

It’s not just the arrogance of his ignorance that got to me, but the settledness that his beliefs are facts. From the little I know of this man, I know that he didn’t read anything to come up with this idea, that, surely, he accepted what some pastors have preached. So the ball of blame rolls up. What is the point to preach this? What is the point to purposefully incite animosity and hatred toward Jews? Are we not allowed to not believe in your guys in peace?

Dating is supposed to be about romance, but I’m finding less hand-holding than general sadness. We middle-aged people who are still or again looking for love are, to varying degrees, bitter and forlorn. For goodness’ sakes, 52 years in and I haven’t found the face I want to see when I close my eyes. We all tell each other that it doesn’t matter, that we are content with our lives, and we are. But then why do we look at picture after picture and read profile after profile hoping to find a match, a mate, someone who will relieve us from continually realizing that, for all we have done and all we have given, we are alone. Alone is not bad, and often I revel in the wonder of aloneness of weekends when I don’t have to talk to anyone or do anything that I don’t want to, and the aloneness of weekdays when I can come home from work and retreat into myself after a day of teaching, but the unceasing nature of it bogs down my ebullience.

I will try to learn my lesson: I will adhere to my red flags. With this man I ignored my red flag of profiles that are too lengthy. That would not have warned me about his anti-Semitism, but I would have prevented myself from having been exposed to it. At least I know that the lengthy profile red flag does, indeed, point to a self-absorbed person. 


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