(November 7, 2011 / JNS) In the blur of people you pass every day, most strangers are forgotten. But what if your soul mate were sitting behind you at the movies or living down the hall?
Maybe you met someone in a coffee shop but it didn’t work out. You still see the person there, sitting at a rickety table, reading that same pretentious book which once seemed intellectual, with those phony hipster glasses which once seemed hot, and suddenly your coffee tastes a little bitter –especially if it’s from Starbucks. Maybe you only met awkward teenagers, semi-happily married couples, and hawkish mothers in synagogue.
Or, maybe you thought you could meet someone in a bar and begin a life-long relationship, but you learned by experience that people who frequent bars tend not to remember the night.
Finding the right person might mean interacting with scores of people, and being a little imaginative in how you find them: Women might find an encouraging selection of men at meat counters, provided they refrain from too many inquiries about salami and sausage, just as men might entice women at nail salons if they don’t paint their nails fuchsia. The queue for the bathroom often spurs conversation, perhaps because it highlights our primal urges, or because we’re fighting for a common goal. Try airports and doctors’ waiting rooms (but maybe not psychiatrists’ and gynecologists’ offices)—places where people hang around with nothing more for company than golf and housekeeping magazine subscriptions.
Consider quotidian places, like the grocery store, pharmacy, or bus. Sociologists note thatpeople with routines are likely to see a person repeatedly, consider it luck/timing/destiny, and develop romantic feelings for that person. Also, find activities that interest you and pursue them.
If you’re interested in Jewish culture, consider Jewish social groups. “Gather The Jews” (http://www.gatherthejews.com/about/), for example, offers an array of activities for people in Washington, DC, while “East Side Jews” (http://www.eastsidejews.com/about.html) caters to Jews in the East Side of Los Angeles, and meets monthly “at unlikely venues during unpopular holidays for Jews with confused identities.”
These efforts will not only break the monotony of your day, but will increase your wellbeing—and somehow being happy always makes a person more attractive.
When you see someone worth sliding over to, make eye contact, smile: show that person that you’re not a serial killer, unless you are, in which case I can set you up with some people I knew in high school. If the person looks back at you and smiles, head over. The smile isn’t essential, but indicates that the person is friendly or cheerful. Be confident and lighthearted, and ask questions to show interest. If he or she asks questions back, the curiosity is reciprocated.
Does Judaism have a place in this initial conversation? When you meet someone for the first time, it’s better to steer things away from personal or serious subject matters like religion. Unless you’re observant and require your partner to be as well, broaching this topic might pigeonhole you or put your delicate connection in jeopardy. If you speak about the issue later, the person might be more willing to listen or accommodate you because you will no longer be a stranger.
Oftentimes, serious conversations are more effective when both people know each other well and feel comfortable communicating. If you do decide to talk about religion or other personal issues right away, do it tastefully by exercising a sense of humor and subtlety.
Before the conversation ends, suavely attempt to acquire contact information. The key is nonchalance: don’t see the person as the one you’re going to marry, make babies with, and whine to in a nursing home because your ungrateful kids decided they’re fed up with spoon-feeding you. It’s just a chat. If you don’t put importance on a chat, the possible rejection by this stranger won’t upset you.