In the last few days I’ve been feeling confident in some ways, not in others. I feel curiously confident about my ability to write – I don’t think I’m a great author and I’ve definitely got a lot to learn, but I feel I could write. However, I don’t feel confident about my ability to get published, in terms of producing what publishers want as well as persevering through rejection and learning the technical procedures for laying out submissions and so on.
I’ve found a job to apply for that might be good for me. It’s slightly unusual. The job description was not detailed, but it involves working to improve search engines by rating keywords and search terms. From the company site, I think it is really about training AI algorithms, although I won’t be doing the technical stuff, just collecting data. The attraction is (a) although not intended for a librarian/information manager, my information management skills may be useful, (b) I can work from home, (c) I have flexible hours, maximum 20 hours a week. So this would be in a non-stressful environment (home), allowing me to work, say, 10am-6pm each day, three days a week with two days for writing! It is a freelance, contract position, so no job security, but you can say that about most jobs nowadays (even before COVID). I spent nearly two hours applying (one of those annoying cases where they want a CV plus an online application form that just paraphrases your CV).
Eliza recommended Shabbat.com as a dating site, which I had not heard of (I’d possibly heard of it as a site to find a Shabbat host, but not as a dating site). I signed up and created a profile. Unlike JDate, it’s free. There were a lot of Anglo-Jewish women on there (including the daughter of friends of my parents who lives down the road and who my Dad has been trying to set me up with for years, but I’ve never seen the slightest sign that she’s interested in me), but I just got overwhelmed and shut it down. Sigh. Maybe I don’t have the stamina for online dating, to contact so many people to try to find The One. It’s an effort for me to open up to anyone. I suppose it does reassure me that there are women out there, if only I could work out how to meet them. Someone has to like me, right? (No, they don’t, says my inner critic.)
I couldn’t cancel my JDate subscription (the three day grace period turned out to be only in parts of America) so am committed for three months and might as well use them. Losing £90 is a pain, but it’s only money, and money isn’t a huge problem for me right now (I have no job, but I also have no life beyond buying occasional books and DVDs, mostly second-hand and cheap; my parents aren’t charging me rent). I’m trying to focus on trusting God that everything is for the best, even if nothing works out and it all just turns out to be expensive social anxiety exposure therapy.
That was my thought in the early afternoon, when I realised I couldn’t cancel. Since then, four people sent me a “flirt” on JDate, which as far as I can tell is a way of signifying interest in someone’s photo and profile without saying anything substantive in case they don’t reciprocate. You just get a message saying “Person X sent you a flirt” and you can decide whether to respond with a more substantial message or not. Two of the flirters didn’t have information or photos on their profiles beyond living in the US, so I put them to one side for now. Both looked slightly suspicious (beyond the lack of data) in apparently being willing to date anyone from 35 to 75, which seemed an suspiciously large age range.
As for the women who looked more legitimate, one is Modern Orthodox, but living in the States – which is not impossible given my experience with E. The other is from someone whose profile says she’s “culturally Jewish,” but when I responded to her flirt with a short message introducing myself, she sent me a longer message which seems very religious. It is true that some people really don’t like labels and particularly “Orthodox” (which admittedly is kind of a dour and unattractive thing to call yourself: “Right-thinking”). I’m going to respond to her before going to bed, and to the American woman tomorrow – I don’t think I have the stamina to reply to both now (see below for why).
I guess it’s nice to be thought attractive, given that these women “flirted” me based on a photo and a short profile. Still, the thought of actually messaging them, or anyone else on either site, makes me feel anxious. When I’m single and lonely, I just feel how nice it would be to be in a relationship with someone I like and trust. I forget that to build a relationship of love and trust, I have to start by talking to a lot of women I don’t know and am scared of, and face a lot of rejection. At the moment, I want to cower under the table until my bashert (soul-mate) finds me. Sadly, life doesn’t work like that.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased at getting a reaction, though, nor that both these women, but particularly the UK-based one, seem like the type of person I would be looking to meet.
I’ve been feeling very anxious today about both applying for the job and internet dating and I wonder if the latter at least is not more than just social anxiety. ‘Pure O’ OCD (obsessions without compulsions) can sometimes be called “scrupulosity,” because sufferers are often obsessed with being morally perfect. In the past I have had this with Jewish dietary laws (on the plus side: yesterday someone did something at home that would have sent me into a huge panic and sending emails to rabbis just a couple of years ago and I was fine with it, so I’ve made progress there at least).
While I’m not sure I have scrupulosity regarding dating in a strictly clinical sense sense, I do have a lot of worries about not wanting to mislead women, not wanting to waste their time dating them if I think it won’t work out and so on. It adds to general social anxiety about dating and makes it hard to cope. I can have it a bit (to a much lesser extent) with job applications, trying to be honest in my application about my skills and experience. Whether because of autistic black-and-white thinking or scrupulosity (autistic people are disproportionately likely to suffer from OCD), I have always struggled with the idea that it’s OK to bend the truth a little on job applications, or that it’s OK to chat on dating sites with women up to a point without being sure that you want to go out with them.
Because of the tendency in frum circles to only date if ready to marry, I kind of feel I shouldn’t date without a firm career and good mental health, but if I pursue a career as a writer, I may never have real job security (if anyone does these days) and I don’t think my mental health is ever going to be perfect.
After I’d done all of this, I remembered an email from my rabbi mentor some time ago where he said I should just try to meet a lot of women to see what I want/need from a relationship. That sounds weirdly unrabbinic advice, but I’m pretty sure it’s what he said (although I can’t find the email).
I did find the email where he said it’s OK to email two or more women at once, as long as I don’t do that once I move one relationship to the point where we’re actually dating.
Achievements: aside from job application, setting up a dating profile and messaging on JDate… thirty-five minutes of Torah study (I might try to do a little more) and a run. So a pretty busy day. The run led to another exercise migraine, sadly. I only realised after the run, and after the headache had set in, that I hadn’t davened Minchah (said afternoon Prayers), so it was a struggle to do that by the deadline. I pushed myself to start, then I stopped and had to go to the toilet because I was retching, came back and restarted, stopped and actually threw up… even then I wanted to finish the service until I realised how silly it seemed. I suppose it shows how much I push myself to do what I feel I “should” do religiously without taking into account my health.