Heinous or Harmless – Dating

From Matzav.com

Dear Matzav.com Editor,

My heart is so broken. I have been carrying a bleeding heart for over a month and cannot withstand it anymore. I do not want to tell my parents nor friends what I did, lest they make fun of me, yet I have to unburden myself, so I will tell you, on Matzav, what has been eating me up, killing me, and torturing me for the past month. Matzav has spoken to me about what I will share here, but unfortunately, to protect my privacy, I have to withhold my name from all of you.

About a month ago, my best friend living in Eretz Yisroel – for shana rishonah [first year of marriage]- called me up and said that this past Friday night, they had the most perfect suitable bochur for me sitting at their Shabbos table. He is learning in Yeshiva ______ [removed by editor] in Eretz Yisroel. She said that before I fly all the way from New York, I should talk to him over the phone, get to know him, and then, if things are okay, make the huge trip.

I agreed.

The boy called me up the following week and we hit it off real well. As a matter of fact, the phone conversation lasted a good two hours. We arranged another phone date. That one lasted for a good five hours.

I couldn’t believe how smooth the conversation flowed. We both found it very enjoyable to talk on the phone and decided that after just another three more calls, I’ll book my ticket.

The next two conversations were also wonderful. Then, during the second to last conversation we had, the boy indirectly requested a picture of me, only to get a better idea. By that time, I felt very comfortable to send him a picture of me.

The next day, I just couldn’t wait to hear from him and what he thought of me, because, after all, pictures can sometimes say a lot.

Soon enough, he called me and thanked me for sending a picture. In my head, I interpreted that to mean that he was impressed by my picture. But then he started telling me how boys tend to be very gashmiyusdik [focused on physical] and how it is very hard to look beyond the physical.

Honestly, I started shaking. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! What?!

But I continued to listen. He went on to explain that I am a very wonderful girl, an excellent Bais Yaakov girl, etc. As he was rambling about my middos [good qualities], I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! After almost 16 hours of pleasant phone conversation, you are willing to say no because of my picture?

My heart was pounding. I was numb. I never, ever felt so degraded, so low, so cheap!

He ended off by saying that even though he’s not so much into my picture, he will overlook it because I have fantastic middos.

I told him that it’s okay. I wished him much luck and hung up the phone.

That night, I cried myself to sleep. Actually, for the next month, I cried myself to sleep, not because he didn’t think I was pretty enough, but rather because of how degraded I felt!

And now I turn to you, the mothers and fathers of boys. What are we teaching our kids? Who do you think you are to dare request a picture?

[Name Withheld For Privacy]

A Bleeding Heart

New York

HSM: So folks, is the bleeding heart right? Was the guy wrong for saying he will overlook her picture? Should he have waited to meet her before saying something negative about the way she looked? Should he have requested a picture before calling her? Is she right to be so upset? Was she right to not let him continue even if he was willing? Would you date someone without seeing their picture first? Did he give her false hope or is he well within his rights to turn her down based on looks? Was his behaviour heinous or harmless? Was her behaviour heinous or harmless? Discuss…..

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53 responses to “Heinous or Harmless – Dating

  1. lady lock and load

    She has to travel to Israel to meet HIM? Maybe I’m old fashioned but shouldn’t the young man go to her? Or meet half way?
    When he requested a picture, did she want one of him? What if she saw his picture and was not attracted at all?

    • i was always taught that the man needed to come to meet me. when I met KoD he did offer to come all the way up, but we met halfway.

      • I’ve done it both ways. I met some of my dates when I lived in Washington in other places (e.g., Philadelphia, Six Flags Great America); most of the time, I made the trip to New York. In one case, the woman I was corresponding with flew into Baltimore for the day. And the first time I actually met my future wife, I paid for her ticket to Memphis. (A few months earlier, I had planned to meet her at a Shabbaton in Pittsburgh, but my connection was cancelled due to weather in Detroit and I had to return home.)

        • honestly – when I was dating I did most of the travelling to meet someone. NY men as a whole were not too willing to drive up to Montreal. Well, the KoD was…..and look what he got in return 😀

  2. i think she’s lucky that she didn’t have to waste a plane ticket on him only to find out after having spent $1000+ that guys are very gashmiusdik (blah blah blah)…

    although i understand that she is insulted b/c no one likes to hear that someone isn’t attracted to them, she is probably better off without him & hopefully she will meet someone who appreciates ALL that she has to offer-both her inner AND outer beauty & not have someone do her a favor (like this winner was willing to do). i wonder what this bochur had to offer her other than the priveledge of supporting him forever & ever ;)!

  3. Poor thing! I feel so awful for her! Yes guys are very visual but still, there was absolutely no excuse for his behaviour! I am so glad she saved herself the time and effort of shlepping down to meet this jerk!

    • Gitty – there was absolutely no excuse for his behaviour!

      I don’t like his behavior either, but what exactly would you have suggested that he do differently?

      Had he done anything else at that point, she would have shlepped all the way there to meet the jerk!

      • Mark, you are probably right, but this guy came across as a jerk regardless. “He will overlook [the picture]”?! What the hell is he thinking? (Pardon my language; I don’t know if I should have to censor it next time. 🙂 ). I guess we will never know if she would have grown on him, but one red flag is that she was planning to fly to Israel to meet–unless she could make it part of a larger trip, she was taking a big chance.

  4. Yikes. I think a guy should know himself well enough – & respect both himself & her enough – to ask matchmakers for a picture *before* talking for 16 hours on the phone… In this case, being friends of the lady in question, the matchmakers surely had pix of her…

    Assuming that wasn’t possible in this case for whatever reason (or assuming different circumstances) – well, I can’t say that it’s always wrong to rule someone out based on looks alone. Physical attraction *is* a vital aspect in a relationship, and – trying to judge as favorably as possible – it may well be that yeshiva boy actually had reasonable standards & expectations about bleeding heart’s physical appearance. However, a gentleman (“mentsch”) ought to know better than to present his opinion so rudely & judgmentally, especially since he claimed to think highly of the lady in question. 

    What yeshiva boy should have done is discussed the matter first with the matchmaker or other trusted third party & come up with a more elegant and less harsh way of ending the relationship… So unless he is some ignorant young tsutsik of just barely 18, I definitely think he could have handled this better & I’d say he behaved very improperly.

  5. I’m sure, of course, that the boy was a absolutely perfect and drop dead gorgeous, so of course he was entitled to demand a picture; I guess we should be grateful that he condescended to overlook her appearance. (snark end)

    Heinous young man.

  6. Yes, I agree, dating this way is heinous. Look at the pain it caused in this case (and many others).

    Of course, dating other ways may also be heinous in other ways. I’m not sure if there is an ideal solution.

  7. If he is really willing to “overlook it” why did he open his big fat mouth to offer a gratituous insult?

    If he isn’t really willing to overlook it, it says nothing very good about him, but she is better off knowing finding that out now, than when she is carrying their first child.

    Either way, heinous. But unfortunately I have known even more heinous.

    • shualah elisheva

      i agree with you. there are certainly MORE heinous, heart.breaking stories about there [both in quantity, and in quality], but if he was actually willing to “overlook” her “unattractive” physical features, why on EARTH did he say anything at all?

      to make himself feel like a real mensch? so he could say to himself, “i value middot over the physical guf, therefore i am a special man? i should TELL her that so she knows JUST HOW SPECIAL i am?”

      that’s the incongruous part. as terrible as it is, i think i would understand [or try to understand] a man who says that after peaking, he just isn’t physically attracted.

      it’s the follow.up that leaves me flabbergasted and upset for this woman, who no doubt is an aidel maidel.

    • i agree with mike s that there was no reason for him to be so brutally honest with her & to share with her that he is willing to “overlook” her looks even though she doesn’t have the gashmius/physical qualities that he would like, he is still willing to have her shlep out to meet him 6000 miles away-what a tzaddik!

      i agree that he should not have just continued leading her on if he was not attracted & he has every right in the world NOT to be attracted to her but i guess it’s always hurtful to be rejected for ones outer appearance or for any reason for that matter.

      bottom line, no dating system is perfect & ppl’s feelings are constantly hurt no matter how they date & rejection is always painful-such is life :(.

      again, i feel badly for the girl that her feelings were hurt but had she shlepped out to see him only to then be told the same thing, she would have probably been even more devastated.

  8. I feel awful for the girl.

    But the problem is the system, not the boy. In nature (The wild, a bar, whatever you want to call it), physical attraction precedes intellectual attraction. Had they met in a bar, he could have politely passed, with no harm done, and without 16 hours of raised hope that THEY BOTH had invested.

    I am an executive recruiter professionally. Sometimes candidates are interested in a role, but have reservations that it will ultimately be the wrong fit. I assure them, that just as employer interviews them, and makes no guarantee that an offer of employment is coming, they have the right to go through the process, and evaluate if it is right for them, provided there is a good faith basis for their potential interest.

    Dating is no different. Both had an honest interest in finding a mate. They both invested 16 hours in the relationship. And he became aware that he was not physically attracted to her.

    Should he be forced to marry her anyway? Should he spend more time with her and raise her hopes further? Should he lie to himself? Come up with another fake reason and lie to her?

    I feel terrible for the girl. But it sounds to me like the boy was honest with himself and tried to act like a mentsch, while working within a system based on the foolish notion that physical attraction is not part of mating and courtship.

    As long as the system insists on reversing the natural order of courtship, people’s feelings will get hurt.

    • As long as the system insists on reversing the natural order of courtship, people’s feelings will get hurt.

      But going in the other order can hurt feeling just as easily. Let’s say 2 people meet, are attracted to each other, and then spend 16 hours with each other. At that point, one of the people decides that the other is just not intellectual enough for them (or has a contrary hashkafa, or not enough education, or doesn’t earn as much as desired, etc), doesn’t that also cause hurt feelings?

      • That’s concrete, and would not be perceived as superficial.

        That process is also know as, what’s the word again? oh, yeah. “Dating.”

        • Which is why I made my original comment above (8:34am).

          But I think superficiality covers more than just looks. For example, even after a few dates, if one of the people has a shabbos meal at the other family, and notices a non-white tablecloth, the dating may end right at that point. I would consider that to be superficial 🙂

          • superficiality also covers: colour of kippah, yiches, family, geographic origin, ethnic origin,

            all these criteria do not tell us anything significant about the individual person. Looks, at least, are related to the person…

            • US: I think Hadassah could find a post or two which covered that in detail. In fact, the post began with a different topic entirely! 🙂

    • Noah: No, he should not be forced to marry her, but there were better ways of letting her down gently.

    • And from what I read, he DIDN’T act like a mensch. He came across as insulting and cruel.

  9. If he was willing to overlook the fact that her appearance wasn’t perfect why bother telling her he didn’t find her attractive. It seems to me, he wanted to break it off but was too much of a wuss to do it directly. It’s ok to break something off because you don’t find the other person attractive enough but don’t lollygag around about it… especially if it involves someone having to travel across the world for you.


  10. Thought 1:
    While my heart breaks thinking about what this putz put this lovely woman through, I can’t tell you how impressed I am with her. Unfortunately, there are many women out there who are willing to settle, misguidedly thinking that it’s their lot in life. This woman has truly impressed me by standing up for herself.

    Thought 2:
    Bravo (sarcastic) to him for admitting that she isn’t her type. It did save her a lot of time and effort. Like other posters said, if physical traits were that important, he should have asked to see a photo up front. Asking for it midstream is not the proper thing to do.

    I fear for anyone that ends up marrying him. The original poster though, I have very high hopes for her. She’ll do just fine, and she should be so proud of herself for standing up for herself. The pain will go away, but your self respect should live on forever.

  11. I wonder why he didn’t ask her for a picture before all the talking, chances are he was inexperienced and someone told him that’s the way to do it. IMO, the shaddchan should have made sure he saw a picture before beginning a relationship that will require traveling such a far distance. Why would a girl want to travel that far with the possibility that the guy will find her unattractive?

    That said the way he handled it was awful, if he really was willing to date her in spite of her looks he should have kept his mouth closed. Even in a society where boys are not that familiar with girls, that is shockingly insensitive.

    • Don’t the shadchanim try to avoid showing pictures and instead focus on middos, yichus, etc? At least that’s what I’ve heard about many shadchanim.

      It also sounds to me like he got some bad advice from someone, maybe from his Rebbe who doesn’t have any clue what dating is like today, and perhaps doesn’t even remember what it was like in his time.

      Is it really acceptable to ask for a photo up front before even the first conversation takes place?

      • In my experience, it’s not unusual for the shaddchan to provide the boy with a picture, so that he doesn’t have to ask. In general it is better to focus on the middos (not yichus, IMO) and I’m not in favor of sending pictures unless there is a significant expense or difficulty required for the couple to meet. I would say traveling to Israel fits that description and not sending a picture is asking for trouble.

  12. 1 thing is sure he had the right ti ask for her picture before he said yes (as the Gemara says אסור לאדם לקדש אשה עד שיראנה) but the way he did it is very wrong!

    • But the gemara doesn’t say –

      אסור לאדם לדבר… עד שיראנה

      Interesting question, is a man required to talk to the girl before kiddushin? He is required to see her, but what about talking?

  13. אסור לאדם לקדש אשה עד שיראנה = A man is not permitted to marry a woman he has not seen. This (I think) is why traditionally the chatan lifts the veil right before the chupah.

    אסור לאדם לדבר… עד שיראנה = A man is not permitted to speak … until he has seen. Just a play on the former words.

  14. I think the bigger issue is the original topic at hand.

    The guy acted like a complete putz. He deserves whatever it is he gets. The poster, on the other hand, handled the situation with class and with poise. Bravo to her for standing up for herself.

    One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed with online dating and set ups, is that people somehow feel that they owe the person less because it isn’t “as real.” It would seem that it’s easier to behave poorly if you don’t have to tell the person something face to face. Some people also need to remember that the Torah (bible) mentioned two types of Mizvot (commandments) one is between human and God, the other is between two humans. Too many people (religious and non-religious) forget way too often about the laws between fellow human beings.

    Now this might have been a case of foot in mouth disease on behalf of the male, but I have a feeling it’s more than just that. And it’s truly so sad.

    • online dating is a huge minefield. You can create your own reality – and if it doesn’t mesh with someone else’s, it IS easier to reject them and move on to the next. You are not likely to run into that person at the mall, or at shul.

      He should have said nothing about her looks if he was willing to continue. the fact that he did not keep quiet about it speaks volumes.

    • It is a shame that people don’t behave better merely because they are online. The comment about people forgetting the mitzvot bein adam l’chaveiro (between a person and other people) and concentrating on mitzvot bein adam l’Makom (between a person and G-d) is right on.

      I have always made a point of being myself online. I definitely think honesty is the best policy. If someone else is not, it will come out sooner or later. But for me, I don’t think I would feel comfortable being something I’m not when I’m online.

  15. If he didn’t like her looks, he could have come up with some other excuse to end it – why on earth would any guy say this to a girl??? Sounds completely immature not to realize the effect his words would have.

  16. I would like to say that a photo can be totally misleading and hormones play a huge role in attraction.
    My hubby is a large guy. I mean large- right HSM? We agreed to meet, after spending hours on the phone/internet, and he sent me a picture of his full self. I FREAKED OUT! I asked him- what if there is no attraction in person?! He said- it’s happened before and it is better to meet to find out then to put meeting off any longer and continue this relationship. Well, I am very glad we did meet- it was love at first sight!

    This guy is a tool. I think he was just too scared to make a commitment.

    • hey Z! I feel like i’m stalking u-sorry but i think women in general tend to be more likely to overlook the physical more quickly than guys do -especially a young frum bocher who is most likely in his early 20s (if that old) & just starting out in the shidduch parsha.

      truthfully, while i feel badly for the girl b/c her feeling were hurt, i don’t think he should have felt the need to make a commitment to her since he was turned off by her photo-especially b/c as a yeshiva guy, he is most likely to have a list at least a mile long of other girls who may have the same or similar middos but might be more attractive to him. besides, what a shame for the girl, if she would have shlepped so far with high expectations b/c he was going to do her a favor & agree to date her (perhaps once) in Israel? What a waste of time, money, & emotional energy it would have been in that case!!

      • Batya – he is most likely to have a list at least a mile long of other girls who may have the same or similar middos

        I have a question. Would a shadchan ever come to a boy and say “well, she’s a nice girl, but needs to work on her middos”?

        No way! The shadchanim always say “she’s a nice girl with good middos”. So, since they say the same thing about every girl (or boy for that matter), why should the boy even take that particular statement by the shadchan into account in the first place?

        • mark, i mentioned middos b/c that was what the letter-writer said that the boy had told her (he was willing to overlook her looks b/c of her fantastic middos) so presumably he was impressed with her middos based on what he heard about her & what they had discussed in their lengthy phone conversations. truth is most shadchanim most likely will try to impress upon these guys how beautiful the girls are & how wealthy they are as well…

          • Completely true, a good shadchan will never say anything negative, and even if there exists a large negative, they will couch it in terms that sound positive.

    • And in this era…can anyone say “Photoshop”?

  17. This kind of thing happened a lot to me: I had wonderful phone conversations and once the men saw me, they would turn me down.

    My conclusion: I send a picture immediately, tell them I am not very attractive, avoid speaking to much on the phone (and building too many hopes on it) and try to see the person as early as possible in the relationship….

    Superficial or not: if I do not turn them on, no-one can force them.

    • US-i feel so badly that you refer to yourself the way that you do as Ugly Single :(. I think that when one tells a potential suitor that they are not very attractive their insecurities are “out there” & that in itself may be a turn-off more so that the person’s actual physical appearance. i don’t think it’s necessary for you to mention it to the guys on the phone. they have eyes so why not let them make their own decisions b/c beauty is in the eye of the beholder. besides, there are usually several ways of enhancing ones appearance with proper grooming, make-up, attractive hairstyles, weight loss if overweight etc…Again, it hurts me that you seem to think so poorly of yourself. Perhaps counseling to help improve your self-image may also be beneficial in order to attract a quality guy. may you find your bashert who will love you & appreciate your inner & outer beauty!

      • It’s not at all about insecurities. On the contrary: It is a fact and I am aware of it, and I like myself as I am. So if the other thinks he cannot like me the way I am, for sure we will never make a couple.

        As a general rule, I have a strong dislike for women who are too much bothered by their looks.

  18. It’s too bad this blog doesn’t have sound effects. Imagine the effect of the title of this occasional series:


    (Picture reverb sound effect)


  19. His behavior is heinous. Even if he is into the physical, he may be overlooking the other qualities that attracted him in the first place.

  20. In the early days of online dating sites were filled-with online profiles of people who are thieves, con artists and fraudsters. But times have changed.

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