Why won't guys look past my career plans and see me?
Hi! I’m not sure if this is the kind of question that really has an answer, but I always love reading your advice, so I figured I would give it a shot. I’ve been dating for over two years now, but I rarely get any dates, and all for the same reason: I’m in medical school.
I understand it’s a long haul, and it’s not for everyone, but can’t it be for someone? The feeling I’m getting is that most boys want to glide seamlessly from being cared for by their mothers to being cared for by their wives. I get that. I also want to be cared for by my husband.
But I feel like I am being punished for my personal netiyos and being asked to choose between the gifts Hashem gave me and my dream of having a loving marriage and Torah home.
I’m open to dating men from across the hashkafic spectrum, but I can’t seem to find anyone who is willing to look past my career and see me. Any thoughts?
Tired and Frustrated
Dear Tired and Frustrated,
I’m so sorry.
I would say it must be so hard to feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, but actually you don’t sound stuck. You sound like you’re committed to your course and are dealing with the fallout and the accompanying feelings.
I appreciate your letter because it’s representative of one of the largest issues the dating world is dealing with — the evolution of gender roles and how they impact dating and marriage.
There was a time, not too long ago, when things were clear. Men were men and women were women. Men did men things, like have jobs and learn Gemara and support their families. Women did women things like raise children and keep house and nurture relationships. And all was well in the kingdom. (And if it wasn’t, no one spoke about it.)
Then the universe shifted (for more about why this had to happen, see Circle, Arrow, Spiral by Miriam Kosman). Suddenly things weren’t so clear anymore. The explosion of several isms all at once has created the perfect storm of confusion. Now, men do women things and women do men things. Which is great, except for the quiet secret that no one wants to publicly express: Men still want feminine women, and women still want masculine men.
One of the main concerns female clients in shidduchim express is that the men they’re dating are not masculine. A recent MatchQuest dealt directly with the issue of women wanting a man who’s a “gavra.” You’re struggling with the flip side of the coin, which is that most men seem to want a woman who’s more traditionally feminine.
What further complicates the issue is that we want to pick and choose. The guys want a feminine girl who carries the masculine traits of providing an income and the women want a masculine guy who is emotionally attuned and will get up at night with the baby. So now, confusion reigns in the kingdom.
Where does that leave a girl like you?
I think we can agree that asking someone to deny her G-d-given gifts is a recipe for disaster — or at least for a lifetime of frustration and unhappiness. I hope that you’ve consulted with your daas Torah about the most effective way to use those gifts in a way that’s compatible with your other dream of creating a loving Torah home. With that as a given, let’s move forward to the actual dilemma at hand.
You can’t control other people’s decisions. You know this, because you started out with the disclaimer that you’re not sure this question has an answer. What you can do is be in charge of how you present yourself. The fact is that there are frum married female doctors out there. And the second fact is that you only need one man. It might be helpful to speak to some of the female doctors who have been down this road and get support and guidance from them.
It also might be helpful to hold a mirror to yourself and your presentation. It’s possible to do everything in either a masculine or feminine way. A woman can be at home all day baking cookies and raising children, but still do it in a masculine way. She can be all about the schedule, and barking orders at everyone, and miss the whole connection piece. A man can be head of neurosurgery and run a department in a feminine way in which he encourages lateral cooperation and provides support to colleagues after a hard surgery. The point is, it’s not about the objective behavior, it’s about the energy the person infuses into it.
Is it possible that as you present yourself to shadchanim or others you project an aura of masculinity that is threatening? When you ask the question about guys wanting their wife to be like their mother, could it be that it gives off an air of irritation and suggests that you’d resent being nurturing?
I don’t know. I’m not there when you speak to shadchanim. But I wonder if people are less concerned about your profession and more concerned about the fact that you don’t seem predisposed to some of the traditional nurturing roles that they want in a spouse.
I don’t think you need to give up either dream. I think that masculine side feels threatened and its defenses are right at the forefront, ready to protect your dreams from any oncoming threat. It might be helpful to reflect deeply and reconnect with the feminine side that holds the other dream and help that come to the fore.
I wish you tremendous siyata d’Shmaya in finding the special boy who will cherish and value the beautiful mix that you are.
Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed social worker and a dating mentor. She lectures on topics related to relationships, personal development, authenticity, and growth. She welcomes questions, comments, feedback, and interaction at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 788)
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