Life & Culture

Ask Hilary: Internet dating and Jewish schools

A reader considers Internet dating, and a parent wonders if she should have sent her son to a Jewish school


Q My friends are all telling me that internet dating is the way to go, but I’m worried that the people who use apps like Tinder, or even JDate are just expecting casual sex. I’m seriously looking for a partner. Should I give it a go?

A The problem with internet dating is that it gives users the impression that there is an endless amount of choice out there, which can make potential dates seem rather disposable. Scrolling through profiles is also far too much like fun to make it akin to a serious pursuit.

Both factors do make dating sites attractive to the fickle or to those looking for quick thrills, so you’re wise to be cautious.

However, recent research showed that online dating now accounts for about one in five new relationships and up to one in six marriages, so clearly not everyone using dating sites and apps is only looking for casual sex. Of course, by logical deduction, this also means that four out of five relationships are still formed the old fashioned ways. So perhaps the key to making internet dating work for you is to think of it as just one option in your quest to find a partner, rather than the be-all and end-all.

Bear in mind that you’re just as likely to meet the wrong person, or someone who just wants you for sex, at work or at a party, as you are online. You need to employ the same nous on the internet as you do in daily life — that means taking things slowly, getting to know people, taking note of the things they say and the way they say them. The difference is that rather than reading body language, you need to learn to read online behaviour and recognise red flags, such as quickly making the conversation sexual, or asking for pictures.

First off, you should avoid the apps, like Tinder, which are known for being playgrounds for casual sex. Paying a premium to join a site or app can also help; those seriously looking for a partner are more likely to be willing to shell out. Engage potential partners in long, in-depth conversations and don’t agree to meet up too soon.

People who genuinely like you will invest the time and effort. Is the other person really listening to what you say and remembering it from conversation to conversation, or are they just giving out generic compliments and platitudes? Do they only contact you late at night, in the hope of a hook-up?

Make sure your own profile clearly states that you want a relationship, and avoid using words like “fun” or “adventurous”, which could be seen as shorthand for “wants sex”. Take care to choose a photo in which you look friendly and smiley and approachable, not sexy or posed. Good luck!

Q My child doesn’t go to a Jewish school because we didn’t get in. But all my friends’ children did and they are all really high-achieving. They are always boasting about their children being in the best schools but they can afford tutors on the side, too. My child isn’t particularly academic or good at anything special and I feel sad and jealous when they are boasting on Facebook all the time. It makes me not want to talk to my friends.

A Something tells me that even if your child were at a Jewish school, or indeed at exactly the same school as your friends’ children, you’d be dealing with the same issues — worrying that yours was not doing as well as theirs, annoyed by their boasting. Competitive people are competitive people. And I’m afraid I’m talking about you, as well as them.

Are your friends really boasting, or are you just oversensitive because you feel that your child — and by extension, you — has somehow failed? It’s interesting that you say “we” didn’t get in to a Jewish school. Surely it’s your child who didn’t. Why are you taking this so personally? Is this really about your child, or more that you feel inferior to your friends?

More worryingly, is your child aware of how negatively you feel? Because if you transmit your lack of confidence in their abilities to him or her, it could be far more damaging than what school they attend.

Please focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t. You may not be able to afford a private tutor, but you can encourage your child to work hard and focus on the things they are good at — and there will be something, even if it’s not academia. Happy, hard-working children generally succeed in life whether or not they go to the very best schools.


Contact Hilary via email anonymously or not. Or write to her at 28 St Albans Lane, London NW11 7QF

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