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Dating and Relationship Advice

Dear Rabbi and Shira, 

Thank you so much for your column. I enjoy reading it each week. I have been in the dating parsha for about a year now. My problem is not getting dates. Baruch Hashem, I have a great social circle and family support all looking out for me. My problem is that I get so nervous before the date that I can’t have a normal conversation on the date; at least I don’t feel it’s normal. Before a date I lose my appetite and I work myself up so much that by the time of the date I find I have nothing to say. What’s odd is that I’m a pretty social person so I’m having difficulty figuring out what’s going on? How can I be natural in a situation which is so unnatural? Hoping you can help me get this past this. 

-Nauseous in Nassau.

Dear Nauseous in Nassau, 

It is common for a person to feel uncomfortable in different situations. We are all made with a passive danger sense. It has kept us and our ancestors alive for generations. Whether we know it or not, our minds are searching each situation, and assessing whether or not something is a threat to us and our wellbeing. Our “spider-sense” sometimes lock on to some cue, which reminds it of a situation where there was danger, embarrassment, or discomfort. When this occurs, the body prepares for danger, to run away, to fight or to freeze. It sounds like your early warning system keeps getting activated. This could be why you’re blanking out. When you are on the run from a danger, you generally don’t need to ask someone what their favorite color or desert is, nor where their family is from. So your mind shuts those parts off, in order to save energy for other things. If this you find this to be recurring and debilitating, we’d recommend you seek professional help. Consider, are there any other situations where you find this occurs? Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen if you don’t have anything to say. There can be pauses in a conversation, and there is no problem with it happening. Can you be “ok” with that feeling, that “maybe I won’t have anything to say?” Sit with the feeling and observe it, without judging, if you find your mind begins to do so, gently direct it back to the moment. When you sit with feelings of anxiety, instead of avoiding them, judging them or focusing on them, the danger sense shuts down. Is there a way that you can prepare topics of interest to you in case you go blank? Look for open ended questions which you encourage discussion, as opposed to questions which can be answered with one or two words. We wish you much luck in the future with all of your dating. 

Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack