Friday, March 5, 2010

Looks Can Kill

Is asking for a picture right? Moralistic? Fair?

Sefardi Gal left the following comment on one of my posts, so I decided to turn it into a post of its own:

Jug, I've been thinking of doing it-
but I'm not sure how.
1) Does the shadchan send him my picture and then send me the guy's picture?
2) What if he's just not photogenic? I know that I'm not; I either look GREAT in pictures (to the point that I'm barely recognizable) or ugly/fatter/weird. There's a certain "chein"/charm that many people have in real life, but they lack it in photos.
3) Looks can grow. Someone can be just OK and turn into ridiculously handsome in my eyes if he has great middot and personality. Also, quite the oppositve can happen if he's ridiculously attractive but has a bland or obnoxious personality.
4) People can have expectations based on photos -- for better or for worse.
5) It's hurtful to reject someone solely based on looks. Understandable, but still hurtful.


My Answers:

1) It's up to you how the picture is obtained. I've asked shadchanim straight out. I've been offered a picture. There were a few times when i met the girl prior to going out. Also, it doesn't need to be reciprocated. It's possible that only one side needs a picture. The other side may not ask for one.

2) Unless there was some sort of incredibly obvious problem in the looks department, I never rejected a girl outright because of a picture. I was once handed a picture that was taken in a very professionally posed position with a ton of make-up and the girl was still quite unattractive. There, i said "no."

3) That's true. I had two instances (actually back to back) where looks grew. However, it is not a guarantee and it is not a common to happen as you think.

4) The photo is not for expectation purposes. It is to see if it is worth pursuing. If you go into a date expecting a girl (or in your case a guy) to look like he or she does in a picture, you missed what the picture is all about. Do not judge based on the picture. Use it to get a basic understanding of whether or not there's a chance of going out.

5) This question is the main point I would like to make and I am going to break it into two parts.
a. Nobody is owed an explanation of not wanting to go out anymore until at least the third date. Until the end of the third date, nobody has a right to ask for a reason. Nobody should be expected to give a reason. If you don't want to go out with someone because of their looks, that's your prerogative and that reasoning should remain unknown to anyone but you. This is done to avoid hurting someone. If they hear "he/she is not interested" without an explanation, they can't be hurt.
b. Having said that, it is straight out dumb to believe that you will go through a dating career (let's face it, that's what it is) without hurting people. It will happen. When I first started dating, a friend's wife told me that I better be prepared "to hurt and be hurt" because that's going to happen. Dating is a selfish concept in our world. You are in it for yourself. You need to do what you think is best for you. You can't worry about other people's feelings.

Hypothetically, if you go out with someone who you are just not attracted to, but that person has a great personality and that person is exactly what you are looking for except that you're not attracted to him/her, you may end up in a situation that you can't get out of. You will keep dating this person, hoping that you can look past this fact, but you just can't. You will start questioning yourself as to whether or not you are a good person because you can't seem to get this idea out of your head. You will continue to date this person, growing in your relationship and all the while wishing that you weren't in it. Eventually, you will come to the realization that all along you were hoping that this wouldn't be the person you will be marrying and you will have no choice but to hrt someone. That's what emotions can do to a person.

I'm not saying that asking for a picture is mandatory. As a matter of fact, I would discourage it. It's not for everyone. I didn't begin it until after speaking with my Rebbe about it and we came to the conclusion that it was the best thing for me (for reasons which I will not disclose at this time- maybe later). Asking for a picture is not as simple as it sounds and it could really damage a relationship from the beginning if you're not careful how you go about doing it. Make sure that you know exactly what you are looking for when looking at a picture. Don't just look for whether or not this person is simply attractive. Use it only to weed out blatantly obvious nos.

Here's the bottom line: It took me while to learn that it's not a bad thing to ask for a picture. Most people take it as a normal request. Some even take it as a sign that your honest with yourself. Do not be embarrassed about requesting a picture. Do not try to qualify it or explain why you have to see one. Ask for it as a normal request, as if there is nothing wrong with it - because there isn't.

21 comments:

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  2. BJG- If you are on the fence after seeing a picture, I say go for it. Again, "Unless there was some sort of incredibly obvious problem in the looks department, I never rejected a girl outright because of a picture." Because you saw a picture and you're still not sure, I say go for it.

    Ezzie- I think I know the answer to this already, but care to expound on that?

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  3. I'm sorry man, I'm gonna tear you a new one.

    I know whenever someone asks me for a picture, he's not going to say yes. Not because I'm bad looking (I'm not protesting too much; I'm from a Hungarian family, so if I wasn't good looking, I would've been disowned).

    If he/his mommy asks for a picture, it means he's not serious about going out. I find it incredibly dehumanizing, especially since girls are not "allowed" to ask for his photo in return.

    I'm not an item on ebay. You serious about getting married, about finding your bashert, you'll be a mensch.

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  6. English Major- Well, that certainly was a mild "new one." Allow me to respond.

    1) You are wrong. There is not a single guy in the history of the world who has said "no" to every picture he has seen. Additionally, the purpose of the picture is not (as I've said before) to see if you're attracted. It is to see if there is any blatantly obvious issue that will cause you to look away from him/her on the first date.

    2) You are wrong. A guy who asks for a picture is most certainly serious about finding his wife (I will not use the "b" word on this blog). In fact, he is so serious, he knows that he doesn't want to waste his time on girls who have no shot. Sorry for being blunt, but it's true.

    3) You are wrong. If you didn't notice, this whole post was inspired by a question from (drum roll, please) A GIRL! Don't say that girls aren't "allowed" to ask for a picture. If you want to see a picture, see a picture. No one is stopping you. Don't bring these "dating rules" into a discussion that seem to be unfair towards the girls. You want to get a picture? Get a picture. But don't think I am going to be sorry for you because you're stuck in your own self-pity because you're a girl.

    That is how you rip someone a new one.

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  7. Last I checked, I wasn't seeking sympathy.

    I don't consider myself like most girls. It is of no interest to me who or what inspired the post. It could have been little furry creatures from Alpha Centuri for all I care.

    I'm telling you, from my own experience, that anytime anyone asked for my photo no date resulted. I do not look like Susan Boyle, pre or post makeover. I can't say what you look like, either, but I hopefully I wouldn't ask for your photo even if I could, because I wouldn't do something "ungentlemanly."

    Don't get too cocky with your ripping skills. I'm smiling bemusedly at your response, not weeping at the hole in my side.

    As for BJG: The requests in general for photos do not come from guys a plane ride away. That I could understand. The requests come from guys subway ride away. You got a MetroCard and an hour? Meet me in person.

    I note neither of you have retorts regarding menschlachkeit. What would your grandfather have done?

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  9. BJG: Mensch is as mensch does. Or says. You seem to be a nice fellow. You get honorary "mensch" status.

    Dude, I am the first to tell you that looks always mattered, then or now (as I said, HUNGARIAN).

    My point was, a man then would not embarrass a girl. Ever. Making her feel like a worthless piece of meat (not me specifically, but my more sensitive acquaintances) by saying no after simply seeing her picture, especially if she lives around the corner and within easy reach, would be unheard of.

    Blind dates were very common then. My whole history traces back to shidduch dates.

    As for looks? My grandmother was going to day no to my grandfather because of two factors, one of which his nose was long. It seems he won her over. After they met in person.

    Gut shabbos to all.

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  10. There are other reasons for looking at a picture besides for seeing if the person is attractive.

    You could see a person's type based on their picture. Not that you should base your decision on it, 'cuz then you'll be called a picky single; but a picture definitely helps give you...a picture of the person.

    I've mentioned this before and I'm sorry to bore everyone with the repetition but I think you could assume certain things about a person based on how they dress. If I was a guy and I saw a picture of a girl who dresses funky, I could assume she IS funky. Which isn't to say that she isn't a great person and baalas midos, etc. Just that she dresses funky.

    Same thing with a guy - if they're wearing a jacket that's a drop too small or a dusty hat, you could assume they don't take too much time to think about their appearance. Which doesn't mean that they're not a great person, just that they don't care about their appearance.

    Speaking of dusty hats (I'm feeling a little ADD today), my h.s. teacher mentioned how she went out with a great boy but she couldn't get over the fact that his hat was dusty. Then her friend got engaged to that same boy and the thing she liked about him the most was the fact that he was so spiritual that he didn't even notice that his hat was dusty. Point being - be yourself.

    -Chan

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  12. Personally I have never asked for a picture, even when the guy asked for one. Either I searched him up on Facebook or just waited for the date.

    You really can't tell so much about attraction from a picture because attraction doesn't only depend on physical appearance-its just a part of it...the rest you need to see when you actually go out...attraction also includes things like personality etc..

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  14. I removed my last comment b/c I said I wouldn't respond until motzei Shabbat...
    but I have a couple of minutes, sooo...here goes.
    :)

    1st off-
    Jug, thanks for taking the time & answering the Qs.

    "I find it incredibly dehumanizing, especially since girls are not "allowed" to ask for his photo in return.
    I'm not an item on ebay. You serious about getting married, about finding your bashert, you'll be a mensch."
    English Major, I agree with you 100%. I had a Rabbi call me, telling me he has a great guy for me. But the guy doesn't agree to go out with any girl unless he sees her picture first. I was a bit caught off guard and didn't know what to think, but RIGHT AWAY, I lost some respect for the guy. The Rabbi then added that I can't send a picture to the Rabbi because he doesn't have a computer, so maybe I should send it to the guy. I broke into a (polite) rant and said it's RIDICULOUS that men can't just be nice guys and gentlemen and take out a girl for two hours. I know that I personally would find it offensive to get rejected solely based on looks, but on the other hand, I would never want to marry a shallow jerk.
    In case anyone is wondering: the Rabbi agreed with me, the guy called me, we planned a date (no picture was sent), and the date was horrible.

    Now, Juggy:
    "1) It's up to you how the picture is obtained. I've asked shadchanim straight out. I've been offered a picture. There were a few times when i met the girl prior to going out. Also, it doesn't need to be reciprocated. It's possible that only one side needs a picture. The other side may not ask for one."
    If it has to be done, I think a shadchan (who has a computer and e-mail address) should send it. Also, I take issue with this sending business because the picture can be passed on and shown to others.
    I'm very privy when it comes to pictures of myself and wouldn't want anyone having one without my permission of who can and can't see it.

    "2) Unless there was some sort of incredibly obvious problem in the looks department, I never rejected a girl outright because of a picture."
    "4) The photo is not for expectation purposes. It is to see if it is worth pursuing. If you go into a date expecting a girl (or in your case a guy) to look like he or she does in a picture, you missed what the picture is all about. Do not judge based on the picture. Use it to get a basic understanding of whether or not there's a chance of going out."
    Good for you. Seriously. It seems like you're not looking at the picture for shallow purposes; BUT, do you honestly think that's most mens' approach towards the picture?
    From my experience, many ask to see if they're attracted to the girl. Which bothers me for the reasons I stated in #2 and above.

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  15. "a. Nobody is owed an explanation of not wanting to go out anymore until at least the third date. Until the end of the third date, nobody has a right to ask for a reason. Nobody should be expected to give a reason. ... If they hear "he/she is not interested" without an explanation, they can't be hurt."
    I both agree and disagree with this.
    Maybe YOU don't feel a strong kesher to the other person until the 3rd date, but some people fall hard and very quickly. Some people are more sensitive than others. I think anybody has a right to ask, and the person who declined has the right not to answer. However, out of courtesy, I think it's only fair. Especially if it's something that the person can work on -- not to do with other dates in the future.

    "Dating is a selfish concept in our world. You are in it for yourself. You need to do what you think is best for you. You can't worry about other people's feelings."
    Absolutely disagree over here. OF COURSE you have to think about what's best for you and worry about your own feelings.
    However, in my honest opinion, it is totally antiethical to Judaism to not worry about the other person's feelings. Sometimes pity dates are a must. Hurting someone just because it's in the context of dating doesn't change the fact that you hurt them.
    I think dating is the perfect time for one to judge his/her own "ben adam l'chavero" based on how they treat the person.

    Examples:
    -Even if you're not interested on the date, feign interest.
    -Even if thought she's horrible and annoying, say SOMETHING nice to her about the shadchan to have that passed over.

    I once went out with a guy who was good looking and sweet, but based on one reason (which wouldn't bother a lot of people) -- I knew that he wasn't shayach for me. At some point on the date, he revealed to me that no one ever said yes to him for a 2nd idea. I had no clue why they didn't; he was good looking, sweet, polite, smart, etc. I left the date KNOWING 100% he's not for me, but I wanted to say yes to a 2nd just so that he won't feel like crud again -- knowing another girl said no to a 2nd date.
    I was thiiiiis close to giving a pity date, but the only reason I said no to the pity date was because he didn't have a lot of money, & I knew that a pity date would mean him having $30 less.
    (It was a weird scenario.)
    However, if the money issue wasn't there, I'd say in that case, a pity date is necessary b/c of the other person's feelings.

    Again, just my opinion. I know many would disagree with me and yell at me for wasting another person's time & money. But sometimes self-esteem is more important than time and money.

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  16. English Major- I don't want to make you hate me anymore, especially with that ringing endorsement from BJG, but I do have one question: If you don't consider yourself like most girls, how can you speak on behalf of all of them? But you are right, being a mensch is important, but I believe that there are ways to obtain a picture without making it known to the girl that you are getting one. I have done it before with guys and girls whom I have tries to set up.

    As far as my grandfather goes, that is an unfair question. My grandfather didn't live in a world with internet, or in a world where people had cameras at their disposal (pun intended). Nobody had readily available cameras to take an unlimited amount of pictures with. Asking that question is akin to asking what he would think of internet or Barak Obama or snowboarding or anything else that didn't exist when he grew up. Plus, he always used to brag how my grandmother was hot. It was awkward.

    Chan- You make the point that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. that's fair. Nicely put, though.

    smartblondie- facebook counts in terms of what I am talking about. And the point you made about seeing an actual picture is a point I made in my post.

    Sefardi Gal- First off, I'm ok with Juggy. Secondly, You shouldn't take the reques for a picture personally. If you think that's a sign of how the guy is in actual life then you're no worse than the guy who asked for the picture. You are both basing your opinions on "meaningless" things.

    I think I might have overstated the "don't worry about others" thing. Of course you should be worried about others. I just wanted to make sure that people don't think that they won't get hurt while dating. It will happen. Nice story, though.

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  18. BJG- I'm OK with it as long as it's used sparingly. Don't overdo it. And, yes. The problem I knew I was going to face is being able to hurt someone for what I would consider no reason. It used to be waaaaaaaaaay too difficult for me to break up with someone for looks alone after a first or second date and those things may have gone far too long which costs mucho time and money (not mention emotion). You're right by what I meant when I said you have to be willing to hurt someone.

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  19. Jug - some people are so lucky as to never get hurt. Unfortunately I'm not one of them :P

    BJG - if it's going to be worse in the future, then yeah. But if a pity date will help you minimize the hurt, I don't see the issue.

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  20. Juggy (I must say it's catchy) that while I am not like most girls, I do know what makes most girls tick (hello, Bais Yaakov). But that is besides the point. The original premise for the shidduch system was to minimize as much pain for the girl as possible (redding to the boy first without her knowledge, asking him first if second date possible) and these "laws" have fallen by the wayside.

    Not good.

    Your grandfather (I assume) believed in chivalry, in that he would ease a damsel's pain rather than exacerbating it. Sephardi Gal concurs in the insult heaped upon a female when a photo is requested.

    Other girls out there who are more insecure than she and I will be frantic when sending a photo, and if a "no" comes without a meet, what are they to think?

    We all are supposed to do our hishtadlus. That means GO OUT. You don't have to marry her.

    BJG: Better to have loved and lost rather than not have loved at all. You have tales of your own unrequited love. Dashing of you not to put a girl through that, but she'll buck up.

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