I wrote this post for XoJane.com, where it appeared on 12/14/13
Is this allowed? I wondered. But I didn’t remember seeing anything in JDate’s rules about your mom not being permitted to log on and manage the most intimate details of your dating life for you.
In fact, none of my rabbis or Hebrew school teachers ever mentioned, when I turned 13 and had to recite a Torah portion through my braces, that when I’d finally grow up at age 25, my mom couldn’t stick her fingers in my dating life.
Perusing JDate, of course.
My mom pretty much manages everything else in my life — from over a thousand miles away, at that. “Jennifer, you need to eat better. You can’t have pizza for dinner every single night.” Or “I mailed you a new pair of jeans because you can’t walk around wearing Forever 21 leopard shorts to work anymore.”
So when she first asked if she could log into my JDate account to look for a man — FOR ME — I said no way. But I changed my mind after being on the site for almost a year and only going on a handful of dates. (Most of them ended because of communication issues, meaning I never heard from the guys again or I never spoke to them again. All in all, there wasn’t a strong enough connection, which isn’t JDate’s fault.)
So there I was, miles from my mom, with the phone squished against my ear as I listened to her type my user name and password into JDate’s login box. She was overwhelmed the way a child would be as they pawed through their collection of newly acquired Halloween candy.
“Look at this one!” She squealed, but I refused to be on the site at the same time. Instead, I was hiding under my covers, pretending to be invisible, pretending that what my dating life had succumbed to at that very moment — my mom hand-picking candidates off a website, as if we were shopping for vacuums on Amazon — was not actually happening.
But … it was. My mother was scrolling through the profiles of guys like “MazelTovMan0132” and “JacobTHEMensch2013,” wondering why in the world I wasn’t into them.
“Mom, come on,” I pleaded. She began to read their bios out loud. The “Jacob” guy used a “;)” on his profile and MazelTovMan mentioned that he was looking for a girl to cook him dinner and join his fantasy football league.
I glanced down at my phone — we’d been at this for one hour and 47 minutes. That had to be some kind of online dating record, at least for me. Any second now, JDate’s fraud team was going to call and report that someone had hacked into my account, because this was more activity than they’d seen from my username in the last year.
“Oh! Here we go,” she announced suddenly. “I’ve found the one.” Before I’d even heard who this “Jonathan” guy was, I imagined my mom texting our rabbi to see if he’d be free, in a year and a half, to marry us.
Apparently Jonathan enjoyed reading nonfiction, eating pizza, and had family in Florida too. After Mom and I agreed that he sounded like the most compatible person on the site so far, she asked the unthinkable: “Will you let me message him?”
I’ve come this far, I told myself. And since Mom had expressed nothing but patience regarding my negative attitude over the past two hours, I figured this would be a proper prize. (Plus, if it did work out, what a funny story we’d have to tell our kids one day!)
She read me the three short, formal sentences she wrote (in a tone that I would never use, of course):
We have a lot in common. I would like to chat further with you. Please respond if you are interested.”
I hung up the phone, and we waited. We waited until the days turned into weeks and those weeks became a month. But (surprise?) we didn’t hear anything from Jonathan. I guess he had no way to know that the person behind the message was not the person behind the profile.
“It’s OK,” I told my mom. This had happened to me before, and it would happen again. Rejection is part of of dating, online or off. It’s rare to find a person who gets your heart pumping, and when they turn us down or give up on us, it doesn’t feel good.
I tried to explain this to my mom, who couldn’t possibly understand why any guy in this great big world would ever turn down her little princess.
“You’re right,” my mom conceded. For the first time in this whole JDate-plus-Mom dating game, I felt like I’d won. Until she added, “But maybe we should message this Jonathan guy one more time…?”