Tab Tries: Online Dating

This Christmas holiday ANNA SHEINMAN spent a month looking for love online. Instead she found chili peppers, terrorists and “female manual stimulation”.

Anna Sheinman Dating jdate jewish online online dating tab tries

Picking which site was easy: JDate is THE online Jewish Dating website. Using a Jewish site made it more likely I would have friends in common with potential dates so could check them out, and if all conversation dried up we could at least bitch about the horrors of Hebrew School.

‘What have you learned from your past relationships?’ the form for my profile asked me. Obviously not much. ‘How important was it to you to do well in tests AS A CHILD?’ boomed the pseudo-psychological personality test. Ah… very. Suitably ashamed by memories I had previously successfully repressed, I was good to go.

My profile on JDate.

My first encounter was with a city slicker who threw me a casual: “hey” on the instant messenger. I checked out his profile. He works for a top city firm, went to a redbrick university, and through something we call ‘Jewish Geography,’ it was pretty clear his grandparents knew my grandparents.

Here’s how the conversation went:

And so it began. A 45 year old from a small town in West Israel sent me an e-card which said: “your’re hot” (his spelling mistake, not mine). The front cover was a picture of red chilli peppers.

A chubby Essex boy who had managed 37 typos in his relatively short profile emailed me: “Hey bbz.” I did not respond. “howsit goinng?”  I did not respond.

Meanwhile, rather more spookily, I had been ‘favourited’ by a man who looked like a Daily Mail mock-up of a terrorist. Big beard, big teeth, dead eyes. One feature of the site let you see who viewed your profile. He checked mine every day.

Once I discovered the block button life improved.  I learned a lot with it: I don’t like fat people (true, whether socially acceptable or not), poor spelling is not sexy, and the use of ‘lol’ as punctuation is apparently a dealbreaker. Blocked, blocked and blocked.

My friend: the block button.

Out went the over 35s, the under 20s, the extremely orthodox, those living anywhere other than London and anyone who mentioned football more than once in their profile. Slowly but surely, in came the emails from literate, non-obese, vaguely socially able men. In the bizarre alternative universe of online dating, this seemed like progress.

It was time for my first date. After a long email exchange I was asked out for a coffee by someone we shall call ‘The Doctor,’ because, well, he’s a doctor. 33, lived ten minutes away, went to a school I grew up round the corner from, he was charming, engaging, had a wicked sense of humour and terrible hair. It was thinning and dyed a dark red colour normally only seen on 13 year old girls going through their emo stage. But he was otherwise very well dressed, and as I discovered a rather talented musician, which is always hot, so I stayed put for the time being.

The Doctor had mentioned in an email that he was training as a therapist, and making small talk, I asked him where. “San Francisco” was the rather proud response.  Given the relatively long commute from North West London, I was curious as to the choice of school.

The Doctor: “The kind of therapy I do is only taught in San Francisco.”

Me: So you’re not doing psychodynamic? (Bog standard ‘how do you feel about that’ stuff. I’m Jewish, the guilt is terrible, we’re all in therapy.)

The Doctor: No no, it’s called Slow Sex Therapy.

Me: Um? (Eyebrows raised.)

He described the therapy, something about connecting with the body, understanding what it is you need and want, all sounded pretty sensible really.

Me: So it’s a talking therapy?

The Doctor: Oh yes!

Me: (somewhat relieved) So… where does the sex come in?

The Doctor: Well.

He had been training “with a group of really interesting, different people” (read: hippies), in “this wonderful group living environment” (read: a commune), which cost “quite a lot of money, but it’s good training” (read: they are fleecing him) where they meditated every morning.

The meditation? It was as a group, in couples, with a different partner every morning, but one of the couple must be a female. And what did they do during the meditation? “Female manual stimulation.” What? “Stroking of the female.” What? “Fingering.”

I was on a date with a member of a sex cult.

Don’t you all have herpes? “Oh no, we wear gloves!”

As if that made it less creepy.

I did go on another date with a nice, normal man, whom I just had nothing to say to, and I’m still in contact with a third, but so far there are no signs of big white dresses, stamping on glasses and overly loud klezmer music on the horizon. Ok, maybe a little bit of klezmer.


Please note: all events and conversations in this article are factual happenings and occurred as represented, between December 2010 – January 2011.