Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I&'m finally ready to start dating after five years “off the market”. I&'ve
lived through two bad ten-year marriages and after each wished I
could have the last five years of my life back. I waited this time so I
wouldn’t repeat again the same issues I didn&'t resolve the first two
times. I&'m a self-supporting adult, decent looking and generally
considered intelligent, funny, cheerful, and a good person to be
around. But I am not merely rusty with dating but hopelessly out of
my element. Can advise me how to manage everything from
communications to touching. I&'m a 20th century gal in a 21st century


Dear Ready?:

The ? at the end of your question is an indication of ambivalence that
may protect you from another bad choice. But it also may keep you so
guarded that you may miss out on a good one. There’s two routes to
go, speed dating and slow dating. The advantage of speed dating is
that you’ll learnt to talk about yourself very simply and efficiently, and
get used to the idea that there’s lots of people out there looking for
people that like them. Unless you are painfully shy it might be a good
place to start with ice-breakers, deal breakers, and getting your feet
wet. Don’t have unrealistic expectations, but expect to get used to
seeing a span of prospective suitors and realizing that virtually
everyone feels as awkward as you do. Look for events based around
whatever demographic you care most about, whether that’s Jewish,
professional, or just random within an age range. Follow all the usual
cautions about not giving out private contact info too soon. Some
people even get a cell with finite minutes dedicated just to their early
dating life.

When you do encounter someone you want to date, either through
speed dating or through more traditional means like a fix-up through
friends, the best rule is to start slow. You want a mix of accessibility
and openness but not full disclosure on everything you are or feel
(from political opinions to food allergies) within the first three hours.
Think of it like a job interview. Have some good stories ready about
various aspects of life. Think about favorite books, movies, hobbies
etc. But be careful about criticizing people you know in common, or
assuming a level of familiarity that’s in appropriate too soon. As for
touching, there’s nothing more romantic than some build up and
anticipation, good night kisses and partial intimacy. It’ll add spice and
buy time while you learn the rest of whomever you’re exploring.