Monday, September 11, 2006


I have a really hard time disagreeing with someone I just met, especially someone from the opposite gender, and especially when I’m trying to impress them. In order to have good discussion and for interesting thinking to develop there needs to be an exchange of ideas - even conflicting ideas. In order for critical thinking to occur there needs to be a diversity of views and opinions, and when I meet someone new, for example on a date, I have a really hard time truly expressing my views if they conflict with the other person’s. The problem is that the other person doesn’t get to hear my real opinions, he doesn’t get to see that I’m passionate about my convictions, he doesn’t get to meet the real me. In a way I feel like I dumb myself down in order to seem more agreeable, I come across less opinionated – but the kind of man I want to marry doesn’t want an agreeable, docile, passive woman!

The more I date, the more I put effort into not falling into that trap. I try to politely disagree, I attempt to put forth my ideas in a non confrontational manner, but I always feel like in the end I tend to agree or at least come across as if I’m considering a new way of seeing things, when in fact, I rarely get convinced that easily. I find that it takes away from the quality of the date, it takes away from the depth of the discussion and it takes away from the sincerity of the conversation... but I can’t seem to change that behavior.

It occurred to me yesterday that part of the reason why its so comfortable being accepting of another's views is that it in essence protects us. If I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that each opinion is equally valid and that there is truth to be found in every belief then I am basically ensuring that my views and my thoughts wont be judged too harshly. If you can’t be wrong.. then I cant be wrong either.. and that’s comforting. When you meet someone new, the last thing you want to do is get into an argument with them. You don’t want them to attack you or your views, you don’t want them to judge you too soon based on a belief you hold and it becomes even more tempting to appease them and come across more agreeable.

The safer I feel, and the more comfortable I get, the more I am able to take a chance and risk being wrong, the more vulnerable I am willing to become. My friends and family will attest that I have NO reservations about expressing my opinions around them. I’ll argue, I’ll yell, I’ll debate until I’m blue in the face. I’ll try my hardest to prove them 100% wrong. The reason I can do that is because even if they end up proving me wrong, it will be ok. They wont judge me. They like me and value me and they will continue to accept me, realizing I’m human and humans make mistakes or faulty judgements. Their acceptance and appreciation of me is much greater than this one argument. On the other hand, it’s much more difficult to allow yourself to be vulnerable on a date, or when meeting someone new. They will judge you, and they will take their limited perception of you and generalize it and that’s too big a risk to take when you’re meeting someone new. And so, consciously or not, I end being much more agreeable and much more ‘open minded’ on these occasions. I think it’s especially unfortunate because it’s specifically when you meet someone new, and more particularly on a date, when you are presenting yourself as someone’s potential spouse that you want to be yourself and want them to see the true you - conflicting views and all.

I’m curious to hear what you guys think.
Do any of you have suggestions on how to deal with this?
I’m also curious, is this a gender related thing or a personality related thing?
Do women feel that they tend to be more agreeable in new and uncomfortable situations than in general?
Do men find themselves falling into this trap also?

28 Comments:

At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 1:58:00 AM, Blogger Nemo said...

You obviously have to know which issues are important to disagree on and which are trivial. There are certainly items on the agenda that are worthy of disagreeing with because you two intend to grow together, and you must have a sense if this is compatible, i.e. Haskafa, degree of religiosity, kids, spending habits, etc. And then there are the other items which you could go through life disagreeing, pehaps arguing over, but still get along, i.e. politics or the Yankees vs. the Mets.

 
At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 3:15:00 AM, Blogger kasamba said...

Well, this is how I see it:
You wouldn't walk into a job interview and expect them to take you on - on the basis of your real personality, the'real' you. You would wait until you get the job and slowly start to feel comfortable enough to let your inner self shine out.
As long as Nemo's list of non negotionables is there, why don't you wait to see how things develop chemistry wise and then tell him what you really think about the war in Iraq.

 
At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 5:15:00 AM, Blogger ~ Sarah ~ said...

i think nemo and kasamba have said it pretty well.

If it's something that is important in regards to a long term relationship (values, goals in life, hashkafa etc) it's not something that you can 'agree to disagree' about (like which footy team you support).

I think it would be both personality and gender related.
Personally, I may seem agreeable in new or uncomfortable situations but that is only because it is a new situation, you need to get a feel for things before letting everything out. Once things develop, become more comfortable and familiar, then there are deeper discussions etc. How long this takes depends on the other person and the situation.

Good luck, stay true to yourself :)

 
At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 7:25:00 AM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

nemo, ok of course im worried about the important issues, and refering to those in this post.. so you meet someone new and they make a statement that strongly disagrees with one of your important views.. what do you do? start arguing and debating? assuming your views arent compatible on all the important issues, how do you discuss them openly? whenever i have a discussion with someone i want it to be sincere and i want to be able to learn from it, if im talking to someone and we are both trying to please, we are both wasting our time.

kasamaba: obiously you have more experience than i do, and more success, but im gonna disagree, i think i do go to an interview and expect them to hire me based on the real me and they do. being the real mean doesnt me unshowered and grumpy (theres more to the real me :). but the real me is letting my personality shine through. and my personality is not a passive, unopininated one one. as for chemsitry, i can guarantee you, no chemistry will develop if the conversation is superficial and im smiling politely and nodding.. at least not for me! If I disagree with someone and they can make a good case for their view and manage to convince me, i will be VERY impressed. intelligence is very appealing to me.

sarah i guess part of it is just human nature, testing out the waters before opening up, but i still find it more prevalent than it needs to be. a lot of times i WANT to say soemthign and i just cant..youre also right it depends on the other person, some poelpe definitely put you more at ease than others..

 
At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 9:52:00 AM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Great post, nice how you opened up. I understand the dilemma. When you are comfortable enough with the guy you will be able to disagree and not worry that it is an opposing view.

 
At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 2:00:00 PM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

Men are the trap....

 
At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 2:43:00 PM, Blogger Scraps said...

*sigh* I have a very hard time disagreeing with people to their faces, period, regardless of how well I do or don't know them. But yes, it's worse on dates.

 
At Tuesday, September 12, 2006 11:32:00 PM, Blogger FrumGirl said...

We all want to make a good first impression and I think its totally normal. But your views will come into play eventually, wont they? (Kind of ease him into it!)

Its true that men dont appreciate opinionated women but how about passionate women? They love that! Same thing, different perspective. Come across as passionate, you got it in the bag!

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 9:29:00 AM, Blogger student said...

Woweee! Very profound!
I agree, and I can empathise fully.
As someone who is pretty passionate about my opinions- I often find myself in a similar position on dates.
To be honest, I dont think its so bad to ease slowly into it, especially when it comes to the first couple of dates- you dont want to scare him off. But if after a few dates, you still cant talk your mind, the relationship is unlikely to progress much further. Every relationship that is going to get past the first stages, needs some risk taking- yes, you have to feel you can trust the other person, but if you can't take risks, you wont get past a superficial level (and you strike me as the type of person who wouldnt want/be happy in a superficial relationship)
If you like someone, and the feeling's mutual, then as long as hashkafically you are going in the same direction, even opposing views aren't going to hinder a relationship- you will work them out..because its all about compromise!
And yes, I find nothing more attractive then an intelligent male (tall, dark and handsome of course ;)

So good luck! and pg, trust your heart and you'll find him soon..
and of course-daven!

x

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 9:50:00 AM, Blogger the only way i know said...

I think what Kas means to say is to take it easy - no one has to jump and be very open or overpowering - certainly not right away - even if you are a passionate person.. you can allow it to shine through slowly at first. This makes sense - even if you do for example show the passionate you right away - it still doesnt mean the person knows the 'whole' of you - it's impossible.. so why not let things show themselves in bits and bobs...like an experiment..btw
this also gives you the chance to digest what the other person is all about... perhaps they too are letting you in slowly..

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 10:08:00 AM, Blogger bellanny said...

I too have a problem in that I am too agreeable. But, I do not seem to have trouble expressing my conflicting views when dating. There have been a few times when I have been lucky enough to be comfortable right away and I am unafraid to show the real me from the start. Other times I know right away that it is very off and have no problem giving my opinions. But, there have been a few times where I am afraid to reveal too much too soon. Dating makes you very vulnerable, especially if you like someone.

I don't know which issues you are referring to in your post, but maybe you can leave them until date #2 when you are more confortable. Or hopefully when you meet the right one you will be comfortable right away and will not have to worry about revealing your true self.

You can politely disagree and tell him you want to put the issue on hold for a little bit until you feel more comfortable debating it openly so that he know you disagree and have your opinions, but are still a little wary of opening up all the way. If you open yourself up to every guy right away then you are going to get hurt more often. they should realize that and have a little patience. Guys don't reveal everything either.

I agree with Student.

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 11:07:00 AM, Blogger David_on_the_Lake said...

What a great observation....
I think we're just not a generation of risk takers..we like being safe...and comfortable.
I'm like that too...with certain people..
with my wife I'll never get into a discussion that I know we disagree on...
with others..I relish a good argument.

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 12:06:00 PM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

Let’s face it, people will form an opinion of you just from glancing at your face.
On a date you will be judged and "rated", regardless of you opinions and if you choose to express them.
There’s no need to scare a young men away by saying things he might like to hear, only too early on.
The first few dates are to get to know each other, on a very elementary level.
Once a boy and a girl get into a more serious relationship it’s thé time to get very honest and open.
Once a boy will like you from what he’s seen he’s much more likely to be interested to hear you opinions and debate them if necessary.
Start with basic conversation, and then be you.

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 1:11:00 PM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

pragmatician, i honestly do NOT understand what you're saying.
what exactly are people judged and rated on aside from their opinions and the way they express them or behave? are you referring to looks? cuz if you beleive its ONLY based on looks until a more serious relationship develops then theres really no need to date. the chassidim who meet twice for 15 minutes have it right. it doesnt take more than 15 or 7 or 3 minutes to know if youre physically attracted to someone. it does however take a longer date, or a number of dates to know if this PERSON appeals to you (looks, behavior, personality..)

maybe we arent referring to the same kinds of discussions and debates, this post isnt about me not being able to express my views on the new national budget.. im talking about basic things that will help you decide whether you want to go out a second or third time.

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 1:14:00 PM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

everyone else.. ill reply to your comments later.
thank you for your comments, i really appreciate the feedback, it really is helpful.

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 3:19:00 PM, Blogger the only way i know said...

Mooks -
i think prag is giving pragmatic advice - it's so basic - you can't really go wrong...
it's not hard to understand that it takes time to get to know a person...
he's just saying, to do it in stages.. doesnt mean the first stage has to be fake - it just should be chilled and somewhat observational.. and to just allow for a level of comfort..before the second or third date..

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 4:20:00 PM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

TOWIK and Prag your advice is for a 20 year old FFB not for our dear Mookie!

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 4:22:00 PM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

and you can go wrong, its a waste of a perfectly good night, how wants the free diet sprite anyway.......

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 7:30:00 PM, Blogger the only way i know said...

Limes,
you might have a point - but let mookie be the judge of that...
i just don't think that if you have a very strong personality that can be sort of confrontational at times... that it's necessary to blast it all at once... you gotta use common sense...even if you are not 20 or FFB..
B'limey!

 
At Wednesday, September 13, 2006 8:18:00 PM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

socialworker/frustrated mom:
well I guess it’s a start.. opening up on a blog.
now if could just date my computer, id have no problem opening up or being myself.. :)

scraps:
I really feel for you, I get so frustrated just on those few occasions when im not able to, I cant imagine what it would be like to always feel that way. I guess it’s a matter of starting small, with the poele u feel the safest.. and developing the skills.. good luck

frumgirl:
I definitely don’t try to hide my passionate side, but id like to be able to get deeper into conversations, to be able to discuss ideas more thoroughly not superficially..that’s what I find I have trouble doing.

student:
I like what you said about risk taking, theres definitely an element of fear and in order to progress its important to let go of that fear.
Amen and ditto on the good wishes :)

TOWIK, prag, kasamba, limey.. im gonna answer you all together..

I think limey is right and I don’t think the advice you guys are giving is very applicable in my situation.
I think for someone who is ffb, who starts dating young, they will tend to date someone who comes from a relatively similar background, a lot of the basics will be checked out in advance, so by the time they meet they need to 1. be attracted 2. have pleasant conversation. once that’s accomplished then they can wait a few more dates to get into more serious discussions.
for a BT, and especially if they are older, dating is a completely different process. first of all, the older you get, the less the matching is about compatible hashkafot.. and more about compatible age ranges. secondly most BT’s don’t have a clear set of hashkafas, most bt’s are flexible and undecided and still learning a lot of the issues so it would be almost impossible to only match BT’s that have the basics in common. the basics are often – they keep shabbos, they are of a similar community or general hashkafa level, they are in the same age range – and that leaves A LOT to discuss and find out. so.. when I go on a date, my goal is first to find out if there is any kind of chemistry, and just as importantly if we are anywhere in the same ballpark in terms of hashkafas. what you are guys are telling me to do is not to discuss those things until we are more comfortable with eachother – but that makes no sense. I don’t want to get comfortable with someone who may be way off on some of the important views I have on life and family, I need to discuss and debate those things at the beginning. the reason i wrote this post is because i often find myself not be able to express or really discuss important issues that i need to know in order to decide whether to go on a second or third date..its not issues i can wait to find out about!

bellanny:
its funny, a lot of times when I know from the start that it wont go anywhere, im much more at ease.. its when I think there may be a chance that I get nervous! Im definitely counting on the second option, that when I meet the right guy things will go smoother, and ill be comfortable, but youre right, a second date is def. more comfortable than a 1st one and most things can wait until then to be discussed..

david_on_the_lake:
that’s crazy! how can you get into any real meaningful discussions if you don’t take the risk of arguing or disagreeing? its probably a good quality tho, your ego doesn’t dictate your relationship.. I just have no idea if id be able to do that :)

 
At Thursday, September 14, 2006 12:01:00 AM, Blogger in8paradox said...

Am I the only one who thinks a job interview is a bad comparison?

I think it's a confinence/insecurity thing. Consequently, for those of you who think women (in general) are more insecure/less confident, it is a gender issue.

A man without enemies, is a man without character.

What kind of personality do you (not u. lol.) have if you agree to everything? a weak or non-existant one!

Be strong about what you believe in, don't be a liberal.

Conservative for life! Go Rush!

 
At Thursday, September 14, 2006 12:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's true about women. we just give in so as not to cause confrontation.

 
At Thursday, September 14, 2006 1:45:00 AM, Blogger Scraps said...

re: my situation--the question is, who is "safe"? I have such a hard time trusting people, and even when I do manage to open up, so often that trust is broken, leaving me even more wary and lonely than before.

 
At Thursday, September 14, 2006 2:02:00 AM, Blogger Rebbetzin-in-training said...

It's hard to disagree with someone when you don't know where they are coming from. Otherwise you face the potential to sound stupid, which you try to avoid on a date.

A friend of mine and I were disagreeing. I was getting frustrated because I didn't understand why she wasn't getting what I was saying. So I stopped the conversation and asked her why she was so passionate about her views. In the end it turned out that we were actually in agreement, but semantics got in the way. This argument took time and we both care and respect eachother.

On a date, you don't want to disagree the entire time, which might happen if it's a good argument. And if you don't really care about the other person, their opinions don't really matter or even affect you. You can just pass judgment that they are thick-headed, simply because it's easier whether or not it's true.

It's good and beneficial to disagree on a date. You want to know how the person reacts in an argument. It's good to know if they fight dirty. If they completely dismiss what you say, they aren't worth your time. It's also a great way to test someone's intelligence. Be careful though, some guys might think you're just flirting.

 
At Thursday, September 14, 2006 11:06:00 PM, Blogger Dr Sooll said...

I'm not sure whether or not this is directly addressing your issue M00kie, but do keep in mind that one can have an dynamic discussion without getting into an argument.

When you do encounter an issue on a date that you feel strongly about but are not yet comfortable to 'debate', instead of being overly docile and just nodding in agreement to a statement that you do not actually agree with, it may perhaps be productive to respond honestly that you do not necesserily agree, possibly giving a brief summary of your perspective, and then say that you would like to leave in depth discussion of the issue for a later date.

The outcome of such behaviour would be that you are both aware of where each of you stands on important issues, and you both have time to consider just what these issues mean to you as you become a bit more comfortable with each other.

Certainly one would not want to get too comfortable before reconciling important issues, but perhaps by postponing discussion of such issues even just until a second or third encounter, you may be comfortable enough to assertively discuss your opinions before you become overly attached.

 
At Sunday, September 17, 2006 1:14:00 AM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

in8paradox:
i also dont want to think about it like a job interview, but im curious to hear why you think its a bad comparison.
i agree that its an insecurity thing. that was my question.. how many others feel it. i think its a fact that many women are brought up in a way that leads them to being more insecure.

intransit:
i think its really important to see how someone argues, which is why i want to be able to debate openly. im not talknig about fighting, ijust want to feel like i can express myself and see how thats handled.

dr sooll:
im speaking about a 'dynamic discussion', not a fight. of course i dont want to start fighting on my dates :)

 
At Tuesday, September 19, 2006 7:57:00 PM, Blogger Human Bean said...

On a date you are both on equal footing. He is not interviewing you to see if you are employable. You are both getting to know eachother Together to see if there is chemistry between Both of you, and that Both of you goals and ambitions are compatible.
So yeah, I take issue with the job interview analogy cuz marriage is a partnership, between the man and woman. It's not about a woman being interviewed by a man. And if you have an opinion on something- say it! Is the guy worried about scaring you off with his opinions?

 
At Tuesday, September 26, 2006 10:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a guy who was in the same boat as you. I enjoy a good debate, yet don't want to scare off my date. So no, I do not think that this is a gender issue. I kind of overcame this with a selfish attitude -- all I care about is that the real me is looking for a compatible wife. So I cannot worry about what anyone thinks of me. Although I do avoid serious topics on the first date, and even on a later one I will slowly ease into a discussion. I can see immidietely, after asking her why she thinks as she does, whether she is ready to answer honestly or not.

 

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