Monthly Archives: May 2014

Linkage: Important Stuff Edition

It’s easy to forget how very blessed we are. Let’s take a sec, as we leave the Paschal season, to give thanks and pray for those who are suffering.

Sudanese Woman Sentenced to Death for Apostasy Gives Birth [Daily Mail]
If you haven’t read up on Meriam’s situation or signed a petition, do so now.

‘So Many Ways to Die in Syria Now’: Neil Gaiman visits a refugee camp in Jordan [The Guardian]

What Suffering Does [NY Times]

Portraits of Reconciliation [NY Times]

IOCC Responds as Serbia and Bosnia Brace for More Flooding [DTTW]

And memory eternal to a phenomenal woman, Maya Angelou. You can find an NPR interview with her here.


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I love you as New Englanders love pie!

— Don Marquis, Sonnets to a Red-Haired Lady

(If we’re talking apple pie with cheddar, this guy means business.)

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Matchmaking: I do not think it means what you think it means

I’m beginning to think most would-be matchmakers have no idea how hard it is to set people up in a words1way that’s pleasant, productive, and non-humiliating.

It sounds easy, and Anna’s already covered the basics of how to meddle.  But somewhere along the way, things have been going awry.

Look, I’m not terribly particular about who I’m introduced to.  I figure as long as he’s safe and sane, I’m willing to risk an awkward conversation in the hope of meeting someone interesting.  I’ve made some great friends that way.  And if he’s Orthodox, of an appropriate age, and has reasonably compatible priorities, there may even be dating potential.
But I’ve also realized some of my friends are viewing me as a Potential Date for Bob more than they’re considering how Bob and I might suit each other’s needs.  This is slightly irritating, but mostly I’m getting seriously concerned about my friends.

Guys, being single is fine.  Really.  I can balance my desire for marriage and a family with contentment in my life right now, and I’d much rather be happily single than in a relationship with someone lousy, or lousy for me.  Don’t get me wrong, relationships are beautiful things, and I’m open to meeting Tom or Jim or Larry.  But if Tom’s dating my roommate, Jim just got dumped last week, and Larry’s on the bishop track, you’re going to get your matchmaking privileges revoked. (True example.)


  • If I say I’m not interested in someone over 13 years older than I am, and your dear friend Terry is literally twice my age, maybe don’t try to convince me that I should just meet him and see how it goes.  If the answer’s no, then the answer is no, and your matchmaking privileges are revoked.
  • If I ask you why you’d like to introduce us, and the first three paragraphs are about ways I might be good for him or, worse, able to overlook his flaws, then I’m going to be very skeptical.  If he turns out to be a terrible fit then your matchmaking privileges will be revoked.
  • And if he turns out to be gay, if he’s undateable by anybody, or if he hates all women, then your matchmaking privileges are revoked.

Basically, if you don’t have the common sense and basic respect to listen to my needs and wishes, I don’t trust you to recommend a chocolate bar, much less a human.

In light of that, I have a few simple requests.

Number 1: Please make sure you’re thinking of me specifically.  It’s great that he’s a good guy in general, and I’m glad you think I’d be good for him because I’m intelligent, patient, and female.  But it’s much more compelling when you say he’s a great conversationalist and you know that matters to me, or that you think I’d love his sense of humor / taste in books / home-brewing hobby.

Number 2: Please don’t discuss So-and-so’s flaws with me when trying to convince me to give him my number.  You’ve heard the phrase “damning with faint praise,” ie if all you can say about him is that he’s employed and nice enough, then I’m probably not that intrigued.  But lately I’ve been seeing more damning with a lot of justifications.  If you can’t make it through one brief intro without feeling the need to qualify it, I’m concerned.  Before you hit “send” on that description, check and see if you’ve used the phrase “been through a lot,” “if you can look past,” or “but.” Is that really the first impression you want to make for him?

Number 3: Please be up to date on his life, and make sure he’s someone you respect and trust at a basic level.  You don’t have to run a background check and call references, just make sure you know him well enough that he doesn’t turn out to murder household pets when drunk, or be quietly married.

Number 4: Please don’t take it personally if I only care to meet him once, or not at all. I’m reasonably discerning about what I need and whether a certain person would ever be a fit for me.  Every single one of these examples was true and suggested to me personally.  I have good reason to be discerning!  And if the next words out of your mouth after I say no thanks are “You’re too picky,” then guess what?  Your matchmaking privileges are revoked.

Th-th-th-that’s all, folks.


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Linkage: Modern Dating Edition

Our tagline could just as easily be “Dating is weird.” Feel free to share your stories below.

Objectifying Relationships [Orthodoxy and Recovery]
This is intriguing. “In reality, there is no such thing as a relationship. … There is only you and me.” Thoughts?

The Other-Centered Date [Verily]
Because apparently utter self-centeredness isn’t attractive. Who knew.

5 Dating Pointers Worth Rethinking [Verily]
Not every cliche is good advice.

College Class Tries to Revive the Lost Art of Dating [Boston Globe]
So it’s come to this.


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Best Things

One of the best things about love is just recognizing a man’s step when he climbs the stairs.

— Colette

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Book Review: It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single

9780399162879_p0_v2_s260x420In 2011, Sara Eckel published a piece on long-term singlehood in the New York Times (Orthogals has linked to it before; you can read it HERE). Reader response was so great that she came out with a book this year. Tho the title might make one wonder if the content is a gimmick, I assure you it is not. If I can describe this book using only one word, it would be “consolation”.

Tho Ms. Eckel identifies as liberal writer who lives in Brooklyn and a student of Buddhist philosophy*, singles who spend most of their lives not in a romantic relationship, living quiet, adult lives, will be able to identify with her struggles, revelations, and consolations.

When people get married, even long-term singles, there is a tendency to pooh-pooh one’s single years and to give patronizing advice to single people. Ms. Eckel, who met the man that became her husband at 38, does not fall in to this temptation. She acknowledges that the single life is hard, it is full of self-doubts (“what do other people seemingly effortlessly know that I don’t?”, “am I unlovable?”) but also it is no less worthy a life than married life. She calls for singles to quit feeling like they have to convince others that their life is “fabulous!” all the time or that their jobs are so fulfilling they don’t need a family. Ms. Eckel encourages singles to not deny the part of them that aches for a spouse and children.

She also challenges the assumption that singles lead easier lives than married people by pointing out that married people have someone to share the burdens of life but most long-term singles have to take care of almost everything themselves, including bearing emotional pain that they can’t necessarily unburden to someone else.

Long-term singles are often mature people who have had to make difficult choices about romantic relationships, reaching conclusions that it’s better to be alone than with someone not mature or kind, that the right relationship is worth waiting for even if it means giving up the hope of biological children, that relationship-hoping or spending one’s life with someone you’ve “settled for” is an unappealing way to live.

Ms. Eckel points out that singles are often asked why they are single. This is an intrusive question, even if the inquisitor isn’t meaning to be rude. Singles are expected to give a defense why they are single. On the other hand, no one asks married people why they are married. They are afforded a veil of privacy and are assumed happy unless proven otherwise. This respect is often not extended to the unmarried.

As for the answer to the question as to why one is single, Ms. Eckel doesn’t use the response “I just haven’t met the right person”. No, her answer is “I don’t know”. And that’s not an answer that many people are comfortable with. We want to believe that things are meant to be, that there is some pattern to events, that “everything happens for a reason”. But that’s simply not true; the circumstances that people find themselves in are often just a matter of chance.

A typical religious person response to why someone is single is “God will lead you to the right person” or worse. But these responses miss the mark. Singles are not looking to be pitied or patronized. While those stock phrases might contain some truth, they essentially dismiss single’s experiences and feelings. What will help singles is to be compassionate and sympathetic when it’s clear that they are feeling the single life is more a cross than a blessing. Reading this book will help long-term singles feel understood and appreciated, and  I highly recommend it.


*She rejects reincarnation and while the book does incorporate aspects of Buddhism, it was nothing that I found disagreeable.


Categories: Book reviews, Reviews | 6 Comments

Linkage: Five for Friday

Once We Become Parents We Don’t Want to Hang Out With You Anymore [HuffPo]. Made me appreciate my parent friends who do make time for their non-parent friends.

Stop Saying “I Have A Boyfriend” []. Good article on respect and boundaries.

Weddings in the Social Media Age [Big Think]. An interview with author Jen Doll, who has gone to over 30 weddings.

But through the total sum of these experiences, or “societal, photographic special days” as she calls them, she gained an understanding of the way modern weddings have become a staging area for self-definition.

Area Man Nervously Asks Girlfriend If She’ll Settle [The Onion]. What we all dream of.

The Epic Drama of the Imperfect Love Story [Atlantic]. Speaking of settling.

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I am two fools, I know.
For loving, and for saying so
In whining poetry

— John Donne,

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Reader Question: Uncomfortable Co-Worker

Dear Orthogals,

I am living abroad and working at a school.  One of my fellow teachers is one of those guys that never wants to be serious.  His English isn’t that great, and I’ve tried to help him practice from time to time, as I do with everyone in my school.  As he’s gotten used to me he’s started making jokes.  My sense of humor has never been strongly developed, and years of teasing, emotional manipulation, and gas lighting haven’t helped.  This man’s jokes pretty quickly got to the point of being unacceptable and did my best to explain that I didn’t find them funny and he should stop.  Of course he didn’t.  He apologized on Forgiveness Sunday, but started up with the jokes again and I’ve mostly kept out of his way since then.  Not directly avoiding him, but choosing different workspaces, etc., so I don’t encounter him as often.  I live in a girl’s orphanage as an English tutor and recently we had an open house.  This man came, as did many other teachers.  He made a joke that was not quite appropriate when I was getting him tea, I let him know it was not acceptable and walked away.  When he left, he made a point of saying goodbye and said he’d see me the next day.  Since I wouldn’t be at school I corrected him.  He said he’d come to the house, I replied that the guards wouldn’t let him in.  He then said he’d come to my bedroom window and come in that way.  That’s when I lost it, picked up a dining room chair and indicated that if he did that I’d hurt him. Because no one should suggest, joking or otherwise, that they’re going to come through a woman’s bedroom window unless it’s a mutual conspiracy. Now, I shouldn’t have lost my temper like that, but, how am I supposed to deal with someone who’s “not a bad guy” but refuses to listen to my “no?”  How do I get my coworker to stop?  I want to be on friendly terms, but not at the expense of my self-regard.  And  what  do I confess to my priest?


Dear OP,

We’ve noticed something about people who are not respected (i.e. abused, harassed, bullied, etc.): They start thinking that this predicament/pickle/crappy situation is somehow their fault. You have done everything in your emotional bank to deal with this man. This is not your fault.

We’re going to go out on a limb and let you know that you losing your temper might not have been a bad thing. You say he’s “not a bad guy” but refuses to listen to your “no.” If you are hesitant to use the word “bad”, here are some suggestions. He is a (rude, inappropriate, selfish, crass, disrespectful, emotionally harmful) guy. Why he has chosen you for an outlet of his humor is beyond us. He might not be a criminal, but not listening to your “no” is the first sign that maintaining a distance has been a good decision.

You don’t mention that any other fellow teacher or supervisor is aware of your situation with this man. Does anyone else know? If they don’t, it is time to pull someone in and possibly write down some of the things he says to you that are unwelcome. Did someone happen to hear your encounter in the dining room? Does he make such jokes to an uncomfortable extent in others’ company, but you were the first one who has told him “no”? Good for you, if that is the case!

His refusal to listen is HIS problem, his alone. And someone asking for forgiveness does not give them an emotional all-clear.

You mention your underdeveloped humor as a possible cause. It’s not. If this or other personality traits bring you stress outside of the awkward situation with this man, get help becoming comfortable with yourself.

The Orthogals hesitate to tell anyone what to confess to their priest. All of us currently have priests that we can speak with if difficult situations like yours come about. Hopefully there is one near you or that you could call back home to help you in this process.

You might want to check out a book called The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, which is often cited as an invaluable resource in helping women listen to their instincts.

Take care of yourself.

The Orthogals

Categories: Articles, Q&A | 1 Comment

Linkage: Modesty edition

In doing the prep work for Monday’s post on modesty, I came across some interesting links.

Nuking the Modesty War: Stop Thingifying People [Barefoot and Pregnant]
Objectification. Thingification. Whether it’s seeing people as things to have or things to resist, things to seduce or things to protect from lust—it’s a problem.

Slut-Shaming and the Attractiveness Factor [Barefoot and Pregnant]
“It’s not attractive when women ____” is a really dangerous sentence.  Judging morality in terms of sex appeal rather than objective truth does a great disservice.

Modest is Hottest? The Revealing Truth [Beauty Redefined]
“When we live to be looked at, self-conscious of our bodies, we are left with fewer mental and physical resources to do what can really bring happiness.” There’s a high mental cost with real-world consequences.

Five Ways that Staying Safe Costs Women [Salon]
Each of the reasons is worth noting, but this one stuck out: “Women may join gyms for safety reasons: 24% of American women avoid recreational exercise outside to avoid ‘being bothered’. That’s as if the entire population of Canada didn’t ever go outside for sports.”

Good News Men: Only Women Are Required to be Modest Apparently [Matt Walsh]
Matt rather charmingly captures why modesty isn’t just a woman’s virtue, and illustrates many types of non-sexual immodesty. Like the guy bragging about that shiny new boat. “Immodest because it calls attention to him, while saying nothing of value about him as a person, a unique entity of spirit and flesh. It turns him into an object — an object of jealousy.”

Asking for It [The Nation]
“When Stuyvesant says that women’s dress and bodies are distraction in a learning environment, for example, what they’re really saying is that they’re distracting to male students. The default student we are concerned about—the student whose learning we want to ensure is protected—is male. Never mind how “distracting” it is to be pulled from class, humiliated, and made to change outfits—publicly degrading young women is small price to pay to make sure that a boy doesn’t have to suffer through the momentary distraction of glancing at a girl’s legs. …And when rape victims are blamed for the crime committed against them, the message is the same: This is something that happened to the perpetrator, who was driven to assault by a skirt, or a date, or the oh-so-sexy invitation of being passed out drunk. Women have infringed on their right to exist without being turned on.”

Modesty: I Don’t Think It Means What You Think It Means [Q Ideas]
“While popular culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to get men to look at them, the modesty culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to keep men from looking at them. …And so biblical modesty isn’t about managing the sexual impulses of other people; it’s about cultivating humility, propriety and deference within ourselves.”

Also, apparently short excerpts are hard. Enjoy.

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