We Created Openly Because It’s Time To Change Jewish Dating

Shidduchim. A word that hides the pain, frustration, and confusion that so many experience.

Finding and connecting with someone new is hard.

In countless conversations we are convinced that if only everyone would just date earlier, give a yes sooner, sign up to this new dating site, or submit to some other straightforward solution then all of the pain would instantly dissipate.

It’s as if we have lost a simple truth.

A shidduch isn’t found, it’s created.

Relationships aren’t found, they’re formed.

As a community and as a nation we seem to have lost this essential truth. And it’s been highly implicative.

Forming a relationship and connecting authentically with another human being is not easy and perhaps it never was. It is an art that requires patience, skills and tools. But over time we have been sold on the idea that relationships happen to us. Over time and through repeated messaging this idea has crept into our culture and into our daily lives.

Sadly, it’s only half true.

Relationships don’t happen to us through some mysterious process that we have no control over, rather we create relationships. Through the interplay of banter, open conversation, and empathetic listening, relationships are slowly formed.

Of course, emotions play a vital role here. But are we looking for emotions before a relationship has a chance to develop? Are we deciding on future dates based on our sixth sense that it just won’t work out? Are we over-relying on our intuition before we take the time to invest in and allow the relationship to develop? And further are we, through our cultural norms and collective behavior creating dating environments where relationships do not have the space and time to blossom? Are our artificial time frames creating pressures to determine the entire potential of a relationship after one or two dates? Or are singles able to relax knowing that they have the time and space to let their true selves come out?

Over time our narrative has become that relationships are supposed to just happen. We are supposed to just know. And if we don’t have that feeling then clearly it is not for us.

Sadly for many, this is a reality that feels unchangeable.

But relationships are messy and do not develop in a clean, simple, step by step fashion that we hope they would.

So what can be done?

We don’t pretend to have a simple answer. Each person is a world unto themselves.

We believe that empowering singles to recognize, understand and skillfully manage their inner parts can have transformative effects in their dating journey. We all have drives of fear and love. It is in learning to balance these two parts in which relationships are made. The first part, fear, tells us and shows us all the reasons it will never work. The ways in which we are bound to be hurt. And at times this part of us is right. But when is fear getting the better of us? Is our quest of “The Perfect One” healthy and grounded or is it a deep desperate desire of the fearful part to never get hurt. The other part, love, provides the space for another. It allows us to laugh freely and to stare into someone else’s eyes fearlessly. The choice to go into this place, into this mode of being, opens the capacity for a relationship to be formed. We create the space for others to connect to us when we can choose to let them in, when we can choose to make ourselves vulnerable to heartbreak and rejection. We believe that relationships are made through a choice to be vulnerable.

We created Openly ( openly.launchaco.com) to provide the space for a new kind of Jewish dating experience.

Openly experiences are small, intimate gatherings designed to provide the skills, tools and safety for connecting to someone new.

We create unique experiences that are part workshop and part dating event.

The workshop teaches skills and tools focused around active empathetic listening and hosting as well as ways in which to choose to open up and share your most authentic self. It includes activities that require active participation to practice these new skills. Following the workshop attendees continue to connect with one another freely.

It is our hope that through hosting these experiences we can empower those who participate with the capacity to experience another authentically as well as with the courage to share their most authentic selves.

We see a future where there is a Shabbos table filled with vulnerable conversations about how we are all scared of letting our real selves be seen. We see a future where there are scores of people who are are trained to coach our children to understand their blocks. Where our children are guided gently into conversation about “what is holding you back?” and are empowered with the skills and tools to be able to move beyond whatever it may be. It is our hope that the letters to the shadchan in our papers will shift away from dissecting and establishing dating cultural norms and move to a place where we can openly discuss the shared experiences that close us off from connecting deeply with one another and how we learned to heal from them.

But most importantly, we believe that you, more than anyone else, can help us bring this vision to life. We know that you can share this with a friend, a group or a co worker and you can even post it on a news site somewhere. We invite you to become an integral part of bringing this initiative to life.

To Learn More and To Attend Our Events Click Here.

-Ben Rohr, Tzvi Asa, Leah Roman, and Malka Berenshteyn