Everyone Is Shallow
The following conversation happens anywhere from 10–20 times a year, between young Jewish men and myself:
Me: “So are you seeing anyone?”
Him: “Nothing serious; to be honest, between school/work and everything else I have going on, I don’t know if I have time for a relationship. Though it would be nice to meet that special someone, every girl I know is just really shallow and materialistic. There’s nobody home! I can’t settle down with someone like that.”
Before you shoot me for castigating women, read on.
The following conversation happens anywhere from 10–20 times a year, between young Jewish women and my wife:
My wife: “So are you seeing anyone?”
Her: “Nothing serious; to be honest, between school/work and everything else I have going on, I don’t know if I have time for a relationship. Though it would be nice to meet that special someone, every guy I know is just really shallow and materialistic. There’s nobody home! I can’t settle down with someone like that.”
In our work as Chabad on Campus Shluchim, we aim to develop deep personal relationships with students, which continue after they graduate as well. Our wholly unscientific sample size includes people from mid-undergrad to those approaching 30. I’m fairly confident that these particular conversations are reflective of the silent fear present in the hearts of many millenials:
Everyone is shallow. I’ll never get married.
They say that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results. By that measure, our society is certifiably insane when it comes to dating and relationships.
While I have not had the honour of being there, I see the pictures and I hear the stories from the clubs. Understanding what these establishments are good and bad at is a major key.
“You coming to Phil’s?/Brixton tonight?”, asks a friend. “Sure!”, you hear yourself say, with enthusiasm you didn’t know you had and are still not sure you possess.
If your primary social arena is a bar or a club, realize this: everyone there is strongly incentivized to show off one thing, and it isn’t their personality nor their goals or values. Of COURSE everyone is shallow — you’re meeting them at the lowest common denominator; the animal level. I know people who have displayed tremendous depth, sensitivity and sincerity to me in our conversations. Yet those same people have unwittingly cultivated an image that says to some “I am a materialistic beast who is focused on one thing only”.
I get the appeal of cheap drinks, and if that’s why you go to the club, so be it; but we have to recognize that it’s a painfully success-proof way of meeting your soulmate, and an alternative is urgently needed.
Have you ever gone to an event which is intentionally designed to facilitate the sharing of your personal beliefs and values? Do such events even exist in modern culture? What does it say about our culture if such an atmosphere is far from the vibe of the mainstream? I believe that everyone has depth; it’s just that we don’t provide an area to facilitate the mutual sharing of personal depth.
There are so-called shallow people walking around that you have written off, but that have such character and depth buried inside of them that you would be shocked by its expression. How can they be encouraged to put that on display, with the same pride that people show off their physical features?
We need a new way of meeting potential life partners, and a new way of dating. Don’t you agree?
By modern standards, my own dating experience would be called extremely conservative and traditional. My sister suggested I meet her friend, my parents looked into her family, and then we went on our first date 11 years ago. We went to very boring hotel lounges and an occasional outdoor walk in a park, which allowed us to have long, undistracted conversations about each other and our aspirations, and soon enough we were engaged; we haven’t looked back since.
Do I believe this approach would work for everyone, from every background? No. But being able to meet someone in an environment conducive to sharing your deeper self would disavow you of the belief that “everyone is shallow”, and you would be far more likely to find someone with whom you’d be excited about settling down.
Over the coming months and years, we will be experimenting with different events in our community, in an effort to respond to this crisis. You’re invited to join us, in the hopes of finding someone that is not only externally beautiful but more importantly, compatible on a soul level as well.