I want to start out by saying that I like your column and enjoy reading about the different issues that you and the readers write about that relate to dating, but I do have to ask: Who are you to give advice or to even write a column where people ask you advice? How can you sit at home and decide to write whatever opinion you have and expect people to listen to you? Like I wrote: Who are you?
I’ve seen you around the neighborhood, sometimes grocery shopping, sometimes with your kids. We don’t actually know each other. I think of us as “Smile Buddies.” The people to whom you smile or nod your head when you see them – they are sort of familiar to you, but you don’t know them. I also know that I am taking the coward’s way out by emailing you, and you will call me out on it; but it would be too awkward of a conversation to have in person.
You have a master’s degree in Social Work, but you didn’t specialize in therapy. I know people who came to you and your office to apply for health insurance. Then you moved onto an organization that helps children from single parent families. Sure, you dated a lot of guys – excuse me, “fellows” – over the years, but you’ve been married for ten years. Your single friends are better equipped to answer shidduch questions than you are. But here you are every week, and then I read when people write, praising you and your column, and I wonder why? Why do they feel the need to do that? Can’t they use their time emailing a representative of our state or country regarding anti-Semitism than writing how they love what you say and that you’re brave because you say what others just think?
This email may sound negative, but I’m not angry at you. I just wonder what makes you an expert or semi-expert on this or any topic?
Hi, Smile Buddy.
Firstly, thank you for your email. Yes, I’m thanking you, because if you’re having this thought (about me), then others probably are, as well. I will address your email for you and everyone else who may be wondering the same thing.
You began your email with the wrong sentence. As I have always written, words have power. The words you chose to send me were meant to sting/hurt me. You took the time to think about what to write and then sat down to type it. There are different ways to word your sentiments, but you chose those words. That’s fine, but don’t think I think you really didn’t mean to question me as you did. If you think I’m wrong about that, that’s fine. It is just your opinion versus my opinion, but like I have always said, words are subjective and open to interpretation. One plus one is always two, but that’s not the case with words. Luckily for you, I don’t care as much as I used to about what people think of me or my article/opinion. I have thick skin.
I’ll try to address every point you touched upon.
Thank you for following my career, but you may want to check all your facts. For over seven years, the letters that come after my name are LMSW. I’m a Licensed Masters of Social Work. I earned the License. Not every graduate of an MSW program goes on for their L (license.) So please give credit where it’s due. Would you call a police captain “officer?” They earned their stripes, and I earned my L.
Yes, for over a decade I was the director of two programs in an agency in Brooklyn. One of those programs was Facilitated Enrollment, which became the NY State of Health Marketplace. But if you have been the avid reader of the column as you claim, you will remember I worked at that agency for almost two decades. Enrolling the public in health insurance wasn’t the only responsibility I had. But I will add that I am responsible for signing up hundreds if not a thousand or more families/individuals in Queens for health insurance that would have gone uninsured. With the help of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim and Rabbi Hayim Schwartz, I made it my personal business to make sure those without health insurance in Queens had their chance to enroll with a certified, knowledgeable, and qualified enroller. This alone may explain how much I care about my community and those in it. But getting back to the agency, I worked there for almost two decades. I was a therapist for years. Thankfully, my hard work was recognized and rewarded by being promoted to start and run two new programs (one of them being health insurance). You stand corrected; I do have experience as a therapist and working one on one with clients. Not that I have to prove anything to you, but you asked, so I answered.
You’re correct. I would refer to the way you handled this as that of a coward. What did you think would happen if you came up to me to discuss this, face to face? I wouldn’t have yelled or insulted you, had you approached and began questioning me (without my children present). You also may have used different words when face to face with me. Sometimes people are braver when facing another through curtains, when they aren’t seen and can have their questions and accusations responded to. We really could have had a nice conversation, but you chose an alternative approach when you know that I always advise communication between people. The best way to communicate is face to face, because words in a text/email can be misunderstood. As you see, I understood your email to be that of a hostile individual. But I may be wrong. And please don’t misunderstand my response. I am not angry, frustrated, hurt, or any other adjective you may use. Please read my response with a sweet comical voice in your head.
I began my book, as well as my first few columns, by writing that everyone has had a bad date, and this was me talking to my best friend, the readers, about the funniest/worst dates I have ever had. Sometimes you just want to cry after going out time and again with the wrong person. Instead of coming home and crying, let’s be friends and commiserate with each other. Misery loves company and I was going to be the readers’ company, because “Hey, we’ve all been there and we’ve gotten through it. Let’s get through it together.” I wrote my book and I respond to emails in this column as a friend would. I don’t want to be anybody’s therapist – just an ear they can vent to. I want to set myself apart from all the rebbetzins, therapists, and dating coaches out there. Sometimes you need someone just like you to relate to. I’m just like everyone else. But I happened to be a young woman who dated close to 200 men. Whatever happened to you on a date probably happened to me. So, I may be more in touch with people in the dating world than you may think, although sometimes I receive emails that surprise me. I learned many lessons from dating and I’m willing to share them. The shidduch world can be cruel and people can get hurt. You want to fault me for trying to help? Fine. But I also always write that I don’t like to give advice. I advise people of my opinion, but my opinions aren’t the Aseres HaDibros. You are not compelled to follow anything I say.
“Fellows.” You’re not the only one to question me as to why I write “fellows.” Why not “guy” or “boy”? At first, I felt that was an odd word to use when referring to grown (mature) men who date. Boys don’t date. To me, “guy” refers to some faceless, nameless man in a crowd. And if you notice, I try not to write “girl” when referring to the women who write in or women in general. In my mind, if a boy and girl date, they are 16, not 25 and not 45/50. Remember, words have power, and I am showing respect by writing “men/fellows” and “women.”
I don’t beg people to email or write about me. I’m glad they do, but it’s not a homework assignment. They choose to write because they want to. They either want my take on a situation or want to complain or praise something. My column gives them a voice. I hope you followed up your email to me with an email to Senator Schumer or President Biden about an important issue.
Like me or not, I’m here, and want to help those who want my help. If people enjoy what they’re reading, good. If not, then don’t read the column. If you want to read it and then criticize it, then that’s fine, too. But please don’t belittle what I do and who I am. Next time you see me, please stop me. We’ll have a discussion between two adults. That’s it. But I hope my answers satisfy your curiosity. And if not...
Hatzlachah to you all.