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A circumcised heart

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OCTOBER 08, 2018

Updated 7/13/21: This article has been updated to remove the photo of an individual whose personal safety was under threat.



Bio: “Probably writing a stand-up bit about you.”

Cue picture of me wearing a kitschy Hanukkah sweater, picture of me dressed up as Guy Fieri and the grand finale: me and Larry David photoshopped together.

Some may say my dating profile is obnoxiously Jewish. I oppose this notion — I’m not wearing a kippah, I only mention matzo balls once, and I don’t even ask for a Nice Jewish Boy (NJB).

You always crave what you’ve never had. I never had the male validation that everybody else my age seemed to receive. At my Jewish camp, I remember always secretly being jealous when a Daniel Greenstein or a Moshe Cohen would kiss the Rachel Shapiros or Michelle Schwartzes of the world. What about me!? Was I not lovable? I promise you, sir, my latkes recipe is to die for. I will attend every one of your nephews’ bar mitzvahs. For you, unnamed Jewish man, I’ll have the “just friends” talk with Jesus.

After almost two decades of trying and failing to have boys in vinyl record and vintage bookshops notice me, I convinced myself that the boys simply didn’t like me because I was too intellectual, too much for them to handle. The reality was that I was — and still am — extremely obnoxious and seemingly a caricature of a real human being. I convinced myself that boys were intimidated by me — the same old adage that every lonely girl tells herself.

Despite the excuses I so generously created for the men who continually disregarded me, I felt that the lack of male attention meant that I was inherently undesirable and unlovable. Shouldn’t a nice Jewish boy like me? Don’t I have the looks of Morticia Addams with the neuroticism of Woody Allen? Are you telling me that comparing myself to elderly, Jewish comedians isn’t an attractive trait?

For a girl who ingested romantic John Green books like they were Michelin-star meals, this lack of romance was something that needed to be fixed.

Thus, I created my first Tinder profile.

At the heart of it, I just wanted to find a nice, (preferably) Jewish boy who’d like me for who I am. I still experience hints of this feeling, my slightly dead heart beating just a little bit faster when a guy tells me about his local temple or speaks in Hebrew to me. I don’t know how much of this is social conditioning that tells me I must find a nice, Jewish boy or how much of it is me wanting to connect with somebody who’s equipped with the same cultural background. Do I even want to date somebody or do I just do it because of the comedic nature of romantic pursuit? The Torah holds many truths, but Tinder was a close second for finding an answer.

So, I started using Tinder for more… nuanced purposes. Tinder served as my own, personal arsenal of fire-ready jokes. I definitely have plenty of stand-up material from all my failed dates. For example, the Israeli man who said he wanted to lick my teeth. Thank… you?

For a girl whose most passionate relationship has been with pizza (at one point, I cheated with matzo ball soup), I found myself in an exciting, new environment. Tinder was a world where I received all the male validation I had been yearning for throughout my young adult years. There was the euphonious, soothing notification every time I received another swipe right toward validation. I started hearing that thrilling “BING” constantly — notifications kept piling up, exclaiming, “Congratulations! You got a new match.” The never-ending sequence of matches served to boost my confidence, which went from a pitiful Kramer level to a Yeezy standard. Each match left me craving yet another to satisfy my hunger for attention.

The dulcet chime that accompanied every new match created a Pavlovian response of ego. I wouldn’t even look at my phone; I’d just hear the bing and feel a little more like Kim Kardashian with each vibration. But the euphonious sound of a guy calling me pretty stopped being so exciting after a while. Actually, my self-esteem routinely plummeted. I thought that the male validation would boost my sense of self-worth. Instead, it became the sole measure of my worth. My cynicism is understandable when I regularly receive messages saying I’m “thicker than the racial divide in America” and “melody i’m so alone please love me.”

That’s why the the advent of Tinder, JSwipe, Bumble and the myriad other dating apps has led to great personal reflection. I’ve learned to stop replying on generic compliments and male attention for my self-value. Instead, I measure myself by important characteristics, like how many loaves of bread I can eat in 10 minutes, or how I shift genuine displays of emotional vulnerability into empty vestiges of humor. Or something.

Melody Niv writes the Monday blog on her experience as a Jewish and Israeli-American.Contact her at [email protected] .

JULY 13, 2021