Top Five Reasons to be Thankful in Dating

As Thanksgiving is upon us, it’s time to put aside our pride and simply be thankful for the blessings we have in life: our health, our family… and JSwipe?

In this day and age, we can do just about anything with technology: read a book without flipping a single page, have groceries delivered with the click of a button, see our friends on the other side of the world on our screens, look at all of our ex’s Facebook pictures (wait a minute… don’t do that!), and even find a date.

As Aziz Ansari noted in his recent book “Modern Romance,” a 1932 study showed that one-third of married couples had previously lived within just a five-block radius of each other. Case in point: My parents were next-door neighbors, and they celebrated their 35th anniversary this year.

Let’s compare that to my own dating experiences.  I sign up for a dating site like OkCupid.  I email a number of people. Some respond, some don’t. I line up dates with those who do. The end. Quite a different story, huh?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for my wonderful friends and family, my health, and the success of my business and my clients’ relationships, I’d also like to share five reasons we should be thankful this year, as it relates to dating:

  1. Online dating exists.

Do you think the Pilgrims had a way to meet people across the Mayflower, let alone across the world?  Their best place to flirt was likely over the ear of corn they were growing, not on their couch in their pajamas using some new-fangled technology we like to call the Interwebs. Now it’s easy as pumpkin pie.

  1. We have options.

We live in a time when, for most of us, the choice of the person we date and/or marry is ours and ours alone.  Of course, parents have some influence in this decision, as do friends, but you ultimately get to choose the person who makes you the happiest.  Arranged marriages were the norm worldwide until the 18th century.  I feel lucky to live in this day and age.

  1. Interracial, interfaith, and same-sex couples are more widely accepted.

study published in November of 2013 by Kevin Lewis, a UC San Diego sociologist, suggests that racial barriers to romance are not as insurmountable as we might suppose.  He did his research by analyzing the patterns of 126,134 OKCupid users in a two-and-a-half month period.  He found that, while people often still mainly reach out to others of their own racial background, they are, however, more likely to return a cross-race email than previous research would have led to us to expect.  And, once they have replied to a suitor from a different race, people are then themselves more likely to cross racial lines and initiate interracial contact in the future. OkCupid also now has so many additional choices for sexual orientation, ranging from sapiosexual (someone who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature… guilty as charged) to homoflexible. We’ve come such a long way… the rest is just gravy at this point.

  1. There is more gender equality, especially with online dating.

While I am still a proponent of chivalry when it comes to opening doors and paying on a first date, I also strongly encourage women to reach out first online with a short and sweet message if someone strikes their fancy.

  1. Dating can be fun!

I know it’s sometimes exhausting after a long day of work to motivate yourself to meet someone new, especially when you just want to be a couch (mashed?) potato. But, it’s also exciting to think that someone you meet—maybe the next date—could alter the rest of your life in some way. Maybe you’ll get butterflies, maybe you’ll learn a new recipe, or maybe you’ll simply hone your conversation skills. Regardless of the outcome, take advantage of the fact that you get to meet new and interesting people.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! Happy dating!


Does Online Dating Make Longer Lasting Relationships?

Someone posederika e-1368 (1) this question to me yesterday: Does online dating create more long-lasting relationships than the “real world” does?  I pondered this for a second and decided to do some research.  I found that there are many differing views.  Since it is just about impossible to hold all else equal (the actual people, where they live, age, religion, personality, marriage history, etc.), it is difficult to conclude, ceteris paribus (ah, my economics degree strikes again), whether the longevity of a relationship is based at all on how the two people met, online or otherwise.

One article detailing the results of a 2013 study by researchers at University of Chicago’s Department of Psychology and Harvard University’s Department of Epidemiology found that online dating leads to higher marriage satisfaction and thereby a lower divorce rate.  The researchers addressed the question of marital satisfaction in a nationally representative sample of 19,131 respondents who got married between 2005 and 2012.  Results indicate that more than one-third of marriages in America now begin online.  Not too shabby!  In addition, the study shows that marriages that started online, when compared with those that began through traditional offline venues, were slightly less likely to result in a marital breakup (separation or divorce) and were associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married.  The lead author, John Cacioppo, says about the results, “It is possible that individuals who met their spouse online may be different in personality, motivation to form a long-term marital relationship, or some other factor,” so there may be more here than meets the eye.

One rather large caveat with this study is that it was funded by none other than online dating site eHarmony, so I can’t say whether or not any bias on that site’s part was introduced, but I’m guessing it wasn’t ignored, either.  I think the best outcome of this study was to show that 35% of marriages now begin online.  Boy, have we come a long way!

Aditi Paul, a PhD candidate at Michigan State, did a study this past year claiming quite the opposite, but ultimately differentiating people’s outcomes by their intentions.  Her abstract says that previous studies, including the one I mentioned above, have primarily looked at marital relationships. Her study extends this investigation by including non-marital relationships in the comparison.  It investigates if the breakup rate of relationships (both marital and non-marital) varies as a result of meeting online versus offline, and if other factors outside of the meeting venue predict relationship dissolution.  (Please take note that neither she nor I use the word “failure” since a marriage or relationship ending can, of course, be the best and only choice for the couple.)

Data is used from a nationally representative survey of 4,002 respondents.  (This to me does not sound statistically significant, but perhaps she had her reasons for keeping the sample size smaller.)  Her data found that the breakup rates for both marital and non-marital romantic relationships were higher for couples who met online than couples who met offline.  Obviously the actual quality and duration of the relationship turned out to also be significant factors that predicted if couples would stay together or break up.

Some conclusions in this Huffington Post piece on her study are:

  • It may be easy to meet people online—but it’s just as easy to break up.
  • Online dating also might make you less likely to end up married.
  • If you’re looking for love online, try to remember that more choices aren’t always a good thing.

Paul’s final comments are less scientific and more in line with the advice I would give as a dating coach.  She says not to get bogged down by all of the choices and become too distracted to commit to one person, especially if you’re looking for a committed relationship.  “What I’d encourage is once you find a partner, delete your profile and give it some time,” she said. “Nothing can replace the old-tested principles of time and intimacy and letting things develop.”  Preach!

In the end, online dating is simply another way to meet new people.  Whether the breakup/divorce rate is higher or lower is less relevant than the fact that there are now so many more relationships that form because of online dating, and that in itself is very significant.  What it ultimately comes down to are the two people involved, the quality of their relationship, and—perhaps most importantly—their communication skills, regardless of whether they met online or not.


Erika Ettin is the author of Love at First Site and the founder of A Little Nudge.  Like what you read?  Join the mailing list for monthly articles, news, and dating tips.

Online Dating: Past and Present-GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 95)

online-datingOnline dating has been around for quite a while now.  In fact, JDate first opened its proverbial doors back in 1997, when I was in high school!  As you may know, I was actually a very early adopter of online dating, using JDate back in 2000 or 2001, before people really had any idea what it was all about.  My parents, naturally, flipped out, thinking I was going to meet some psycho-killer, or worse, someone who wasn’t worthy of their daughter!  The worst that happened, of course, was a few bad dates with some socially awkward men… er… boys who were clueless as to what dating actually involved.  But why not try it out?  I was technologically savvy.  I mean, I did have a cell phone in college before anyone else did, even if it was this ridiculously large blue thing that I didn’t want anyone to know I had.  (It was very uncool to have a cell phone back then.)

I thought we’d take a stroll down memory lane and compare online dating in the early 2000s to online dating today.


Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Sean.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: Well, we haven’t actually “met” yet.  I found him on JDate.

Person 2: What?!?!  You’re not that desperate, are you?  Geez—protect yourself!  Tell me all the details.  Let me know where you’ll be.  I just hope you’ll be safe.  You never know what psychos are hiding on those sites.  Wow—I didn’t know anyone I knew would actually try online dating!


Person 1: Um… I’m going on a date with this guy Sean.

Person 2: That’s great!  Where did you meet him?

Person 1: On OkCupid.

Person 2: Cool!  My sister met her husband on  Have fun!



OMG—I think that guy across the room at the dessert table looked at my profile on (whisper) JDate.  I can’t even look at him.  How embarrassing!


I think that guy and I matched on Hinge the other day.  I think I’ll go say hi!  Maybe it’ll speed up the process of him asking me out. 😉



Which four pictures should I use for my JDate profile?  I guess I’ll have to upload the pictures from my new digital camera to my computer to post them on the site.  Or, I guess I can scan some of the other ones I have.  I hope it works.


Which 12 pictures should I use for my JDate profile and six for my Tinder?  Let me check out some pics on Facebook and my phone to see which ones I want to use.  Actually, I think there’s a really good one on Instagram that someone tagged me in!

Side note: I still only recommend posting three to five photos



Person: How did you two meet?

Couple: Um… well… haha… it’s a long story.  (Look at each other embarrassingly.)


Person: How did you two meet?

Couple (in unison): On JDate!  I hear that if you have a JBaby and you let them know, they actually send you a onesie!

The stigma is gone, and online dating is here to stay.  Daily Mail UK predicts that in 20 years, half of all couples will meet online, and this number may rise to 70% by 2040.  If you’re not already playing the online dating game, now’s the time to give it a whirl.  Why not?


erika e-1405-4Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating, and author of Love at First SiteWant to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.






The V-Day Shuffle – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 83)

cupidAh, Valentine’s Day.  Depending on where you are in a relationship (or where you’re not), it can be a day of roses and chocolates, love letters and hearts, uncertainty and stomach pangs, or leftover Pad Thai and a whole bottle of wine to drink solo.  Whatever your situation this Valentine’s Day, I want to provide some date ideas for any stage in a relationship:

Couples in very long-term relationships (including marriage):

At this stage, you may have already exhausted your cute and romantic ideas when you were trying to woo each other at the earlier stages of your relationship.  (If you still have a few tricks up your sleeve, good for you!)  Something as simple as a romantic dinner out (especially if you have kids) to spend some quality time together will still be a great date idea.  Oftentimes, once people enter long-term, committed relationships, they forget that the “dating” part is not over.  (I personally think it should never be over.)  And a well-thought card expressing your love for each other goes a long way.  Don’t take this stage for granted.

Couples in new relationships:

This is probably the most fun place to be for Valentine’s Day.  You likely get butterflies just thinking about spending your first V-Day together.  If you want to buy into the holiday (and I do partially mean literally, with the cards, flowers, and chocolate), then go for it!  Why not?  Go for a romantic dinner, take a weekend trip, feed each other chocolates.  And if that’s not your style, then go crazy watching (or making fun of?) other people doing this stuff!  Or just keep it low key if that’s more your thing, and declare it your own celebration.  Maybe you’ll go ice skating or to see a movie, but you’re still doing something to acknowledge the day.  Just have some fun – there’s nothing to lose!

People who just started seeing each other and aren’t sure where it’s going:

This is where things may get a bit hairy.  I’ve had clients ask me, after having gone on one or two successful dates, “What do I do for Valentine’s Day?  Do I make a big deal of it?  Do I even acknowledge it?  Do I buy something?”  This holiday adds so much undue pressure on things, pressure that is not necessary.  I would treat your next date like any other second or third date, without the “V-Day pressure” creeping in.  Maybe you’ll go to a comedy show, or maybe you’ll go play Connect Four at a bar.  If you want to go out with someone on Friday, great!  If not, great!  I wouldn’t buy into the hype when things are so fresh.  The best thing you can do, whether you go out on V-Day or not, is to simply say, “I’m really excited to see where things go.”  It’s honest, sweet, and simple.

Single people:

Do not fret!  Some people think that being single on Valentine’s Day is the kiss (or lack thereof, as the case may be) of death.  It’s not.  Do you know why?  You don’t have to pay a fortune for these fixed-priced menus, you won’t gain weight from eating the entire heart-shaped box of pecan clusters in one night, and you don’t have to read through all of the sappy Hallmark cards at CVS to try to pick just the right one.  This holiday can be what you make of it, and I encourage you not to make a big deal of it.  It’s just a day after all.  Go out like you normally would on a Friday night.  Have a ladies’ night or a guys’ night.  No need to make faces at all of the people in couples.  Instead, remember all of the blessings you have in your life… most importantly right now, your freedom.

Whatever you decide to do this Friday, stay true to yourself, and don’t let the pressure get the best of you.  If you’re with the right person, have a ball, and if you’re not, well, have a ball, too.  It’s Friday night, after all.  (Plus, for anyone who knows me, while I’m both a dating coach and a sucker for romance, my favorite 14th is actually in March.  I love Pi Day!  Any excuse to let my inner nerdom come out is okay with me!)

websize (5 of 6)TinyErika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.






DC Winter Date Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 80)

i-give-you-my-heart-winter-wallpaperCatch Erika tonight at Adas Israel! Finding Your Beshert… Online Dating with founder of “A Little Nudge,” Erika Ettin

We’re in the thick of the holiday season.  There are Christmas trees adorning pretty much every office building in town, too many excuses to eat that extra slice of cake at the holiday party (dark chocolate is healthy, right?), and threats of snow that finally came to fruition this past weekend.

But the holiday season also brings with it a strain on our wallets.  We took advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals (I was way too excited about the 50% off at Wet Seal that I got!), and now we’ll likely do the same with the day-after-Christmas sales.  How about all the presents we have to get for our co-workers, family, and friends?  And then there are these prix fixe menus at many restaurants on major holidays.  And don’t forget all the gas money you’ll be spending if you’re driving out of town and the exorbitant flight prices at this time of year.

My goal here is certainly not to get you depressed.  It’s instead to share some cost-effective (and often free!) date ideas in the DC area that won’t break the bank this holiday season.

For the Dorothy Hamill or Brian Boitano types:
Take your date ice skating.  There are more ice skating rinks in the area than you would have guessed, including the ones at the Sculpture Garden, the Georgetown Waterfront, Pentagon City, Navy Yard, and Shaw, which I believe is opening later this month.  More information can be found here:

For the Padma Lakshmi or Tom Sietsema types:
One food-centric idea that one of my clients recently did with her new boyfriend (yay) was to go to the supermarket with only $20 in an attempt to make the best gourmet meal on a budget.  (They did a surprisingly good job!)  You could also enjoy a winter drink to keep you warm, like the salted caramel hot chocolate at Co Co. Sala in Chinatown.  Even better, if you’re a bourbon drinker like I am, they have a drink called the Wild Winter that has bourbon and spiked apple cider in it.  Yum.  (Maybe it’s a little more expensive, but I think it’s worth it.)  Poste also has a special winter cocktail menu that you can ask for at the bar.  Or, if you’re feeling like Derek Brown, one of DC’s best mixologists, then you can attempt to make some of these winter cocktail recipes together.  Even if they don’t come out as planned, at least you’ll have fun making them… or you’ll be too drunk to notice.

For the Angelina Jolie or George Clooney types:
No, I’m not telling you to write and direct your own screenplay!  I’m talking about volunteering together.  Many organizations have volunteer activities in the winter to help people in need, such as throwing holiday parties, wrapping gifts, or packing meals.  The DC JCC is a great place to start.  You can show each other your caring side.

For the Bill Nye or Bob Ross types:
We are so lucky to live in a place where so many museums are free.  Explore the planets at the Air & Space Museum, walk through the live butterfly room at the Museum of Natural History, or check out some work by the photographer Charles Marville at the National Gallery of Art.  (The National Gallery has a surprisingly nice food court, too.)  To make it even more exciting, you could design your own scavenger hunt before heading to the museum and then do it together.  I even found an app that thinks of the challenges for you!

For the Steve Urkel or Ben Stein types:
Go to Board Room or Thomas Foolery and get to know each other over a game of Don’t Break the Ice (remember that one?) or Battleship.  Go to Continental in Rosslyn and play a game of pool or their giant version of Connect Four.  Challenge each other to a game of ping pong at Comet in Van Ness.  Attend a trivia night to show off your Jeopardy-esque prowess.

For the Shaun White or Indiana Jones types:
While I’m not necessarily one to spend too much time out in the cold, I know there there are people who are, so I want to make sure we cover all of our bases.  You could take a walk along the Mall to see the monuments all lit up, go hiking in Great Falls, walk to a dog park and pet some of the pups, or take a ride out to Gravelly Point Park, bring a blanket and a picnic lunch, and watch the planes take off and land.  While you don’t necessarily have to spend any time outside for this one, take a drive (or a walk) through different neighborhoods to find the best, worst, and gaudiest Christmas lights/decorations.  Don’t forget to take pictures!

Just because you can’t bask in the sun at a Nats game or sit on the roof of El Centro, it doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have fun with your date… winter style.  Plus, who doesn’t like a pair of tall boots, right?  Enjoy… and button up.

erika ettin-49334smallErika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.




What’s the Whole Point of Dating? – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 78)

friendly_ways-get-man-ask-you-second-dateNot that I take Urban Dictionary as gospel (I’d have some problems if I did!), but when it comes to the definition of “dating,” the usually off-color site does a surprisingly good job of defining the word.  The first definition on the site says that dating is, “… To be in the early stages of a relationship where [you] go out on dates to find out what each other is like, as a prelude to actually being a fully-fledged couple.”  Notice that the definition isn’t “going out once to determine if this person will be your soul mate.”  This is where many people get confused.

Clients and friends (and GTJ readers) ask me all the time whether they should go on a second date since they’re not sure whether they were really into the other person (either for personality or physical attraction reasons) after the first date.  They reason that they don’t want to lead the other person on, making him or her think that this might be the beginning of a relationship when, in fact, the next date would be “just to see” if there’s any potential there.

While in theory this makes sense, I argue that the whole point of dating is to get to know people to see if you want to start a relationship with them!  The definition above even states that people date “to find out what each other is like.”  It’s often the case that we’re not sure how we feel after a first date.  Of course, it’s sometimes clear that you have a major spark, or alternately, that you can’t stand the other person.  (The guy I once went out with who literally sulked – yes, literally – when I beat him at ping pong certainly made the decision easy for me.)  It’s often too hard after just one date (which is likely only an hour or so long) to decide if this person drinking a Jack and diet across from you will ultimately be the mother or father of your children!  My point: It’s okay to see someone again just to see whether he or she is a good fit.  You’re not leading someone on – you’re just dating!

I know I’ve told this story before, but back in 2005, I went on a first date with someone I met at kickball.  (My team name, you ask?  Kick it up a Notch… Bam!)  I consider myself to be an engaging person who can talk to just about anyone, but there were silences… awkward ones.  When the date came to a close, I thought to myself, “Nice enough guy, but I don’t think I’m into him.”

The next day, I sent a “thank you” e-mail (which I do recommend — over e-mail or text — if you’re interested, and in this case, I erred on the side of being nice).  From that e-mail, we actually started a pretty darn witty banter.  And then he asked me out again.  What was a girl to do?  While I didn’t have a great time on the date, this guy seemed interested.  I knew he could at least communicate in written form, and, well, I was free the night he asked.  I figured it couldn’t hurt “just to see.”

Long story short: We dated for a year and a half.  It’s more than okay not to know after the first date how you feel.  Remember, you don’t have to make life-altering decisions after date #1, like what kind of wedding china you’re going to get.  Simply ask yourself this question: Do I want to have another conversation with this person to get to know him/her?  If the answer might be yes (or even if you’re not sure), you have nothing to lose by giving it another shot.  It’s just dating, after all.

erika ettin-49334smallErika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.





The Art of Setting Yourself Apart – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 77)

jdateLet’s say we’re in a room full of 100 people.  Say, a GTJ happy hour… except that’s more like 300 people!  We look around, and everyone seems fairly different, right?  But before knowing a thing about anyone else, we are all basically the same… just people in a room together.  Now, what if we try to segment the 100 people into categories?  For example, we might ask the question, “Who likes to cook?”  Let’s say that 25 people raise their hands.  Now these 25 people are different from the other 75 who would rather be jumping into a pool of crocodiles than trying to decipher a recipe in “How to Cook Everything.”  Those 25 people, though, are now all the same – they like to cook.  So let’s delve a bit further by asking around to see what specific dishes these people like to cook:

Erika – “I love making my grandma’s kugel recipe with apricots and raisins.”
Betsy – “I make a flourless chocolate cake for Passover that people really like.”
Jonah – “I make one thing and one thing only – eggplant parm.”
Conner – “All I know how to make is a tuna melt.  But it’s a good tuna melt, if I do say so myself!”
Maxine – “I’m no gourmet chef or anything, but I love making summer salads with chick peas and beans.  I also make my own salad dressing.”

The five of us have now differentiated ourselves, first from the larger group because we each like to cook, and now from the 25-person subset because we have shared specifically what we enjoy cooking.  Who would you rather go on a date with: Someone who says he likes to cook, or someone who says he makes the best apple pie on this side of the Mississippi?  I’d venture to say the latter.

In your online dating profile, it’s very important to differentiate yourself to the point where people can see you for you and not assume you’re just like everyone else.  Let’s look at these two profile excerpts:

I love to laugh and have fun.  My family and friends are so important to me, and I always try to be there for them when I can.  I love to cook, run, and play with my dog.  

When I’m not chasing my dog all the way to the dog park every morning (trust me – he’s fast!), I love hosting family and friends for dinner.  It gives me great pride to make my late grandma’s kugel recipe for every Jewish holiday.  The best advice she ever gave to me was to use a whole stick of butter every time.  Maybe it’s a good thing I get my exercise by running every morning… even if I can never catch Scruffy!

The first profile doesn’t tell us much.  It lists a few hobbies, but on the whole, it’s pretty nondescript.  The second profile, however, really gives us a sense of who this person is – someone silly and family-loving who loves to cook and who has an abnormally fast dog.  That’s someone people want to meet!

So look around the room, and if you think you might be writing the same profile as the person next to you, it’s time to get more specific.  There’s an art to setting yourself apart, and now you’re well-equipped with the skills to do it.

erika ettin-49334smallErika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

This article also appeared on JDate.



Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 74)

walkI still remember that in high school, when the entire calculus class looked clueless about the necessity of integrals in our lives, our teacher, Mr. Opre, told us to “talk the talk and walk the walk” until we started to actually understand how this newfangled way of calculating the area actually worked.  At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about, but what he meant was that we needed to go through the motions (as in, just follow the mathematical steps) until it started to feel like we actually knew what we were doing.  And slowly but surely, his advice worked, and I was calculating the area under a curve like it was my one job in life.

What does all of this have to do with dating?  Some of us are jaded by the dating process, and some of us are feeling insecure about getting back out there.  Some of us may feel like we lost a sense of ourselves in our last relationship, so we need to get back into the things we love to do… but what were they?  If anything here sounds like it might be true, then I’m going to give the same advice that the wise Mr. Opre once gave: Talk the talk and walk the walk.  Eventually, things will start to catch up with you.

There was an article in Scientific American in 2011 called, “Smile!  It Could Make You Happier.”  Doesn’t this seem counterintuitive?  Don’t you smile because you feel happy, and not the other way around?  Maybe not.  Psychologists at the University of Cardiff in Wales found that people whose ability to frown is diminished by cosmetic botox inject­ions are happier, on average, than people who can frown.  The researchers gave a questionnaire to 25 women, half of whom had received frown-inhibiting botox injections.  The botox recipients reported feeling happier; more importantly, they did not report feeling any more attractive, suggesting that the emotional effects were not driven by a psychological boost that could come from the treatment’s cosmetic nature.

So, if smiling can make you happier, can talking the talk and walking the walk make you more confident in your dating life?  I’d venture to say yes.  Most things in life are all about framing.  Let’s say someone asks, “What do you like to do for fun?”  You have two options: You could look down on yourself, saying something like, “Oh, I don’t know.  I guess I like to do my daily crossword puzzle and play Words with Friends.  That’s about all.”  Or, you could own it and talk the talk of confidence, even if you’re not feeling it quite yet.  “I’m trying to get into some new activities, but for now, I’ve rediscovered my love for crossword puzzles and word games.  I love challenging my brain!”  Which person would you rather date?

If you feel jaded or insecure, when you get to that date, it’s important that you exude some level of confidence.  Rather than the person across the table thinking, “Ugh – she really doesn’t think very highly of herself,” or, “She must have been on one too many bad dates recently,” he’ll instead think, “Wow – I can’t believe she made time for me tonight!”

So, talk the talk, walk the walk, and calculate some integrals.  (Ok, that last one is optional.)  Thanks, Mr. Opre!

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

GTJ Interviewed Jared Waks from the JewDate Web Series!


Noah. played by Jared Waks

How did you come up with the idea for JewDate? 

Aaron had the original idea: a guy hits rock bottom as a result of unrequited love but then finds a way to slowly drag himself back to the surface via the tumultuous world of online dating. It came from the realization, from past discussions, that so many of us had an experience where we became so obsessed with a “first love,” or, more accurately, the idea of that person, that we shut ourselves off to new people and, thus, were stunted. A lot of people have that experience and realize 5-10 years later that they wasted all that time; but what if someone intervened? Hence, we introduced Aaron’s character, Adam. If Kara is yin then Adam is yang.

Noah’s character is supposed to be relatable – we think a lot of people relate to Noah in many ways, though in many ways they wish they didn’t. Kara is obviously using him, pulling him back and making him inactive. Adam comes in at the other end of the spectrum and pushes Noah forward. In the end, we want Noah to reclaim his agency and become an active character. Adam is exactly the kind of over-the-top, stubborn and persuasive influence Noah needs in order to do this; however, we also don’t want Noah to become like Adam, whose ability to avoid leaches like Kara is a side effect of his inability to form any sort of real attachments.

The push and pull of Adam vs. Kara will, hopefully, propel Noah through his own journey towards self-awareness and, as a result, make him able to form a genuine, mutual romantic bond with the right girl. That’s the idea of the show: to explore how a person (male or female) who has become inert due to an unhealthy romantic obsession, can be propelled back into the journey which, though it has its unrelenting ups and downs, is the point of life.

So is the series based at all on personal experience?

Personally, I was never stuck on anybody for years and years, but I know (we know) lots of people that met someone in high school or college and got completely, utterly stuck on them. Then later they feel like they wasted their “golden years” waiting for a phone call from someone who didn’t reciprocate their feelings – it’s really depressing. While I can’t relate in a long term situation, I have experienced it on a smaller scale. I would be interested in a girl who would get out of a relationship with a guy who treated her poorly, and she would talk about how she was finally ready to be with a “good guy,” then I’d watch her go for the same kind of a*hole she broke up with and repeat the cycle. It sucked.

In terms of the dates: yes and no. When I graduated college and moved to a new town I tried some of the dating sites and did not have great success; however, I’m glad I did it. I was in a new place, wasn’t thrilled with my job or living situation, and was having a hard time meeting friends.  The dates were mostly disappointing, but the idea of having them kept me going: I was on a journey, like Noah. But, for better or for worse, none of my dates were as eventful as Noah’s. The dates are fiction but we do draw inspiration from a number of sources.

The ADHD date.

The ADHD date.

Years ago I launched a dating site with friends called We got a lot of press and were subsequently hired by the former CEO of to work on a mobile app … all of which led to me spending a lot of time on different dating websites for structural research. And some of the questions and categories on these sites are ripe material for comedy.

The generic-ness of these profile components makes me laugh out loud.  For example, JDate asks you how active you are but restricts you to a drop down menu of options, the top two being “active” and “very active.”  I’m a pretty active person. I play soccer and go to the gym, and snowboard, waterski, hike, etc. But there are some people who are in the gym 3 times a day and are doing extreme sports like skydiving and five-day mountain climbing camping trips.  So I’m like, “If I put ‘very active’ in my profile, will people think I want to spend a week camping out? Because I don’t. I really don’t.

When I used to see “very active” on a girl’s profile, I would wonder, “Does she do yoga every day or does she jump out of helicopters and practice krav maga?” So when we write we play with these ambiguities and always go for the extremes. The idea is that if Noah is going to go out with a “very active” girl, she’s going to be the one jumping out of the helicopter and scaling Everest. Same with the girl who is very ADHD.

And yet, we think it’s all still somewhat relatable. And the “somewhat” is what makes it funny. All of us who date have been on a date with someone who couldn’t get off their phone, who couldn’t disconnect, who is scattered; and it sucks. No one would want to watch a show that simply played back to them that horrible date. But, to portray a very extreme version of that, where the date is so disconnected they could accidentally sit down at the wrong table, I think that’s hilarious. Take something relatable and then take it to the extreme, so that somebody watching can say, “I was on a date like that … sort of.”

The girl who invites all her dates to fill-out her concert, that’s not based on anything. That was just one of those strokes of genius where we thought, “Hey, somebody COULD use online dating to do this, but probably never has.” Maybe we will inspire someone.

JewDate does not rely on tired Jewish stereotypes for its humor. When writing the series, were there things you tried to avoid?

Absolutely. I try to avoid all stereotypes, not just Jewish serotypes. For example, I don’t think Rob engenders black stereotypes, nor Kara female stereotypes. The ADHD girl could easily be an ADHD guy. Rob is narcissistic and egocentric but in a juvenile, oblivious manner, like he never grew up to realize that the world doesn’t actually revolve around him. That’s the character and we cast Willie because he’s hilarious.

He comes back in a big way in the next four episodes. There are jokes that will rely upon his ethnicity, but not as stereotypes. Just like we use Noah’s Jewishness to make jokes, but we don’t use Jewish stereotypes to make them. We write characters and we want those characters to be funny and interesting.

The jokes come from funny characters. Jews being cheap is a cheap laugh and too easy to do. Anyone can do that; it’s not impressive. Stereotypes are cliché. Everyone knows them so anyone can make those jokes. It takes talent to create a unique character that says unique things.


Willie as Rob

I think what is lacking from the first 4 episodes is a strong female protagonist. A female Noah, if you will, that most people watching can relate to. If we get to do a second season there will be a plot-centric, relatable female protagonist.

When will we see the next episodes?

Well, we’re filming them now. Part of it depends on funding; we’re running out of money. We’re going to start a Kickstarter soon to raise money for production, editing, and music. The short answer is that we’re aiming to release the episodes in October. With any luck it will be sooner.

What made you interested in film/web series/television?

Our entire fantastic team all grew up in LA around the industry. Stevee is the only non-Jewish Executive Producer (hence Some Jews and Stevee). Her family industry connections are huge for us as is her incredible talent with designing and making costumes. She also designs her own lingerie line called Drop Your Panties which is so awesome!All of us had been very exposed to the entertainment industry and I’ve personally been working in the film marketing industry since college.

I’ve worked for 20th Century Fox and I currently work for IMAX. While at Fox I was almost an extra on How I Met Your Mother because my office was actually part of the set. They are supposed to put caution tape on the back door of the office when they are filming, and one day they forgot to. I went outside and saw cars (which was unusual), people with briefcases walking with purpose, and then I saw Josh Radnor and Neil Patrick Harris coming right at me. Security starts miming at me that I need to act casual, like a normal person on the street, so I sorta stared up into the sky as they walked by me. They must have used a different take though, because I didn’t see myself in the episode. So that was the closest I had come to production; I had lots of entertainment marketing knowledge but no production experience. I simply try to stay open to new opportunities, so when Aaron and Jason came to me and said, “Do you wanna write this show with us?” I said, “Heck yeah,” and the rest became JewDate.

The opportunity was too good to pass up, even if I was in way over my head. I mean the idea for JewDate just seemed so brilliant because it fills a real void in thematic content. According to Reuters out of the 54 million single people in the US 40 million have tried online dating. That’s huge and there was no show about it! Everyone is having these new experiences and it’s so relatable. Lots of people are finding their spouses through online dating and many of them have told me, “I was about to give up on online dating when I messaged this one last person … and the rest is history.” That’s the idea of JewDate.

Noah has to go through the trials and tribulations of online dating, similar to but different from any other kind of dating, to get over Kara and finally find the right person. And it’s all a growing experience. Even the worst dates have something very important to teach Noah, something he needs to know or work on before he can be a ready to meet his “beshert” (which means soul-mate in Hebrew). So yeah, I really strayed from the question again…

Jason Mittleman works on various productions in different capacities and is currently a Writer’s Assistant on the MTV show “Ridiculousness.” Like I said, we all had experience in the industry, so we put all our experience together and said, “Screw it, let’s do it.” I thought it’d be like some other YouTube series I’d seen, but I think it’s much more quality. I had no idea how much time and effort it would require; but it’s a ton of fun and so rewarding.

Who is your Jewish celebrity crush?

Allison Brie. She was on “Mad Men” and played Trudy Campbell, Pete’s wife. Then she got big on “Community.” She’s also in tons of Funny or Die videos and is hilarious in every way. She can play everything and she’s adorable in everything she does.  She does this one Funny or Die video where there’s a government committee to patent sex positions. She comes in and she’s pitching various new positions to be patented. It’s one of the vilest 8 minutes you can watch, and you hear her say these things, and she is still adorable.

Is your Jewish mother proud?

Very. She’ll be an extra in the next 4 episodes – we needed a lot more extras for these. You’ll see members from all our families. Stevee’s family has been on the set helping us the entire time. Noah and Adam’s apartment is actually Stevee’s Mom’s house. She moved out for three days so we could use it. One of our Producers, Jason Ellefson, hooks us up with restaurants for filming the dates and also some amazing talent – including Willie James Warren Jr. who plays Rob – so we owe Jason huge thanks as well. The host from the ADHD episode wasn’t really in the script originally; we had a waiter written in for a very small part, pretty much just to seat them. Jason introduced us to Danny Gomez and, when we saw how funny he was, we made him keep popping in and it makes that date exponentially funnier.

Mrs. Webman (Aaron and Ethan’s mother) is proud, but she isn’t too happy about the dominatrix scene. She’s the most conflicted, due to the moral ambiguities of the Adam character; but, in all seriousness, she is super proud and we owe her a gigantic thanks for all of her help with all of the episodes and especially for letting us film a large part of the next four at their home. And, to be clear, we are NOT our characters. Aaron is not Adam. I actually had a friend tell me, “My friend watched the show and she wants to date Noah; are you single?” I said, “Yes, but I’m not Noah, so I hope she’s not disappointed.”

Jason’s Jewish mother is proud. Stevee’s gentile mother is very proud too. Our entire families are proud and incrediblely supportive, and we owe them all a huge deal of gratitude.

Don’t Judge Yourself: Let Others Do It For You – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (No. 70)

gavelI’m a lawyer.  It’s true.  But I promise I’m not the typical one!

I guess you’ve noticed that I’m a vegetarian, but don’t worry – I won’t get upset if you order a steak in front of me.

Even though I have to get up early for work (at 5:15 AM), I swear that doesn’t mean I can’t stay up past 10 PM.

How many times have you seen lines like this in someone else’s profile?  Perhaps you even have one like this in yours.  The common theme here is that the author is compensating for (and judging) something in his or her own life that is assumed to be a turn-off.  Seemingly innocuous lines like these can actually be very off-putting for someone reading your profile because underlying the “but,” “don’t worry,” and “I swear” is a thinly veiled sense of insecurity.

Let’s take the first line, for example.  For context, let’s say that there is, in fact, a stigma towards someone who has an “Esq.” following his or her name.  (As a side note, this article is no commentary on how I feel about lawyers.  In fact, my dad’s a lawyer, and he’s the best dad around!)  In this example, the person writing this profile, let’s call her Shelby, assumes that her occupation could be a deal-breaker for her online dating soul mate and immediately tries to compensate for that fact.  But what she’s actually doing is buying into the (mostly untrue) stereotype that people dislike lawyers.  Shelby thinks that the second someone reads her profile, he will dismiss her because of this one thing.  But rather than being turned off by the fact that she’s a lawyer (and an impressive one at that!), many people will instead be turned off by the fact that she presumes to already know how they feel about it!

In addition, Shelby is calling more attention to something that may not play a large role, or any role, in someone’s decision-making process.  By saying, “I’m not a typical one,” she has not only called attention to her job, but she has also made it the focus of her profile.  Is that her sole defining factor?  She’s essentially saying, “My job defines me, but please don’t hold this against me!”

As most of us know, online dating can be pretty daunting, and writing the profile is perhaps the scariest part.  There’s so much uncertainty, and people are often very uncomfortable with uncertainty.

What if people assume I have no life outside of work?  What if they think I will always argue until they agree with me?  What if they decide I’m a total dork because I go to a weekly law discussion group called the “Legal Eagles,” and we all wear shirts with the scales of justice on them?  (Ok, maybe that one’s warranted.)

So, Shelby would prefer to assume that we already have these preconceived notions about lawyers rather than leave it up to chance that someone may not care or, and perhaps more likely, absolutely love the fact that she’s a successful lawyer!  What they won’t love is that she’s downplaying it.  So don’t judge yourself.  Own it, be confident, and then move on.

I’m a lawyer.

I’m a vegetarian.

I wake up at an ungodly hour every morning.

How did your potential future J-Mates react?  Who cares?  Don’t assume they feel a certain way.  All you did was state the truth.  Leave the rest up to the powers that be.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.