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Know of an Organization that should be featured on GathertheJews.com?

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Is Tinder (or JSwipe) a Hookup Site?

erika e-1368 (1)People ask me this all the time: Is [fill in the blank with a dating app of your choosing] a hookup site?

My answer is always the same: Yes… if you both hook up.*

The point I’m trying to make here is that any site can be used for anything you want it to be used for. Do more people “hook up” on Tinder than on eHarmony? Probably. Do some people troll the “serious” dating sites looking for a one-night stand? Of course. And do some people find meaningful, lasting relationships from an app like Tinder or JSwipe? You bet. It’s all in how you decide to use the site for you.

One writer on AskMen.com wrote, “Most guys I know are content looking at the cleavage shots, and in the case of a match, asking the girl if she wants to meet up and grab a beer. Let’s be honest, they’re looking for a casual encounter. After a casual date or two, they expect to get laid.” Even Rolling Stone wrote an article called Inside Tinder’s Hookup Factory.

Is this view of Tinder, though, a self-fulfilling prophesy? If someone tells you it’s a hookup app, then you perpetuate the rumor by doing just that—hooking up with someone—thereby confirming it’s just the type of app you thought it was? Seems plausible. If that same person instead tells you he met his amazing long-term girlfriend on the app, would you go in with different expectations? I’d venture to say yes.

In my own various stints on Tinder (partly for professional reasons and partly for personal), I can tell you that the people I’ve texted with and/or met have run the gamut, from the ones who straight-up asked “DTF?” (no thank you, sir) to the ones who seem genuinely interested in at least getting to know me… outside of my pants. There was the one who was so rude to me that I had to walk out after 15 minutes (there’s a first time for everything) and the one who’s now very serious with a friend of mine because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There was the one who was apparently my bartender once and recognized me yet somehow had nothing (like, really nothing) to say on our date and the one who was looking to get married and have kids ASAP… if I relocated to Denver (again, no thank you, sir). There are the ones who compliment my body (no need to get specific) and the ones who actually read the six bullets I wrote talking about my love of my dog, puns, and Scotch.

Through it all, though, the only person who has the final say as to whether any of these apps are “hookup” apps is you. Then the question becomes whether you need to say up front what you’re looking for or just see how things pan out. I am of the belief, as I tell my clients, that before you decide how to proceed with someone, hooking up or otherwise, you have to see if there’s even a connection to begin with. (My exact words are actually, “Before you decide if (s)he’s going to be the mother/father of your child, first make sure you even like each other!”) Err on the side of going on the date and then deciding what to do. None of this is black and white—hookup or not, relationship or not, swipe left or right (okay, that one’s pretty clear-cut)—so it’s okay to live in the gray until you know what you want, and that may be different with different people.

So, are all of these apps hookup apps? Sure. Are they relationship apps? Yep. Are they apps that you can use to while away the time while you’re bored in line at the DMV? Um-hum. And are they apps that you can use to simply get out there and decide on a case-by-case basis what’s best for you? Yes, siree.

*Just for the record, I hate the term “hookup.” I’m using it here only because it’s become pretty much universal for a casual encounter.

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Jewish Guy of the Week – Ben

B smiling (1)Jackie: What brought you to DC?

While I was choosing between 6 wildly different schools to attend, my older brother was living in DC, so GW came out the winner and I came here for college! I ended up getting a job here after graduation and stuck around.

Jackie: Have you been here since graduating GW? For the most part, except for a 3-year stint [as an international man of mystery] living in Dubai, Iraqi-Kurdistan, and working around the region.

 

Jackie: So you are in a band! How did you guys get A&B1together? Yep! I’m in a band called Cosmic Romp (I have to plug, check out our SoundCloud/YouTube/Facebook/Twitter/courier pigeons). We met through Flashband, a DC-based company which provides a music community for musicians to easily get together, form bands, plays gigs, etc. Any musicians out there should check it out, it’s awesome.

Jackie: Do you play around DC? Sure do! Our next show is on Saturday, April 11, at Club Heaven and Hell in Adam’s Morgan. It’s actually the Flashband 3-year anniversary show and we’re a “reunion” band of members who met through Flashband. We’ve also played at Axum’s Lounge, Heaven & Hell, and Iota in Clarendon since our forming last fall.


 

BJackie: I hear you are getting married in the fall, Mozel Tov! How did you and your partner meet? (will your band be playing at the wedding?!)

Thank you! We actually met at GW during undergrad, we only dated for a brief not-so-serious period of time during junior year, but 7 years later (she says) I came crawling back. And, my band may just make a cameo at the reception…

Jackie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Lately, as I hear is commonplace for when you hit your 30’s, we’ve often been staying in, deflating from a typically intense and fast-paced week, and we’ll usually cook some dinner and catch up on House of Cards. Or more lately, discuss wedding stuff. Saturday, if we’re in DC, is just a relaxing day to do whatever comes our way.

B jumpingJackie: What is your favorite Jewish food? Chocolate. Oh wait, Jewish food? Gelt.

Jackie: Who is the coolest Jew? Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth (he’s officiating our wedding!)

Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather… they schmooze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#WomanCrushWednesday with Sasha and Ruth

11057741_10204981762638271_4711157390105351408_o (1)Gather’s Open Door Fellows are charged with creating genuine authentic connections in the DC Jewish Community. When we charged them with this task we did not expect who Fellow Sasha would gather. While attending a reception hosted by Nancy Pelosi to celebrate the women on the Supreme Court for Women’s History Month, Sasha had the opportunity to meet none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Below are her reflections on meeting the Notorious RBG and why she should be your #WomanCrushWednesday.

“It is not every day that you meet a Supreme Court Justice. It is not every day that you stand in a room with three trailblazers of the Judicial Branch of the United States government. But one day, March 18th, I had the chance to attend a reception put on by Nancy Pelosi where the work of these women was celebrated; their passion, determination and drive was publicly acknowledged and supported by the strongest women leaders in Washington.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a legend, plain and simple—she exemplifies the word notorious with grace. This is a woman who raised a two year old child while going to law school herself, and taking notes for her ill husband. This is a woman who was among 8 women in a class of 500, but pushed her way to the top of the class. And, this is a Jewish woman. This woman challenged all boundaries- gender and religion and defied all odds.”

Sasha had the opportunity to attend Pelosi’s reception through her position with Jewish Women International. JWIs work is focused on empowering women, healing enable them to thrive, no matter what situation they may be in. There is no better way to really feel this empowerment than being surrounded by successful, strong women.

11078171_10204983005269336_4502072864156096631_n 11076722_10205023890211434_678112041_n

 

 

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Gather Guide to Passover DC 2015

passover2015(2)Passover is the Jewish Holiday that American Jews are most likely to celebrate! There are many different way Jews all over the District will be celebrating in the upcoming weeks. Whether it is getting together in small groups or finding a larger community to celebrate with there is an event for you. Passover begins Friday evening April 3rd but there are many events leading up to Passover during the week of passover. We have pulled together a list of what is going on in DC for Passover to make sure you do not miss out. Make sure you sign up early so you do not miss out on a spot at one of these great events!

 

Did we miss anything? Submit events here and/or leave a comment on this post.

Tuesday March 17

Thursday March 19

Friday March 20

Sunday March 22

Friday March 27

Sunday March 29

Tuesday March 31

Friday April 3

Saturday April 4

Monday April 6

Wednesday April 8

Friday April 10

Saturday April 11

 

Resources:

Seder help

  • Seder2015.org A group of Jews put together this incredible resource to help us change the way we think about the Passover Seder and to deepen our connection to the holiday.

Reading

Other

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Is Being Single Treif?

1Believe it or not, Passover is right around the corner. As we sit around the Seder table this April (or Nisan, if we’re being technical) discussing the exodus from Egypt and why the “mortar” tastes so darned delicious (hint: I make mine with both sugar and honey), our family and friends sometimes use the holiday as an opportunity to talk about our own lack of exodus… from singledom.

Time and time again, over a big helping of brisket at a family gathering, Aunt Mildred decides to break out the question, “So, when are you going to bring a significant other home for the holidays? How hasn’t anyone snatched you up yet?” This is when we start turning the color of the beet horseradish that’s sitting in front of us. Why can’t this question just be forbidden to ask? Why can’t this year be different from all other years?

This intense curiosity, or backhanded compliment if you will, is certainly not restricted to the Seder table. It also happens on first dates. Believe it or not, a client actually emailed this to me right while I was in the middle of writing this article:

“I get this question a lot on a date, ‘Why are you still single?’ I swear, I hate that question so much! I feel like men think it’s a compliment, like, ‘Oh, you’re so attractive that it’s hard to understand why you’re single.’ Or maybe they are just trying to find out if I’m crazy or not, but I never know how to answer it. I want to say it’s because men don’t act right, but I realize that might be a turn-off. LOL. How do you think I should respond?”

I have clients who also don’t know how to respond when their first dates ask equally inappropriate questions, like:

“Why did you get divorced?”

“Why haven’t you ever been married?”

“Why don’t you have children?”

I’d lump Mildred’s “interest” in with the questions above. They’re things that shouldn’t be asked, at least not in front of a crowd or on a first date… but that doesn’t mean that people won’t ask them anyway.

How does one graciously deflect questions when family asks about your dating life during the holidays? As I would say to anyone trying to avoid the inevitable discomfort, just respond with something that does not put you on the defensive but instead looks to the future. Rather than yelling out the first instinct—“Leave me alone! I just haven’t met the right person yet! Pick on someone your own age!”—you could instead reply, “You don’t want me to bring just anyone, do you? When it’s right, I’ll let that special person in.” Or even, “Thanks for noticing I’m a catch,” and ending with a smile. Some other alternatives that might get the job done are, “I respect myself too much to be with just anyone.” Or even better, “Is that you offering to pay for my JDate subscription? (wink wink)”

Just remember that the only person who has the right to judge you is, you guessed it, you. The only person who looks bad in this scenario is that family member or date who lays it on too thick with the personal questions. So, rather than hurling an equally low question at Aunt Mildred—“Why did you and Uncle Fred get divorced again?”—just hold your head up high. You know that wherever you are in the process, or whatever life decisions you choose to make, no one has the right to make you feel badly about them. If all else fails, just tell her how delicious her pickled herring is. That compliment should last her until, oh, next year in Jerusalem.

This article also appeared in JMag, the official magazine of JDate.

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Jewish Girl of the Week – Leslie

IMG_2140Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Leslie: After I graduated college, I moved here without a job! I worked for a few years in management consulting before going back for my graduate degree in teaching at UNC Chapel Hill. I moved back to DC because I have the best friends and an awesome brother here.

Jackie: What is your favorite part about teaching?

Leslie: I love my students! Currently, I teach high school seniors in Southeast DC. I work with the most generous, caring, and sweet teenagers. I love building trusting and meaningful relationships with them. Helping them work through personal problems or accomplish an academic objective is an incredible feeling.

Jackie: You used to work at Colonial Williamsburg, what did you do there? Do you have any cool stories?

Leslie: I gave tours, conducted games and children’s activities to engage younger visitors, and supervised the younger volunteers. I actually loved wearing the costume! It was so great to not have to do my hair or pick out cute outfits every day. It was a wonderful experience. I learned how to make pewter spoons, bricks, and watercolor paints. I got to hang out in the secret break rooms just for staff and witness history behind-the-scenes.

IMG_4529 (1)Jackie: I hear you are pretty good at needle point, what is your favorite/best thing you have made?

Leslie: Oh my gosh, this is embarrassing. I am a huge nerd. I’ve been doing cross stitch since I was little. The coolest thing I’ve sewed is a picture of Hans Solo and Princess Leia that says “I know.” (referring to the famous scene) for my friend to give her husband for Christmas.


Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Leslie: Do bagels still count as Jewish food? I love a good everything bagel with cream cheese. I could eat that for every meal.

Jackie: Who is the coolest Jew?

Leslie: My grandmother Iris is the coolest Jew. She’s 94 years old, but so funny, resilient, and energetic. She has a more active social life than me, honestly. Every time I call, she’s playing bridge, at an exercise class, at the movies, or working on the retirement community newsletter. She has seen so much, but is so strong.


me8Jackie: What Jewish Organizations are you involved with in DC?

Leslie: I’m really excited to talk about an organization I help run — Jews and Muslims DC (JAM DC). I firmly believe that deep interfaith understanding can help all of us view the world in a different and more positive light. We organize interfaith events, including happy hours, seders, and cultural events. Through JAM DC, I have met so many cool people and learned so much from our Muslim friends. Check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jewsandmuslimsdc.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Leslie: they laugh a lot!

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ISRAEL WITH THE ONE YOU LOVE! Registration begins March 31st

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Labor Seder 2015 with JUFJ

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Jewish Girl of the Week – Mindy

Punting in CambridgeJackie: What brought you to DC? 

Mindy: I knew if I didn’t leave my hometown to pursue my desire to work in public policy after finishing law school (go Canes!), I never would. I moved up in November 2008 and worked on the Hill for 3 years.

In December 2011, I left the Hill to become the Assistant Director of Government & National Affairs at the Anti-Defamation League. I spend most of my time focusing on international affairs issues, like fighting against global anti-Semitism and preventing a nuclear Iran, and on comprehensive immigration reform. Because of ADL’s dynamic multi-issue agenda and over a century of trusted work, I have no qualms about calling myself a “lobbyist.” I am humbly one of the lucky ones – I get to work for an organization who’s mission is my own personal mission in life.

After 6+ years in DC, I continue to be as passionate as ever about the power of advocacy to create the change you want to see.

Jackie: I hear that you get to travel a lot for your job! Where are some places you have visited recently/ what has been some of your favorite places to visit?

Mindy: I do travel a lot for work, luckily! I get to interact with so many interesting people and I love meeting our grassroots activists across the country who support our mission. So far, for work in 2015, I’ve been to Houston, Austin, Boston, NYC, Detroit this week, and then off to Philly next week! My favorite places to visit for work include our Israel office in Jerusalem, Warsaw to participate in Europe’s largest human rights conference, and Hungary, Greece, and Austria for a program we’re piloting.

JNFuture Jay Footlik Event Feb 26 2015Jackie: What is your involvement with JNFuture?

Mindy: I’m currently serving my second term as DC Co-Chair with the great Evan Hoffman. For me, my connection to Jewish National Fund (JNF) started with my earliest memories of having the “little blue box” in my kitchen for Tzedakah, along with planting trees in Israel for gifts. With JNFuture, I love that we get to put aside Middle East politics (i.e. my day job) and focus on the “neshamah” part of loving Israel.

On Thursday, March 26th, at 6pm (or whenever you can actually leave your office), we have our next event — our 2nd annual Schmooze and Booze happy hour at The Gryphon.The door price for non-members is $18 and admission for JNFutures is always free for our events. Everyone who attends will get a drink ticket and JNFuture DC will donate 100% of the proceeds. If you join JNFuture and mention this article at the happy hour, I’ll totally buy you a drink. RSVP here and I hope to see you there!

Min with boysJackie: So you’re a yogi, where is your favorite studio in DC?

Mindy: Flow on 14th and P is my favorite studio but, really, anywhere I have enough room for downward dog is a perfect spot for me.

Jackie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Mindy: Every month, I look forward to Sixth and I’s Shabbasana with my yoga teacher, Greg Marzullo, and then I head downstairs for Sixth in the City. I always love to have Shabbat dinner with my friends. There’s nothing better than a table full of good wine and food surrounded by your crew. For the past year, my brother and I have also started a tradition of facetiming before Shabbat so I can light the candles with my 2 (of 13!) nephews in South Florida.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Mindy: Bring on the noodle kugel — the sweet kind, obviously.

Mom-mom visits DCJackie: Who is the coolest Jew?

Mindy: My grandmother, Dr. Joy Rubin, AKA “Mom-mom.” She is 92, still a practicing psychologist, works out every day, and raised 3 kids as a single mom while running her own art school in Hollywood, FL. She’s legally blind, but has successfully hidden it most of her life and has traveled to over 30 countries around the world, usually on her own — she and I both love a solo vacay! During World War II, she drafted blueprints for US submarines. When one of the subs she worked on was ready to go out, FDR himself came in and she was next to him when he christened it. She continues to live a very full life and helps to keep me grounded, always reminding me: “We plan. G-d laughs.” She’s definitely the coolest Jew I know.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Mindy: we get down with our bad-ass social justice, tikkun olam selves…and anyone else who likes to party!

 

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Get your Gather the Jews Promotion for Greener Travel Company – Sustainable Adventures

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Trivia and the 8th Annual Pickle Eating Competition March 12th!

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Jewish Guy of the Week: Nathaniel

Jackie: What brought you to DC?

Nathaniel in ChileNathaniel: A job with the federal government. I had been working in New York for the state part-time during law school and then gratefully had this opportunity to take a federal job right after graduating! A lot of my extended family was already here, making the transition nice and smooth!

Jackie: What do you do at the Department of Labor?

Nate: I am an attorney there and enjoy the work that I do on behalf of the American people (which I’d rather not elaborate on here), but am also glad for a flexible schedule and leave so that I can also maintain an active volunteer life while off duty.

Jackie: I heard that you are very involved with the social justice organizations around town can you tell me more about that?

Nathaniel at Greater Washington Urban LeagueNathaniel: I am very happy to do so! I am currently on the AJC ACCESS DC Board, where I am focusing on the interfaith, intergroup, and international relations work of the organization. I am also the co-chair of the American Jewish World Service DC Action Team, which is focused on trying to get the International Violence Against Women Act passed and in general focused on improving the condition of women, girls, and the LGBT community internationally. I have also been involved with Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) in several of their campaigns over the years, including the current focus on paid family leave. And I coordinate a tutoring program at the Central American Resource Center for aspiring U.S. citizens, inspired by my work with HIAS (formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). Additionally, I remain involved with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Entwine DC Planning Group and the Anti-Defamation League’s DC Young Professionals Division.

Nathaniel at Shabbat in GermanyJackie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?

Nathaniel: I am grateful to have a lot of family and friends in the area and do enjoy mixing it up every so often, but, by far, the Shabbat options at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue are my favorites. It’s truly a place where, the more you go, the more part of the community there you can feel.

Jackie: What is your favorite Jewish food and/or holiday?

Nathaniel: Passover is by far my favorite holiday, Jewish or otherwise. The structure of the Seder to teach us empathy, viewing ourselves as if we personally had been enslaved and then freed from bondage in Egypt, is a powerful tool in our heritage to remember in every generation. And I am glad to note that will be used this year in two social justice programs with which I am assisting leading up to Passover: The 14th annual Jews United for Justice Labor Seder at Adas Israel on March 22nd and the 1st annual AJC ACCESS DC Black-Jewish Seder at 6th & I on March 30.

Nathaniel


Jackie: Who is your favorite Jew?

Nathaniel: That’s an easy one: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. He approached his Judaic studies as a guidepost for social justice work and was extremely active in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s. He is an inspiration to me and many others with his letter to Dr. Martin Luther King that, when he marched in Selma, he felt that his legs were praying.

Jackie: Finish the sentence: When the Jews gather…

Nathaniel: tremendous social change can happen!

If there is someone you would like to nominate for Jewish Girl/Guy of the Week email Jackie!

 

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What does it mean to “Gather the Jews”?

wooden-groggerGrowing up, my family did not pay much attention to Purim. While my brothers and I were in Hebrew school, we listened to the reading of the Megillah, booed at the name of Haman, and attended the Purim Carnival each year. Following my Bat Mitzvah, Purim receded to the back of my memory, regarded as a second-class Jewish holiday in my mind. It was not until I began working as the Director of Gather the Jews in August 2012 that I began to consider Purim again.

People have very strong feelings about the name ‘Gather the Jews’ and they are not afraid to express their opinion. Whether I was being told, “The Jews were gathered once before and it didn’t end so well for us,” or being asked at events, “Did you GATHER the Jews?” the name struck a chord in our community. However, being founded around Purim, the name actually comes directly from Megillat Esther.

gather_the_jews_rectangleIn the Megillah, Haman refers to the Jews as a “scattered and dispersed” people (3:8). It was true of the Jews of  the time- the bonds that had held us together as a people had long been frayed. Ironically, it was Haman’s quest to destroy the Jewish people that ultimately reunited them. Upon agreeing to approach the king, Esther tells Mordechai to “Go, gather together all the Jews who are present in Shushan…” (4:16). Together the Jews fasted, Esther saved the day, and the Jewish people were saved. Or as we might say around my Seudat Purim table, ‘They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.”

However, just as in the Purim story, the name ‘Gather the Jews’ suggests a disparate people. There is no denying that DC has some dynamic, inspirational Jewish programming, but many times someone new will come to an event, make some small talk, then leave without being engaged or having a meaningful interaction. We are missing a wealth of unaffiliated Jews who are on the outside of this community. The goal of Gather the Jews has always been to make it easier to connect to the DC Jewish community, and new initiatives like the Open Doors Fellowship are aiming to give Jewish young professionals greater resources do so.

As you celebrate Purim this year, I challenge you to consider, how are we creating an inclusive yet intimate community? How are we making newcomers feel welcomed and engaged in our community? How can we do better?

Rachel Giattino

 

 

Chag Purim Sameach.

Rachel Giattino is the Senior Associate for Programming and Engagement at GW Hillel and the former Director of Gather the Jews.

 

 

 

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Should We Take Relationship Advice from #TheDress?

erika e-1368 (1)Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in an equally sad and lonely place with no internet), then you know what I’m talking about when I mention “the dress.” I first saw it when I was in bed, reading the news on my phone like I always do first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. (I know—not good for my sleeping habits.) At any rate, I thought it was a joke at first. That dress is obviously white. While I didn’t see the stripes as gold, per se, but more of a camel brown, there was no way in my mind that the dress was blue. Then I started reading the comments, the analysis, the arguments, the scientific rationale… I fell down the rabbit hole of #thedress.

What does all of this have to do with dating and relationships, you ask? As it turns out, a lot. In any relationship, you and your partner are bound to have some differences. Oftentimes, both of you think you’re right, and that the other is disagreeing with the obvious truth. Can both of you really be right? And, if you’re in the party who is a little less right, then how do you react when you find out that your partner is a little more right? Communication is the key.

Let’s say I’m looking at the dress with my partner, and I insist on the dress being white and gold and he instead insists on it being blue and black. After I’d properly had a good laugh because I thought he was yanking my chain, how would—or should—I react? And how should he?

In too many relationships, one person is made to feel small, wrong, and invalidated. Maybe it’s over something small like this dress or how you load the dishwasher, or maybe it’s something big like how you choose to spend your money or how you want to raise your children. No matter the size of the issue, it’s important to hear out the other person’s thoughts before jumping to any conclusions.

The conversation above could go an infinite number of ways, but let’s look at two:

Scenario 1

Me: It’s obviously white and gold.

Partner: Are you out of your f**king mind? It’s blue and black! There are no two ways around it. You’re wrong.

Scenario 2

Me: It’s obviously white and gold.

Partner: That’s odd. I see it as blue and black. Think there could be two ways to see this? I’m trying to see it from your angle, too, but I don’t for some reason.

I don’t know about you, but I’d venture to say that most of us would rather be with the partner in the second scenario. This partner listens, takes into account the other’s feelings, and doesn’t jump to conclusions before knowing all of the details. No one feels belittled here.

In the end, it’s just a dress, but it can also teach us many things about how our loved ones deal with disagreements, conflict, and the possibility of two rights and no wrongs. If you do find yourself in a relationship where you feel that the other person is not listening to your argument, it’s something to make note of and work on for when the more important issues—the shoes?—come down the pike.

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