Dating Israeli Women: A Guide by the Perplexed

“You have to find an English speaker,” opined John over lunch on Hashmona’im Street last week, as I whinged about my latest debacle with Israel’s finest.

And John may well have a point. But it takes a strong-willed man to settle for fish and chips or a Big Mac and fries, when he could, instead, feast on a Me’urav Yerushalmi (Jerusalem mixed grill).

J, Israeli, 40 and divorced (plus none) – whom I had met through JDate (I am, depressingly, back . . . again) – was that perfect Ashkenazi father/Sephardi mother combo: tall, willowy, olive skin, and taltalim (those unmistakably Israeli curls). And clever to boot. A Me’urevet Tel Avivit (Tel Aviv mix), if you like. And we had been on two extremely encouraging dates before the start of the fun and games . . .

Our third meeting – preceded by a discernible tailing-off in our flirtatious, daily text messaging – is cancelled by J, by sms, on the very same evening, with more excuses than a Hasmo boy: “pressure at work . . . not feeling well . . . Will call you.” But no call.

Just to be one hundred percent that my intuition is correct – I know that I will not be able to cope with the teasing thought that that body, skin and hair (and, of course, mind) might, just might . . . – I text J to tell her that I have got the message (that she is “not particularly interested in pursuing this”).

“Wrong again,” she texts back. “Will call the second I leave work.” But, again, nada.

The following morning, I receive an e-mail from J containing the exact same excuses. Petulant and keyboard happy as ever, I cannot resist the knee-jerk response: “Not looking for great dates at this stage. Or excuses. Or promises of phone calls.”

The End.

As usual, I search for possible reasons for this latest failure. I ponder, for example, whether having been bolder, more forthright, more Israeli, and having made a move in the second date tapas bar might, just might, have paid dividends. Most Israeli guys would have in the first date pub. (I take with a pinch of salt, these days, the Israeli woman’s oft-heard assertion that she likes English manners. They most like what they are used to.)

There is little, however, to be gained from idle speculation or self-flagellation. But why is it so damn difficult to meet a nice, genuine, uncomplicated woman in this city? Yes, yes (you slaves to your therapists), I know: I must take my share of the responsibility. It must be my fault, too. And sometimes it is. But more often, like this time, it just isn’t.

Finding attractive women in Tel Aviv is, of course, not a problem. Walking its streets and boulevards, or whiling away the hours in its cafés and bars, most male visitors (of a heterosexual bent, at least) come to believe that they have found themselves in some kind of female wonderland. Indeed, so high is the general standard of totty here that many people (or, at least, those who don’t know me that well!) cannot understand why I am still single, or not, at the very least, having a lot more fun than I am (but it’s sex with someone I love!) And I can understand their bemusement: stick your very average Tel Avivit– one whom an Israeli guy would not look at twice – in a London “Jew do,” and the males will think that all their Hanukkahs have come at once.

The empirical evidence, however, can be more than a little misleading. And dating Israeli women, while often enjoyable, even memorable, rarely comes – for the non-native, at least – without substantial challenges, stresses and aggravation. Indeed, the lure of more attractive, hotter blooded females – accompanied, as it usually is, with better, more frequent, and certainly swifter (as in earlier, rather than shorter) rumpy-pumpy – is offset by behaviour that can range from the puzzling to the downright objectionable.

So, for the uninitiated, here are a few tips – of a “do as I say,” rather than “as I do,” nature – gleaned from my experiences dating Israeli women and, especially, Tel Aviviot (who, as with Jews, are “just like everybody else, only more so”) . . .

Don’t even attempt to understand them. It isn’t possible. This is even truer of Israeli women than of the fairer [snort!] sex in general. You will have great dates after which they won’t answer/return your calls, and dire ones following which they will demand to know why you haven’t called.

Don’t be shocked by anything. From inappropriate, even outrageous, remarks and conversation on the date, to last minute (and I mean minute!) cancellations before it (see previous posts: T.A. Woman: Feeling a Lemon in the Big Orange, Suicide is Painless: Dating Etiquette in the Holy Land, and The Tel Avivit’s Subtle Art of Seduction). First date sex is also far from unusual here: if you are a nice Jewish boy from a nice Jewish community – like North-West London, for instance, where “getting to know” a Jewish girl on a first date would be far more newsworthy than anything on the front page of the JC – but that is what you are after, Aliyah may be the best move you ever make!

Take any criticism levelled at you, but (unless you are planning to dump them anyway) avoid the temptation to give any back. Most Israeli women can’t take it. I recently went out with a Rebecca, who, on our second date, and without warning, saw fit to pat the (negligible) protuberance from my t-shirt. “Yesh lecha keress!” (you have a pot belly), she exclaimed, clearly delighted with herself, as if having discovered a new planet. When she brought up the subject again, on the fourth date – evidently, neither my ‘corpulence’ nor Rebecca’s ‘frankness’ were deal breakers (40-something beggars, especially, can’t be choosers) – I was better prepared: I informed her that I like my breasts large (not true, incidentally), and enquired whether she might be willing to go under the knife for me. Her face! What a picture! She looked like she had just swallowed a Beit Hashita hot pepper whole. (Neither did Rebecca care for me asking her not to throw every scrap of food that she wanted to bin to Stuey and Dexxy instead, thus reducing her sorties to the garbage . . . though she had absolutely no problem telling me that it was inappropriate to joke with her 5-year old daughter about locking her in the fridge (was it?))

If you feel that you are being used, that is because you probably are. I also recently dated a Maya, who demanded a detailed date plan (verbal) ahead of each of our meetings. And she vetoed many of my suggestions (especially of dining options), leaving me with the distinct impression that she saw me as a kind of TimeOut Tel Aviv with a MasterCard . . . or, more accurately, she was the TimeOut, I was the MasterCard.

Multiple date. It is almost an unwritten rule that simultaneous/multiple dating is fine until you have been on three or four dates with the same person (and, sometimes, even after you have had sex). Nearly everyone here – or in Tel Aviv, at least – does so, so put your chutz la’aretz (out of Israel) values to one side and get on the same playing field! And as a corollary . . .

Keep notes. I once simultaneously dated a woman with an Afghani mother, and another with an Afghani ex-mother-in-law. I got my wires crossed, and mentioned the wrong one to the wrong woman. This might not seem a particularly big deal when dealing with Afghani matriarchs (and I extricated myself easily), but it would have been a huge one if I had referred to the wrong date about ­– and this is not an invented scenario – the inspection, by JFK security on ‘her’ departure from the US, of the other’s collection of dildos. I would even recommend keeping a brief, identifying note following each name in your mobile phone: an age thing perhaps, but I find it harder and harder to remember, and to differentiate between, Hebrew names. Not so long ago, I called the wrong woman, informing her that I was on my way to pick her up. “What are you talking about?!” she squealed. Realising my mistake, I panicked and hung up, and, there being no way back from that, deleted her details from my phone.

You may well, by this stage, be asking yourself why you would possibly want to heed the dating advice of a single 44-year old who lives with his two dogs . . . and you’d be quite right!

Good luck.

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32 responses to “Dating Israeli Women: A Guide by the Perplexed

  1. Mike in reading this article I can really understand and sympathise with your deep and ongoing frustration with Israeli dating. The women ARE usually very beautiful but they’re mostly temperamental too – probably in direct correlation. In my experience the latter is even more true after the match has been made.

    On a separate note I consider your statement “a single 44-year old who lives with his two dogs” reveals one problem. Being bolder hopefully we can agree Stuey and Dexy are not the same type of dogs as the well pampered breeds we see in North London. So I wonder whether the dogs’ persistent ‘enthusiasm’ might be fouling things up?! Could you not consider leaving Stuey and Dexy with a friend/your mother/kennels for a few days/weeks whilst undertaking some serious dating? Just try going solo for a few days/dates and I am certain your luck will change. After that you could gradually introduce the dogs and even decide whom you prefer…..!

    Oh another tip – women like going somewhere warm on a date in winter, preferably to a room with a fireplace….

  2. Mike

    As you know I normally refrain from commenting on this particular kind of post but I feel I have to make an exception and state that I totally agree with John. Clever guy. What else did he say to you?

    Regards

    John

  3. I hear you, and as a non-native Israeli woman, I actually understand and sympathize far more than you’d think. Not that I’ve been on the dating scene for a good few years, but some things are like riding a bicycle. Or falling off one. You never forget how, or what happens.

    I’ll resist the urge to speak of the men who say they’ll call but don’t call; or those who look you up and down and then invent prior engagements and disappear throwing old men and children behind them; or those who see you as some kind of cross between Marge Proops and a Jewish confessional booth — and then expect you to drop trou as if hearing of his 3 ex-wives and suspected herpes wasn’t any kind of a turn-off. No, no, I shall bite my… well, finger, I suppose.

    W/r/t English manners, and the professed love of same by the Israeli women — I think they like the fact that you say “please” and “thank you”, with maybe even the occasional door opening, or “No no, after *you*. However, I don’t think they (all Israelis, regardless of gender) get anything beyond that — expectations of behaviour, things one just *doesn’t do* and so on. Next time someone says they “prefer” or “appreciate” English manners, bear in mind that in reality, they know not of what they speak. 😎

    PS The Blind Date from Hell — a story that no one has ever managed to top.
    Back in the day (and we’re talking a good 17 years ago), I met someone on the phone — persistent wrong number, or he was staying a friend’s flat or something, I forget. On the blind date that followed, I learned these salient and essential dating facts, which I will share in the hope that they will help you:
    1. How sexy someone sounds is usually inversely proportional to how cute they are.
    2. When someone asks you if you have butter in the fridge, it may not be quite the preamble to kinky wild fun that it sounds.
    3. Anyone who will floss their teeth with a stray fallen hair pulled from your sweater is not second-date (or sponge) worthy.

    Don’t say I never give you anything. 😉

  4. I agree with TrollMamma’s comments 100%…as for you, Mike, my only advice is don’t loose hope and take it easier! I know exactly how you feel, but none of us ” non-israelis ” are going to change things here! And as much you might be attracted to one israeli girl, fat chance you’ll get along in the long run!Stick to your own kind, that’s the way to go, I think…

  5. Daniel Epstein

    Mike, great seeing you last week at an event that must surely have restored your faith in human nature! And for such a nice bloke!

    I believe that you have no further recourse than to try the comprehensive shidduch track, with full-on chaperone and clandestine video/audio recording for review and improvement.

    The Stepford series illustrates the beauty of this approach!

    In all seriousness, though, I tihnk that there would be many a girl (not necessarily a Tel Avivit) who would do well to get to know you.

    Really wish you luck on the continued journey, but, in the meantime, we all get to benefit from exceptionally sharp litererary genius!

    Best, D

  6. Daniel Epstein

    By litererary, I obviously mean literary. But life wouldn’t be fun with out the odd spelling mistake.

    As the old politician once said: “Yesterday, we stood on the edge of a great abyss. And today, we have taken a giant step forward.”

    And John has always been a source of excellent advice, even if it can be a bit “taxing” at times. But “True and Fair” all the time!

  7. Hadi Ben-cohen

    Mike great article and is thought provoaking!

    Have you ever try the line at end of date, “must go home now, like they saying in old provverb……..early to bed and up with the Cock??”

  8. Just got off the phone from my dear mother, who is concerned that anyone would think, from my self-deprecating style, that I have never had a girlfriend.

    “You’ve had lots of lovely girls,” she reminded me. “And it was always you who finished with them!”

    So, it’s out there now, mum . . . and you can sleep soundly now. 😉

    “Stuey and Dex[x]y are not the same type of dogs as the well pampered breeds we see in North London”

    What are you trying to say, Jonathan?

    “What else did he say to you?”

    Haven’t a clue, John. I was too busy looking over your . . . sorry, his shoulder at the Rechov Hashmonaim lunch break talent parade!

  9. Your story is a slightly less rude version of what I heard from a guy once who made the effort to drive from Haifa to Tel Aviv to go on a JDate. The woman opened the door, took one look at him and said: ‘Lo matim li’ (for non Hebrew speakers: Doesn’t suit me’) and closed the door in his face.

    I think that anyone (male or female) who’s looking for a serious relationship needs to stay far away from the born and bred extremely self-involved Tel Avivis and look outside the big village. After all, how can you ever dedicate yourself to another person when you’re already so clearly obsessed with yourself?

  10. Mike, give me a call .I have someone for you, who would love to go out with a personable fellow like you.She`s not Israeli born, older than you, but very attractive.You can get my number from Sh.I`ll be away till the 25th.Call me then.(If you`re still unattached).

  11. Michael Aminzadeh

    Ahalan ahalan hadi neshama! Ma nishma?

    Why havent you been to visit us in wykeham? I told charlotte all about you… but said you are not as primitive as you sound. Baruch hashem.

    I also asked the rabbi in hendon sinagogue if it is okay if i bring another persian one shabbat (so that they will not be over there sefardi quota). He said no problem. Very nice man. Baruch hashem.

    Shabat shalom habibi… and talking of “up with the Cock” please send my deepest best wishes to your raheli!

    Michael

  12. Mike
    When it comes down to it, there is only one fundamental law in dating women (Israeli or otherwise) and it is this: If they like you, you can do no wrong. If they don’t like you, you can do no right. This golden rule is sine qua non and supersedes all others.

  13. Wow! Thanks, Ben! All so very clear now. And, just to think, I was about to waste thousands of shekels on a therapist . . . but, wayderrrminit, what if they are not sure yet if they like you or not?! Take eight sides, you wretch! You’ve wasted our time . . . now I am going to waste yours!

  14. I don’t think you can afford to rubbish any comment that includes “sine qua non”, even if the expression is followed by what is, at best, a tautology and, at worst, a totally inappropriate word under the circumstances. Make that sixteen sides.

  15. . . . eight on Obedience, and eight, perchance, on Sensible and Decent Behaviour?!

    Ex-Hasmos’ command of foreign languages – before Dave Meyer’s new broom, of course – is probably not dissimilar from Del Boy’s* . . .

    *That does not, however, apply to those of us who went through law school . . . on which note, I bid thee all a caveat emptor.

  16. Hey Mike

    Just to say though I (guiltily) enjoyed your latest posting on dating Israeli women.

    (Guiltily because I feel bad that you’re single and searching and all your readers see your quest to find your mate as a source of entertainment.)

    They say misery loves company so you should swing by and see the blog a friend wrote about HER Jdate experiences.

    You’ll find her musings at http://www.jadeddate.blogspot.com and there are some pretty good postings.

    I especially enjoyed her account of ‘The Accidental Second First Date’ and ‘Dating As A Blood Sport’ but there are some other gems here too.

    The friend who wrote it DID find her ‘besheert’ in the end but through a fix-up and not Jdate so I’d remain open to this.

    Not that I am knocking Jdate, I might add, as I found my one and hopefully only through the site.

    Don’t pay too much attention to MY story though as I’m told that my experience is what internet dating fairy tales are made of.

    Why?

    I signed up on Friday….my partner (loathe the word ‘boyfriend’ when over the age of 15) contacted me on Saturday…we met a couple of days later and both cancelled our subscriptions on Wednesday.

    Do you hate me?

    You may find it comforting to know though that my partner had been Jdating without success for 4 years before he met me so you DO have to give it time.

    My advice?

    (Not that you’re asking for it but blogging about your personal life creates an intimacy that makes me feel I can offer my opinion.)

    Listen to your friends and find an English speaker….and ideally I mean a REAL English speaker and not an American.

    (Ooh that is NOT going to go down well with your many American readers but the differences between the two groups go way beyond their mispelling of words like colour and metre.)

    Believe me, relationships are hard enough without bringing in cultural differences, and Israelis really ARE different.

    My Jdate success story?

    A nice Manchester boy.

    How can I resist a man with that funny accent???

    Good luck and keep us all posted!

    Lisa

  17. Mike
    A woman always knows if she likes you or not. Most decide whether they intend to sleep with you within 5 minutes of meeting you (subconsciously in the case of some).

  18. Eugene Monkleton-Montefiore

    “Most [women] decide whether they intend to sleep with you within 5 minutes of meeting you”

    i am sure in your case, ben, it doesn’t take them that long. talk about full of it…

  19. Mike I’ve been reflecting on this all week and want to suggest an idea that worked on a blog in the UK. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/series/my-love-life-in-your-hands. After a lot of tribulation it all worked out well in the end for him. So I’m suggesting you get us all much more involved with your dating. I’m not saying this idly but there’s such a lot of good advice regularly being offered to you on this subject from your readers that I think collectively we might be able to change your luck. So why not give us an active role? You could use surveymonkey to collect and count votes.

    I say this because I for one want to play a role no matter how remote or vicarious in helping you find happiness.

  20. You clearly haven’t been reading melchett mike for long enough, Jonathan . . .

    https://melchettmike.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/do-i-or-dont-i-melchett-mikes-marriage-poll/

  21. Mindy Orenstein Ebb

    Mike,
    People go to casinos for the same reason they go on blind dates – hoping to hit the jackpot….1) end up broke, & 2) end up broken hearted. Freud, (although pseudo-scientific and sexist) didn’t understand women; quote:
    The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is “What does a woman want?”… so why should you??!
    I truly sympathise; it’s tough out there!
    Mindy

  22. Mindy

    How, in heaven’s name, would you know? You and Jonny found each other when you were 14!

    Give him a hug from me

    John

  23. Hi Mike, I can totally relate to you. I am 27 yrs old and I made my aliyah from London about 14 months ago. I am secular and I am also living here in Tel Aviv. Being younger certainly isn’t easier. Trying to find a nice, attractive, educated, single girl between 24-30 here in Tel Aviv is almost impossible. I have a good job and have alot of friends but all the girls seem to be taken. Like you, I previously had dates but nothing went further then the first or second, same excuses as you. Too busy at work, pressure, not feeling it – usual rubbish! I get the feeling that the girls here just do not like us guys from London. I am sure if I was Israeli I wouldn’t be having this much trouble. Ok, I never thought it would be easy, but I didn’t think it would be this hard. And please, lets stop this myth that there are loads of single girls here in Tel Aviv, there are not!!!!!!!!!

  24. you are a very funny writer. and you definitely cheered me up today with this blog!

  25. Re my “If you feel that you are being used, that is because you probably are” tip (above), here is an excellent illustration from this morning . . .

    I had agreed to meet this Israeli woman (a JDater) in Ramat Gan, today, for coffee. But, when it came to arranging the logistics just now, it became apparent that she saw the date (our first) and, more importantly, my car as her way of getting to the Hilton gym afterwards (she is carless).

    While I could easily have gone along with her plan (and she does look a babe from her facebook photos), I refuse to let these women take the piss (perhaps “take me for a ride” would be the more apt idiom). I informed her that I saw the purpose of the date as getting to know one another . . . not for me to ferry her around Tel Aviv (and on a busy Friday).

    So . . . coffee anyone?! 😉

  26. William, I understand that a senior partner at your “good job” has identified you, in spite of your nom de plume, as the commenter (three) above. Should he give you any aggravation, however, in that regard, I would merely inform him that he is the second “Top Recent Commenter” to melchett mike . . . after me!

  27. That is why in Israel I only go with non-Israeli women. The arrogance and self-centeredness of the Tzabarit is disgusting to my Anglo mind. And sure Tel Aviv has lots of lovely women – but so has Paris and London and New York City by far puts all three cities in the shade.

  28. A year after the article has been published things didn’t change and even amybe got worse, as people began using mobile dating applications, which have increased their “mobility”.

    One of the reasons to make aliyah was to find an Israeli, good looking jewish wife, and dating scene for non-israelis here now looks somewhat disappointing comparing to other countries.

    Two conclusions I made so far that may help to foreign guys in Israel:
    1) Date non-israelis who moved to live in Israel
    2) Find and date Israeli women who lived 1 and more years abroad – most of them already like European, American style of mating games and start to prefer foreign guys to locals. There are not many of them, but they do exist.

  29. I am, actually, an Israeli girl – Tzabarit (not even close to 40, though, and staying well away from Jdate, oh, and even -sadly?- do not have “olive skin” etc, plus I do not go around calling myself Meurav Yrushalmi…) – probably not exactly the target audience of this post, but, since I did cringe internally a few times while reading this, I thought I’d better comment.

    Many of you – and also in the article- claimed that “Israeli girls are proud” – this one is not a fact, but a interpetation of forgeiners coming to Israel. The thing is, at least the way I see it, in Israel, most girls don’t usually start dating as early as they do in the States – but mostly, it’s the fact they don’t want to feel cheap\easy. It feels and looks dirty, to an “Israeli eye” (I know, I can’t believe I just wrote that – but still, in general). So, while in the US you might have to dance shirtless publicly in order to feel you have been in some way damaged, in Israel skidding along too quickly aside a guy you just met may be trigger enough.

    I feel sate saying that Israeli girls are not prouder or have a better self-esteem than any other female population in the world (unfortunately, for me at least…)

    Many of you say that they had experience dating or hitting on Israeli girls. I have experience from the “other side” – and let me tell you – being approached to by an american tourist does not feel good.

    They don’t know when to stop, and are not even remotely subtle.

    I really don’t know how to explain this, except – they walk around with an “I Just Met My One Night Stand” face, and look at you as if you’re a stripper and the song just started.

    Even in this artical, the writer feels completely at ease with nicknaming vast portions of Israeli female population as pieces of meat! (I am not the world’s biggest feminist, but, still – really?! Do you hate Israeli girls that much?)

    You have to remember – Israeli girls grow up (and accourdinaly, feed their romantic dreams) on American movies. (Which is, BTW, a fact, not just some talkbackist’s opinion) That’s just the culture. So many times when they imagine that knight in shining armour or Mr. Right, Mcdreamy or whatever his nick is – the guy speaks English. (in a profound native accent, too. American or British, whatever the girl digs – you see my point: as far as starting points go, it’s pretty much as good as it can get.)

  30. hey melchettmike ,is it your name even..doesnt matter, i dont know why i love israel and females arent bad as well,actually prettiest on the earth orat least prettiest i layed my eyes on…i am planing to travel in israel in the end of the year and i dont know for how long…everyone who has been there are sceptic and afraid of their lives…but what is life,its in the hand of God anyway,…im 31 by the way and id like to talk more if you dont mind you can write me in my e mail kristjaneskor@hotmail.com

  31. to melchettmike..if you are not female ,,proboably not then ignore the last part of the last comment,cause im not gay i really thought youre a female but tips for traveling israel are most welcome anyway

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