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” to the commonplace concerns of men on the New York dating scene: “How many dates before I should allow her to split the check?
” Irenstein doesn’t just answer their questions about the game; he shoves the men out onto the field.
“If I could work magic in your dating life,” Israel Irenstein says, “what would you have me change?
” We’re sitting at a table at Pret A Manger in Union Square, and Irenstein, a 35-year-old dating coach dressed neatly in a pale green Tommy Hilfiger button-down, is talking with Sam, a 29-year-old ex-Orthodox Jew.
Sam looks terrified behind his wire-rimmed glasses.
Clutching the strap of his bag under the table as if it’s the leash of an unruly dog, he displays an impressive commitment to deflection—responding to Irenstein’s personal questions by spouting perplexing theories, including, “A major aspect of the notion of getting better at dating is not about increasing the total numbers, but increasing the yield of the process.” ).
“Inexperience, having no identity, and having no understanding of the opposite sex.” That makes sense when you consider how insular the Orthodox communities are.
Premarital sex, even premarital touching, is prohibited.
’” says Lani Santo, the group’s executive director. “I met girls,” he says, “but I was constantly in the ‘friend zone.’ I had no clue how to take things to the next level.” When he met Irenstein at Footsteps, Irenstein invited him to a pool party. I started wearing blazers with jeans and the response I got was incredible. Girls would say, ‘You look so handsome.’” After a couple of hours of talking in circles with Sam, about whether or not he wants to be in a relationship (“some people do want a relationship, and some people don’t want a relationship”), about his dating experience (“I don’t know how you define that”), and about whether or not he’d like to just have some sex—OK, that one was my question (“That’s hard to answer because the answer has a lot of implied meanings”), Irenstein leads him out into Union Square to talk to some real live women.He was less interested in learning pickup lines and routines than he was in retraining his brain; he wanted to project self-confidence.Today, that’s what he teaches—that if you feel good about yourself, you’ll have an easier time with the opposite sex. A naturally outgoing person, Irenstein learned quickly and his dating life began to thrive.He remembers his 6-year-old coming home from school and telling him that non-Jews existed solely to witness the good deeds of the Jews.He’d wanted out of Hasidism for a while, but that was the day he pulled his kids out of school and laid plans to move.
Even married couples aren’t supposed to kiss, and they’re allowed sex only for purposes of procreation.