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II.       Dating

“What about dating?” you’re wondering.

This part of your social life will probably change significantly.  One’s social life, as we’ve mentioned, is intended to be purposeful and constructive - and dating is no exception.

To a great degree, observant life is built around and emphasizes family; family means marriage.  Consequently, the purpose of dating is to get married.  It is not considered a social activity by itself, meant for fun and good times, but is a necessary preliminary to finding your life’s partner.

It is believed that G-d has designated a particular spouse for every soul He creates and our task is to find that person, known as our “bashert”. This doesn’t mean that dating can’t be enjoyable, just that it ought to be purposeful as well.  The Hebrew word “tachlis” (purpose) is used to convey this idea and so, observant dating is said to be tachlis oriented.          

Not only is the reason for dating different but the whole procedure probably varies somewhat from what you’ve been accustomed to.  Generally, there is a third party who acts as a go between. This person is referred to as a “shadchan” (matchmaker) and their role can range anywhere from proposing the “shidduch” (match) to just relaying information. With the help of a shadchan a lot of unnecessary discomfort and embarrassment can be avoided.

With the emphasis on finding one’s bashert, the primary goal on a date is to determine whether the person you are with is somebody with whom you could spend your life and raise a family.  Consequently, the notions of romance, infatuation and physical attraction become secondary considerations to how well you get along, shared values and common lifestyles.  The goal of a date then, is getting to know the other person as best you can instead of having a “great time”.

The activities of a date are therefore, often rather dull, since the primary focus is to get to know the person you’re with. Becoming absorbed in a great movie or riding a roller coaster can be a significant obstacle to meaningful conversation.  Often, an observant date consists of nothing more than going to a public place like a hotel lobby and talking.  As unexciting as this may seem, it accomplishes more effectively the goal of getting to know another person.

Perhaps the most difficult distinction, between secular and religious dating, involves the prohibition of physical contact between non-married men and women.  That’s right, no peck on the cheek, no holding hands, nothing!  Abiding by this rule, although challenging, helps to insure that you are establishing a relationship based on more than mere physical attraction and therefore, more likely to survive the myriad challenges married life brings.

 Statistically, observant Jews who marry, divorce significantly less than the rest of the population. They must be doing something right.        

 

Last updated on: 10/20/2017
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