Av 5759 – How to Know When to Begin Dating

15 Menachem Av 5759

Dear Chana,

I recently came back from seminary and am now in college. Personally I decided that I wasn’t ready to start dating right away even though it seems that the rest of my classmates are dropping like flies! There are a few reasons why I didn’t start:

1] I didn’t want to date just because everyone else was, even though I felt the pressure a little bit, because I knew I wasn’t ready for such a big step.

2] I have an older sister who is not yet married. That’s where the problem comes in. My older sister has been dating for a while but she’s still young [only 22]. I don’t want to get married before her so I decided to wait. We discussed the possibility that I might start dating and she told me that she didn’t mind and that I shouldn’t wait for her. I decided that if something came up that sounded good, I would consider it. Now that I started dating, I see that it hurts her a lot, even though she doesn’t say so. I don’t really want to wait, but I also don’t want to hurt her. What should I do?

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. It’s really comforting to know that there is someone out there that is there to listen. I really appreciate it. [Name withheld to protect privacy]
Bnot Torah Institute 5758

I have a question dealing with dating. I just got back from seminary this past year, and people keep asking me if I am ready to date. I tell them that I don’t know yet.

Then, there are issues with college and marriage. My 3 brothers are married, and I am the only one left. I don’t know what to think or say. I would like to go out and see how it is, but I don’t know if I want a guy who will work or also learn.

I had to go to alot of highschools because I have a small learning disability, and different places didn’t work out for different reasons. Will that be a problem for me in dating?

Thanks for your time.
[Name withheld to protect privacy]
Bnot Chayil 5759

My father recently asked friends to recommend a shadchanit for me, and I am not sure how ready I am to go on a shidduch. I was told to at least try it out first to see for myself, but isn’t that toying with a serious thing? I’m not exactly sure of what I should know before dating. For example – do I want a full time learner in kollel or someone who both works and learns? I have so many fundamental questions. I don’t think that I am ready yet! How confusing!

I always felt like I was ready to date, but when my father told me he found me a shadchanit, I became scared. I can’t believe that I am at an age and stage to even seriously consider it. Could you help me? [Name withheld to protect privacy]
Bnot Chayil 5759

Dear All,

Dating is certainly the call of the hour! This time period of life can be quite confusing, as there is much to consider and comtemplate.

How does one know that she is ready to date? These might be some indicators – ask yourself these questions: Do I know who I am? Do I see my positive Middos, and the ones that are not so positive, in a clear light, and am I working on both? The pre-dating stage should be a time to learn about yourself and enhance. Also, understanding yourself better and knowing what you are made of can help you see with a clarity more of who you need to be looking for – in terms of being mashlim YOU in certain areas.

Do I know where I am headed? Have I thought about life goals, and what is really important to live for? If you don’t know which direction you’re headed, this could be a big problem. People can’t build a life together unless they share a clear sense of the life they want to build. Shared life goals and shared values and priorities create a structure which unites 2 people and helps them make a life together.

So hashkafically:

Am I ready to really GIVE? Again, the pre-dating stage is one of discovery of oneself, going to classes and learning – applying it all to one’s life. It is more of a self-focused time. Am I ready to move from this stage? Marriage is very much other-focused. As we know, giving is truly what will bring the deeper, real love. Marriage really means [among other things] stepping outside of oneself and really trying to figure out what the other needs, lacks, and wants, this offers the opportunity to explore new ways of seeing, feeling, and behaving.

You also may want to take a look at my column from 1 Shevat – entitled ‘Yeshivish’ which gives some good pointers about priorities.

Getting the answers to these questions can give you a good idea where you stand with this topic.

Marriage is a mega-serious decision, which takes a lot of thought.

It is also a recommended idea to have a person who is older than yourself and married, whom you admire and respect, to talk to after the dates, and use as a sounding board. This really helps you clarify what you are thinking and feeling.

As far as [letter #1] your older sister, it seems to me that if you did discuss it with her and she agreed that you could date, it should be ok. If you are feeling very uneasy about it, perhaps you would want to talk with her again, but this time make sure that you voice your feelings about wanting to date now, and the two of you should talk it out honestly. Of course, if you do decide to continue dating, you must be very aware of what your sister might be feeling and treat the situations that come up with sensitivity and gentleness. Maybe you could get her to glance at my column from 1 Kislev – entitled “Dating and Sisters”. Hatzlacha to all of you, and may you find your Basherts at the ‘Sha’a Tova’!!!!!