Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dating- a dangerous game?

The advisory on dating should read: "WARNING- DATING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR RELATIONSHIP".

Nowadays, we spend longer than ever "getting to know each other" before settling into a long-term commitment (a.k.a. the M-word). Our liberal thinking encourages us to be open in and about our relationships. We have access to a wealth of articles, books, websites and TV shows that deal with relationships.

Yet, we see a particularly poor success rate. Break-ups are the norm and divorce rates have skyrocketed.

You know what they say, "If it isn't working- try something else".

Luckily, as Jews, we have access to methods that have stood the test of time. We are fortunate to have guidance on how to build a meaningful relationship, without much of the hurt and confusion that accompanies the conventional dating process.

Imagine you had some money and wanted to find someone with business experience to partner with on a new venture. Would you choose a partner suggested by your great-aunt (Boy, do I have a business partner for you...) and see if it develops into anything serious?

Would you ask a fellow to come over and fix your PC because you “spotted him at a bar after a few drinks and “he looked really nerdy”?

Many people think more carefully before signing a cell-phone rental contract than they do before investing time and emotion in a potential life's partner.

Why? People have a strong impulse to seek a partner. Evolutionists will tell you that it’s survival instinct. Judaism says otherwise.

Have you ever wondered why G-d first created Adam and then made Eve from his “rib”? Surely, the All-powerful could have just created a human couple, as He made male and female versions of every other living species.

G-d wanted us to realize that without a partner, we’re missing an intrinsic part of who we are. This creates the urgency within humans to find our “missing” part. Subconsciously, we feel anxious to find this “missing part” and we might jump at every “suggestion”, “phone number” or “good looking person” we encounter.

Choosing your life's partner is probably the biggest decision you'll ever make. It’s serious business, and a casual approach is counter-productive. You need to devise a dating-strategy and minimise your personal investment until you know that this is something worth pursuing.

So, here are a few pointers for a spiritual dating strategy:

1) Get serious. Appreciate how important this process is, and treat it with the proper respect. You'll have plenty of opportunity to enjoy life; don't compromise long-term happiness with "fun".

2) Research. Discreetly, find out some objective information about the prospective guy/girl. Do they share similar ideologies with you? What's their family like? What do their friends say about them? Are they ready to settle down?

3) Use your head. Feelings can be really tricky. People often tell me how they feel that everything is "right" about their partner, but they don't have "strong feelings". You may have had an expectation of what you would feel when you found the right person. Now, you're worried, because you're not feeling that way. Don't panic. Use your head and assess: Are the values and character traits that I'm looking for there? Is there a good reason I should not pursue this relationship?
Then make an objective, thought-through decision.

4) Look for guidance. Often, the problem is that your head is just as muddled as your heart. Find someone you respect and can trust, who knows you well and who has more experience than you do. Use that person as a sounding board to see if your fears/ expectations/ excitement are justified.
An objective opinion is very reassuring when you are caught up in the blur of emotion.

5) Connect to your soul. If you're working on discovering your soul mate, make sure that your soul is in gear. Judaism believes that marriage reunites two parts of a single soul. The more in touch you are with your soul, the easier it will be to detect your other half. Spiritual dating includes being extra focused on prayer, torah study and doing mitzvos during the dating period.

Of course, you can never "go it alone" anyway. An additional bit of Torah, prayer or mitzvah observance gets Hashem on your side. Then dating becomes advantageous to your relationship.


Rafael said...

I have to say this:
The TRUTH is that Judaism is about using material things for spiritual goals. BUT Jewish Jo'burg women (frum or not) only want money and more money and the newest car and newest cellphone etc While Jewish guys who can afford this just feed the addiction. There is so LITTLE spirituality in Jo'burg Jewish women, frum or not. They are generally false, shallow, childish, obnoxious, materialistic to the extreme and money obsessed.

These people are the children of parents who are probably married. But they have a 50/50 chance of at least one divorce. Read above as to why. Jewish Jo'burg women marry a LIFESTYLE not a soulmate. Soulmates are forever. Lifestyles change as soon as BMW brings out the next 3-series range.

If you chase a lifestyle, and not a soulmate, at least be open and honest about it and don't pretend to hide behind Jewish values as those are not Jewish values.

Anonymous said...

i've been there done that - tried to find happiness in lifestyle, though there is always the "knowing" that i was not happy - no matter how much i tried to convince myself. i've been blessed by finding my soulmate, and we share the same views, we're there for each other no matter what we own, do/dont do. the irony is i had to find what i didnt want in order to find what i did want, but that just makes every "horrible" event in my past worthwhile, because its let me be the person who i am now, and know what i do want. dont let outer "generalisations" dictate, its very easy to generalise, afterall its each individual's choice to "look" at the direction they dislike or not. be more involved in circles that hold higher value to the same values as yourself and dont let your head be turned towards that which you dislike. from having "been there done that" i can understand the attraction to the "lifestyle" - but having also found that it didnt bring any happiness (in fact it set a terrible 2 years of depression), i'd rather point to my event and hope that others might save themselves the trouble of fighting their way out of a depression. the main cause of my "attraction" to the wrong qualities was simple - not knowing what i wanted - this makes every superficial item seem like a treasure - when the truth is they are anything but. the easiest is to decide what it is you really really want - deep deep down - not surface superficially - the true happiness items are items that if you were stripped of everything you own or could do, you'd still be happy with yourself - money can come and go - we all get old, its what you're left with when all thats gone those are the true items that bring happiness - because no matter what anyone says/does/takes away you'll still be happy - those are the "possessions" i look to aquire - that way when the next 3 series comes out - guess what i'm still happy with everything i've got.

"lend a hand, not a finger."

Anonymous said...

i was wondering say that u have to b more in touch with your spiritual side while dating so you will b able to know if she's right but what if shes not being in touch with her spiritual side then how will u know if she s right ????

Rabbi S said...

> what if shes not being in touch with her spiritual side then how will u know if she s right ????

Interesting question. I think, if you really get in touch with your spiritual side, it would help you deal wirth exactly this type of issue.

From a deeper perspective: We believe that people who are destined for each other have a soul-connection. Your spiritual advancement should affect your future partner on a super-conscious level- and inspire her to be more open to spiritual development herself.

Oh- and by the way- women are often more spiritual than us anyway, even if they don't express in the way we expect them to : )

Anonymous said...

I do belive that it is not only women who marry into the "lifestyle" men do to but for me dating, marraige is a dangerous game as the society we live in places such pressure on people getting married, that in the end many relationships are so strained they end before they even began and at the same time many marraiges happen when they should never have happened in the first place. I from experience can say social pressure has to be the most dangerous game in dating, almost who can get to the chupa first i suppose. TGmy reltionship never reached that point... yes the pressure was enourmous is an understatement and being a young jewish girl i was rady to settle and give my all to someone who could only give me maybe of of what i gave emotionally back... Im sure u saying but why do that to yourself, well truth be told, beacuse i was to scared to be single and have to deal with the process of dating and above all marraige , the white dress, kids, a happy ever after is what any girl dreams of and add society in the mix and you have you have the perfect mix for a marraige disaster, the irony of it all is it is the same society when the divorce or relationship ends that are quick to turn and say "i knew they would never work."

Dating is a hard game and yes spirtitually we all can gain a lot my beoming more in tune with what we as an individual wants out of our religion (i had just started finding my way back when i met my ex and some how i stopped dead in my tracks on my religious venture) The one our soul mate, should bring out the absolute best in us and we in them,each act we share together should be done with love and respect and the idea of building alife together should never be one that is co-erced my outside social ideals but by that spiritual bond that connects the souls bringing them together as one.

My break up has been a very hard learning curve (yes depression included) it may be only a few weeks on but i know in my heart if it were not for society placing so much emphasis on marraige, on being in a relationship ,and if society did not get such a kick out of knowing whats happening with who , i most probably wouldnt have ventured down this path 2 years ago, i wanted to prove society wrong and instead i ended up giving my all to someone who i still love but know what love we shared was one that nevre benefitted wither of us (well maybe him more than me)

So please learn from my experince and remeber, Hashem has a greater plan for us all and the more i tune we are spiritually with him the more in tune we are with ourselves and the greater that chance is we have have meeting our soul mate.
DONT EVER SETTLE for someone because its what society dictates because you supposed now at the age etc, Only settle when your soul has found its true home , and that true home will only come when you are at home with yourself. Oh and lastly dont be afraid to date when u single again, i have mixed emotions but i know that whoever i do date even if its not more than once at least im one step closer to meeting home and knowing what i do and dont want.

PS. Rabbi i know i disappeared on the shiurs but from jan ill be back in full force