Dating Advice

When you are looking for a shidduch (a suitable match) it is often confusing. Many doubts may enter a person’s mind. This is not necessarily a negative thing. The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s father, Reb Levi Yitzchak the kabbalist, wrote a letter to the Rebbe when he got engaged explaining that doubts and engagement go hand in hand. The union of soulmates is so high that the mind cannot grasp it. when something is higher than our intellect and beyond our understanding there is always an element of doubt. Such doubt is a positive thing, recognizing the miracle of finding your soul mate and acknowledging that it is a wonder that logic cannot process.
Doubts such as how can I know for sure this is my bashert? Will I really be happy my whole life? maybe there is someone better out there? these are normal doubts that generally disappear quickly after marriage.
Doubts based on personality issues, or problems you notice in the behavior , speech or yirat shomayim of the other person are things you should not ignore. You need to notice warning signals before marriage and check things out. Speak to your parents, and if necessary to a Rav or mentor to see how to proceed and if those things are really something to be concerned about .

Many times when dating, young people complain they don’t feel anything. Somehow the chemistry is not there. Well, it is very important to have what the Rebbe calls “hamshochas halev”: a pulling of the hearts. It is difficult to describe but basically it is a feeling that you are drawn to each other. There needs to be some physical attraction, some type of chemistry that you just click with each other and feel very connected on some level. Sometimes one will feel like they know this person from somewhere….as if they are not a stranger. (this is often because you were together in a past life, or you recognize your other half on a spiritual level). But these feelings may not manifest on the first date or even the second date. Don’t discard the shidduch without giving things a bit more of a chance. If after a bit of dating you still feel nothing special, the Rebbe suggested that people should date next to water or fire, as those things arouse emotions. And still if nothing works and no feelings develop, then the shidduch is most likely not meant to be.
You need to marry someone that you feel excited to be around, that you look up to and feel happy to be with. If you come home after a date and do not look forward to the next date, that is not a positive sign. If you don’t miss each other when apart, that is also not a positive thing. As you date the right person you should feel more and more excited, happy, and looking forward to seeing the person and spending more time together.

Some people describe finding their bashert as a feeling that they knew this person from before: they feel comfortable together, as if they recognize each other on some level. (Most probably they were married in a past life as well, hence the element of recognition in the sol).

Some people recognize their bashert immediately. Some do not. But even if its more hidden from a person, it does not mean the connection is not there. With time and enough dating you will start to feel that connection and that attraction, if it is the right person.

Choosing a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions of your life: date until you feel sure one way or the other.
But realize you will not find perfection in anyone. Be ready to compromise on things that are not so important for you. But do not compromise on issues of major importance.
Your spouse to be may not be on the same spiritual level you are, but as long as the person is committed to keeping the basics and is looking to grow, that is a good sign.Realize that love will grow: you dont have to feel head over heels in love before marriage. Love grows over time. You will eventually feel like one and cannot imagine life without the other. That is how the Lubavitcher Rebbe once described love. The infatuation many people feel before marriage is simply that : infatuation. Nevertheless it may serve the purpose of bringing two people together and being the push that makes you agree to marry. But it is not unusal to feel very little in the way of love before you marry. That is okay as long as you feel happy and secure and excited to marry this person.

If you cannot handle an angry person and the person you are dating has anger issues, you need to know if you can deal with that or it will be too much for you to live with. Be honest to yourself. Better to find out before marriage than after.
And very important: talk about everything. Do not ignore things or hide concerns. Discuss your concerns seriously. And ask a lot of questions. Do not waste time discussing the weather. Talk about tachlis! Discuss things that are relevant to your married life, your future, you children to be etc.

People often try to define themselves as being “modern”, or “chassidish” etc. etc.  All of that is not a way to choose a suitable shidduch.  We need to think about what we want in the future….in five or ten years from now, married with children, how do you want to see yourself and your household? If you want a proper observant home and to raise your children to be observant, then you need to put aside nonsense and look for a marriage partner who will share these values and you will grow in the same direction.  Just because you watch movies now, does not mean you will want to watch movies once you are married and raising your children. Just because you are lax now in how you dress, does not mean that is who you will be in five years from now once you are married. So think ahead. Think of what you would want ideally and not what you are doing now.

If a man does not have a set parnassa yet and is unsure about how he will make an adequate living, you need to discuss possible practical solutions. In other words, does he say he will work a few jobs to make ends meet if he has to? Does he say he wants to work in a particular field and will do what it takes to accomplish that? in general, the girl wants to ascertain if her future husband is a responsible person with at least some concept of what type of parnassa he would like to go into. It dos not matter if he is wealthy but it is important to discuss together what they both expect in terms of managing expenses of life. If a bochur expects his wife to definitely work to help bring in money, it may not be realistic once children come along. All these matters should be discussed in advance so each knows what the other expects and wants.

Although many people who try to make matches are successful, they do not always go about it the best way. People randomly throw people together: this one is the same age, let’s try. You are nice, he is nice, go for it.  There is no true compatibility. Part of the problem is that nowadays most shadchanim or matchmakers do not get to know the people they are matching. They may ask a few superficial questions (if indeed they even meet the potential couple) but they do not try to understand what each side is looking for. They push for matches that may not be compatible at all but that is all they have in their data base….

Or they may see that, for example, a boy is struggling with making a decent living and he is afraid to get married and commit to financial obligations. A good match maker will try advising the boy on looking for a better form of livelihood, or possibly studying something or learning a skill to increase his options….

Or perhaps a girl is getting older and wants a boy who is working, making good money and she refuses to date someone who is not well established. A good matchmaker should talk with the girl and see if she can help her form correct priorities,allowing her to be more open minded and look for a compatible boy, not for external matters.

There are many situations where the boys and girls are suffering but they suffer alone and they often become angry (even at Hashem), wondering why the right match does not come along. Few young people do proper self introspection to see what needs improving in themselves or how they can increase their blessings by changing expectations and so on.  Most young people are just frustrated and angry. So what often happens is they start going down in their standards, including their standards in Torah observance, thinking somehow that will make it “easier” to get married, which is not the case at all. They may work against themselves, destroying their own reputation, and then it becomes a vicious cycle. They no longer feel worthy of someone on a “higher” level and yet they don’t want to settle for someone who is not a real mentch….it becomes difficult and they lose hope many times.

Part of the problem is the attitude in today’s society. There is a lack of bitul. There is a lack of kabbolos ol. There is a lack of respect for elders. Young people often feel they know better. And they end up wasting years and years doing things that are unproductive and do not get them closer to their bashert.

Nevertheless, ultimately the only match maker is the Almighty. And it will happen when He decrees it to happen. Once the decree is made Above, the shidduch takes place below through whatever means Hashem decides.  Never give up hope . Never feel it wont happen. Keep a positive attitude. Keep busy. And be open minded. Do not reject because someone is not as beautiful (handsome) as you imagined. Do not reject because the person is not as rich as you want. Do not reject because the person is Sephardic (or Ashkenaz) and you are the opposite.  Give people a chance. Look for a mentch. The main thing is character. If character traits are good, that is worth a lot. Character is hard to change. Money status can change. Looks can be overlooked. Different customs can be learned and adopted. But changing one’s character is very difficult.

Realize that often with time and dating more you will develop the feelings and appreciation you are looking for….give yourself that opportunity. Do not reject too fast unless you are sure the person is not for you. It is always advisable to date at least two times to give each other a fair open minded chance. After only one date it is hard to figure out who the other person is , particularly since many people are nervous on their first date and may not make the best impression. Remember: look at the person for who he or she is. Do not go into a date with preconceived notions or with imagination of what you want .  Go into a date with an open mind to evaluate who this person is.  Look at whether this person has the same values and goals, has the type of character you want and need, and it does not matter if the person is sephardic or ashkenaz: what matters is who the person is and how you click together.
And keep in mind that even if a shidduch does not work out, it either is not the right shidduch, or not the right time and it will come around later at the proper timing.
There are many cases of women who got married older because their husbands were not religious yet or were not matured enough etc. There are cases of women who married much older because their husbands had to first get divorced before meeting them. We cannot see the whole picture so we cannot understand why things take time. But do not give up. Hashem has a soul mate for everyone.
But do not make yourself so picky that you reject everyone who is suggested based on silly reasons. Realize that many things will not be an issue after marriage. The yetzer hara tries to discourage shidduchim and will come up with many silly things that you may be obsessed about….and after marriage those issues simply will disappear. So you need to be able to separate what is really a problem or an issue for you, and what is perhaps imagination , anxiety or simply foolishness.
Be realistic, honest, sincere and pray a lot. With Hashem’s help you will find the one intended for you in this lifetime. May it be with good mazal and bracha!

Below is a beautiful letter the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote to a young girl in Montreal who was looking for a shidduch. It is practical and very sound advice and also addresses the idea of a “modern” boy etc.

Montreal, Que.

I received your letter in which you write about your attitudes and conflicts, concluding with the idea of coming to New York after Pesach and working here.

By way of preface, let me assure you that when I express my views on problems brought to me they are not binding on the inquirer. Similarly, I have no intention of depriving you of your own free decision and you need not fear as you write that if you do not follow my advice it would involve a disobedience that might be harmful, etc., G-d forbid. On the other hand, it should be plain that I try my best to give the best possible advice as it seems to me, one that would be best both in the material and spiritual interests of the inquirer, for which reason I would naturally like to see the advice accepted. However, it is by no means obligatory and you may continue to write to me in the future also without obligation and without apprehension of prejudicing your future.

The idea of your coming to New York to work, etc., does not appear to me to be advisable. All the more so in view of what you write about having become more settled and mature recently, which gives me reason to believe that you too will agree that the most important thing for you at this time is to settle down, with a good shidduch , one that is truly good, not in terms of external glow that often covers up internal deficiencies. Hence, you would be in a better position to make a sound choice of partner in life

if you did not have on your mind problems of adjustment to a new environment, a new crowd, etc. At the same time, since New York has a larger Jewish community and offers a large selection of eligibles, you should do as perhaps 90% of other girls do, namely, ascertain through friends and relatives, all preliminaries about the likely shidduch prospect, having first given these friends or relatives an idea of the type you are interested in. When such a candidate appears and the information about him generally corresponds with the type you have in mind, the arrangement of a meeting does not present a problem. The same applies to other cities where one has friends and relatives. This saves time and avoids disappointments and commitments, more so at any rate than by trying personally to find the suitable party. Since your brothers surely have friends not only in Montreal but in New York, too, you should ask them to do what they can along the lines suggested above. After you have met someone recommended to you by them, you can decide whether you feel interested in pursuing the acquaintance further. Having answered your first question, I wish t make some observations regarding certain points which you seem to mention as if by the way, yet deserve greater consideration.

Thus, you seem to be inclined towards a modern and religious type of person. But in our confused times, the term “modern” may mean different things and it is indeed used to describe viewpoints and attitudes which are often quite contrary and extreme. For example there is a “modern” trend among some young men and women which does not recognize any kind of orderliness or conventions or the usual commitments of society (the so-called “beatnicks”). At the other end of the extreme, there is the growing trend among Jewish young men and women, not only in New York but also in provincial towns, who insist on staring their married life, for several years at least, on the basis of the husband’s dedication to leaning Torah, except for several hours teaching, with the main economic support coming from a scholarship or Kolel and/or largely from the wife’s earnings.

I see from your letter that both extremes do not apply to you, but these are the most “modern” trends in the USA.

The real point I want to make is this. We live in very transient and changeable times; some may speak proudly of our “Atomic Age,” but the present age has not increased the sense of security and stability, especially for the younger generation; rather on the contrary. Young people are now more than ever groping for real meaning in life, instead of constant frustration. When one is about to enter married life and build a home, one surely wants it to be a Binyan adei-ad (everlasting edifice), as the text reads; it involves a total commitment of two young people to each other for the rest of their lives, their lives being still ahead of them. It is therefore necessary to find a partner for life that is secure, stable and steadfast in his outlooks, whose integrity and reliability as far as the most essential things in life are concerned will not waver or be affected by the changes in outlook outside the home. In other words, a most “un-modern” type of person. But in the final analysis what is important is not to be modern but to be happy and to enjoy a happy and harmonious life together with one’s chosen partner in life. Experience has shown that the more religious a young man is, the more stable he is and the greater therefore the chance of lasting happiness with him. It is necessary to weigh really essential things and values against non-essential, external aspects, and if one has to make concessions, common sense should clearly indicate where the concessions should be made.

One final remark. You write that your parents are worried about your desire for independence. This should be understandable enough, in the light of what has been said earlier, inasmuch as your parents realize what is happening outside. When the Almighty will bless you with your own home and your own children, you will appreciate the parental feeling and desire to spare one’s children the trials and tribulations and problems which they had experienced and overcome.

May the Almighty, Whose benevolent Providence extends to every one in particular, guide you in the path that is best for you in every respect.