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Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dating Differences

e-kvetcher asked me recently (in private correspondence): "I don't know if you were in any non-trivial relationships prior to becoming Orthodox. If you were, how would you describe the differences (obviously other than the blatantly obvious ones)." I did have a couple serious relationships prior to becoming frum, and have thought a bit about his question. The truth is, I don't think that the differences in secular dating and Orthodox dating are so severely different as the frum world would want you to believe. Now, part of that is because of the circles that I associate with - I am not in the FFB, yeshivish, shadchan-using, teenage dating circle. I would imagine (since I don't know first-hand) that that world is significantly different. I think it's quite different from what my current dating circles. Just to give some background, I tend to date by being set up by friends, through the Internet, or by having met someone in a social situation. If there is a shadchan involved, it usually doesn't last past a couple dates, and often there is not one at all. I tend to think that at my and my date's age, assuming that we are mature enough for marriage, we are mature enough to communicate with each other like adults about whether we do or do not wish to continue dating. And so far, I can't say that not having a shadchan has seemed to make a lot of difference. I also don't tend to do an extensive background check on the person I am dating before I speak with them. I have found them to be fairly unhelpful, especially before meeting a person. After a date or two, I sometimes do choose to speak with a person who is close to the guy I am dating, because I have found that at that point, I have a clearer idea of those issues I think might be presenting themselves, and I find I get better information when I know what to ask about. Before meeting a person at all, I find that I am told that the guy is nice, sweet, helpful, a mensch. When asking specifics about personality or interests, I am told that they are smart, nice, a mensch. I don't usually get information that distinguishes them from any other guy, and this is even when I have someone asking for me that knows me extremely well and knows how to ask. So I have to admit that I do go into things fairly blindly at times. In general, I try to have my non-negotiables met before meeting someone - the guy is reasonably intelligent, mature, open-minded, seemingly a mensch. The big difference that I have found in Orthodox dating and secular dating is the focus. In Orthodox dating, most (and I do mean most, not all) of the people you date do want to (or think they want to) get married. In the secular world, that isn't necessarily the case - a lot of people just date to date. But in the Orthodox world, where the majority of the people aren't sleeping around, dating isn't so much fun, and most people want to get it over with. That doesn't mean that the Orthodox world is devoid of the singles who are commitment-phobic, but I do think that there is a greater focus on actually progressing the relationship along. But this focus does seem to speed dating along at a faster pace than in the secular world. The other huge difference that I have found (though I have to admit that I have not experienced being single in the secular world in a long time, and when I became frum it was at an age where I certainly wasn't getting pressure to get married yet) is that the community really does make an effort to get me married off. When meeting people at Shabbos meals, at shiurim, or just randomly, I can see many people's minds spinning in effort to think of a guy for me. Many ask me straight out what I am looking for, what my background is, and some even follow up on it. The community feels for its singles, and wants to see them married. I don't think it's the same in the secular world. But again, it comes back to the issue of focus - focus on marriage as an ideal station in life. Dating itself hasn't seemed to be too terribly different. The main difference in dating itself, at least for me, and again, this is probably due to the fact that I was pretty young and not focused as much on dating before I became frum, is just in the way that I meet guys. Before I was frum, I found that I was much more dependent on just meeting someone randomly in a social situation, and I didn't date nearly as often. I have to admit that I didn't have a ton of dating experience before being frum, and I wasn't terribly focused on marriage beforehand either. So, e-kvetcher, that's the best I can do. Anyone else think there are big differences?


  • There is nothing I can add. I am not now (and have never been) frum.

    I just wanted to add my good luck and good wishes to you as you date. I know it can be a drag. Hope you are enjoying meeting lots of different men and that you find your besheret soon.

    By Blogger Stacey, at 8/18/06, 11:32 AM  

  • Thank you Stacey, I really appreciate it.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 8/18/06, 3:02 PM  

  • Don't let my blogger name make you think I'm on the wrong page Shoshana...I have a 29 year old Jewish coworker that I am trying to find a wife for. Not sure where you live in NJ but he lives in Philadelphia...Oh heck, just call me a matchmaker. I am a devout Catholic and he and I always lament the difficulty in finding religious significant others...Just thought I'd put this out there...

    By Blogger CatholicLady, at 8/18/06, 3:16 PM  

  • Catholic Lady -
    If you send me an e-mail, or have your co-worker do so, I would be happy to discuss it privately.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 8/18/06, 3:27 PM  

  • I think the biggest difference is the focus. The secular world encourages developing and nururing an emotional connection to the exclusion of almost anything else for the first several months (at least). You're encouraged to relax and have fun and definitely discouraged from figuring out if risk tolerances or views on religion/money/etc would be compatible in a marriage. Determining "sexual compatibility" is given a high priority. The less romantic aspects are to be worked out gradually, frequently over the space of a year or more. It's considered to be the "kiss of death" to seem too focused on getting married. Even saying that you're actively looking to get married is considered a sign that you're "desperate."

    By Blogger Ahuva, at 8/21/06, 11:08 AM  

  • Ahuva -
    I agree, mentioning marriage seems, to many in the secular world, to be seen as desparate and too pushy. I have a friend who lives with and has been with her boyfriend for over 5 years now, and every time she mentions marriage, he gets upset.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 8/22/06, 11:59 AM  

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