06 Feb DATING AND RELATIONSHIP ADVICE
Dear Rabbi and Shira,
I’m not sure what to do. I went out on a first date last week, and everything was going nicely. Despite the differences in our
backgrounds, we have a lot in common. Conversation was flowing well and we genuinely enjoyed our time together. When it came
time to pay the bill, I was horrified that she didn’t even attempt to offer to pay it. I took her to a fairly expensive venue, and I think
it’s only appropriate that she would at least offer to split the bill. In fact, the last three girls I dated offered, although I would never
allow them to. Is she not for me? Am I missing something?
Dear Check Please,
Thank you for writing. Dating cultures vary across different
groups. Behavior which might seem like a terrible faux pas
to you might be very acceptable in other jewish cultures. For
example, in other cultures it would be unthinkable that you
took her out to eat at a relatively expensive restaurant for a
first date. In those cultures, such a date would be assuming
a much more committed relationship, and one would never
expect their date to even offer to pay.
It’s always a good idea to explore both of your assumptions
when dating across background/ culture lines. Gaining an
understanding of each others’ worlds will help you overcome
misunderstandings. As you see in your situation, there are
assumptions as to the nature of the date, who will pay for it
and the venue. Many times, a person filled with righteous
indignation will say, “Well, everybody knows that you x or you
don’t y” The other party will respond, “says who? Noone that i
know.” Add some volatility and then shake well.
Generally, many conflicts emerge from a misunderstanding of
intent between the two parties. Due to this misunderstanding
each party reacts in a style reflecting their reaction to the fight
or flight response. The brains prepare for a conflict, losing
some capacity for rational and adaptive thought, and then each
party seeks to “win the fight.” Unfortunately in most situations
everybody loses. We tend to “go for the jugular” seeking not to
resolve the conflict, but to dismiss, belittle and deflate.
Most people are not wretches nor sociopaths, (although be
on the lookout, just in case) and when given the opportunity,
when something seems off or weird (of course there is no
excuse for abusive, or controlling behavior) there could be a
simpler misunderstanding occurring.
In situations like this, it’s good to take a breath and look for
what is being misunderstood. Follow each line of thinking
to the end. Is she a rude, overbearing person, assuming you
are there to pamper and shower her materially? Was that the
impression she gave off? Or was this a weird discordant note
over the melody of a wonderful evening?
If it was congruent with the rest of her personality, then we
believe that you have your answer. If not, was there someone
who set you up?
Maybe you could speak with them and unpack the whole
situation? If you just met, perhaps you might explore her
expectations of dating culture to get a more clear representation
of her expectations.
Good Luck and let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack.