18 Feb Dating and Relationship Advice
Dear Rabbi and Shira,
Thanks for your column. I look forward to reading it each week in The Jewish Vues.
Here is my issue. At what point should a person start dating? My parents are starting to intimate that it’s time by sending me not so subtle hints. “Oh Mrs. Cohen’s son started dating, wasn’t he in your class? Mrs. Klein called asking when you’re dating. What about Mrs. Weiss’ daughter? She’s dating now.” I am only 22. How do I know I’m ready?
Ready or Not on in the Rockaways
Dear Ready or Not,
There are many ways to date and find your spouse. There are some communities which date once or twice and then they marry. There are others who date for a bit longer and will go out 10-12 times. Then there are communities which assign no specific number to the amount of dates. It is important to consider the community’s guidelines, especially when dating in that community. In a community where it is done rather quickly, one should keep in mind that he can be engaged just a few months after starting the dating process. At the same time, it is important to remember that while there are guidelines each person is different, and some individuals need more or less time than others to decide.
The most important question you should ask yourself before starting to date is, “are you ready share your world with someone else?” This question can be split in two components. Do you have the emotional sensitivities to begin caring for someone else and do you have a financial plan?
In terms of finances, do you have concrete plans? Did you go to college? Graduate school or a trade school? Did you get an apprenticeship for a specific career? Do you have your own business or are you working for someone else? In other words, are you ready to support yourself and your significant other? Do you have any savings? Are your parents in a position to help if you are not ready to support your family? If so, are you interested in receiving assistance? Have you considered the expectations which might come along with familial financial support?
Even after the financial angle has been discussed, you must consider the emotional portion as well as it is just as important. Are you prepared to share space and time with someone else? For example, how do you feel about someone eating the last piece of pizza? Finishing the soda? Have you ever shared a room and space with someone else? What was your experience? Can you welcome someone else into your world?
How are your communication skills? Do you know how to speak about your feelings, needs and expectations? If you are not the best communicator, are you ready to learn how. Are you prepared to listen and accept an opinion which is different to yours? How do you act and react when things don’t go according to your plans? Are you ready to make decisions with someone else that could impact you and your family for years to come? If you feel you need help in any of the areas mentioned, speak to a therapist for guidance.
Are there outstanding mental health or emotional issues which you have not resolved? Have you begun to see someone about them?
You do not need to have the answers to all the questions. What’s important is that you need to begin thinking about them seriously keeping in mind some of the questions may take a lifetime to master. These questions will help you understand yourself and what you will need to do in order to prepare for the next stage in life.
We wish you much Hatzlacha!
Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack