Parshat Behar: Dating Etiquette
By Sherrie B. Miller
In Vayikra Chapter 25 verse 17, the Torah commands: “And you shall not hurt (the
feelings of) one another and you shall fear Hashem, for I, Hashem, am thy Lord.”
Rav Hirsch explains that since the prohibition in an earlier verse (14) refers to
hurting another financially, this verse cannot possibly mean the same. Therefore,
Rav Hirsch concludes that it is an extension of the prohibition of hurting someone
in business dealings, which includes the prohibition of hurting someone’s feelings
either by words or by deeds. The latter affects body and soul while the former affects
merely money. Money can be repaid, but the possible damage ensuing from the compromising
of another individual’s self-esteem may be irreparable.
The dating period may be a lengthy period for some and for others may be brief.
In either case, this phase in our lives can and must be positively utilized as an
opportunity for self-growth and midot enhancement.
In the modern Orthodox world of dating, blind dates have become an accepted norm
whether it is through the Internet or through the inspiration of well-meaning friends.
The mindset in which we approach dating can be very telling of whom I am, rather
than whom the person is that I am going to meet. How do we treat others? Do we heed
the words of Hillel: “what is unpleasant to you, do not do to another?”
We can learn something new from everyone we meet. We can also learn something new
about ourselves! If we are willing to learn and practice new skills such as empathy,
patience, tolerance, humor, optimism and more, it will go a long way in preserving
the integrity of the person that I am dating while preparing us and laying the groundwork
for a viable and permanent marital relationship.
I’ve heard the following grievance from a number of singles. While they enjoyed
the date and would like to meet again, they are told: “you are really a nice person
but “not for me.” Saying to a person, that in an hour I can tell that you are not
worth knowing any further, causes great pain. I know countless couples who were
“convinced” to give it another chance, and “lived happily ever after.” First dates
are artificial often accompanied by stress and difficulty trying to make conversation
with a perfect stranger. Some people just need a bit of time to warm up!
To avoid generating hurt feelings:
Do your homework thoroughly. Be reasonably sure that this suggestion has real potential.
On a first date, give it all that you’ve got! Be enthusiastic. Show interest in
the other person by asking them questions about themselves. Be curious!
Don’t expect “instant chemistry.” Some times it’s there and sometimes it develops
with time. Have patience.
Unless the date was dreadful with tangible reasons, give it another chance. There’s
much more to this person than meets the eye. Deal with the disappointment that this
date was not exactly what you had in mind.
Invest time in looking your best. It shows that you care.
For the guys: invest the time to pick up and drop off your date at home. Besides
practicing how to put your wife on a pedestal, it will ensure your date’s safety.
Guys: if it is an evening date, invest in dinner within your budget, of course.
If not too long into a date, things are not going the way you’d like, never say
anything like: “oops, I just remembered that I have another appointment.” Exercise
restraint and self -control.
If you’ve decided after several dates that the match will not work, have the courage
to kindly tell the other person so without leaving them wondering if they will hear
from you again.
Having this noble goal in mind, to develop heightened sensitivity to others’ feelings
throughout the dating process, will most definitely increase and enhance one’s interpersonal
and intrapersonal skills. The benefits of this investment will bring us that much
closer to a most fulfilling and satisfying marriage.
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish matchmaker on SawYouAtSinai
and a dating coach in Jerusalem. She received her counseling degree from the Michlala
in Jerusalem and an M.A. in Jewish Education from Touro College. Sherrie is certified
by Midreshet Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital
couple’s counselor and Kallah teacher.