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Sarah Bechor
Sarah Bechor

My two cents on dating: I think it makes sense

I am no expert but I made my share of mistakes when dating the first time around. In no particular order, I wanted to share some insights I have had along the way. Just some thoughts slash advice from me- an authorized, non professional woman who speaks her mind when her thoughts seem valid enough, based on her experiences: Take it or leave it. This isn’t scripture or law. Also, some of these things are truly embarrassing for me- like how could I have been so stupid? But let’s no go there right now. Also, this is geared to women but can also be applied to men, obviously 🙂 The “what not to do’s” are almost all examples of what I did, unless I say otherwise.

1.Check on the guy! In Hebrew it’s called birurim. Think it’s an extreme and “frum-thing”? It’s not. Check up on the person. Don’t be weirdeshly stalkish- but call people that know him and find about him from other people- not just from himself, his mom or best friend. What not to do? Believe whatever he has to say about himself and think that is enough information. Or never actually do research from objective resources of people in his life who know his story and background. Some true stories I know: A girl married a guy who was married already once, and she didn’t know until after they got married. A girl married a guy and only after they were married he confessed that he had been baptized and converted to Christianity and then became a Missionary in Turkey, but was then introduced to Judaism and is now totally frum! Or how about the woman who got married and only then found out that her husband had surgery when he was a child and has a HUGE ugly and scary scar across his stomach!

2. Date long. Yes I know, but being shomer is so hard! I can’t paskin for you but I can tell you this: do not quicken an engagement and marry because it’s hard to date without touching or sex. That just doesn’t make any sense. Take your time… there is NO RUSH! What not to do? Marry him 3 months to date from your first date because why prolong the inevitable?

3. Meet his family. Even if that means taking a trip across the world and spending 1000’s of dollars. It is so important to meet his parents and ideally his siblings before you get engaged. What not to do? Meet his parents, without him, in a hotel lobby, 3 days before your wedding.

4. Meet his friends! Go out with them! You can tell so much about someone from their friends! Tell him you want to double date with one of his friends and his wife or girlfriend. Go to Shabbat meals at his friend’s  houses. What not to do? Tell yourself it’s normal that you have not met his friends because they are too busy to meet or not available or it’s not the frum thing to do. Because in truth, his friends might be really crazy dysfunctional people or worse- not even exist!

5. Do Dor Yesharim or genetic testing through your Kuppa (HMO) before the 1st date or before it gets serious! There is no reason in the world not to. This is not for super frum people or chasidim- this is for any human being that doesn’t want to suffer unnecessarily. Go talk to parents who lost children from tay-sachs and you will understand. What not to do? Say “I love him, so it doesn’t matter what the results are! Love conquers all ” (I actually got this one right before my 1st (and 2nd) marriage- because it was so ingrained in me from high school!)

6. Be super open about finances. Look at his bank accounts with him and maybe also a third party if needed but make sure you know what his financial picture looks like! This is so important. Make sure he is paying for the dates, and buying you things and if he’s being cheap about your dating, try to understand why that is. What not do? Take his world for it. Or believe him without hard evidence when he says he has money and promises, to support you. And if you are paying for dates, something is wrong! Although, that is not necessarily financial! You don’t need to marry rich- but know what you re getting into!

7. Create a prenup. This is soooo important. You can never ever know where life will bring you. It’s so simple and it prevents so many women from being agunas (women who are refused gett’s). What not to do? Believe that you love each other so much, and one million percent you’ll be together forever, no questions or doubt about it. And don’t think for a second that this would never ever happen to you or that it is an ayin hora (bad omen)!”

8. Listen to your gut. Intuition is very powerful and even if it’s not loud and might be only whispering, give it attention and acknowledge it has a loud voice inside you even if it’s not being vocalized. What not to do? Ignore it, push it down and say it’s invalid or that your feelings aren’t backed up by facts.

9. Nothing to do with religion, I don’t think people should get sexually involved right away because it blurs ones vision. Better to take your time before getting physical and if you are religious or not, waiting until marriage to have sex is certainly a good idea for many reasons. However, you need to want to have sex or touch him! You need to yearn and struggle with not touching or not having sex, because if it’s so easy- something might be wrong and you might not be attracted to this guy. What not to do? Tell yourself you are a super frum girl and that is why you are not touching and feeling anything sexual and when you get married, and touch and have sex, you will then be awakened to your true attraction to him. So it’s totally fine that you are not feeling any pull to him right now.

10. It’s not needed for everyone but couples therapy isn’t only for married couples. When struggles come up it’s very important to work them out with a professional and pre-marital therapy is becoming more and more popular. Especially when there are complexities involved like 2nd marriages and step-kids. I highly advise this and did this with my current husband. What not to do? See there are problems and either ignore them because you’ll work them out later or break up with a great guy without trying to work out the challenges in therapy with a professional counselor.

11. Go on birth control. Period. (No pun intended.) There is no reason in the world you should be told to have a baby 9 months after marriage (unless that is what you and your partner want). Not getting pregnant right away will give you and your husband time to build a relationship without you being hormonal and being over tired. What not to do? Ask a Rabbi to go on birth control because you know it’s what you need, and then when told no because it’s not necessary, listen to the Rabbi and then get pregnant 2 months after you get married and then feel stuck with someone that you don’t want to be with just because you’re pregnant. It’s a run on sentence but true to its core.

12. Know there is always a way out. As hard as it is to break off a long time relationship or even break an engagement….even days or a day before the wedding… I promise it’s better than living with a toxic or abusive person and then having to go through a divorce, perhaps many years later and with kids involved. What not to do? Find out the night before your wedding some from very scary things from your to-be-husband’s sister who you just met; things that were not mentioned to you at all during dating….and then have a deep gut feeling that the wedding needs to be called off or postponed but being too scared to announce it so just going on with the wedding and hoping for the best.

13. Look for addiction and addictive personality. It can show up as smoking pot, drinking alcohol or money, sex and many other things. Just keep your eyes open. I am not saying you can’t marry an addict- but if you are going to- at least know you are marrying an addict. What not do do? Ignore excessive drinking and say “he just likes l’chaims” or ignore pot smoking and say “he functions when he’s high and it’s just how he copes! He is at his best when he is high”

14. Find out about mental health issues and if he’s on meds. Just ask. Discuss it openly. Ask if there are mental health issues in the family, if he’s ever been to a psychiatrist or ever took medication. And if the answer is yes, no big deal if it’s under control. Just know beforehand. What not to do? Not ask because you’re embarrassed or you think it’s none of your business. Or ask and not think deeply into the answer you were given, if there are indeed mental health issues.

15. Find out medical issues in the family- especially hereditary ones. It’s important to know and have this information ahead of time- even things like diabetes, or cerebral seizures in children. Just so you know ahead of time. What not do? Tell yourself it’s none of your business or that even if there is something, you know you will marry him anyway so what is the point of asking?

There you have it. Learn from mistakes. You don’t need to agree with everything but in the sick world we live in, people lie and cheat for shidduchim and the divorce rates just keep going up and up. So while you might not agree with all of it, this is my two cents. I think it makes sense.

About the Author
Sarah Bechor is a freelance writer in addition to her full-time job at United Hatzalah. She made Aliyah in 2007 and now lives with her husband and children in Gush Etzion.
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