29 Kislev 5782 / Friday, December 03, 2021 | Torah Reading: Mikeitz
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Doomsday Dating

He invested a year in a relationship that ended in pain and frustration. The time they spent together and the intimacies they shared came to nothing. Been there? It hurts…


I am currently working with a young man who just ended his relationship with his girlfriend. He's pretty broken up. They had met in Israel a year ago and had become very close. Yet being back in America and living far apart they both lacked the ability to keep the relationship going. Marriage at this point was out of the question, neither one of them had jobs, neither one had a plan for the future. They spoke on the phone every day but after five months of not seeing each other the relationship became too difficult to maintain. Their conversations became repetitive and argumentative as jealousies and misunderstandings occurred.  They grew to have less and less in common.


Finally they both agreed to split up but it didn't end well; there were tears and recriminations, accusations and lame excuses, all to cover their wounded pride and the end of a beautiful vision of a future together. My client had to force himself to stop checking his ex-girlfriend's Facebook and torturing himself with the pictures she posted of herself having a great time with other guys.


This young man is trying to move on with his life. By letting go of his girlfriend he is free to focus on himself and his plans for the future. This is proving to be a real challenge. His former relationship took up a lot of his time and energy, distracting him for almost half a year with the drama of its faltering.


And in many ways he was using that relationship to avoid facing himself.


I really like this young man. He is intelligent, funny, sensitive and respectful. But he is also lost in the fog of modern society, confused about the difference between what's normal and what's healthy.


In the culture he's come back to he's at conflict with what he is supposed to be doing. He's lonely and no longer fitting in.


All his friends have girlfriends. All the girls he knows are busy with dating. But no one is thinking about marriage and no one's goal is to start a family and raise their kids to learn Torah and love God.


The reasons my client gave up his Torah lifestyle is something we are working on together; it's not simple and even he isn't really clear. He was certainly happier learning in Israel, surrounded by Jewish friends.


But that's another story. I want to talk now about the dangers of having romantic relationships before being ready to get married.


In the case of my client, he invested a solid year in a relationship that ended in hurt and frustration. All the time they spent together, all the trust they built and the intimacies they shared came to nothing. Even the good memories have been eclipsed by feelings of embarrassment and betrayal, by the realization that their expectations were immature and unrealistic; that they gave away too much of themselves.


In modern American culture, twenty year olds do not get married.


I remember when I was young and secular. My mother, bless her memory, actually encouraged me to “play the field” before I settled down. I was supposed to date all kinds of guys so that I could recognize the right one when he came along. I was supposed to enjoy being young and single, dressing up and going out with suitable young men.


But when you aren't religious there are no suitable young men. When you are seventeen there are no suitable young men. Suitable for what? No one is going to propose! So why am I dating them? So that I can form relationships that have no future? So that I can fend off hormonal young men? So that I can betray myself and bring heartache to others?


If I wanted to have fun I would have done better to stick with my girlfriends and siblings. But they were also caught up in dating. It was crucial to have a love interest. That's what co-ed schools were all about (only the nerds cared about grades)


I will always be grateful to Hashem that my own children have been spared the anguish of a young heart shattered in love.


I will be forever grateful that my married kids were never involved in premarital long-term relationships that ended in bitterness and humiliation. That they never had to experience a broken heart or break anyone else's, that they went into marriage unburdened by trust issues and a painful past.


The Torah way is that we date only for marriage. We are selective about who we go out with and try to limit the number of people we date and the amount of time invested. Hashem, in His desire to protect us, provides guidance in the serious mission of finding a mate. Premarital touching is forbidden and this rule protects the dignity of both parties but especially women who usually give away their hearts along with their bodies.


Young people who date for marriage and for the purpose of building a Torah home are spared so much pain. Before beginning to date they are able to focus on building themselves, clarifying their talents and forming their dreams.


Kids who date for fun are heading for disaster because it's not really fun if it’s not forever.



Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen began her career as a Crisis Intervention Counselor in Silver Spring, Md. in the seventies. After moving to Israel, she worked as a marital mediator and social skills instructor for kids. Following the death of a son, Rebbitzen Channen became a certified bereavement counselor and worked with young mothers who had suffered loss. Most recently she worked at the Melabev Center for the memory-impaired, as an activity director and group facilitator for families coping with Dementia. 

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