Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Rabbi Yisroel Reisman once said that when dating, one should look for someone on the same religious page. I have certainly noticed how important that is. 

Like the guy who made me feel like a member of a cult when I brought up religion at all, a faith which he claimed to be a fellow practitioner of.

Then there is the bachelor who is shtark and all that, but unintentionally has me feeling like an apostate. 

Leaving Baby Bear, the dude that is "Juuuuuuust right."  
I can talk about an inspiring shiur I heard and he will nod avidly, but in the next breath I can reference Star Trek: The Next Generation, and he will concur that Patrick Stewart is an awesome actor, even if he never heard of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

When I began dating, I really had no criteria whatsoever. As time goes on, rather than being less critical, I find myself more discriminating as I pinpoint the qualities I now realize I need in a man. 

A conversation where neither of us has to apologize or feel judged would be a nice start.

There was a Modern Love some years back, written by Saba Ali, a single Muslim girl; it would seem that their dating scene is quite similar to ours. She was "older," 29, family freaking out, a situation many of us can understand. 
So my friends and I had high expectations when it came to marriage, which was supposed to quickly follow graduation from college. That’s when our parents, many of whom had entered into arranged marriages, told us it was time to find the one man we would be waking up with for the rest of our lives, God willing. They just didn’t tell us how. 
Golly, does it sound familiar. 
Although my friends kept telling me my expectations were too high and that at my age, my checklist wasn’t practical, I disagreed. All I wanted was to feel secure, to look forward to spending my days and nights with my match.
Then she was set up with a doctor (plotzing!) who she thought was on the same page as herself; not PC, able to think outside the box a little.

But he was a tad too far too the left. He wasn't crazy about the fact that she wore a hijab, for one thing, whereas she saw it as an integral part of her identity. 
And I had my own doubts, though I was afraid to admit them: namely, why should I push forward with this when we weren’t aligned in terms of our faith? How could we be a good match if he didn’t approve of my hijab? Would I have to change? Should I?
Then came the breaking point. 
So when he leaned over and asked, “Can I hold your hand?” I didn’t feel I could say no. I liked him for taking the risk.
Nearly 30 years old, I had thought about holding hands with a boy since I was a teenager. But it was always in the context of my wedding day. Walking into our reception as husband and wife, holding hands, basking in that moment of knowing this was forever. Palm against palm, a closed circuit, where his long fingers wrapped securely around my tiny hand.
. . . A lifetime’s worth of expectations culminated in this single gesture in a dark theater over a sticky armrest.
I’m not sure it’s possible to hold hands wrong, but we were not doing it right. It felt awkward with my hand under his, so we changed positions: my arm on top, his hand cradling mine. It was still fraught and uncomfortable, and soon my hand fell asleep, which was not the tingling sensation I was hoping for. Finally, I took it away.
But the damage had been done. We had broken the no-contact rule, and in doing so, I realized I wasn’t willing to be the kind of girl he wanted. I believe in my religion, the rules, the reasons and even the restrictions. At the same time, I’ve always wanted to be married, and the thought of never knowing that side of myself, as a wife and a mother, scares me. Being with him made me compromise my faith, and my fear of being alone pushed me to ignore my doubts about the relationship.
When we took it too far, I shut down. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way. So after the date, I split us up. And I never saw him again. 
I have always felt that I should be accommodating, that I shouldn't make certain things a problem. But I also know that when initially entering into a relationship, I should not have to compromise my truest self, and that is my religion. I shouldn't have to leave my cuddly comfort zone of knowing where I stand with Hashem and how I choose to practice that faith.        

No comments: