April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Dear Shoshy,

I came back from seminary about six months ago and I am now on the verge of starting my second semester of college. An acquaintance of mine just told me that she thought of an idea of a boy for me and she wants to know whether she should pursue this and ask him if he is interested. She wants to know if I am dating yet. I have never formally gone out with anyone and I am unsure how to respond. In the seminary that I attended, when we spoke about dating, one of the teachers told us that she generally tells girls that they can start “being in the parsha” once they have been home for about a year, give or take a few months. That would mean that in a few months, at the end of second semester, I can start thinking about dating, but for now, I am officially too young. When she told us this in Israel, I mentally filed the time away in my head as the time when I should start “putting myself out there.” I am obviously flattered to have been thought of by my friend and I am curious who the boy is and I want to meet him. However, I am not sure if I am ready to date. I have a generally shy personality and I cringe at the thought at sitting through a few hours at Starbucks with someone I have never met before. When I turned to my friends for advice, they asked me if I felt like I would be ready to get married in six months from now. I thought about it and I wasn’t so sure. In our community, being a 19-year-old girl basically means you should be ready to settle down. Some of the people around me were doing it. A few girls from my old school in the grade above me are married or engaged, and some of my friends are ready to start dating. When I really think about it, I am not so sure I fall into the same category as them. I cannot imagine living in Washington Heights a year from now, commuting every day to school, donning a fall and a headband. But the more I think about it, the more I begin to wonder if I am over analyzing this whole thing. The only thing I would be agreeing to is a date, not a marriage proposition. How likely is it anyway that this is “the one”? I called my teacher from seminary and she seemed to think I was ready to start dating. She told me that I was a mature individual and that if I felt like I knew myself and what I wanted then I should go for it. But do I? Do I really “know who I am”? I am not sure what career I want to pursue professionally and I have always been somewhat uncertain about certain aspects of my hashkafic identity. I ended the conversation feeling confused. What should I tell my friend?

Thank you for your help,

Am I in the “Parsha”?

Dear Am I in the Parsha”?,

I applaud the degree to which you have considered your options here. Some girls would just jump right in and go on the date, without a second thought about it. It is important when you start to date that you really consider whether you are ready to make one of the most important decisions of your life. In our circles, there is often a lot of pressure that surrounds the dating experience. Girls our age or just a bit older are plunging into the dating pool excitedly. It can sometimes be daunting to wait when everyone else around us would jump on an offer. I understand that it can definitely be flattering to receive a suggestion this early on, and it is certainly nice of your friend to be thinking of you. What can happen sometimes, and what is important to avoid, is allowing the social pressure around you to control your dating life. Whoever Hashem has in mind for you will be ready when you are. I am not suggesting that doing your own hishtadlut is unimportant, because it definitely is. However, part of that hishtadlut is not saying yes to someone when the time or person is not meant to be. I know that teachers and adults will often have strong opinions about the right time to start dating, but it seems silly to make a blanket statement about something that is completely a personal decision. There are plenty of girls who are ready for marriage at the age of 19 and plenty who are not. You are right to consider whether you are ready for marriage before you start dating. While you are obviously not committing to this, you could be. The last thing you want to do is thrust yourself into a marriage that you are ill-prepared for. That being said, as you implied, there are certainly some people who will never feel excited to date. But, with Hashem’s help, whether or not it gets you excited, you certainly will feel ready to date one day. Feeling ready to date means understanding yourself and what you want and feeling like you are in a place to love someone else and share your life with them. This is certainly a lot to be sure of at the age of 19! I know the process can seem scary, but patience and emunah is vital. If you are not ready, do not jump into anything.

Im yirtzeh Hashem by you,

Shoshy Goldstein

Shoshy Goldstein (a pseudonym) is in the “dating parsha,” but she has great intrinsic instincts that her friends and family members have sought out when they have questions about dating etiquette. Ask Shoshy your own questions by emailing [email protected]. Disclaimer: This column is not intended to replace professional advice.

 

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