July 14, 2024
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July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Dear Shoshy,

Recently, I have begun to re-evaluate exactly the type of boy I am looking for hashkafically. This has not stemmed from any personal confusion or evolution of my own hashkafic beliefs. Rather, after dating a few boys who have had various different hashkafot and backgrounds I have begun to think about whether the kind of boy I have always imagined for myself and the type people set me up with is indeed the right match. I dated two boys who were pretty different hashkafically and the results surprised me. When I dated the first boy, I had at first thought he had a certain hashkafa that was very similar to mine, because of how the person who had set us up described him. However, after dating him for a bit of time, he revealed that he was not really on the level that I had assumed. Rather, he was not as frum as the kind of boy I generally thought I was looking for, and he told me he believed that he was not as frum as I was. Despite this contrast between us, the chemistry and personality match was undeniable. When he decided that he could certainly not be for me because I was on a much higher level than he was, I was upset. I found it upsetting not only that it had to end, but also that the person who had made the suggestion had led me to believe that he was something that he was not. Shortly afterward, I went out with more of the conventional boy that I was used to going out with. I was impressed by his level of religiosity and found our hashkafot to be very similar. However, personality-wise, he was not as fun as the other boy had been and the chemistry and sparkle was simply not there. After thinking about both situations, I realized how much more I was invested in the first boy, who seemed to be religiously different from me. I am wondering if I should take this as an indication that I should start being open to even pursuing someone of a different religious level. Can we be adequate life partners if this gap exists, and how should I proceed?

Thanks for your help,

Hashkafically Hesitant

Dear Hashkafically Hesitant,

Obviously, if everything was ideal, I would tell you to look for someone who matches your religious level and whose fun personality works with your own. I am not, of course, suggesting in any way that you should not have emunah that this person exists. Rather, I believe that it is not integral for your bashert to be religiously identical to you. A rabbi who I greatly respect once explained to me that many people go into the dating process with the belief that their exact religious standards must be matched. He explained that this is both unrealistic and unhelpful. Rather, one must have a similar foundation and matching values and be within the same range of religiosity. But it is certainly not necessary to be the same. A happily married couple I know started out on very different religious levels when they first met. Their personalities immediately went together well and their relationship progressed. They realized that contrary to what they had always believed about the relevance of hashkafa in dating, their relationship could still be successful. The two were able to meet somewhere in the middle, without either one feeling as though they had compromised on the beliefs and practices that were important to them. While this is not always recommended, nor is it generally easy to do, it can certainly lead to a successful relationship and, in this case, the finding of a bashert. I do not think you should assume that the way in which these two boys differed and your personal feelings about both of them is an indication that the first kind of boy who is more different from you religiously is now the type you are looking for. Rather, I think you have discovered that this emotional connection and personal chemistry is something that is very important to you in this process. That is not to say that you need to abandon your religious standards, but you do not lose anything by being more open-minded to those boys who are not hashkafically exactly like you. Moving forward, you can let your friends and those looking for a shidduch for you know how important this personality and chemistry component is to you. You can inform them that religious values are important to you but you are flexible within a certain range. It seems that this process has been instructive for you in allowing you to figure out what you are pursuing. Do not worry that you are forsaking your religious values for a boy. Make sure not to compromise on the religious components that are essential for you and to evaluate all aspects of the people you encounter.

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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