Hilchos Dating – Dibur


Ah… the first date. The halacha dictates that this date takes place in a hotel lounge over a diet coke or bottle of water. Talk should be light but discerning.

Um… light? As in what exactly? Anything conceivably “light”—as well as many things that are quite “heavy”—you tend to know already. Sometimes to the point of idiocy.

A friend of mine didn’t want to date until her older sister was engaged, so when someone redt her a fellow she insisted on knowing everything down to the color of his socks (black) before agreeing to go out. He, for his part, was jaded from being redt the wrong sort of females, so he insisted on knowing her entire biography, including the part that hadn’t happened yet, before agreeing to go out. Their first date must have been like an old reunion. As the parents shut the door behind them, he probably said something like, “I’m glad to hear you did well on that history report.”

“Yes, especially since I didn’t have much time to work on it…”

“Well you were busy with more important things.”

“True. But still, I like to do a good job on my work.”

“I know.”

“I hear the flu is going around Lakewood—I hope that’s not what your chavrusa caught.”

“Oh no, no way. It’s just strep—he found out this morning.”

“That’s great! So he’ll be back to learning with you tomorrow! How are you finding Yevamos?”

Etc. etc. Since they did all the dating before the dating, they were ready to get married after two dates (I kid you not), but hung out for six for the sake of propriety. (After all, what would people say? Not like it matters once you’re engaged.)

Then there are some really gauche ways to handle the first date. Here’s what one shlimeil did to a friend. He handed her a diet coke, cleared his throat, and said, “Why don’t we take turns telling what we know about each other and then we can fill in the blanks?” That did not go over well. Especially since her parents had neglected to inform her that she was going on a date until one hour before it was supposed to happen, and she wasn’t even sure what his name was.

Rov poskim agree, however, that you should either ignore those topics or rehash them while pretending you don’t know anything about them. If he provides information that contradicts what you’ve heard, things can get exceedingly interesting. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to contradict. A friend went out with a guy who she was told was accepted to Columbia. He nonchalantly admitted that he’d applied to the engineering program, which has a ridiculously high entrance rate, just to keep his parents happy, but had no intention of attending. (“Engineering? Me? Are you kidding?”)

Me, I try not to get too much information beforehand, which suits my parents, who don’t enjoy collecting it. I’d rather find out the truth from the horse’s mouth than a lot of fantasy from his neighbors who want to marry him off because “he’s such a nice boy.”

There’s a whole ‘nother sefer-worth of “halacha” about how long the date is supposed to be (one date asked me if it was OK to return me home 15 minutes before the minimum) and how long to keep them hanging before approving a second date, and on and on ad nauseum.

At this point, I just declare that hidebound regulations are “not our minhag” and get on with whatever feels right. Who has time for this nonsense?

14 thoughts on “Hilchos Dating – Dibur

  1. Like your parents, I hate the information collection so I keep it to a minimum. That resulted in the following. My daughter was red a boy who was going to be going to medical school. On the date she asked which medical school he was going to be going to. His answer? “That depends on which school a girl’s parents are going to be willing to pay for.” I keep this boys name in my files, not for shidduchim but so that, should he actually become a doctor, I won’t use his services.

  2. i tend to differ… i rather my parents collect any info possible and sift through the guys so that I shouldn’t have to go on dates for no reason…

  3. There’s a balance that you have to find. Often, one well placed phone call can easily kill a shidduch, and rightfully so. Sometimes I wish I spent a few more minutes looking into something, instead of wasting hours and money on a date that I never should have gone out with.

    But on the other hand, knowing every last detail about your potential date is just weird.

  4. I think there must be a healthy balance. I would not want to know too much- but then again, knowing nothing is pretty scary as well. I would hate for him to know EVERYTHING about me before I even opened my mouth though, and I am sure that the boys feel the same way.

  5. I would like to say that I both don’t mind the information collecting and I do mind it. I’d rather the information be given straight up by someone who knows me rather than by some stranger who knows nothing about me. As in, have one designated person to tell them everything, and who will hear everything about the prospective spouse, (bad and good) and then the two of them get together and discuss the relative merits and chesronos of the proposed shidduch, and how they think the kids will get along based on their information (which hopefully should be complete). And since they, by default, should never be the parents themselves, they’ll keep all the information to themselves, give the ok or the not ok, and just let the kids actualy go out and meet each other! Problem solved, and stupid shidduchim avoided.

    I’m hoping most sincerely that when I actualy go out on shidduchim that the rebbetzin (probably the person in my case) will be brave enough to spill the beans about everything bad and good (specifics), give proof references, and then hopefully her honesty will provoke the other side in to sharing honestly and discussing the stuation pros and cons.

    hey, maybe I’ll make a grass roots revolution! 🙂

  6. besides, by my account, allways better that they find out about the bad side from you so you can spin it or give it perspective, instead of from someone who you accidently spilled coffee on ten years ago and who has been holding a grudge ever since. That way when they listen to the person whos holding the grudge, they’ll hear nothing new, AND they’ll know the context that went around it, and therefore will just sit there listening and thinking “I don’t even know why I bothered calling a hatefull lout like you for a reference for anyone!”


  7. it all depends i have a relative who the parents didnt do enough research about the girl and he went out and they got into it and were dating seriously, however from the beginning everyone saw the issues with the girl but of course the boy wouldnt listen and they got married and the issues havent gone away.
    if proper research had been done maybe they would have never gone out

  8. I agree with mickey mouse to some extent, I like to know a few basics (his name, working/learning, basic personality info such as shy or outgoing…, etc…) but i do not need to know his entire family tree, every school or camp he ever attended, or his favorite flavor at starbucks, and all the other completely insignificant details that have absolutely no effect on a marriage yet people feel the need to know before they even go out.

  9. If I was a girl I would go out on as many dates as possible just for the free food and awkward ice crunching that tends to disrupt the silence that happens in most hotel lobbies

  10. I’m going to take all my first dates either to a boardwalk, an arcade, or a shooting range. We’ll see how it works out and if there’s any need for the embarrassing subjects.

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