Most Jewish people recognize and value the rich heritage they are a part of. Traditions, customs, and cultural beliefs bind many of these men and women together. This doesn’t mean, of course, that all Jewish people have the same views about dating, romance, and marriage.
For some, being Jewish is about ancestry and ethnicity—religious aspects do not have a significant place in their lives. For others, religious beliefs and practices are of utmost importance. And you’ll find people with viewpoints all along the continuum from conservative to liberal, traditional to nontraditional, sacred to secular.
If you are Jewish, how does that identification influence your approach to dating? A little? A lot? Certainly, there is pressure for people devoted to their Jewish faith to find a partner equally devoted to his or her Jewish faith. Their beliefs and heritage greatly define who they are and how they live their lives. Whether you are currently in a relationship or hope to be in the future, this is a critical issue to clarify for yourself. Let us present four ideas to help you think through your own circumstances:
Jewish dating tip #1:
Determine your standards in advance. The time to think through significant issues is before you’re confronted with them. If you traveled to a large city, you would get clear directions to your exact destination so you don’t end up in an unsafe area. You would plan ahead. The same goes for dating. If holding to your cultural and religious values is important to you, take time to identify them before you start dating. Fortify them in advance with your firm intentions.
Jewish dating tip #2:
Be honest with yourself. For many people, their Jewish beliefs shape what they value, the way they relate to others, and how they respond to life’s challenges. For instance, if you plan to start a family, consider that the arrival of children prompts a whole host of decisions: the traditions you will pass down, the rituals you will observe, the values you will instill. It is wise to have your eyes wide open to the implications of facing all of life’s ups and downs with a partner who may not share your closely held beliefs.
Jewish dating tip #3:
Establish your boundaries—and hold them. There isn’t a single set of criteria for what it takes to be spiritually and culturally compatible. For some it is enough to have a partner who respects their heritage and customs. Others may feel it is necessary to be with someone who has the exact same beliefs. It will help to know clearly where you stand on the subject, as you size up the potential of a new relationship. Ask yourself: To what degree must my partner and I share similar beliefs and traditions? How much room for differences I am comfortable with?
Jewish dating tip #4:
Don’t be afraid to use your veto power. If you honestly conclude that the differences between you and your partner are too great to overcome, then say so now. It’s possible that your beliefs and values could influence the other person over time—but don’t count on it. Keeping your faith or maintaining a strong identification with your heritage may mean having the courage to say no to a compromise you can’t stand behind in the long run.
A successful love life, for Jewish people as for everyone, depends largely on the compatibility and shared values of the two individuals involved. Be clear about your ideals and convictions, then hold out for a partner who will support you in all of those.