Dating

In recent decades, dating has become a whole lot harder for many young people. Increasing numbers of young professionals are struggling to settle down with a partner, despite investing huge amounts of time and money in the process. There are several reasons for this problem, but fundamentally it relates to approaching dating with the inappropriate attitude.

You see, no one goes on a date out of compassion for the other person. Dating is a quintessentially selfish act - an individual seeking to fulfil his or her own needs and desires. People typically date not for what they can give, but for what they can take. This raises a basic problem, as successful relationships can only thrive based upon a degree of selflessness. Most people go on a date to find a partner for themselves, but long-term relationship success depends on offering oneself as a partner for another. Dating is a paradoxical process: it invariably starts out self-serving, but if it ends that way, there is no basis for a lasting relationship. Thus, early on in the dating process a shift must take place from looking out for oneself to looking out for ones partner in the relationship. Ethics of the Fathers (5:16) states that only selfless love is lasting, love that does not depend on some intended gain. Dating is a trajectory from focusing initially on what you want towards a shared vision - in which each partys main concern becomes the happiness of the other.

Traditional Jewish sources portray the Exodus from Egypt as a dating process, culminating in a union at Mount Sinai. Although the Israelites had a strong interest in leaving Egypt, having suffering generations of servitude and persecution, they were told from the outset that the purpose of their redemption was so they may serve God and accept His Law (Exodus 3:12). The Israelites were made to understand that a successful union could not be achieved on the basis of self-serving interests, but would need to be founded on addressing the aspirations of ones partner. When someone falls in love, it is not always clear what is happening. Have they really taken to loving someone else, or are they in love with themselves? When a person says he is looking for love, is he looking to give love or become loved?

Dating is a journey from selfish to selfless, from I to we. It is about accepting a high level of interdependence, about recognising that, as the Bible (Genesis 2:18) states "it is not good for a person to be alone." The revered Jerusalem Rabbi Arye Levin once went to the doctor with his wife who was having trouble walking. In response to the doctors query as to the matter, the Rabbi explained "Our leg is hurting". Thus, the Bible (Genesis2:24) describes this process as becoming like one flesh. When you hurt your right hand, your left hand cannot remain indifferent. Dating is about progressing to this level of awareness and sensitivity. Young professionals it would seem find this process challenging. From my experience, a little eye opening is usually sufficient for them to recognise where this is deficient. Dating needs to be a values-driven process, developing maturity and personal growth, so that two individuals merge into a new entity that is greater than the sum of its parts.