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March 06, 2007

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Liz Neville

Batya-- I wouldn't know where to begin, having been out of the picture for a while, but I am eager to read comments from our fellows and see what they come up with! And good luck to you--

Batya Shevinsky

Thank you Liz! I wish you success in your personal life as well. :)

L.B.

I don't know where to begin--which is precisely my problem!

wendy

The sad truth is that, outside of a religious community, it is really hard for people to date in a 'modest' fashion. Being stigmatized and unappreciated makes it, obviously, that much harder to find one's soul-mate.

That said, I have seen some success where people try to imitiate the shidduch process in a non-religious fashion, i.e., they talk to trusted married friends and ask them to "have me in mind," then sometimes that friend will think of someone with similar values. Doesn't always lead down the aisle, but seems to have more success than the meet-a-random- person-in-a-bar approach.

Not that there's anything wrong with that! :-)

Megan

I love the name Batya. *wistful sigh*

Personally when I was single I always wondered why this practice hadn't evolved in Mormon culture. It seems like the kind of thing we'd be into... I always told my mother that I'd let her pick out a husband for me because I trusted her judgement and experience. Turned out to be unnecessary, I met my husband at a job we were both working.

spudmomof6

So, Megan, I assume that she approved of your choice? I, too, was told by my daughter that she wanted my help in choosing a mate. I think she has made her decision, but we noticed that some issues definitely did not come up until they were in the very serious mode (involving the extended family, which you usually don't meet when you are casually dating.) I was sure to mention that she had known him for over a year before she learned things that were potential dealbreakers, and counseled her that if she goes through this process again, to take the same care in getting to know the gentleman very well before making a committment.
As for my younger children, I have like minded neighbors who are ready to present my children as options at the appropriate time :) The idea of having married friends suggest people is also a good idea. Our young people have a standards guidebook that does not restrict them from dating outside of our faith, but simply that they hold the same high standards. We encourage our teenagers to discuss the standards that they live by in casual conversation before asking someone out, to see if they get a "me, too!" or a "how stupid!" response. Weeds out a lot of, well, weeds. If everyone you date already knows you don't have premarital sex, drink, or expose too much skin, they will be less likely to be disappointed in your difference in values or buy you something you could not accept. Even a simple statement like, "I'm the type of girl that guys like to bring home to meet their moms," or "I think the old-fashioned values have a lot going for them" says a lot these days.

Alexandra Foley

Pray. And pray real hard.

I was in your situation at one time, Batya, and all my girlfriends thought I'd never find a man that was both fun AND religious (none of my girlfriends at the time were religious). But, alas, they do exist, though not as prominently as I'd like. But it will happen and you have to not lose faith in that. Give it over to the Creator and He'll honor your holy desires with a beautiful match. Best of luck.

Eve

Despite the hook-up culture (or perhaps because of it) there are people out there committed to more old-fashioned dating. It seems impossible, but I do know people that were able to date successfully without having to give-in to the hook-up way. So it is possible for non-religious people who want to date in a traditional way to meet someone, but you have to look carefully for like-minded people.

Elin

I was lucky in one sense - I met my husband while we were both living in a religious college (I was a student and resident of the college; he was a resident and a student of another faculty). While not as strict as some religious colleges our college was far stricter than most residences on our university campus - separate floors for men and women, a strict "no-one but you in your room overnight" and a code of conduct that expected all residents to adhere to certain standards (particularly in the area of drinking, partying, sex, drugs etc.) In the dining hall and at college events I got to see how he behaved on a day to day basis and how he interacted with others. I also (important since by then my dad was dead and my mom lives 1500 miles away) had the benefit of the input of my friends, professors, etc. in this mostly-Christian community, who offered support and good advice to both of us as we pursued our relationship and prepared for marriage - we lived in that same residence until our wedding.

But before I entered that milieu, however, I didn't have much luck finding a suitable date - though I tried to look for guys at church and so forth, who would at least share my beliefs and wouldn't think it bizarre that I didn't want to have sex/live together before marriage! Now that I am married I always am on the lookout for suitable mates for my single friends who are looking.

I think that whether you pursue a formal matchmaking process or not, it's good to have the input of mature people who love & respect you and your values & beliefs, who can help look out for you as you negotiate the perils, pitfalls, and promises of finding a mate. When people like this told my husband and I that we made a good couple, it helped to confirm our belief that we were right for each other... six years later, I still value their words of guidance and blessing.

Batya, wishing you the best as you begin this process, and praying that G-d will bring to you the right one for you.

Elin

wendy

I agree that prayer is crucial but reading this piece also gave me perspective. Sometimes when we ask God for something right now, the answer can also be 'no.'

I tend to forget this, personally, but the article reminded me that things have to happen at the right time, and the 'no' can also be good for us even when we don't understand it.

Rivkasmom

I consider it to be just like "normal" dating, but you don't get naked until after the wedding. (Anyone who has a problem with that isn't the person you want to marry, anyway.) This forces you to do things like actually communicate with each other.

I'm lucky that I'm in a long distance relationship right now. No matter how tempted we might be to get physical, we can't! :-P

Mark La Roi

Pitching in as a guy, I much, much, much prefer getting to know people in a group setting before ever going on a pair date.

This allows me to see how she interacts with others, how she views life and topics important to me, we can talk without the pressure of performance and avoid most of those "Oh well, nevermind" humiliating moments.

Sabina

Shidduch dating sounds a lot like the Muslim equivalent. My fiance and I met at my brother's wedding. His sister was getting married to my brother, so that was kind of...nice. I was definitely not expecting to find love at my brother's wedding hehe.

And the funny thing is, everyone immediately said we'd make a great couple. Behind our backs of course.

He's, by the Grace of God, pretty cute, so of course I could hardly get a sentence out when he was around.

But later after my brother's wedding, we started talking on the Internet. I went and told my mom that I really like this guy and we are both thinking about marriage. And she said ok, talk to him and we'll talk to him too and see if he's good for you. And they loved him and we loved each other and we got engaged. :D

Granted, this wasn't a 100 percent traditional in that we initiated the first contact. But I think even if we hadn't, our parents would have made a proposal anyway.

I guess it was all a bit nerve-wracking and intense, because I sooo wanted it to work. And a lot of the time, I had to remind myself to step back and look a little more dispassionately on our relationship. Since darn it, he's awfully charming.

I don't know if that's an issue with you. 'Cos I'm really young and emotional.

It was pretty modest in that it was completely above board with my parents and I pretty much gave them a blow-by-blow account of what was happening and there was no opportunity for immodesty since like Rivkasmom, it was long distance much of the time.

Elin

Sabina, what a sweet story! I wish you and your fiance well in your upcoming marriage.

k.

Elin, that sounds very very very similar to a college that I attended. I went to a little school called Principia... may I ask where you went?

Heather  Carson

My husband and I "courted" as best as we could being that we were raised in the post sexual revolution mess. We spent a lot of time out together with a group of people or when alone make sure we were in public places. We did not kiss until after we were engaged and did not sleep together until our wedding night. I was 27 and he was 32 when we got married. It was tough trying to resurrect an more traditional way of "dating", but we feel good about how we went about things. Now, five years and three kids later, we are certainly happily married!

Batya Shevinsky

Thank you for your sound advice, sweet stories, and sincere good wishes! It sounds like the modern approach includes keeping close family or trusted friends involved, and being clear about your boundaries.

Dear Readers, do you have any advice for L.B. on where to begin with modest dating? L.B., could you tell us a little more about yourself and what you are looking for?

Elin

K, I went to Wycliffe College, an evangelical Anglican theological college on the campus of the University of Toronto. Originally the 70-person residence was for theological students only, but a demographic shift has meant a lot of theological students are already married and have families by the time they enter seminary (Anglican priests can be men or women, married or single). So the decision was made to open the extra rooms in the residence to graduate students from other U of T faculties. Obviously the code of conduct is much stricter than in the other university residences, but many grad students like it (and not only Christians: while I was there we had Muslims, Jews, a Zoroastrian, and nonbelievers of various stripes) because it's a small community and a quiet residence conducive to working. My husband found out about it from the priest at his church back home - who had studied at Wycliffe - and now of course that priest believes his recommendation is what brought us together! Well, he's partly right!

L.B.

Thanks for inquiring after me, Batya!

I live in a small, liberal Northeastern city and I'm about to turn 26. I am just finishing grad school, and I work as a librarian. The mindset in the circles in which I travel seems to be that people should date far and wide, then settle down in their mid-thirties.

I grew up as a liberal Catholic, spent some time adrift, and am starting to return to the faith.

Since leaving college, I have no religious friends--and it's interesting since few of my current friends are interested in marriage and/or children. Since there are no religious-social activities for young people where I live, that I know of, this seems unlikely to change. So contacts through friends are right out.

I've never had much of an opportunity to date at all, really. In college, I met a nice guy through church but as time went on it became clear that he wanted was to be "friends with benefits" with me.

I'm one of those girls who men always think are great, and would make a wonderful girlfriend or wife...for someone else. I don't really know where to start. I never seem to run across unmarried heterosexual men in my travels through life, and the Internet doesn't help much, either.

Batya Shevinsky

Dear L.B.

I hope that you are successful in meeting your destined mate soon!

I don't know which small northeastern city is currently your home, but are there any social groups for fellow Catholics? If not, and if there are other men and women in your city with similar goals in life, then it would be a great public service for them (as well as a good thing for you) to start one.

Also, if you could move to an environment with more like-minded people, would you want to?

Wendy

I have to cut in here because I've had a few e-mail "conversations" with L.B. and she also happens to be a very deep person. From what I've seen, my friends who are very emotionally and intellectually developed take longer to find their matches. (And that holds true regardless of geography.) That doesn't mean it's not going to happen, but sometimes it does take more time.

But you've got to believe it will happen!

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