May 14, 2009
No Romance in Frum Dating?

Prominent psychologist Michael J. Salamon says a lack of dating in the Orthodox community is the cause of marriage problems. "Some have suggested that, in the Orthodox world, we simply do not believe in romance."

By Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D. - The Jewish Star

Much has been written about marriage and relationships. Some have suggested that, in the Orthodox world, we simply do not believe in romance, as real love supposedly happens only after marriage. While in many ways this is true, we are often left without defining just what that means. But the Talmud in Kiddushin (41a) states that prospective spouses must meet to determine their compatibility for a proper marriage to occur. And Rav J.B. Soloveitchik stated in his essays compiled in the text “Family Redeemed” that “one cannot form a friendship unless he finds in it the realization of a value long cherished by him.” Meeting, dating and getting to know one another, and especially becoming friends, is a time proven system for finding a spouse that Jewish tradition strongly adheres to. Unfortunately, there have been some changes to the system in recent years that have led to rising stress in a process that should contain both fun and excitement despite the seriousness of the goal.

Increasingly, in virtually all shades of orthodoxy, both men and women are segregated from one another even when it is unwarranted. This separation has led to a fear of socializing, a form of stage fright or anticipatory anxiety that causes young daters to not know how to act in a socially acceptable fashion with one another. I hear them talking about the “magic” of the opposite sex as if it were a truism, a fact that in order to understand how to even talk with one another they must unravel a secret magical code. While there should be magic, it is not of this type.

Even after marriage there is often a dearth of appropriate communication between the spouses. At a restaurant recently, while sitting next to a young married couple, despite trying very hard not to listen, I was amazed at how the couple was speaking about different topics and at cross-purposes to one another. True, this may be just one anecdote; however, more and more young marrieds are divorcing with the primary complaint that they simply did not know each other at the time of marriage and do not understand one another once married. There is, in fact, a growing body of evidence in the professional literature that this has become an expanding problem in Orthodox marriages even to the point of difficulty in developing a sense of closeness and familiarity within a marriage.

When we add to this mix the volatility that comes from being overindulged and overprotected well into the late teens and early twenties, we are left with young men and women who feel no need to even try to get to know anyone else. Many of our young men and women have placed themselves on a pedestal and want to marry someone who can keep them there, even in financially troubling times. The goal then is not a warm, affectionate, supportive relationship but a selfish, egocentric one. Who needs a romantic relationship with a spouse or even friendship with a spouse, as long as you get what you want?

There actually is somewhat of a scientific formula for the magic that causes the spark of romance. It is not a hard and fast rule like those often found in physics, but it does involve biology, chemistry and psychology. The actual cause of the magic in a relationship is a product of hormones, neurotransmitters or brain chemicals and developmental stages. These chemicals set the stage for real attraction and are activated by a process wherein the couple perceives a degree of familiarity between one another. The only way this similarity can be stimulated is by spending time with members of the opposite sex at the correct stage of development.

Young men and women go through a biological and psychological maturational change that is driven by hormones in their early to mid twenties. For some it begins a bit before, and for others a bit later. This process causes, among other changes, the desire to affiliate with a member of the opposite sex and develop an intimate relationship. To get to that stage, the psychological needs of earlier stages must be met. These include developing a sense of one’s own identity and being able to appreciate and manage social interactions. Once these challenges are accomplished, via chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, which are primed to go off when the right person comes along, the sequence shifts to the next stage. Here too, this process is neither an immediate, perfectly successive nor a fail-proof one.

Several important psychological triggers have to occur. These include developing a degree of comfort in communicating with the other person, being physically attracted and sensing a degree of personality similarity. When these changes take place the couple begins to develop a sense of fun and passion about the relationship. This excitement does not always happen immediately and can take several dates. When it does kick in, and both report it, this is a clear indication that the relationship is set to go to the next level.

It may take as long as several months for the next level to develop but the next level is the most critical stage. The intensity of the first level of passion begins to dissipate and two different neurotransmitters start their work. These chemicals set the stage for a more balanced cooperative and affiliative feeling to develop. It is at this stage that the warmth and nurturing feelings of love, so necessary for a marriage to succeed, begin to occur. Perhaps this is the feeling that some have referred to as existing only after being married for a while. But, as we have seen, it may be critical to have this friendship, warmth and closeness before marriage occurs.

We all make decisions even though we are not always aware of the underlying cognitive processes involved. We do have an awareness of our reactions and it is important to allow ourselves to experience them and understand them. We also cannot hasten or bypass a natural process. The natural process of romance develops in stages beginning with learning how to socialize and proceeding from there. Let us allow young adults to find one another so they might develop the friendship so necessary to a successful marriage.

Dr. Salamon, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, is the founder and director of the Adult Developmental Center in Hewlett, NY. He is the author of numerous articles and several psychological tests. His most recent book, “The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures,” is published by Urim Publications.

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Opinions and Comments
Doesn't sound like Dr. Salamon (with all due respect) has the frum perspective of this topic. Unless I'm mistaken, he seems to be implying that Jewish boys and girls should mingle even before they are ready to get married. Not exactly a frum approach to malefemale relationship.
(5/15/2009 10:18:58 AM)
give to receive
"..we are left with young men and women who feel no need to even try to get to know anyone else. Many of our young men and women have placed themselves on a pedestal and want to marry someone who can keep them there, even in financially troubling times. The goal then is not a warm, affectionate, supportive relationship but a selfish, egocentric one.."

It seems older guys particularly depict and espouse such behavior!! Wake up and be a HUMAN BEING! A man treating a WOMAN! The inanimate,cold,judgmental approach will never lead you into love, let alone a relationship!
(5/15/2009 11:18:31 AM)
So basically this guy is saying that what worked for thousands of years for many many happy marriages "just doesnt work?"
Kind of chutzpah-dik, I would say....
(5/15/2009 11:28:45 AM)
Missed the point.
While it is true that there needs to be a physical connection and "understanding", in reality, marriage is so complex that the real element holding the relationship together is something which is higher than a physical source.

Call me closed-minded, but only when we tap into the true source can a marriage last.
(5/15/2009 11:29:13 AM)
Interesting idea
I personally believe that alot of people that date in the shidduch system are actually looking for many things in a marriage - Love and romance not being one of them (or maybe its way down on the bottom of the list)
What is the criteria for a "good shidduch?"
Lets see, money, Yichus, shlichus, status, looks.... the list goes on
(5/15/2009 11:31:08 AM)
Why is this on a frum website?
As far as were concerned Torah knows best. Most shidduch related problems arise when we use the system inaurately.
(5/15/2009 11:38:53 AM)
very well written
I thinks there should be more venues in our community for singles to meet once they are of age
(5/15/2009 12:56:34 PM)
i am happily married 13years and went thru the shidduch system, VERY SERIOUSLY. Looked very much for Romance, Love, Chassidish, tall, good looking and guess what?
i got it!!
(5/15/2009 11:15:03 PM)
Absolute nonsense!
Unfortunately the opposite is true:
When you are close at a time when you should be distant then When you should be close you will be distant!

The Rebbe didn't want the engaged couple to be photographed together vdai lmeivin.
(5/15/2009 11:23:05 PM)
why people are referring to ''a 2000 years old system??!!'' no it's not the same: we have cars,internet,phones, and many other things that didn't exist just 20 years ago, we don't live in the shtetl anymore and things HAVE CHANGED even if we do not want to change who we are and what we believe in,things around us do change.

2000 years ago boys and girls would go out in the fields on 15 of av to find a shidduch.

what he did say was this: boys are totally clueless and ingrained with the hunt for many things in a spouse which are irrelevant and unimportant to a marriage,instead they focus on a trophy spouse to show themselves and others they ''made it''

on the other hand they're not behaving like mentschen either before or after they're married.

he blames it on the fact tat boys and girls don't know the other side at all before they actually go out and marry which is true in some cases and totally not in most normal guys/girls these days..

it is totally relevant to this website,u take what u like u leave what u don't, u can agree or disagree,but to say he's irrelevant is just irresponsible, he's a professional in the field and has studied our community, be mature and have an educated take on a mature article!

(5/16/2009 5:26:04 AM)
totally in agreement...
Having been in the shidduch system for quite a few years now, I would definiitely say i tend to agree with his ideas.

Young girls who are just beginning to date have no clue how to relate to a guy, let alone actually get to know him.

Only after a few years of dating can a person be comfortable enough to really get to know the other person.
(5/16/2009 3:10:16 PM)
Mumbo Jumbo
This is what every Mashpia goes through with their Mushpa, just becauee he through in alot of pycological mumbo jumbo doesnt mean its true. The divroce rate among frum is much less then among frei, and non jewsih, as long as you r intouch with a "competent and experienced" mashpia your dating life should succeed properly to the ultimate goal of marriage!
(5/16/2009 3:10:58 PM)
The world Blueprint
The Eibishter looked into the Troah and created the world. The Torah is the true manual of how a person should live not a Fellow of the American Psychological Association who can only observe the process but certainly does not know better than the Manual (the Torah)how a person should behave.
(5/16/2009 3:11:45 PM)
Are you kidding me?????
Thank G-d our children are protected and sheltered, having nothing to do with the opposite gender for most of their teenage lives. This is the best thing for raising happy, healthy children.
This give them room to grow and gain confidence in a proper way, without the drama and issues and distractions they would have to face in other situations.

Statistics also show that separate schools (non jewish) produce a very high percentage of successful adults. Obviously there is something to it...
(5/16/2009 3:14:19 PM)
Nothing is black and white.
We live in a global village; people are exposed to a confusing world, many options are offered up to our young people.
Rabbonim and Maspiim/os need to be trained to give young men and women with sensible guidance prior to entering the Shidduch Parash.
Parents need to stay very close to their children during this period of transformation.
(5/16/2009 4:40:24 PM)
Divorce Rate
to #12
Part of the reason for the low divorce rate is:

1. Stigma
2. The wife has no real work skills and thus has no way to adequately support herself and 8 kids so see puts up with a lousy marriage.
3. We simply have more in common with each other which leaves less room for conflict. Think about things like religion and schooling of kids. These are non issues for us as we agree on them from the get go.
4. Our notion of what is important in life and our lack of social opportunities, helps us stay married.

My point is, while it may play some role, the dating process and not mingling with girls, is far from the main reason for a low divorce rate.
While I don't necessarily agree, according to this professional it may actually contribute to divorce.
(5/16/2009 4:57:47 PM)
to # 11
Nonsense! Dating a few years does nothing. Even after being married several years, you're still learning things about the other person you never knew. No matter how long you date you will never know the other person as much as you want and try.
(5/16/2009 5:37:51 PM)
To 13
Your totally right!
(5/16/2009 6:56:04 PM)
Frum dating works
Our style of dating works best with the minimum of influences from the secular world. While the potential for romance is hinted at during the dating process, real romance, deep love, and lasting friendship is cultivated after marriage.
(5/16/2009 7:28:53 PM)
Really surprised!
I don't really understand why is this article posted here. We all know that the secular world sees the shidduch system as strange and over-aged, it doesn't mean that we have to publish on this website all the opinions that are voiced everywhere.
This author implies that we should mingle boys and girls before they get married. As much as the world has changed, and how our own exposure to it has increased, it doesn't mean that we should give up on our ways, and compromise our beliefs.
About the low rate of orthodox marriages, one of the reasons may also be the importance- the reverence- with which we treat marriage. It is something we are ready and willing to work on, as we know that it is supposed to be "the building" of a home. We don't expect things to just happen.,we do a lot of efforts to keep our marriages healthy and happy.
(5/16/2009 8:29:25 PM)
you all missed the point
the point is not that kids should mingle. the point is that dating should not be limited to five dates of two hours each, that people should not be pushed to marry before they feel ready, and that the other gender should not be made out to be monstrocities.
(5/17/2009 12:11:59 AM)
and may i add.....
the shidduch system years back was not the same as it was today. in addition...i thought i was nuts, because we took our time- or rather, he let me take my time, even tho he was ready long before me. i debated a lot- we were going for a few months (yes, months) before getting engaged. but i thought i was nuts bc everyone else was getting engaged after a week...
and my mother didnt push- she asked me what i wanted.

and yes, were chabad.
(5/17/2009 12:16:17 AM)
Article to vague
You have to wonder about a writer who can't say exactly what he means. There are too many vague, run-on ideas to quote. I'll quote two related ones: "Increasingly, in virtually all shades of orthodoxy, both men and women are segregated from one another even when it is unwarranted." Would you tell us please when it is warranted for frum singles to be mingling?

Here is the last sentence: "Let us allow young adults to find one another so they might develop the friendship so necessary to a successful marriage." Are you suggesting that frum people do away with the entire present system of marriage experienced parents who know their children, who have their best in mind, (using shadchanim where needed) seeking a fitting match for their children, and we should replace it with the non-experience of hot-blooded, quick-to-make-silly-decisions of young people? Perhaps, if you follow the logic of the article, the chassidim who marry off their children at age 18 are doing it right. They are "getting to know" their spouse in advance of that which kicks in in the early 20's. And what they do does not lead to sin. The mingling this article suggests, however, does.
(5/17/2009 12:58:24 AM)
please read
Our system is fine for many, but like everything else in this world, it isn’t perfect. I will go so far and suggest that it is detrimental to some. Why?

Our educational systems encourage humility and contentment with the status quo. As such, it is no surprise that many daters, still freshly out of the system, with zero experience about real life and relationships with the opposite gender (“segregation”), proceed into “making (what is supposed to be a life-long) decision, even though they are not always aware of the underlying cognitive processes involved”.

Not everyone has as strongly defined a character as others do. These innocently soft boys and girls might accept the status quo even in serious matters as choosing a partner for life. They don’t even know that it is a matter to be taken serious, since they were never taught it. Once these boys and girls are married, they realize that they have in-fact conferred upon themselves a life-sentence, for making a naïve decision, through no fault of their own.

Furthermore, our system encourages immediate childbirth. Even if a partner is unhappy in a marriage, once a child is conceived, he or she is confronted with unfamiliar complex decision making, and in most cases, the couple will remain together at the cost of happiness, due to unalterable circumstances.

If knowing that your friends are becoming engaged is knowledge, than I would agree that our youngsters are making knowledgeable commitments. It is the case for too many daters, that they are being put in the water with no life-vest.
(5/17/2009 2:23:09 AM)
from a lubavitch teenage girl with a knack for psychology
the shidduch system is not wrong the only thing that could be causing theses problems is the, upbringing of theses people (there is always exceptions to the rule) with theses problems
1. if you develop a good relationship with the opposite gender in ur family you wont have any problems felling uncomfortable talking with your date (even though there will still be techniques u'll have to learn for this new type of relation ship i.e. marriage relationship)
2. if you had a healthy open relationship with ur parents throughout your childhood/ teenage years hopefully then they helped you mature your views in life and prepared you psychologically to be successful in other relationships (not only in this "dating relationship" but with friends and any relationships that come up in life)

I am deeply saddened to hear Lubavitchers agreeing with this article. As was mentioned earlier in the comments we already know the view of the Rebbe is: if you are close at a time which you should be distant, then when you are at a time which you should be close you will be distant.
I hope parents and children start to form stronger bonds with each other even though this may seem impossible for some people. Believe it or not a person who doesn't have a relationship with their parents will never feel at peace with themselves in life and in other relationships. A relation ship with your parents is the ultimate relationship, and is the basis of all relationships. (The second most fundamental relationship is one with yourself - learning how to deal with, handle, and be at peace with your imperfections, and to love yourself. If for any reason, shelo neidah, you absolutely can not work on developing a relation ship with your parents then you must develop a relationship with yourself .)
Children, especially teenagers, keep in mind your parents are more afraid of you then you are of them. Please do yourselves the biggest favor and start to develop a relationship. Daughters ask your mothers, sons ask your fathers to do something relaxing i.e. go for a walk in a quite place (it should be private to - do go fot a walk on E. Parkway). And remember its you, the child, who has to break the bubble, so ask them something shocking to them, shake them into reality, and show them you are mature enough to have conversation and turn to them for advice. You parents will be so relieved when this happens.
Good luck and Hatzlocha to everyone!
We Want Moshiach Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(5/17/2009 7:23:18 AM)
you are sooo naive, poor thing.Yes of course your relationships with many in your life will influence of later relationships but there are many variables and factors.For one thing,your spouse is not the family of origin but comes from his own sets of experiences. There are no formulas per se although similar values, goals etc make a huge difference to the success of a relationship.Walking and asking something shocking is actually very SILLY and shows some immaturity.Growth and many years help shape the relationships but if you have personality issues, it's going to follow you in many relationships-friendships, marital, with children!The pat answers are funny.I don't think 3 dates give you enough time-nor talking on a phone.Everyone presents well but actually living with someone will be an eye-opener.
(5/17/2009 11:13:07 AM)
a psychologically inclined female
to #25, great advice! i so want to pop this bubble but i need some ideas for questions to ask my parents. What do you think i should start with? thanks for reaching out to what us girls really needed.
(5/17/2009 11:59:00 AM)
another idea
I don't agree with this guy, but I think it would be very beneficial for kids growing up in our community to see closeness between their parents. Nothing inappropriate, but all those nuances that can be communicated non verbally or physically, warmth, closeness, appreciation and respect. Aside from this making them happier children they will also learn that they don't need to look elsewhere for romance, it may be private, but it's there.
(5/17/2009 1:05:14 PM)
A great idea for em Bachurs.
Some Guys need to stop being so judgmental and high and need to TREAT A GIRL RIGHT! I agree with #2

Wake up and be a HUMAN BEING! A man treating a WOMAN! The inanimate,cold,judgmental approach will never lead you into love, let alone a relationship!
(5/20/2009 6:33:36 AM)
Don't agree
The author makes many good points, but the overall principle is wrong.

Lubavitcher boys and girls in my experience do not experience severe stage fright on dates, and the solution to marriage problems is not to mingle as singles.
(5/21/2009 4:05:00 AM)
Author is correct...
We don't give ourselves or the one we are going out with a chance. That doesn't mean one has to give up on tznius measures, rather one should try to be patient and understanding and give themselves a chance to get to know the other person , if they enjoy just talking and spending time together without the pressure of .. will he be a good provider, does he or doesn't do this or that ....
Sometimes we make snap judgements that come back to nag at us ... maybe we should given that person the benifit of the doubt .... and had the courage to face our own insecurities or fears . We need to trust our instincts and see where it goes , the best of things take time and commitment and patience.
(10/13/2009 1:16:49 PM)
Clearly this is a five-towns professional making a broad statement about the frum community - ranging from Chassidish to Moderdox.
As Lubavitchers we do have the upper hand in that we have exposure to the world and thereby to all types of people and attitudes. It's not like we have our heads in the sand as to some other over-sheltered, provincial communities. And we can and do have this familiarity with the world while maintaining our system of "kosher" shidduchim.

As for the "HAYMISHE" in W'burg/Monroe/BPark...My father said that HIS dad, who remembered pre-war Hasidic Europe/Poland had never see the "Ta'arivus" that the super-chaseedish observe nowadays. Men and women walking of opposite sides of the street (as in Skver) is a new invention according to him. It's just driving things under the radar...or worse...resulting in the splitting of marriages. I meeting countless quasi-ChasEEdish who are divorcing in much higher rates than us because they marry so young and are so IGNORANT. Plus, thier "beshow" chaperoned meeting can hardly be called dating.

It's not the shtetl any more. It's not like every knows everyone so the marriage will work bec. the two parts of the couple have the same frame of reference and life experience. This new world calls for new approach (w/in the bounds of 'kosher') - and certainly not STRICTER one than in the old country!
BTW: In the Torah there are countless risque stories that we DO NOT FOLLOW or consider Kosher. Try concubines, multiple wives, Dovid and Batsheva, Yehuda and Tamar, Rus....
(10/17/2009 10:14:08 PM)
A Mommy
what's wrong with allowing our children to get to know their (possibly) future spouses longer than a handful of dates? They might be married FOREVER. There would be a lot less broken engagements, seriously troubled marriages, and divorces if we allowed the kids to really get to know each other. If we trust that they are mature enough to marry, they should be trusted to date appropriately.
(6/5/2011 1:17:48 AM)
#26 and #33
How can you say only 3 dates? No one here has done this for years. Couples DO take enough time. They meet on average 15 times.
Ok, that ought to be enough to make a decision.
Mr. Salomon is not correct to say that mingling before marriage in a casual way will solve our problems.
(9/1/2011 1:54:44 PM)
What problems?
For Dr. Solomon's assertion to be correct, there would need to be a significantly larger number of failed marriages in our community. That seems not to be the case.

Rather, a shared ideal of allowing the presence of Hashem in our homes is the most important ingredient.
(8/10/2014 9:47:58 PM)
I find that this generation is insanely shallow. Like was mentioned instead of finding a soul mate many are looking either for a trophy wife or guy that will support their needs. Relationship comes second. The sad part is they don't even see this. They think they are being more realistic in their needs.
So sad. so many amazing girls out there that are being ignored because they are not a size 2!!
Your loss boys.
(9/21/2014 12:35:47 AM)
chinuch and parenting and encouragement to ...
we live in an age where we need to stop and become more present to ourselves, our family and community. when we become more conscious of ourselves, we communicate that to our outer world and would therefore by default find your life going in the direction you (consciously) chose. We have more power than we realize and we need to empower our children to make conscious choices. Hear how this would improve communication, marriage, lives?
(11/1/2017 9:09:19 AM)
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