On Dating and Hashkafic High Standards
"Sydney, the man is the leader of the free world. He's brilliant, funny, handsome. He's an above-average dancer. Isn't it possible our standards are just a tad high?"
I have a relatively firm two-date rule because I don't believe you can get to know anyone to any degree of accuracy after just one date. I broke it this week for a guy who said he almost never makes it to shacharit and doesn't view it as an obligation to do so. To me, that indicated a lack of concern with halacha, which I found disturbing. (Had he indicated he doesn't always get to shacharit, but it's something he's really working on, I may have felt differently. It was the brazen lack of concern for halacha that made it a so obvious no.)
I worry that my standards are, well, a tad high. I don't believe in having lists of very specific requirements for guys I date (and I think, in fact, that one of the worst failings of the shidduch system is that it allows these lists and so discourages people from meeting one another and deciding after that what is negotiable and what is not), and I like to think I'm pretty flexible on everything besides hashkafa. I can figure out if personalities click or if I find someone attractive or if we have similar interests or whatever without a list.
And I am willing to recognize that we make life changes and sacrifices and compromises for the people we love and care about, so there's very little I am willing to say that I need in a guy. Relationships are unpredictable—I have watched enough of my friends marry guys that were so far from what they thought they were looking for to know that. I mean, dating is for figuring these things out, right?
But I do specify what I am looking for haskafically. (Also that I need someone smart because, well, I cannot even fathom marrying someone who is not smart.) I do this because my religious practice is important to me, and I've spent a long time and a lot of effort figuring out where I stand religiously, and that's important to me. But lately, I've been wondering if even then I am being too picky. Because I stand on lonely hashkafic ground.
Am I asking too much when I say I want someone who is both committed to halacha and also engaged in the secular world, someone who will respect my professional ambitions and realize that an Orthodox woman can be more than a mother and homemaker (not that there's anything wrong with that if that's what a woman wants to do, but it is not what I want) but also someone who recognizes that the lack of any sort of formal role for women within Judaism is frustrating if somewhat inevitable? I daven twice a day and learn multiple times a week; am I crazy for wanting a guy who davens with a minyan three times a day and who is koveah itim? Or even recognizes these things as goals.
Then again, as a friend asked recently, what difference does it make to me if my husband doesn't stand exactly where I stand? How will it affect me and my daily existence? And a teacher whom I respect once told me that the question I should ask when dating is whether we would want to send our kids to the same school. Another friend constantly maintains that personality compatibility is far more important than the nitty gritties of hashkafa.
All these people are right to some extent, but, still I want to marry someone whose values I share, who wants to lead the same sort of life I want to lead, who agrees with me on the role Torah should play in our lives. And I don't think that's unreasonable, though it may be more than a little impractical.