Dear Jew in the City,
I know it’s important to date and marry a Jewish man, but I’m having a really hard time finding quality Jewish men in my hometown! Do I really have to move to LA, NY, or Israel to find my soul mate?
Also, I’ve found a Jewish man I am in love with. However, we have been dating on and off for three years. We’re currently not together, but I’d really like to be again. It seems like he would too, but he is not “ready.” I know it’s a commandment in the Torah for men to marry, but do you have any advice on how to turn a man who isn’t ready for commitment into one who is?
Beth from San Deigo
Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to get people to do something they don’t want to do on their own. You can provide a person with very compelling reasons, but many people are fine living with cognitive dissonance. Others may be able to admit they’re wrong, but have trouble living up to what they believe is right. That being said, I wouldn’t waste any more time or heartache on this guy. You don’t want to be begging someone to marry you – you want someone to be over the moon at the idea of spending the rest of his life with you.
But where can you find such a guy? With our commitment-phobic society, where people live together for years instead of getting married, and raise an animal together instead of having kids, is it possible to find a guy who will be self-motivated to, as Beyonce says, “put a ring on it?”
Fortunately, there is one group of guys within the Jewish world that are especially marriage-minded, but meeting one doesn’t come down to location as much as it comes down to looking for a certain type: Orthodox. (No, not all Orthodox guys are issue-free when it comes to marriage, but as a whole, they are FAR more marriage-oriented than any other Jewish group of men).
Why are Orthodox guys (generally) more marriage-oriented than guys from the secular word? Because in the rest of the world, men, while they’re single, are free to have as many escapades with as many women as they can manage to get. So what’s marriage to them? An end to their fun. An end to their freedom. Their wife is the “old ball and chain” tying them down to a life of restriction.
With Orthodox guys, though, they live a life of restriction until they get married! The laws of shomer negia (which Orthodox Jews are supposed to observe, though surely not all do) keep single men (and women) from touching any non (immediate) family member of the opposite sex. (As an aside, there’s a debate, but people in my circles will shake hands with members of the opposite sex who are not family members in order to not embarrass them. In more right wing circles, they don’t.)
What shomer negia does to guys (and to girls, to some extent, though we generally need less motivation) is help them get past their fear of commitment because they are NOT having their cake and eating it too. In addition to the physical motivation to commit to a woman, Orthodox men grow up in a society where marriage and family is at the center of life, and where friends and peers marry at younger ages.
Last but not least, most Orthodox men shidduch date, which means they date for marriage only. This is another big plus in getting involved with an Orthodox guy. In the secular world, dating barely exists these days. Instead people simply hook up after meeting, and often have different ideas or expectations as to what they want post hook-up. When people shidduch date, they’re being set up by family and friends who hopefully have a sense as to who they’d be compatible with and are dating for the purpose of making a lifetime commitment. If and when something comes up that is a deal breaker (or if one of both parties are simply not attracted to the other) the couple stops dating and moves on to the next possibility. Shidduch dating is NOT a perfect system, but compared to the alternative, it works quite well.
I assume that you’re not Orthodox, so you’d have to learn about Orthodox Judaism (and commit to an observant life) before starting to date Orthodox guys–though if you’ve gotten to this site, you’re probably already interested. Please feel free to be in touch if you’d like to discuss how you can start exploring traditional Judaism. I’d anyway recommend that you learn, dating-issues aside, but getting to connect with your beautiful heritage in addition to increasing your chances of finding a husband will be the icing on the (please God!) wedding cake.
All the best,
Allison (aka Jew in the City)