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Dec 3, 2011

Minimum Dating Requirements

Have you ever thought about how every program for computers has "minimum system requirements" in order to load and run it? Requirements without which the program just won't run...

Sometimes I feel like dating works the same way. In this particular metaphor, "the program" would be dating, having a relationship, marriage and a life together. But each person has their "minimum dating requirements" before they allow "the program" to load up and run.

I had an interesting thought about this metaphor. The idea of having "minimum system requirements" is so that "the program" can run for most people, but I sometimes wonder if our own "minimum dating requirements" are set too high, which may begin to explain why so many of us have so much difficulty.

Some people try and explain that it's a good thing. That we need what we need, that it's important to have standards, that the things we have in our "requirements" are absolutely necessary. Some people talk about really only needing one.

Today, I'm not going down that path. Because today, I'm doubting how true that is. Today, I'm starting to think that if we assume a whole bunch of things we want is what we really need, if we are not being open to building a relationship, trying to see how "the program" runs, if we don't give it a chance -a real chance -we're the ones creating the problem.

Because we're the ones who are pushing away opportunities, telling ourselves and others that it's just not a good fit when we've already decided for ourselves precisely what a "good fit" must be. We're the ones preventing "the program" from running. Because what we have isn't "minimum system requirements," it's just a lack of tolerance for anything outside our own individual set of goals, expectations or dreams.

Expectations like how many hours the guy has to learn to have Torah learning as a value, how thin a woman has to be in order to be attractive. Goals like making Aliyah within a certain number of years. Dreams like having a Shabbat table set with a white table cloth for a specific number and type of guest(s), having plates cleared one at a time. Or having a spouse who will work to make a contribution to family finances and cook and do dishes and take a strong role as a parent and caregiver. And sometimes we reject anyone who doesn't have or conform to all those things under the guise of "that's just not for me" as though it's so different, foreign, unacceptable to have in our own lives. Why? What is so unacceptable? What makes minor or even major differences unbridgeable? 

Occasionally I think we look to far down the line, building an image in our minds of a life we want to cram someone else into. Expectations we form that serve as our "minimum dating requirements." Maybe it should really be titled "requirements to cram you into my life." Perhaps that's a better title for this post.

I admit to being guilty of that, in my own way(s). On both sides -I've been frustrated, feeling that the person I went out with didn't given me a chance; and I've pushed off suggestions, not giving the other person a chance because of my own "minimum dating requirements."

So now, I question myself and everyone, asking: 
"Does bashert mean someone who fits into my own narrow vision of what must constitute my life partner?" 

Because that seems both selfishly narrow minded and really arrogant to me. And maybe I'm a bit of both. Maybe you are too. Maybe it's something to work on and change.


**There is a subtle assumption underlying the entire post, which I will articulate here. Relationships, marriage and building a life/home/family together is a joint endeavor, requiring two people to put in constant, consistent work. These "minimum dating requirements" are far more self-oriented than partner-oriented. They lead to the question: "Is this someone I want for me?" rather than "Can I make it work with this person?" Having a self-oriented view gets in the way of being partner-oriented.)

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. The more I mature the more I feel open about the details if the commitment and the strenght to build the relationship is here. But I am an "old" woman of 35y/o. Did you meet young people able to think this way?