Internet Dating: Yay or Nay?

Question of the week:

Hi Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin,

I am a young Christian man and I have followed y’all’s teachings for many years now. I am always enamored at the wisdom you both bring in all your resources. So thank you for all you’ve done over the years for me and my family through those teachings.

My question is one that I hadn’t ever wanted to ask, but because of the year-long shut-down and the changes it has brought, it is becoming more difficult to pursue someone using other more traditional avenues like Church events or other social settings. What is y’all’s opinion on online dating sites? I’ve been trying to meet young women that could be compatible to me using the normal means, but with my job being a very busy one this year (I’m a tax accountant, and this year has had several extended deadlines both in the US and specifically in Texas where I live) I haven’t had much opportunity to seek them out that way. Several people close to me have suggested using dating sites to find a potential wife, but I’m very hesitant because my family and I have a more traditional and less digital mindset than today’s culture.

I listened to your podcast a few weeks ago Rabbi about the 10 destructive delusions of dating and absolutely loved it. I’ve also read all of the books that y’all promote in your resources relating to dating. So I know what to do and how to think once I am in a relationship. It’s just that getting into a relationship is more difficult using the means that I have been attempting.

Thank y’all for all your wisdom and guidance you’ve given me thus far,

~ Matthew M.

Dear Matthew,

You sound very thoughtful and we are honored that you value our input. You mention reading our books, so we’d like to remind you that the sixth commandment in Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money is titled: Constantly Change the Changeable, While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable. That sentence might be a bit of a tongue-twister but the principle will work in this area of your life as well.

What is unchangeable when it comes to searching for a spouse? You will have a list of your own, but we don’t encourage you to change your standards in terms of looking for someone with certain morals, religious commitments, and values; measuring personality compatibility and physical attraction; and sharing a vision of family life.

We see no reason that the method by which you meet this person can’t change. Before discussing the use of reputable online sites (and we trust you to do the research to know which sites meet your standards), we would like to share something from our experience.

It is extremely common in much of the Jewish community for young men and women to meet through introductions. People’s friends, neighbors, aunts, uncles, teachers and just about everyone with whom they cross paths think about whether one person they know might be a match for another person. While some of the suggestions turn out to be totally unsuitable, it is not unusual for one woman to mention her niece to a friend and have the friend respond, “I have a nephew who sounds like he could be an interesting match for her.” Upon hearing that some of our children met their own spouses in this way, some of our Christian friends are amazed.

If introducing people isn’t the norm in your community, we suggest that you notify people whom you trust that you are looking for a wife and would not consider it intrusive or pushy if they suggested someone. To the contrary, you would appreciate their concern.

As for online dating, we think it is a perfectly reasonable way to proceed at this point. As we mentioned, do your research on which sites attract serious and like-minded individuals. We do recommend treating the women you meet in this way with the respect and courtesy you would treat someone you meet in person. In other words, confine yourself to one conversation at a time rather than juggling three or four women who show potential. Set times for focused conversation rather than falling into the trap of exchanging quick one-liners through the day with someone you don’t really know. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear that there are some well-written articles giving advice for handling these types of introductions. However, we also encourage you to make the time in a busy work schedule to keep on participating in social and community activities in person when they do take place. If you can’t find the time to do that, how will you find the time to devote to building a relationship?

Try to move an Internet connection to a telephone conversation as quickly as possible. Most girls will find a telephone conversation less anxiety-provoking than a video-call or FaceTime chat. It will also allow you to focus on the conversation rather than being distracted by beauty. Try to move away from text messaging as quickly as possible.

The sequence of the three Biblical verses (Deuteronomy 20:5, 6, 7) teaches that a man should have his own place to live, a livelihood, and only then is he ready to find a wife. (…who is the man who has built a new house, …and who is the man who has planted a vineyard, and who is the man who has betrothed a woman…) We’re sure you have a place to live or the resources to buy one and we know you have a fine profession as a tax accountant, so you are quite ready for the next step.

While in theory, we like the idea of the “girl next door,” that simply isn’t today’s reality. We don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with expanding your options using the Internet.

Wishing you much success,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin


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