I have a question about shidduch dating. How is it possible that within the space of a few weeks and only a few dates a couple can get engaged? In modern secular dating couples may live together for a year or two before deciding to marry, and yet in traditional Jewish dating they never even live together and get married within months of meeting! From personal experience and anecdotal evidence, it seems to work. But how?


Boy meets girl at a party. They like each other. He makes her laugh. She makes him feel good about himself. They hit it off.

As the guy is about to get her a drink, she says, "Can I just ask you a question? Are you interested in marriage, or just something casual. Because I am looking to settle down and have children in the near future."

After an uncomfortable silence, the guy says, "I was just going to ask if you want Diet Coke or regular . . . "

In the world of secular dating, there is no way you can bring up such heavy topics the first time you meet. In fact, it might be six months or more into a relationship when you can start to even mention marriage and family and the future. But, by then, you are emotionally entangled. If his priorities don't match hers, but they are in love, they are in trouble.

He might not want to settle down for another five years, or not have children altogether. She will then be faced with an excruciating choice: give up her dreams, or give up her love. And she will very likely choose love, with sometimes tragic results.

On the other hand, he knows nothing about her and her background. For all he knows, she is an axe murderer on parole. That might also lead to problems later on.

The traditional Jewish dating system helps avoid these issues. Before you even meet prospective partners, you find out about them. What are his values and beliefs? What does she want to do with their life? How was he shaped by his family and upbringing?

And most importantly, you only date for keeps. You will either get married or go your separate ways. No casual relationships.

If all that sounds good, and both parties are interested, the actual dating is about seeing if you click, if you can communicate, if you grow on each other. The big questions have already been answered. You know you match on paper, so let's see if you match in real life. That doesn't take too long to tell.

In secular dating, the heart leads, and that can be very messy. In shidduch dating, the mind leads the heart. First, it has to make sense, then it has to feel right. Because when we have feelings for someone, our emotions cloud our judgment, and can make us overlook problems. That is great in marriage, but a disaster in dating.

The shidduch system is not foolproof. But when followed correctly, it can save a lot of time and a lot of heartache. Because love is blind, you need to enter a relationship with eyes wide open.