While you’re supposed to have fun on a date, Judaism doesn’t endorse dating for fun. The objective of dating is marriage—building a Jewish home with your partner.

The process for religious dating is constructed to meet that goal with as little emotional baggage, angst, and wear and tear on the heart and mind of the participants.

Here are six strategies for achieving your goal and marrying the right person.

1. Get a Recommendation


People can’t get hired nowadays without providing three references, so why would you consider marrying someone (or even dating them) without a few people vouching for them? You can also check in advance whether the issues that are deal-breakers are present so you don’t waste time dating someone who isn’t suitable. But what if you meet the person at an event? You can still ask for the phone number of a friend or colleague who would be willing to tell you a bit.

2. No Touching, No Pressure


Intimacy in Judaism is reserved for marriage; it’s not a path to marriage. Keeping the relationship platonic allows you to get to know the other person without being confused by your hormones. So no good-night kiss, no holding hands, no brushing the hair off her face or the crumbs from his lips. And it goes without saying, nothing even more intimate. When you take physical intimacy out of the equation, there’s a lot less pressure and fewer expectations. While physical attraction is important, not being physical builds a pleasant tension that can offer clarity instead of confusion. It also upholds the value and specialness of intimacy within marriage, with the person that you have decided to commit to share your life.

3. In the Public Eye


In order to ensure that things stay on course, it’s best if meetings take place in public places. That protects you from getting into a situation that might lead to unwanted intimacy. It also helps you see how the other person treats people in a public venue—waiters, the homeless, friends they might meet. And if for some reason you need to make a quick exit, you can.

4. Focused Activities


When you date for marriage, your focus should be on the person you’re with, not the activity. You want to learn about the person as much as possible. That’s best done through talking and spending one-on-one time together without the distraction of loud music, entertainment or other people. Though it’s obviously a good idea to see a person in different situations, taking a quiet walk together, sitting in a hotel lobby or having coffee in a restaurant allows you to get to know each other in a relaxed and unhurried manner. Give your date your full attention and get theirs. You should feel comfortable talking to each other; the conversation should flow naturally and the discussion should be respectful.

5. Look for Common Values


While having a good sense of humor and similar tastes in food is nice, you are looking for a potential spouse with common goals and values. Although there are areas where opposites complement each other, you should be on the same page regarding significant issues like:

  • What religious values do you want to instill in your family?
  • What kind of community do you want to live in?
  • Are you thinking of having a lot of children or a few?
  • What are your thoughts on how to educate your children?
  • How important is making money versus family time?
  • Do you have the same mindset about debt and spending?
  • Are there any issues you should know about: addictions, health problems, dysfunction in the family?
  • How prominently are your friends and extended family going to figure in your life when you’re married?
  • What is the division of labor in your family, and do you want to emulate it?

Though some scenarios can’t be negotiated because they can’t be predicted at this point, discussing these issues is important to determine whether you have the same destination in mind so you can be fellow travelers on the same road (detours notwithstanding).

6. Family First


Congratulations, you think this might be the one! Before you drink a l’chaim, it might be a good idea to have your intended meet some family and close friends (providing you have healthy relationships with them). They know you well and sometimes what’s best for you better than you do. They’ll be looking at your potential mate with a more critical eye (minus the stardust) and can alert you to any red flags you might have missed or give you the extra confidence to go ahead with the most important decision of your life.

Mazel tov! Wishing you a joyous celebration of your diamond anniversary together.