Dear Rabbi and Shira,
I don’t know what to do! I’m 21, have returned from seminary and have completed 2 years of college.. My parents, friends and family are all pressuring me to start dating, but I don’t feel as though I’m ready. Discussions with my mother usually deteriorate into her crying and telling me that I’ll end up alone, with a bunch of cats. This gets me very nervous and then I start crying as well. However, I still do not know what I want to do when I grow up, ,my parents have no way to help me and I perosnalluy do not feel emotionally ready to get married. How can I start dating when I’m such a mess? What should I do?
Not dating in Kensington
Dear “Not Dating”,
Hi, it’s definitely a difficult position to be in, when those around you are pressuring you to do something that you feel unready to do. Oftentimes big goals seem to be out of reach and the thought of reaching them can be overwhelming. The Gemara (Shabbos 43b) makes the fascinating statement that a person loses their eyesight when they have psia gasa, (trying step too far at any given time). One explanation of this statement is that taking things in a natural progression, allows you to reach your goal, without losing sight of it.
You began by listing some of the reasons why you feel that you aren’t ready to date. Can you create a list of the benchmarks when you feel you would be ready? Create clear definable goals in each category. What educational and career components do you feel you need to have achieved? What other personal/wellness goals do you feel you lack? What will it take to get there?
Discuss with your parents the stress that this is putting on you. Explain your concerns and share your benchmarks and plan with them. Remind them that while getting marriage is a goal, feeling ready and making the correct choice so that you stay married is an even more important goal.
If the stresses are becoming unmanageable, making you unable to function in your day to day schedule, we highly recommend you speak with a therapist.
Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack