Jewish Dating: How to Grow Through this Experience

Jewish Dating: How to Grow Through this Experience by Fay Brezel, LMHC, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, LMHC

Jewish Dating: How to Grow Through this Experience

Like all unfamiliar experiences, dating comes with its share of fears. Some are irrational, inventions of our minds, but a lot of these are fears that are very real and difficult to overcome. The good news is that we have control over how we approach it, and we can help make this battle an enriching and empowering one. Obviously, this isn’t foolproof, but approaching our time with other people with these ideas in mind can be a big part of having the confidence necessary to attract the right person. 

Begin your Jewish dating journey with a healthy sense of self-confidence. 

The first steps into the drama of dating will undoubtedly cause us to ask a lot of questions. Will the person sitting across from me like me? Will they understand me? Will they be happy around me? Will I be what they are looking for?

A good first step to consider is, instead of focusing our energy on the other person involved, to realize what we like, and what we are interested in. Physically, are we happy and confident in the way we present ourselves? Maybe we can harness more of our own unique style in our getup, make use of a new self-care routine, or even make daring decisions about color palates or accessory choices that we enjoy. It is crucial to remember that these aren’t simply making the more attractive choice, or attempting to dress for others. This step is all about choosing what we ourselves love, making us feel more confident all around.

The same goes for our interests and passions. While a modicum of respect and civility are important in our conversations, we don’t have to always be twisting ourselves in knots, trying to get ourselves to love everything our date mentions. Remember that our own identity is what is most important because that will be the root of our confidence when meeting new people.  

How Jewish dating, self-love, and the law of attraction go hand in hand. 

Even before stepping out on our first date, we should evaluate our lives. Are we happy with where we are in life? Are we content with what we are accomplishing? A healthy base of self-esteem is extremely important to an enriching dating experience. What can we do to make ourselves feel better about the life we currently have? Adding a person to our lives shouldn’t be seen as a solution to an existing deficiency in our overall wellness.

It is also important to recognize that we will attract people with similar likes, and loves,  that we already have. If we love ourselves, we will attract someone who will love us too, but if we’re quick to beat ourselves up, the person we attract may not always see the best in us, either. 

That doesn’t mean that we have to see ourselves as perfect. As a matter of fact, we should see our own imperfections, as well. We can notice them, work on them, and, most important of all, accept them. As the cliche goes, nobody’s perfect. We can understand our own shortfalls with love, because only then can we expect a potential partner to do the same.  

When entering the dating scene, whether that means meeting a matchmaker, attending an event, networking among friends, or in whatever method we feel most comfortable, remember that how we present ourselves, even in those initial conversations, is going to affect who is going to be suggested to us. Having the ability to take ownership of our great qualities, alongside the lesser ones, is a great start in building real internal confidence.  

Stepping back into the Jewish dating world after relationship trauma and grief.

What if we already dated, and had a terrible experience? What if we are now attempting to reenter dating, and need some clarity before getting back into the swing of things?  

The first thing to consider is whether we are dating for the right reasons. Regardless of the length of the relationship, the transition from being engaged or seriously dating somebody to being no longer involved has a grieving process. It is important to be sure that grief is processed properly, and not to jump back into dating as a method of distraction from that grief. Being seriously involved in a  relationship causes a shift in identity, and feeling sad, lonely, and lost when it’s over are actually beneficial parts of learning from the experience and having it be empowering in the future. If the grieving process isn’t completed, it becomes a  heavy weight that is carried into day-to-day life, and confidence and happiness will be affected.

Furthermore, future relationships can be deeply triggering if instances of the past are brought up, (e.g. if the new partner says “I love you”,  reminding of the last chapter that hasn’t yet been closed). While defenses may be heightened, and new relationships may still be triggering, properly grieving allows for the right tools to deal with those situations. We need to allow ourselves to feel all the negative emotions our past experience has brought upon us so that we can face the next step in finding our way through the dating world.  

So how can we know if we are ready to date again?

One important component is recognizing the complete story and our own part in it. We must learn to take responsibility for the potential actions that may have contributed to our negative experiences. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should be shouldering all of the blame for whatever went wrong. Still, if we feel like we had absolutely no part in it, that’s usually a pretty good indicator that we aren’t prepared to continue dating just yet.  

Trauma is almost always going to come alongside a split relationship. This can manifest as fear of future interactions, overwhelming doubts, or thoughts about the past that can hold us back from moving forward. Remember: trauma isn’t going to be healed. Our best hope is that we can learn to live with our trauma, letting gaping wounds fade into scars. Holding back from moving on in hopes of being cured of our trauma will be discouraging because that secret cure doesn’t exist. Learning to work with our trauma, though, will be a fulfilling journey.  

Dipping our toes in the water, we can check its temperature. It may feel easiest to just stay away from it all until everything is back to the way it was, but real growth will only occur when we try hard to put ourselves in somewhat uncomfortable situations. The good news is, we can take this at our own speed, making small efforts, and pushing further when we see success.

All along, stay mindful of the truth, that trauma doesn’t get fixed. It gets worked through.  

Working with our triggers through the Jewish dating process. 

When we reenter the dating scene for the first time in a while, it is completely understandable that our defenses will be heightened, and we might not be comfortable in areas that came to us easily before. Often, we will encounter triggers, and reminders of our past traumas, that send us spiraling back into the anxieties and uncertainties of the past. But of course, the only way out is through.

First, we must acknowledge that the trigger is often not the fault of the person who triggered that response. We must take ownership of our triggers, remember why they are there, and then calmly remind ourselves that we are better equipped now. This isn’t something we can learn solely in a therapy session.

We will really only be pitted against our triggers when we take those steps into the real world. That's where we learn to cope with our triggers if or when they confront us. We will take the first steps out there, feel something scary, and need to stay mindful of our newfound skills and techniques for dealing with that feeling. This is where working with a therapist or coach can be the most rewarding as they can handhold us through these difficult and uncomfortable experiences. If you don't yet have an ally like this on your side, you can find the best dating coaches right here and/or a therapist who specializes in relationships and dating in the Jewish communities right here.

Feeling ready to hop into the Jewish dating scene?

Remember, when dating we aren’t chasing a mythical puzzle piece to solve all our problems, and we aren’t trying to fix theirs.  

We should see this process of allowing someone new into our lives as offering them a privilege. Our outlook, when leaving on a date, should be, “I love my life, and I am choosing to spend two hours of it with you!” 

While pain and trauma can still exist, they are just learned experiences that you have now mastered, to use to your advantage. Triggers will come, but you now understand them and will be equipped to deal with them as they show up.  

To begin (or continue) dating with confidence, the most important thing to do is to get started. When things stand in our way, our internal resourcefulness and the skills we have gained from the past will help us move past them.  

Using these tools, we will be in control of our environment when possible, and, even when we aren’t, we will still be in control of our reactions. So let’s shake off the fear, and embrace the enriching dating experience we deserve! 

This article is based on a live conversation I had with Michali Friedman, LCSW.

You can watch the full conversation right here:

Let us know if this was helpful to you by dropping a comment down below.

Thanks for being part of our movement to make the Jewish community happier, healthier, and more whole. You're a rockstar. Xo, Fay

About the author

Fay Brezel, LMHC

Therapist, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, LMHC

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

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Comment (1)

  • Yoram 03 Jul 2023

    Trauma is curable

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