I am a klutz. I have proved to be capable of tripping over my own two feet, bumping into walls, and knocking over cups filled with various liquids, luckily most often water, which is not nearly as difficult to clean up as soda, which gets sticky. The reason I mention this is because a while back I was on a date and we were walking some place slippery.
I always make sure to wear comfortable shoes on dates, ones that I can walk in for hours if need be. This is partly because I never know how much walking I will end up doing, but also because I enjoy walking and one of my ideal date ideas is just walking around and talking, preferably in the park on a nice, sunny day. I say this as a preface to the rest of the story, so that you don’t blame it on the lack of traction on my shoes, but the fact that I’m clumsy combined with the fact that where we were walking was slippery.
If you’re thinking, “Oh she probably slipped and fell down,” well, Baruch Hashem that did not happen. What happened was that I slipped, lost my balance for a second, and almost fell, but managed to regain my balance. The interesting part, though, was the guy’s gut reaction, which was instinctively to reach out his arms to catch me. Remember that this happened in all of about 3 seconds- me losing my balance, saying “whoa,” his arms in a split second reaching out, ready to catch me, and me regaining my balance, so there was no need.
But I always wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t regained my balance. Would he have caught me and would we have touched? Would I have instinctively grabbed on to the closest thing to help me regain my balance, meaning, him, and then quickly let go the second I was back on my feet? That would have been so awkward, so I’m glad it didn’t happen. But the alternative would have been to hope that he didn’t stretch out his hands, and just let me fall, so as not to touch me, which could be viewed as halachic or as rude, depending on how you look at it. He also came from a background where he had not been shomer negiah for his entire life, which I think was part of the reason why his impulse was to reach and not to refrain.
Here’s the question: Should he have stretched out my hands to catch me or shouldn’t he? I remember being shocked that his gut reaction was to reach out like that, instead of to panic and stand there motionless as I struggled to maintain balance. My immediate reaction was, “Hmm, was he really about to touch me?” I think if a guy I was on a date with lost his balance, my guy would be not to reach out, since it’s touching, and it’s been so ingrained in me to refrain from touching males.
I know of a girl who is dating a guy who was a trained EMT and certain circumstances arose where she needed medical attention and he was there and he did what he needed to do. She commented how strange it was for him to be touching her, but of course it was necessary so she was glad he intervened. That still doesn’t negate the fact that on some level it’s a bit odd.
So, what do you think? Should he have reached out to help me, and should I have taken this as a sign that he has good middos, and is a kind person for not letting me fall? Or should I have been concerned about the fact that he was so quick to abandon the laws of negiah? What would you do in this situation/ what would you expect your date to do in this situation?