I’d like to add a fourth rule to my three rules of shidduch dating that I wish I knew before I started dating. Rule #4 is luckily not something that is necessarily so difficult for me, but I find myself reiterating it to friends over and over. The list is more of a general “things people should be told before they start dating” that even if we know them, for some reason aren’t laid out.
To review the three previous rules:
1. Don’t get your hopes up.
2. Don’t take rejection personally.
3. Remember that Hashem is the only shadchan.
Rule #4: Don’t compare yourself or your situation to anyone else or their situation. This is true in general in life, but often we need to be particularly reminded of this in dating. On the list of “no one ever told me” is the fact that every single person’s dating experience is different. Everyone has their own struggles, so don’t go wishing you were in someone else’s shoes. Here are a bunch of real life examples. In each case the problem and the opposite problem are just as bad:
There are the daters who always get dumped and always feel that they are the ones being rejected. Then there are the daters who everyone seems to fall in love with and are always the ones doing the dumping. Each time they have to break another heart it pains them; they are kind and despise always hurting people.
There are the daters who constantly find that they are stuck in "droughts", who rarely get set up. Then there are the daters who are overwhelmed with suggestions and would love to have a break every now and then. There are also daters who constantly get set up, but each time it’s completely not shayach and goes nowhere.
There are the daters who are constantly rejected because of their physical appearance, who complain that the more attractive people have it the best, and then there are the super attractive people who are frustrated that the only reason people agree to go out with them is because of their attractiveness. They wonder how many would say yes if they had a different appearance.
There are the daters who watch their younger siblings get married and have children, and there are the daters who watch their younger siblings follow in the same path of difficulties with dating.
There are the daters who date for a very long time before finding the right one, and there are people (who I won’t even call ‘daters’) who happen to meet the right person before they are ready to get married and suffer because they have found the right one and want to get married, but for whatever reason cannot. There are those who marry the first person they date, only to feel like an outcast from their friends and though they’ve gained a spouse, they lose their friends.
The bottom line is that everyone has a different dating experience, and we shouldn’t look at other people’s experience and say, “Hey, why can’t my situation be like that person’s?” That’s not how life goes. That’s not how it goes in any other area of life either. Some people have it easier than others, or at least they appear to. I have yet to meet someone who says, “Dating? Piece of cake! All smooth sailing! Not complicated at all.” People go through different things and deal with it in different ways. And that is perfectly OK.