Rabbi Yisroel Bernath, featured in Kosher Love, is the Jewish Chaplain at Concordia University and has helped hundreds of singles break through the 'singles wall'. He founded JMatchmaking International (a network of Jewish dating sites) and has made over fifty successful matches so far, hence the "Love Rabbi" moniker. But you certainly don't have to be Jewish to make good use of his advice.
Don't become good at dating, You'll never get married.
Dating is the opposite of marriage. I’ve noticed that people who are too into dating don’t get married, and if they do, they’re more likely to get divorced. If you get too comfortable with dating, then when you get married, you may end up really confused.
Need help? The rabbi has a guide to help you make a list to what you want to find and what you have to give to that special someone. Find it here.
You need to understand who you are before you date.
I’ll tell you a secret: self-confidence is a really attractive quality to the opposite sex. It’s achieved when we start to feel good about the direction of our lives. It’s not a product of your beautiful face or bulging bank account; you are simply and quietly confident in your ability to contribute something positive to the world.
Don't take yourself too seriously — the less you try to impress, the more you will.
Dating should be an educated, yet pleasurable experience. You have to go out and have fun and make sure the other person has fun. Ironically, the harder you try at succeeding at dating, the more likely you are to fail. The less you try to impress a date, the more you eventually will. You have to let go, be yourself, and allow the full vibrancy of your human personality to manifest.
Yeah, I know you would expect this one coming from a rabbi. But think about it for a second: do you want to fall in love — or fall in lust? Touch should be sensual. If it’s not sensual, then you have desensitized yourself and become so good at dating, that you may not get married. Touch blurs the line between love and lust.
Don't be afraid to talk serious!
Many engaged couples who come to meet with me have never had a serious conversation. I'm always shocked that couples can be dating for years and never have a serious conversation. Don't be afraid to talk about life goals, kids, education, your plans for the future. Part of a relationship is sharing goals. It’s great to be on the same page from the get-go. You never know, your date may surprise you with their answers!
Look for your complement, not your sister. It's not Mr. Right, it’s Mr. Right For Me!
Men and women are opposites by nature. Whoever said opposites attract was trying to complicate something that is simple. You're not trying to find your opposite; you’re trying to find your complement, the complement of your soul, otherwise known as your "soulmate". When you know who you are, you will recognize your complement. Your date may be good-looking and attractive, but it doesn't mean they are your complement. Although that person you’re "looking for" brings many things, those things are all superficial. A soulmate, on the other hand, brings you only one thing, but it’s the most vital thing of all: an end to your loneliness and the feeling that you are the most special person in the entire world.
It’s a relationship, not a negotiation — so don't ever "settle".
How I hate that term. What does that mean anyway? Settling. Who are you to know what is settling and what isn’t? Dating should never begin with what we have, it must begin with what we lack. You don’t go into a relationship because you have something, you go into a relationship because you are missing something. And only by identifying the one big thing that you are missing are you guaranteed to find someone who actually makes you feel whole.
Stop trying to be your own soulmate.
Many people think that no one will ever be able to love them as much as they love themselves. We are a generation of self-sufficient people. We used to rely on others, we used to need others. Today, we have our own jobs, our own homes; we can afford to go on nice vacations and buy ourselves new clothes.
This independence is incredible in almost every way, aside for the way we date. Years ago, people looked for one big thing in a life-long partner; today we look for many little things. Because people who are financially independent have greater choice in their lifestyle, they need to make up a laundry list of things that they want to find in a marriage.
Many people today feel smug about themselves — they rarely look to share their lives (less superficially than Facebook, anyway). We don’t feel any great need to search for our own soul — never mind for our soulmate.
Love is not tit for tat
Don't keep track. It’s not a game. It's real life. No need to keep count of who paid for what and who did what. We live in a pluralistic society, so today we tend to share the costs more than in previous years. We need to learn to get satisfaction from giving, not from taking. When both people give to each other 100 per cent, the rewards are endless.
Don't date to death
So many great relationships end because the couple does what I call the "date to death." There is a natural evolution to a relationship. The initial courtship, getting to know each other, getting more serious, the proposal, engagement and then marriage (there is also a progression to marriage, but we'll save it for another time). Many people are simply afraid of commitment so they string their partner along until the relationship crashes. Allow the relationship to progress naturally — no need to hold it back.
Rabbi Bernath is married and lives with his wife and four children in Montreal.
Ready for the next step? Read: Top Ten Tips for Newly Engaged Couples.