Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

I have never gone out on a date and I am already frustrated. My parents have been doing their research in narrowing the dating pool so that when I do go out, our chances of connection are increased. They hope that the time and energy that they put into learning about a potential date might translate into compatibility when we do meet. I agree with their method as I am still new at this and their vetting will definitely be helpful. The way I see it, if they are excited about a certain girl, I plan to date her with an open mind and heart because they worked so hard to seek out the ways that we seem like a good match. But then, when they were done and settled on a seemingly amazing girl, she said no! And not because she doesn’t think we are a good match or because she heard anything bad about me. She said no because I have never dated before! This is crazy to me. Am I wrong?




Dear Newbie,

I was cooking for Shabbos and the smells of the incredible food filled our home. Our oldest walked into the kitchen and saw the steaming potato kugel as it was pulled from the oven. But when I offered the first piece, he declined. “I’d rather wait till it cools off,” he said. Slowly but surely the rest of the kids wandered in as the freshly baked challah and schnitzel fought for ‘best smell ever.’ But when I offered a taste, they all refused. “Maybe later,” I heard again and again. A cake and brownies came out next and even our neighbors could not resist the smells. Again, I offered, but no one wanted that first bite, preferring to wait until the food was served later. There was even a mention of waiting to eat leftovers because ‘everyone knows’ that food that has been heated and reheated multiple times is the most delicious. So alone in the kitchen, I turned into a unicorn and flew off into the sunset. What?! That’s impossible? Yup. As is my entire story. One big IMPOSSIBILTY. The truth is that the scavengers I call children actually ate all the food before Shabbos and I had to cook twice. The End.


Potato Kugel…

Starting to date is always so exciting. A time filled with possibilities and potential. A young man or women can feel energized and perhaps a bit nervous as they embark on a new road that will hopefully lead them toward a successful marriage. Here you were, ready to date. Bolstered by the hard work your parents have put into researching the girls suggested for you, you were looking forward to meeting your match. Yet, before you could even go out, you were handed a “no” simply because you have never dated before. Unable to date because you have never gone on a date.


Is Best Served…

Some might search for why this reasoning makes sense. Perhaps they will say that your lack of experience might slow down or hinder the dating process. Maybe they will suggest that your empty dating history needs to be filled with some rejection or disappointment before you can go out so that you are better suited to chose the right girl. Or perhaps they simply believe that you will say ‘no’ to the first girl you date, because you might wonder if there are better ‘fish in the sea” that you did not have the opportunity to meet.



The above are all not valid reasons to say no to someone who has never dated before. Many couples get engaged and have beautiful marriages after meeting only one person. The right person. Someone who has never dated before will be motivated and ready to connect. They will not be weighed down by the toll that dating can take on a person. As you said, you are planning to date with an “open mind and an open heart” because your parents have put forth so much effort to finding someone who seems right for you. Regardless, passing over a potential match because they have not dated before is not acceptable. When mazel and bracha are offered to you, say YES. Do not pass on a “first.” This is dismissing a gift that has been presented to you. Take that first piece and say thank you for the potato kugel, er, future in your hand. You have been offered a win, grab it.


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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at [email protected] to schedule a phone session.