Dear Dating Coach,
I am a 22-year-old guy with a 24-year-old single brother and a 26-year-old single sister. I have been ready to start dating for a while, but my parents refuse to let me date before my older siblings get married. My siblings have both said that they are fine with me dating, but my parents refuse to see reason! I feel like I am stuck in limbo, just waiting. How do I get out of this jam?
Stuck in Traffic
It’s Sunday and you have a mission. You wake up early and get ready for battle. You confer with your fellow comrades, making sure that everyone is completely prepared for the day ahead. You meditate, envision the goal, and focus on winning at all costs. You survey the enemy, point out all combatants, and hone in on the treasure that only you can redeem. Then you walk into the shoe department.
If you think that was too much, you obviously take shoe-shopping too lightly. If you have ever gone hunting for shoes for a specific purpose (school shoes, dress shoes, work shoes), you know what I mean. You did your best to remain solely focused on the shoes you needed to find, but then those boots were on sale! Seriously, they were 50% off! How could you not take them home?
I can hear your frustration loud and clear. You feel ready to date, yet you have this seemingly unmoveable roadblock in front of you. You have shown respect to your siblings’ feelings and sensitivity by gaining their permission to move forward, but your parents are unwilling to focus on a third sibling (you) before the other two are happily settled.
Perhaps they see your dating as an affront to your siblings, or they are worried that people might think that something is wrong with the older two if they focus on you. Or maybe they simply don’t have the headspace to worry about another child who needs to find their bashert as the time clock of shidduchim ticks on.
Whatever their reasoning, you must always remember to remain respectful when dealing with your parents, even with your mounting frustration. Let maturity and logic guide your words when you speak with them, rather than frustration and aggravation. They love you just as much as they love your two older siblings. They are simply trying to navigate a deeply difficult situation that has certainly caused them countless sleepless nights, painful tears, and endless worry. Don’t add to their burden with your angst and annoyance. Instead, use careful reasoning (perhaps aided by a close family friend, trusted uncle, or your local rav) in explaining that you are ready to join the dating scene and that this will not in any way hold your older siblings back from finding their zivugim.
On the contrary, you will simply be welcoming more mazel into your family, and any simcha they make will only perpetuate more and more mazel. Your engagement, or any of your siblings’ engagements, will only add bracha to their lives and remind your community that there are other siblings in the family who are also available and ready to meet their matches.
There is no guarantee that if you start to date you will meet your partner before your older siblings, but you will certainly be announcing that your family is open to mazel, to possibility, and to the potential of future simchas.
Never say no to a pair of boots just because you initially needed to buy a new pair of heels. Welcome every gift and blessing – and fill up those shelves with bracha!