Dating as a Spiritual Practice
Looking for a soulmate...and learning from the process.
Four Spiritual Skills
Practicing self-respect: When someone breaks up with you or rejects you, can you still love, value and take care of yourself? This is an opportunity to examine your sense of self-worth and make changes if necessary.
Practicing courage and kindness to others: When someone is interested in you, but you're not interested, can you gently let them know so they can move on, or are you so afraid of being alone or hurting their feelings that you can't be honest?
Practicing patience: Can you wait for a response to a message you've left, or do you fall into repeated calling and texting and emailing in an attempt to control the situation?
Practicing equanimity: During the process of getting to know someone, can you resist the urge to rush a relationship to its conclusion (especially when it's going well) and, instead, remain present to the other person and to yourself, honestly noticing the emotions that arise? And when a relationship is not going well, or you are between relationships, can you acknowledge and move through the anxiety that arises, and even find a sense of peace in your aloneness?
In Bad Times, In Good Times
"There is nothing as whole as a broken heart," goes the famous Hasidic saying.
Sometimes, inevitably, relationships end in heartbreak. Difficult as it feels, disappointment can be a profound spiritual teacher for us. Our own suffering opens our eyes to the suffering of people around us--our friends, our families, strangers. When everything's going well, it's easy to build a cocoon around ourselves and dismiss the heartbreak of others; but when we are confronted with imperfection and sadness in our own lives, we are able to see the world around us more clearly.
On the other hand, sometimes a relationship leads to marriage or life partnership. Amidst the joy of a Jewish wedding ceremony, we break a glass; there are many interpretations of this, but one of them is that every joy contains some brokenness. We carry our past heartbreaks, and the hard-earned spiritual lessons we've learned from them, into our committed partnerships. And we will need the skills of equanimity, self-respect, kindness, and patience to maintain that love over the course of a lifetime.
My friend S.? I'm happy to report that she decided she'd been too shy about expressing her interest for fear of being rejected. She called the guy and asked him out, and he said yes. Perhaps even more importantly, S. challenged herself and found a new strength that she'll be able to call upon from now on--not just in dating, but in every part of her life.
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