Is it okay to ask a boy on a date if he follows sports?
At first glance, I was quite puzzled as to what exactly the questioner was asking in this week’s Shidduch Forum question. In discussing the question with others, it was elucidated to me that more likely than not, the questioner is asking one of two questions. Therefore, I have split my response into two answers.
In either case, while the question might seem somewhat innocuous, I think it does reveal an important subtext that is well worthy of discussion. Namely, self-confidence, dating technique and properly reading and getting to know the person you are going on a date with.
a.) Is it okay to ask a young man if he follows sports or not? I.e., the questioner might find it problematic to continue dating, or to marry, a young man who follows sports, and is asking if it is okay to ask him point blank on a date if he follows sports or not so she may take that into consideration when deciding if she will continue dating this young man or not.
To which I would reply; whether or not a young man’s following sports is objectionable or not, is entirely subjective. Some may consider it distasteful, and view it as a flaw or a problem, while others may consider it a fine and kosher hobby as means of relaxation when needed.
What camp you belong to is entirely up to to your personal value set. If, in fact, you would consider it a matter of concern and view it negatively, I would hope that you have the self-confidence to ask him this question directly. You do not need permission to ask him this question any more than you need permission to ask him about what kind of music he listens to or what he likes to do in his spare time. If you are concerned that something about this young man might fall outside of your personal value set, you absolutely should feel strong in asking him about it so you can make an informed decision whether he is someone you feel compatible with or not.
You must be able to judge what is the appropriate time and proper way to address this question, and ask it in a polite and straightforward manner. If that is a judgement you find yourself unable to make, or if you find yourself unable to ask him these kinds of questions, I would recommend seeking a mentor to help you develop these instrumental skills and to bolster your self-confidence.
To this questioner, may you have much hatzlacha in your dating, and I hope, b’ezras Hashem, that you develop the strength and confidence to successfully ask the questions you need to ask, in the right way.
b.) Is it okay to ask a young man about sports while out on a date with him? I.e., is it appropriate to discuss sports while on a date.
To which I would reply; on the most surface of levels, in light of the fact that I believe one could conservatively estimate that 70% or more of American bachurim follow sports to one degree or another, I would think that it is surely appropriate and most likely a topic that the young man would enjoy. It could be an excellent opportunity to have a fun conversation when a break is needed from discussing the heavier, more “tachlis oriented” topics that must be addressed when shidduch dating.
However, I think we can fairly assume that talking about sports are probably not a first or second date, topic. In that case, if on a third or fourth date one is still unsure whether or not sports are a topic that the young man they are dating would find appropriate to discuss on a date, that is a little concerning.
Within the relationship of a husband and wife, there are very few off-limits topics of discussion. While that is not the case with dating, the dating process is a precursor to marriage and helps prepare one for it. Part of that process is developing the proper skills and self-confidence so that one is able to make these types of judgement calls on their own, and to know what the person they are dating would likely be interested in discussing, and more importantly, knowing what topics would upset them or turn them off.
Depending on how long one has been dating for, the lack of this skill may be a minor issue or a larger one. In either case, while it is not the most serious of issues, it is by no means an issue that should be brushed aside. Again, I feel it would be most prudent to speak with a mentor and receive guidance in how to develop the proper skills and confidence to be able to make such decisions on your own, on the spot.
To this questioner, may Hashem bring you much hatzlacha in your dating, may you have the ability to develop a complete set of dating skills, and may all of your favorite teams be champions.