Is there any place or time during a date, from the time the boy arrives at the girl’s house till he drops her off, that it is acceptable for either the boy or girl to be checking their cell phone for voicemails, text messages, WhatsApps and the like?
My thought process is that while the boy is driving, it is rude for the girl to be looking at her phone.
In the hotel or lounge, the focus should be on each other, in my opinion, and phones should be on silent.
Phones, I feel, should literally remain untouched throughout a date – or should they? What’s your opinion?
About a year and a half ago, I received a voicemail from a close rebbi of mine who is heavily involved in guiding couples in shidduchim, asking that I call him back immediately to discuss a critical topic. In our ensuing dialogue, he relayed that a number of young men and women, all living in different cities, had shared with him an identical narrative, and that a novel dating issue had emerged in our time. They had each conveyed to him that while they felt there was strong commonality between themselves and the person they were dating, and that although the conversations were exceedingly smooth, their counterpart was constantly on their phone during the dates.
And each and every one of the single men and women who had chronicled this experience reached the same conclusion. It was a huge turnoff and a deal breaker. The sentiment being, if the person that I am dating, and who is supposed to be displaying the very best version of themselves for the duration of courtship, lacks the capacity and consideration to confer the lion’s share of their attention towards me during the actual dates, it would seem to portend even greater disconnect and discourtesy down the line.
Consequently, I was exhorted by my rebbi to adhere to the following directive. “Whenever you have educational events for those who are entering shidduchim, you must express in no uncertain terms that cell phones are to remain off-limits, at all times, during a date.” Since that fateful call, I have done just that, and I would like to share a distilled version of that same message here, as well.
Simply stated, hovering over one’s phone like a praying mantis whilst in the company of another is highly unkind and disrespectful, severely comminutes the dignity of the person one is dating, and overall leaves them feeling about as valuable as a box of year-old oat matzah.
It is one thing to inform the person whom one is dating that an urgent call is expected – perhaps related to a family health situation – to address that call when it comes as succinctly as possible, and to then subsequently return to the date, fully devoting one’s consciousness to the human being they are with. However, it is another entirely to be unabashedly absorbed with trivial texts and emails, and all the falderal of social media, pictures with super cool filters, and posts with extra clever hashtags.
Now, to be fair, I am sure that most single men and women are unaware, in the moment, that they have mentally and emotionally detached from the date and have diverted their brainwaves toward tangential, computerized communication. In fact, by my estimation, it is not at all uncommon in this generation to initiate and receive somewhere between 50 and 250 points of contact in a day, all of which can readily flow through one’s phone.
This is the reality we live in; it can be all-consuming, and nearly everyone is affected by it, myself included. Indeed, there is a close family member of mine who, as a matter of policy, will not talk to me if I am on my phone. And more often than not, my infractions are highlighted by lulls in our exchange before I even realize that I am positioned face-down-phone-in-hand. This has become our collective nature and norm, and it is a challenge that we must be wholly cognizant of, if we hope to effectively overcome it.
As such, and in conclusion, cell phones belong out-of-sight, out-of-mind, unheard, and unheeded during a date. And as is so often said about electronic devices, caution and concern must be employed. Not only with respect to what one is doing, but in equal measure regarding when, where, and with whom.
May the Goel Chazak redeem us from all forms of foreign thralldom and vavasours, be they corporeal, societal, or technological.