Who’s allowed to know when one is dating?
Assuming that a boy or girl should strive to have “minimal” research exposure regarding asking friends for info about others, how much can be shared about the dating process, such as asking an out-of-towner for info about a certain place, borrowing a gps/ties/games, notifying chavrusos/coworkers about one’s leave of absence, etc.?
Is there anything wrong with other people knowing that you’re dating? Is there a limit to how many people or in what regard? What are practical solutions to avoid the dilemma of giving fake excuses?
It is my understanding that although there is nothing objectively problematic or unjust in having certain people know that one is dating, there remain three primary causes for discretion; tznius, eyin hora, and personality. That being the case, it is my opinion that it very much depends on the reason one feels compelled to share, along with their level of comfort in revealing such matters.
As such, regarding tznius and eyin hora, if there is a practical reason to divulge (e.g., asking to borrow dating games, or for suggestions related to quality dating spots), I would posit that it is perfectly acceptable to be clear as to why one is asking these questions. Similarly, if it is a matter of derech eretz (e.g., when asking someone for a place to stay, or applying for time off from one’s employer), I believe it is proper to explain the reason for the request.
With respect to informing peers who may be affected by one’s nonattendance, or countering the fellow who greets people in shul and asks what brings them town, it seems to me that the decision to offer a fully descriptive response is more so a matter of personal preference than anything else. And while I would not endorse procuring a sign emblazoned with the words “I am going out on a shidduch date,” if one does not feel bothered or embarrassed to discretely apprise select individuals of the situation, and perhaps prefers doing so, as opposed to awkwardly avoiding the inquiry or supplying a spurious reply, I believe there is nothing wrong with being tactfully honest.
Conversely, if one favors keeping such matters strictly contained, or maintains personal/familial stringencies regarding tznius and eyin hora, it appears to me that the recommended rejoinder is to simply say that one is taking a bit of time off. It is not particularly unusual for people to go away for Shabbos and visit another town for a change of pace, or to escape the daily grind for a day or two to catch a little break, and provided that one commands a matter-of-fact demeanor, I have found that this explanation is generally taken at face value.
And while there may be scenarios where one’s statement is not quite fully convincing to the listener (e.g., the chavrusa of a younger dater in a yeshiva where it is not common for bachurim to disappear mid-Zman), so be it. Sometimes, that is just the way it is, and in the end, if any particular person chooses not to trust what they are hearing, that is beyond one’s control. It is not one’s responsibility to satisfy the curiosity of others at the expense of their own menuchas hanefesh.
May the true Roeh V’eino Nireh safeguard the privacy of all those in shidduchim, and may He bestow upon them endless bracha v’hatzlacha.