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Yated Shidduch Forum 12/25/20: Why Must a First Date Take so Long?

Dear Panelists,

I am a single girl in shidduchim. I have an idea and I’m curious to hear what you think of it. In my circles, it’s accepted that the first date is three hours long. Between driving to the hotel (or wherever people go now that hotels are closed), spending time there and driving back, the date is a full-night event. 

Having done this many times, I feel that there would be ample time, and it would be a lot less stressful, if the date would be shorter, perhaps only an hour or an hour-and-a-half long.I’ve shared my thoughts with a few other single girls and it was interesting to see that every one of them completely agreed with me. Since on a first date many of us are just focusing on the personality of the boy we are dating, one hour seems to be more than enough. In addition, there are times when it’s clear from the beginning that the shidduch is not headed anywhere. In such cases, it’s a pity to waste time and energy on such a long date.

Do you think shorter first dates is an idea worth making happen? If you do indeed think that this can be implemented, how do you suggest it be done? Should the shadchan tell the boy to keep the date short? Should the parents say something?


In a word, yes. In a few words, and to paraphrase from a shiur given by Reb Shraga Neuberger, shlita, when it comes to what should transpire on any number date, at which location, and for how long, there are no such halachos in Shulchan Aruch. Everything is situationally specific, and conditional on the needs of the two individuals who are going out with one another. It requires saichel, not adherence to a prix fixe menu.

To be sure, on the aggregate, there are certain themes which have been identified over time as being generally beneficial for couples at the various stages of their journey together. But these are merely suggestions based on what may have worked for other couples, and there is no one roadmap that will be effective for all couples. Accordingly, those who are in shidduchim should be afforded the full flexibility to deviate from preconceived, standard procedure whenever those directives fail to successfully accomplish the objectives of any given couple.

With regards to implementation, I think basic and straightforward communication should be more than sufficient, and that the responsibility of initiating that dialogue falls upon the dater who would like to diverge from the anticipated path. For example, if a single man or woman feels strongly about wanting to truncate the length of a first date, they should simply communicate that desire to their shadchan, briefly explain why that is the case, and ask the shadchan to inquire whether their counterpart is amenable to this appeal for modification. 

Of course, if the person whom one is going out with has an equally ardent conviction in the other direction, a compromise of sorts will need to be arrived at. And provided that everyone remains honest and equanimous, there is every reason to believe that an agreement which commensurately satisfies the goals of both people will be discovered. In fact, such an exchange may even prove to be the bedrock of further mutual respect and appreciation between these two daters, as they come to recognize the inestimable importance of fairly and appropriately addressing each of their unique needs as human beings.

May the Yodeiah Bin Sha’os grant us all the ability and opportunity to achieve the ambitions and aspirations of our lives in the most pleasant, comfortable, and efficient of manners.