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Yated Shidduch Forum 8/13/21: Ok to Use First Names on a Date?


Should a boy or girl ever call each other by their first name to each other at any point during dating? Or should they avoid having to do so for tznius reasons?


While there is certainly a connotation of familiarity associated with communicating on a first name basis, I still find myself struggling to conceive of a substantive reason as to why two young adults who have deliberately and formally united for the express purposes of cultivating familiarity and preparing themselves for a potential lifetime of partnership would purposefully refrain from something as anodyne as using their actual names in conversation. And though some daters may understandably find it unnatural to speak so directly with their opposite of gender at the very early stages of their pairing, once a noteworthy degree of rapport has been established, dialoguing in such a fashion is nothing more than an accompanying component of bolstering and building upon their already growing relationship.

In fact, it is not unusual for shadchanim to recommend that daters go out of their way to consciously use each other’s first names when things are going well overall, but the emotional connection is lagging behind. Inability to appropriately move a little bit out of one’s comfort zone for the sake of achieving a critical goal that otherwise looms out of reach should not be pawned off on faux-religious zeal. 

Nonetheless, in the very same vein that intentionally avoiding first names would be deemed preposterous in some circles, there are perhaps other demographics wherein doing so would be considered lacking in probity for unmarried individuals, and is simply not done. Furthermore, I would imagine that there are respected rabbonimrabbeim, and teachers who specifically and explicitly enjoin their constituents to talk to one another indirectly, for varying durations of the dating process, and perhaps even for its entirety. Thus, whatever my personal feelings might be about the practice, if first-naming prior to engagement will induce truly counterproductive discordance between a young man and woman due to their shared societal standards, or if their representatives of daas Torah have given them a clear directive on the matter, I can appreciate that greater measures of restraint may be in order. 

Accordingly, it would seem to me that each set of daters is likely best served by incorporating the counsel of their rabbinical and educational instructors, along with earnestly differentiating between the sort of awkwardness in this realm that stems from underdeveloped dating skills which must then be overcome, and valid discomposure that is a consequence of unnecessarily departing from their commonly shared cultural conventions, so that each couple can feel optimally and appositely at ease throughout their time spent together.

May the Mi SheShemo Shalom guide us always on the derech hatov v’hayashar, each person according to their distinct needs and circumstances.