Finding harmony in romance

Dylan Webb is a teaching English as a second language major. Contact him at [email protected].

Dylan Webb

As fall foliage takes form all around us, campus parties are at a head and new friends are made. Unfortunately, this also opens the door for another type of connection: intimate relationships with minimal commitment.

As the norm seems to be in the 21st century, college students have a propensity to engage in no-strings-attached relations. Such behavior is a catalyst for a broad array of unintended consequences, including anything from sexually transmitted diseases to simply being unhappy with such a lifestyle. Of course, an alternative approach is available.

In my experience with Israel’s Orthodox Jewish culture, I find that many people my age practice shomer negiah, a custom in which they do not come into contact with members of the opposite gender. These restrictions can stay in effect until marriage.

Personally, I do not follow this custom as the famous Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach did not practice it, and it is based the strictest interpretation of the custom-based laws. However, I respect its purpose and what it stands for.

This practice results in a greater preparedness for a serious relationship, creating a state of mind centered on respect and awareness of divinity in the other person. Both genders learn to become mature partners ready to raise a family, support their partner and focus on their cohesiveness as a pair.

This contrasts the more modern approach to relationships. Rather than passive-aggressively dealing with frustration struggling to maintain a successful relationship, those who practice shomer negiah find building a connection far more fulfilling.

In short, dating can be an important aspect of our lives and should be taken seriously. Why waste time with someone you know it won’t work out with in the long term?

Relationships that stay together for only physical reasons have a tendency to fizzle out and fail without much resistance. Physical intimacy should be viewed as a small detail in pursing of significant.

Remember that most true relationships start as emotionally founded friendships, and as Rabbi Sholmo said: “Being friends, loving another person, is the deepest thing there is.”

Dylan Webb is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].