“Mature frum singles, after years of unsuccessful dating, are painfully aware of the incessant and ceaseless march of time working against them.”
Ain’t that the truth!
And you don’t have to be frum to feel this way, says a (ahem!) “mature” single who gleaned much from Shaya Ostrov’s The Inner Circle: Seven Gates to Marriage, whose first line I quoted here.
Someone had recommended I read this book in response to an earlier blog where I cried that I date like crazy but never get any closer to the huppa.
And would you believe but Shaya Ostrov himself echoed my sentiment:
“Some people (like Abigail Pickus!) always seem to have the accelerator pedal to the floor. They’re dating continuously, one after the next. The only problem is that they’re in neutral, making noise and movement with no progress.”
Parenthesis my own, of course.
Which is another way of saying, how I love to be validated!
So what is this book all about? In a nutshell, it’s really about what I would call “soul dating.” He has a different terminology, of course, like the “fable of seven gates,” and the “inner circle.”
But what this book really does is offer singles a roadmap to date for marriage through asking the right questions and sharing of yourself so that you ultimately see past the person on the outside to the real person within. The goal is not just marriage for marriage’s sake, but dating to find a partner with whom you can build a partnership of genuine closeness and caring.
As you can probably tell, Ostrov is a therapist. Sometimes I did feel like some of the advice he gives is intended for people who are a bit limited in the social skills department. I mean, I know how to ask questions to lead to a deep conversation and also to affirm someone else!
But the reason he is so specific is a good one: Singles need guidance. He is absolutely right about that. This is especially true the longer we are in the dating game when we feel even more hopeless and like we are groping in the darkness. And turning to friends is often not helpful because so many people give such bad advice! Not out of malice, of course, but out of ignorance. I could write a book out of all the terrible dating and relationship advice I’ve received over the years.
So having a step-by-step guide for crossing that seemingly insurmountable threshold from being strangers to being intimate (and weeding out the inappropriate matches in the process) is invaluable.
And unlike other dating self-help books out there that I find to be gimmicky and one dimensional, this one helps singles date and seek connection from a place of depth. If this were a yoga class I’d say it’s the "light within me shining on the light within you." Or maybe I’d just say Shalom. But at the end of the day, Ostov is helping singles remember what is the most important quality in a life partner: Kindness.
The only downside is he can’t actually provide the groom.
For that one also needs to have a little faith.
Now how does one go about finding some of that?