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In the World of Dating, How the Heck Do You Get to “I-Thou?”

In the World of Dating, How the Heck Do You Get to “I-Thou?”

Because I got to yoga a little early, the religious guys were still there.

You see, the class before mine is exclusively for “fervently orthodox men.” They’re American, and baalei teshuva and embody this weird combination of a modern, American sensibility with this newfound holiness.

Not that I’m saying they are holy men, only that they are always looking at the world through the lens of Torah, and by that I mean of G-dliness.

Usually, I’m annoyed to see them.

The space is so small and it is always full of their bicycles, apparently their vehicle of choice which, if you ask me, truly shows belief in a higher power since in Jerusalem, between the hills and the insane drivers, just getting on a bike is an act of faith.

But what really bugs are the words of Torah they are always dispensing, often hovering in the doorway to finish their d’rash in their very American Hebrew, which possibly irritates me because their accent sounds exactly like my own.

But today it was different.

“Give us a few words,” said our teacher.

And so this one guy, who happens to be rather cute, if one could see past the black suit (complete with a jacket! In this heat!) and the beard, giant kippah and hanging tsisit, started talking about love.

He began by referring to Beverley Hills 90210. Remember that, people? Which is another way of saying, the dude is probably exactly my age. So the analogy was about materialism, about how many people, like some tv characters popular back when I was young and hopeful, think that money will buy you happiness.

But guess what? They are wrong.

Ok, ok, tell me something new, you’re saying. (Although a little bit of money isn’t bad, sayeth my mother.)

Anyway, he went on to say some really beautiful things. What is love? He asked. Love is a relationship. It is giving of oneself to someone else. It is about commitment. And obligation. And partnership.

He said some other stuff, too, about free will and other deep things but I was just focused on how much of what he was saying, which was not so secretly about the People Israel and the One on High, could really be applied to the dating arena.

Because therein lies the problem: How to get past all the dating to the actual partnership? And once there, how to be in a real “I-thou” instead of “I-It” relationship? (May Buber forgive me.)

What I’m saying is that after so many years of being single, and of hurts piling upon hurts, it is so hard, impossible, even, to know how to really “see” someone. And it is just as hard, impossible, even, to truly see ourselves.

Because the sad truth is, with so much accumulated baggage and defense mechanisms, approaching dating from a perspective of Total Love is a recipe for disaster.

Which is another way of saying, being open and heartfelt and completely honest is like walking around with a big ole sign on your heart that says, “Break me.”

So what to do?

Which is another way of saying, how to get from here to there?

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