In the Orthodox (I can really only speak of my experience – which is only through my kids – we are Haredim though not Chassidim), each group is slightly different but work on the same principals.
First of all, dating is for marriage. Dating is not to just go out and have a good time or meet someone nice to spend a little time with. Marriage is considered the ultimate in building a person and the goal of every child.
So how does it work? Just remember not everything is exactly the same – but it is all similar in each group. We send resumes to shaddachim. This is similar to a resume that one sends to a job. And if you think about it the whole approach might sound like a business deal, but what is the most important thing in a person’s life? -Their spouse and children. We treat it with the same reverence and concern. A person doesn’t hire someone else without checking their background, their skills, their desires and then have interviews. Shouldn’t that be the minimum one does for their spouse?
The resume lists family information, school and work information, a general description of how the person would describe themselves, and what they are looking for in a spouse and then references from family friends, friends, work or school/yeshiva references, and their Rabbi or Rebbetzin’s phone numbers.
The Shaddachan (the matchmaker – which can be a friend, family member, a professional, male or female) suggests the idea to both sides. (In our circles it usually is to the parents.)
Both sides look into it. They call the references and then they do Jewish geography, they figure someone else they know well who knows the girl/boy or family and ask questions.
If both sides agree (and at this point if there are money expectations it is told over) then a date is made.
The first date is just to find out if they enjoy each other’s company. (Since the homework has already been done to see if they are on the same page for major issues – their goals in life, where they want to live (Israel or abroad – in general terms).
The second date is similar but gets into more serious issues.
The third date is to bring up anything that normally would turn the other side off but is not major (Serous problems should be ironed out in the beginning (such as previous cancer, divorced, children, etc; previous sickness, crazy family member, or something. And again it is to get more serious.
Usually, by the 4th or 5th date, it is pretty clear whether they are going to get engaged, but it can continue until both sides are 100% clear (though it should be understood there really isn’t anything 100% clarity in anything.)
The boy rarely actually pops the question without knowing for sure from the shadchan that she is ready to say yes. Then they go out again, then meet at the girl’s family and invite the boy’s side over. Families meet. (Sometimes the parents meet before the first date.)
The shadchan has 3 jobs (and so if there are more than one person involved it gets divided – including payment). 1. To make the suggestion 2. To set up the dates 3. to guide the couple along the way.
Chassidim are a bit faster in the dating but much more thorough in the checking out stage. They also usually meet 1–3 times in someone’s house not in hotel lobbies or restaurants, or parks. They also aren’t looking for chemistry, the click, they are looking to make sure they are interested in each other and nothing major would block them. They build the love afterward.
Actually, love is not a big equation in dating for either group. The understanding is true love is a relationship one has built and worked together which takes years. In the beginning, there can be ‘falling in love’ moment, but maybe not – and it really doesn’t matter – because that feeling is always a temporary feeling and can be very misleading. Having the same goals, and usually similar backgrounds are really what makes the relationship successful.
There are divorces, but so much lower than secular. Orthodox have a
And let me tell you watching my children get married through the system is pure naches – Jewish joy.