Breaking news: Rabbis are urging singles to sign pre-date agreements.


If you can't commit to these points, you most probably will have to stop dating.


Damn. I’m such a bad liar. OK fine, I wish that “rabbis” had decided that they will now push the pre-date agreement. Here is my dream article, as if this were true:

Finally, leaders of the Jewish community have decided they must take a stand against all the lack of derech eretz happening within the dating world. They have begun drafting a pre-date agreement which is inspired by the pre-nup agreement being signed by couples before they get married. This new and innovative document helps people be more clear of how things will run during and if necessary, when ending, their mutual dating experience.

One rabbi, who currently requested to remain anonymous, contacted He explained that the committee would like to make sure that all the most important points will appear on the document. He thought that HaBitza might be the perfect platform where this discussion could take place.

I have decided to start the discussion by supplying a few points I feel are important to agree upon before beginning to date someone. In the comments below please let us know what else you think should be in the “pre-date.”

  1. Both sides agree to be appreciative and show it, too. This means, for example, that they will thank each other when one does something for the other and both will thank each other at the end of the date for giving of their time and energies.
  2. Both sides agree to do their best to express what they want to say in clear sentences, not expecting the other side to read their minds.
  3. The man must be in touch with the woman within two days of the date, unless he was extremely seriously wounded while saving a baby in some majorly heroic act. (And, by the way, in the case of the heroism, the girl must fall for the guy whether or not she enjoyed his company on the dates.) This applies whether there is interest in another date or not. If the man really does not have it in him to reject gracefully on the phone, he is allowed, and encouraged, to send a text message so that it is clear to the woman that there will not be another date.
  4. If there is a misunderstanding, both sides may seek advice from third parties but then the misunderstandings will be spoken about between the two daters. There will be an attempt made on both sides that even if the relationship does not continue, hard feelings are worked through earlier rather than later so that both sides can move on feeling OK about what happened.
  5. If one person needs it, he/she agrees to go to therapy so they don’t, often unknowingly, take out their whole past on their fellow dater. Also, when necessary, the persons needing mesch classes agree to go until the mensch expert believes that from now on the person will be able to hold themselves back from hurting their dates knowingly and unknowingly.

Honestly, I do wish I could agree on certain things with a guy before I even went on a date with him. I am inspired to change the world and make this happen. Maybe matchmakers could discuss these things with people and then only set them up if they are fairly confident the person could uphold their side of the deal. And then, if they ever don’t, and don’t have a good excuse for it (or don’t have a sincere want to work on themselves), the matchmaker would stop setting them up.

What do you think? Make sure to share in the comments what you think should be in this new pre-date agreement!

Photo by lrargerich on flickr.

17 thoughts on “Breaking news: Rabbis are urging singles to sign pre-date agreements.

  1. When I saw the title of this post, I was enthused. See, with all my reading of Reformed Christian political theory, their strict constitutionalism has really rubbed off on me. If there’s one thing that characterizes the Reformed Christian political theory, it’s a love-affair with contracts, compacts, covenants, and constitutions. And this could not but influence me as well.

    So one time, I was talking to a friend who thinks my political views are insane, and I said to him that just as nisu’in and qetuba is primarily a financial contract, so too, I said, anyone engaging in sexual intercourse with another – whether married or not – should consider making and signing a contract stipulating appropriate conditions. Marriage is merely a special form of such a contract, but a literally infinite number of alternate contracts are envisionable, and marriage is hardly sui generis. After all, a man “buys” a woman precisely because marriage is based on the concept of a mutually-consensual business contract, in which the transaction takes place only if both parties completely agree to every term and condition. So why not extend this?

    My friend laughed and mocked me, and responded with this.

    But seriously, I of course agree with the substance of everything you’re saying here.

    • Hee, hee, hee, I just remembered an exam I took in ulpan a few weeks ago, which had a question asking the student to describe his opinion regarding the proper place of women in the home. I answered at length that marriage is a contractual relationship, and that therefore, the woman’s proper place is whatever she and her husband have contractually agreed to. If they failed to set conditions at the inception of the marriage, then either they must come to a consensus during the marriage, or else they must abide by minhag ha-maqom, which is the implicit contract between all members of a society, in contrast to the heretical Reformish concept of minhag avot. As Perchik told Hodel, I wrote in my answer, everything – including marriage – is political. I added that if I had wanted to, I could have added a brief discourse on the ideas of Johannes Althusius – a 16th-century Dutch Reformed Christian political theorist – bearing on the subject of federalism (constitutionalism). After I turned in my exam, it occurred to me that quite accidentally and unintentionally, my answer was relatively egalitarian, in that it perceived women as equal and hierarchically parallel members of the contractual bond that is marriage. Throughout my answer, I rarely spoke of “him” or “her” or “he” or “she”, but rather, I spoke of “them” and “they”. I didn’t mean to be feminist or egalitarian, but hey, so be it.

      • Indeed, there’s a story about how Rabbi Haim Shmuelevitz used to say that a true talmid didn’t merely parrot what his rebbe taught, but rather, knew what his rebbe would have said. So one day, a student came up to Rabbi Shmuelevitz and excitedly presented his new hiddush. But Rabbi Shmulevitz realized he had given over that exact same hiddush a few months previous in shiur! He was rather insulted for a moment, but realized that no one would be so brazen as to go to the author of a thought and claim it as his own. Instead, Rabbi Shmuelevitz reasoned, the student must have heard him give over the hiddush in shiur, forgotten it, and re-innovated it on his own, knowing what Rabbi Shmuelevitz would have said (did say), without knowing that Rabbi Shmuelevitz indeed did say it. Rabbi Shmuelevitz was ecstatic; “I have a talmid; I have a talmid!”

    • Believe me, when I thought of this idea, I was enthused! I’d be thrilled if when I went out with a guy, I knew that whatever happened, he was going to act according to a certain agreement. It would take a load off.

      Suddenly I am also tempted to walk around with a contract that I sign with anyone with whom I need to deal. I walk into your store? Sign this please! I stand at a crosswalk and you stop to let me cross, please just sign this first! It could work amazingly, I think. :)

      • In all honesty, if you presented the guy with a contract while on the date, he might think you’re crazy, and seriously, you might perhaps scare off some otherwise decent guys. (I don’t know; I’m just guessing.) But I’d sign it. :D That said, it could probably work very well with shadkhaniyot, since that’s already a relatively organized and bureaucratized function, and the guy probably wouldn’t be fazed by one more piece of paper to sign.

        Somehow, I just reminded myself of the story of the man who prayed to God that whereas he sold sheep for a living, he would give his sheep for free to God, because he loves him, and then the hakham came and taught him the Shema, etc. So if you ever wonder why I write a a lot, that’s why; everything reminds me of everything else. :P

  2. I know (that that’s why you write a lot).

    Regarding the signing, I was thinking the same thing. At least if you are using something organized – like a website, a matchmaker or you’re going to a single’s event – it could be understood that whoever goes to this event/shadchan/etc. agrees to act in a certain way.

    • On a somewhat related note, I was quite heartened when I saw the following. Regarding judgmentalism in Orthodoxy against those who do not meet a certain standard of frumkeit, the CEO of Frumster, Ben Rabizadeh, wrote (here), “Jesse [Ackler] – I completely agree with you and I am disgusted by this type of attitude in the Orthodox dating world. It’s what actually led me to remove myself a little bit from the orthodox dating world and am now open to conservadox or traditional women. I believe this is a fight we must make as it is destroying our community.”

      Cf. this article: “[T]here is, I believe, a danger inherent in assessing the religiosity of others. Such deliberations often rely on the use of externalities and shorthand signifiers, while real metrics of religiosity—if this is indeed something that can be “measured”—are always more complicated and more contradictory than anything that can be checked off a list. Undoubtedly, there will be those who adhere to the social standards of strict religiosity but behave differently in private. There will be those whose practices and beliefs defy easy categorization; perhaps there will be two people whose observance might vary, but whose core inner values and desires align.”

  3. How about we add a rule:

    * Keeping in touch is to be alternated. If the man made the first call and setup the first date, then the woman makes the second call and sets up the second date, and the man the third, and so on. Obviously after a while, when it becomes “serious”, such alternation is not necessary anymore.

    This solves almost ALL the problems of “will he call?”, “will she accept another date?”, etc. If she calls, either she wants a second date or she wants to say goodbye. Either way, it is known within the first 30 seconds of the call.

    And the same vice-versa, if the woman sets up the first date, then the man is obligated to make the second call and plan the second date.

    Sounds simple to me. But can it work?

    • I’d prefer to say that whoever asked the other one out, must keep asking the other one out, or break off the relationship. If the man asked her out first, then he gets to call her again and again.

    • Ah, Mr. MarkSoFla!! I remember you from Frum Satire! I related how an elderly fellow at Congregation Shearith Israel (Spanish-Portuguese) said to me, “I don’t follow all of this nonsense today. You see, I’m Sephardi.” You told me that your grandfather said the same, except he said “Yekke.”

      So, hello landsman!

    • Interesting idea… I think the rule should be: Wait for man to call. Get progressively more agitated, the longer he doesn’t call. Then, the woman should call the man and get very angry at him, asking him why he didn’t call.

      It’s a good rule. :)

      But seriously, either way there has to be a phone call in order to clarify if there will be another date but I suppose alternating it could make it more equal and not make the woman feel like she has to wait. Sometimes she has to wait and other times he has to.

      Actually it’s pretty cool.

      Michael, there is something about a woman being pursued by a man. If it were to be the woman who asked the man out first, it cannot just be her calling all thetime. Honestly, it can’t just be anyone calling all the time.

      • Deena, I was discussing only the first few dates, before a real relationship has formed. During that time, I figure that whoever is asking the other out, ought to be the one to call and either ask out the other on a date again, or discontinue the dating. Usually that is the man, but in the rare case that it was the woman who asked the man out (which the Prophet says is a sign of the Messianic era, by the way), then I figure she ought to be the one to call him.

        But once a steady relationship forms, and the relationship has its own momentum, then I figure each of them will be calling the other whenever they are so struck by that whim, regardless of who it was that initially started the relationship in the first place.

  4. Pingback: Prenup agreements for dates (as in, predate agreements) revisited « habitza – dating observations

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