After writing a blog about taking a hi-datus a few months back, there were obviously protests from women all over the world. But in terms of things that actually happened, one of my rabbis contacted me and said I was flat out wrong. “Being single,” he said, “is not how one grows in Judaism. True growth is done by growing together.”
As friends and readers may know, much of my life has been spent single, and I’ve grown Jewishly quite a bit in the years since college. There are definitely a lot of things I wonder about, such as whether I would’ve grown more or less with a steady partner in my life. So I did the logical thing and took to Facebook to question other friends on their religious growth — with or without relationships. Here’s what I found:
- One friend started keeping Shabbat after dating her boyfriend.
- Another married couple I’m close with now spends every Shabbat together, though the woman in the relationship did not grow up keeping it.
- Some of my friends found that being alone, whether from moving or just being single and diving within themselves, made them feel more religious.
- Other friends found their experiences to fluctuate more than they’d like when they are in relationships, both positively or negatively.
The responses I liked the most though, and fittingly enough for JDate, were the ones that held the idea that the relationship needed that religious foundation to exist in the first place. Very few people who claim religion is a dating dealbreaker will message outside of their religious affiliation, according to a study from Wired.com (special shout out to my friend Rachel for the link). One the most profound responses came from a Catholic friend; she said religion was an important part of her marriage, and something she could share with her husband. Additionally, other friends saw this shared religion as a model they wanted to base their future relationships on, even if they didn’t exist yet.
So does one grow more while single or in a relationship? It’s difficult to say, but what seems certain to me is that there is no point to stopping the growth. It’s worthwhile to explore what’s important to you when you’re single, and even better to find someone to share you passions and growth.