Disclosure While Dating
The question of disclosure during dating comes up a lot on our website. We don't have much in the way of guidance from daas Torah/Halacha as per if and how one should disclose to one’s potential kallah/Chosson. Would the Rav be able/willing to write up some basic guidelines for us on this matter please?
As an opening remark it must be emphasized that no 2 cases are the same & each individual should ask specific guidance from his/her Rav/rabbi about their unique situation. More about this later.
Also, another introductory remark: Even though the question that was articulated was as to when to disclose to the potential Kallah; the same will be true about disclosing to the potential Chosson. There is a GYE women's division & the same issues and parameters apply to them as well.
Yet one last introductory remark that also needs to be mentioned is that of Kohen- eligibility. Needless to say, that to begin a Shiduch and then find out that because of Kohen regulations that the Shiduch cannot come to fruition, causes unnecessary pain, embarrassment and wasted time. Ideally, this should be checked by/through the Shadchan etc even before the prospects are suggested to each other.
Now to address the posed question: Within the posed question there are really 2 issues
– each one requiring separate analysis. IF to disclose and WHEN to disclose.
In my experience with the GYE population, it appears to me that it divides itself into 3 groups and the great majority falls into two of these 3 categories.
Group #1 –. There are those who have a real problem with pornography and masturbation. But they are not addicts. We will discuss an addict’s responsibility afterwards.
So, the question is, “when in the dating progression should disclosure take place?” The answer: There are 2 pitfalls which need to be avoided.
- disclosing too early in the process. Disclosing too early will just chase away the prospective Shiduch. He/she will reflect, “זו לצרה לי למה “ why should I get involved with such a person!”
- On the other hand, delaying disclosure too long (or not at all) will be deceitful. A successful marriage is built upon trust. A marriage that from the very beginning was deceitfully consummated is doomed to
Therefore, it is imperative that disclosure should not be delayed to the point where the prospective Shiduch is so emotionally involved that he/she are blinded to the potential hazard of marrying someone with this disability.
Of course, it is our hope that with the kosher outlet that a marriage should provide, that this disability will subside and even disappear. But the prospective Chosson/Kallah have to be fully aware of these challenges.
Therefore, in general, the guidelines are as follows:
As the dating process proceeds, one should monitor, with the aid of a mentor/ advisor, the progression of the emotional attraction. When the point has been reached when the feelings are that there is significant possibility that this may "actually work", it is then time to disclose. The primary topic of the very next date is disclosure.
At this point of the developing relationship, a level-headed decision can be made by the prospective Shiduch. She/he has enough interest not to dismiss the Shiduch out of hand. Yet not so involved that she/he will be blinded from protecting herself/himself.
This is not an easy determination and the GYE member needs to be on the alert when the transition in the dating process is about to occur. It is therefore, very strongly recommended that this all be done under the oversight of a mentor/advisor.
Group #2 – These are those who have an addiction. As long as the compulsion is not under control, they should not be dating at all! The general rule for an addict is that he/she should not contemplate Shiduchim until he/she has achieved one full year of solid recovery. I know that this is very hard to accept. But to marry while in active addiction is inviting disaster. Invariably he/she will live a “double life”. The “image” to his wife/ her husband and family and secretly indulging in his/her lust.
And even while still a novice to recovery (“green”) the same holds true. There is insufficient experience in controlling the compulsion to assure that in the turmoil of a new, profoundly different life pattern that the nascent sobriety will survive. The marriage will be, in all likelihood adverse to recovery. If anything, it will prompt the addiction to intensify ("take off").
[The following is a rare occurrence in the GYE population but for completeness of the topic I will include it. An addict in solid recovery for 2-3 years or more has the same disclosure parameters as group #1 above.]
Group #3 - However, within the GYE population there is a very small percent whose problem in this area is very mild. He/she may just be a "regular, normal" person – just that he/she is more sensitive to the Aveira issues involved in these activities than the rest of the general population.
The parameters for this small sensitive minority is that they should not make any disclosure at all. He/She will be tainting his/her reputation in the eyes of the prospective Choson/Kallah. It is Motzie Shem Ra.
Again, I repeat, the determination as to which group a particular individual belongs is exceedingly difficult. It cannot be done by one’s self. It needs the guidance of a mentor/advisor.
And an important word of caution. The mentor/advisor needs to be someone who understands and can discern an addiction – not necessarily Torah scholarship. Indeed, many rabbinic persons are totally unaware of the dynamic of addictions and “addictive thinking” and may not be suited to advise on this critical topic.
For more guidance from Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski and other useful information on this topic see here.