When Can I Start Dating?
Hello Rabbi Twerski,
Once again, I feel unqualified to answer this boy (even though I showed him our latest correspondence on this page about dating). He still wants me to ask the Rav when would be the right time for him to consider dating. Here is his letter to me, which he asked me to pass it on the Rav. Thank you very much for any guidance.
I started lusting at the very end of 8th grade. I masturbated first the first time but it was not caused by the sight of pornography. I didnít even know what masturbation was until after I did it. I think after that summer, beginning in 9th grade was when I started to look at porn. I started a new school with many people I didnít know, and I was kind of a social outcast even though people did like me. I never really had any really good friends, just a lot of OK friends. I masturbated probably every night and sometimes even in school during class (don't ask)! One time a night turned into 2 times a night and that was throughout high school. Never did I stop to think the damage that it does and would do for the future. All of my damage was through the computer where I had full access to the internet.
When I went to Eretz Yisrael for the year I knew this was something I wanted to end, but still never thought of it as addiction at all. I just thought I could stop when I wanted to. This was very wrong. I didnít stop in Israel even though I didnít have a computer. There were computers in the Yeshivah, but with filtered internet and a few times I find an opening in the filter and risked getting kicked out or someone even seeing me just to see a little porn. My best or worst trait through all of this was that I was never going to get caught. I was so good at disguising what I was doing. After Eretz Yisrael I went to college where I had unfiltered internet again and would masturbate less. I was in Yeshivah in America and still watching this shtus on the computer. As time went on, I was doing more things and even doing worse things (chats online and stuff like that). But B'H I have been shomer Negiah throughout high school (probably by default), Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael (kind of created a Jewish foundation within so no longer even wanted to touch girls till marriage), and now through college and Yeshivah.
I joined GuardYourEyes in the end of April '09. I saw an ad for it on Vozisneis. It was that day that I realized I had an addiction. I realized ever since I went to Eretz Yisrael I wanted very badly to stop this habit, but never did I realize that it was an addiction and that I couldn't stop on my own. In the past few months, although there have been times where I've been very good and very close to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, there were times where I felt like abandoning Judaism. Right after falling I'd say to myself, "I cant live this double life. I need to choose one. I've tried giving up the porn, but it just stays with me." When I get a streak of even a few days its such a great feeling though. Like I am king and nothing can stop me. Right now I am a 21 year old Yeshivah Bochur and college student.
I am getting to the age where I need to start consider dating for marriage. I have 3 very close friends who are all engaged and I feel maybe now is the time in my life, once I get my issues in order, to look for my one and only. I don't think this recurring issue will ever leave me. Be'ezras Hashem I will grow stronger everyday in order to be prepared to fight it off when it comes next, but I don't think I can get rid of the images that are carved into my head. So how do I know when I should start dating? My friends ask to get me a Shidduch and I repeatedly turn them down without giving them a specific reason. My plan is to get a streak of 30 days in which I am clean. I think this itself is enough to build a relationship with. I was in a relationship with a girl 4 months ago, a little after I discovered GuardYourEyes. In retrospect, I fell fewer times in that month than I did when I was not seeing her. This was with no build up or streak going into it. I have to think that going into dating with a 30 day streak (which I have only done once since I have been an addict) will help me continue and become stronger. Please give me straight forward, honest feedback, and please submit it to Rabbi Twerski if you think its necessary.
Thank you very much
Rabbi Twerski Replies:
I don't know of any hard and fast rules on how long one must be abstinent.
It is important to know that the addiction is under control before considering marriage. Marriage is not a hospital and does not cure addiction, and continuation of the addiction is likely to ruin a marriage.
Attendance at SA meetings and getting support from the group can be very helpful. An excellent therapist is Dr. Richard Leedes in NJ. 609-497-9323.
At the risk of nepotism, I can also recommend my son, Dr. Benzion Twerski in Brooklyn, 718-437-4118 (he is familiar with the website).