Preconditions for dating

You don’t have to be perfect to date. We all have weaknesses and imperfections, and somehow we manage to figure out how to get married. It is not necessary to resolve all of your issues in order to enter into a relationship; if that were not the case, few people would ever be able to enter one. Some people are overly shy, while others are too opinionated. Some people could do with learning to be more generous, while others are too self-absorbed. Yet, all can and do figure out how to get married.

However, there are some issues that are preconditions to marriage; until they are resolved to a satisfactory degree, dating should be off the table. The issues we shall explore in this article are such that either they will all but preclude the ability to date adequately or are fatal to any eventual marriage. With proper attention, these matters can be overcome, but they must not be ignored. 

This article is not making a moral judgement about the people who struggle with any of these challenges, but their impact cannot be overestimated. It also needs to be understood that it is not necessary – and, in many cases, not possible – to overcome these issues entirely. But they need to be brought under control, so that the relationship is not controlled by those issues, which would be highly destructive.


Any kind of addiction is super-destructive to relationships. That is because when an addiction is in play, the person’s first allegiance is to the addiction instead of to the relationship. No man or woman wants to think of themselves as secondary to their partner’s other relationship. When someone is a slave to an addiction, the addiction will come first and the marriage second.

The major problem with addiction is compulsion. The person does not have the ability to resist, but is subjugated to the addictive substance or behavior. If the person is controlled by the addiction, then any relationship they have is also being controlled. Who wants to be in a relationship with an addiction?

Thus, it doesn’t really matter what the addiction is about – whether to alcohol, drugs, work, or anything else. It may be that the object of the addiction is inherently deleterious – such as drugs – but the damage of the addictive substance or behavior is on top of the addiction itself. Even if the addiction is to something relatively innocuous – say to Coke or exercise – the addiction is incompatible with a relationship.

When we speak of addiction, we mean in accordance with its scientific definition, namely where the person is dependent on that substance or behavior and doesn’t have control over whether to be dependent. People sometimes use the word addiction loosely, such as “I’m completely addicted to chocolate,” when they really mean that they enjoy it a lot and eat it regularly. That is a misuse of the word addiction.

Perhaps overeating is bad for you, and drinking too much is a very poor idea. But eating or drinking in excess is not the same thing as an addiction. Bad habits are never a good thing, but they are not a reason to postpone dating. An addiction, by contrast, is a relationship killer and must be addressed before dating will make any sense.

It is completely inadvisable to get involved in relationships if you are not in control of your faculties. If you are in the grip of any type of genuine addiction, you need to get help first, and consider marriage second. An alcoholic or a gambling addict has no business dating until they have fully dealt with their problem.

Personality disorders

Personality disorders are an unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving that lead to an impaired ability to function in the world. They especially affect how a person relates to situations and people. People with a personality disorder may not realize they have one, as to them it may seem normal and natural, or they are prone to blame others for the difficulties they face.

Personality disorders include: 

  • Paranoia, a greatly exaggerated distrust and suspicion of others, sometimes accompanied by hypersensitivity to insult
  • Borderline personality, a propensity towards extreme mood swings and reckless or thoughtless behavior
  • Narcissistic personality, extreme self-centeredness, seeking continual recognition and praise together with a disregard for the needs and feelings of others
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality, hyper-repetitiveness of certain rituals and a highly rigid adherence to arbitrary rules

Personality disorders make it difficult for a person to function. Instead of having the headspace to engage in developing a relationship, a person suffering with such a condition is heavily preoccupied with their disorderly thoughts and behaviors. But the biggest problem with these disorders is the way that they take over the person and control their thoughts and conduct. 

In other words, they have the same fundamental problem as addictions. Rather than being able to dedicate oneself to making one’s spouse happy, the person caught up in these disorders feels forced to prioritize appeasing those unhealthy thoughts. Without first learning how to manage those instincts, building a relationship can be very difficult, and maintaining one can often prove impossible.

The good news is that most of the time, with either medication and therapy, or a combination of the two, these disorders can be brought very much under control, and a person can go on to have a functional and productive life. However, that needs to happen before dating can commence.

Mental illness

While some people feel there is a stigma attached to mental illness, most conditions are amenable to treatment and should not prevent a person from living a full life. The worst and most tragic aspect of mental illness is the way it can impair a person’s willingness or ability to seek or receive help. That is why it is so important that anyone with a mental illness gets the required treatment.

There are many types of mental illness, from bipolar to clinical depression, from schizophrenia to generalized anxiety disorder. In some cases, the symptoms are relatively mild, but some may find their situation totally debilitating. There is no situation in which avoiding treatment can end well. While some mental illnesses are temporary, often they are persistent and must be managed long-term.

Trying to date while a mental illness has not been brought under control is not realistic. The presence of such a condition is likely to interfere in the development of a healthy relationship, and will almost certainly cause havoc in a marriage. The correct order always is to address the problem first and date second. The relationship will never be the cure for the problem, and can only make this more difficult and complicated.

Just like people can learn to live with a learning difficulty or chronic back pain, so a person can become proficient at successful living with a mental health issue. But only if they have sought suitable professional input and have stabilized their condition. Most mental health illnesses can be successfully treated, and in many cases with a high level of success. 


Thankfully, people successfully date and marry all the time, so there is no reason to overcomplicate things. At the same time, we are familiar with how finding the right zivug is compared in its difficulty to Kriyas Yam Suf. So, it is not so simple that anyone can afford to make it any more complicated than absolutely necessary. That is why it is essential to come to dating having addressed the kind of issues that will make the process a whole lot harder and riskier.


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