Almost everyone in the world is looking for someone to grow old with. Since the general census shows ceaseless growth, it can be assumed that a large number of those people find a partner to live with, and occasionally, raise children with.
Yet side by side with these couples, there are quite a few for whom the searching phase is never ending. Some have been searching for years, have met hundreds of potential partners and have broken up with all of them, or have been broken up with. At the end of the day, they're alone.
In a study carried out by Audrey Leiman, a couples' councilor, in her thesis on Being Single in Religious Society for Lesley University, Leiman discovered that for religious women, the process of searching for a partner is even more difficult.
Leiman will be presenting her findings at a professional conference on the topic of singles counseling which will be held by the Yashfe organization (a matchmaking service for the religious sector) in Jerusalem in December.
"I can happily say that the Zionist religious sector of society raises its daughters with a high level of self fulfillment and development", explains Leiman. "On the other hand, they are expected to build their home and have children at a very young age. Creating a situation where their lives consist of a considerable paradox that exists from the first moment their search for a partner in life begins.
"An additional paradox is the conflict between the traditional views on marriage and relationships and the sector's modern views. Today most religious women have an equalitarian view yet at the same time, still have the traditional view with regards to a man's role – from the religious domain and through to the internal management of the household.
"Most religious women still hold with the traditional views that the man must be more than them – taller, more educated, earns more. The problem is that they themselves have advanced and hold key positions. Earn well, have masters and doctorate degrees. These two conflicting views must live together under one roof, and they don't have a clear message."
According to Leiman, young religious women live with a great deal of complexity in the post-modern world. "It may make it more interesting, but it's harder to live with these kinds of conflicts."
And harder still to live with conflicts at such a young age
"For women in the Zionist religious sector of society the search begins at the ages of 18-20. At that age they aren't always ready for marriage and are still busy with self development, but they go out in response to a social code that tells them that this is the age for marriage.
Since they start early, the burnout hits them hard. It's an exhausting process where choosing your partner could mean meeting hundreds and sometimes thousands of men."
What happens when after 300 men you still haven't found 'the one'?
"Women seek clarification on their own identity. They undergo a crisis and start to question their feminine identity and even their sexual identity and then they enter the waiting phase. They put a stop to their personal development.
They don't want to develop or advance any further so that they won't find it harder to find a partner who is 'more' than them and also, so that they don't scare off potential partners.
Some of them believe that their development should progress within a relationship, that no additional advancement should be made when they're alone - thus beginning the waiting phase because they believe that real life begins when the relationship does.
According to Leiman's study, the waiting phase is not good for those in it – this is when negative feelings and despair enter the fray. Some women develop a cynical outlook, even bitterness and anger towards society, men and friends who aren't helping them find a partner.
"This kind of situation makes it hard for you to be at your best as you continue to go on dates", Leiman notes.
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