A friend of mine who is also a BT was recently dating a guy who was frum from birth. She really liked his personality, his enthusiasm and his sense of humor. There seemed to be a lot going for them as a couple, which is why they were introduced in the first place. But she had a real problem relating to him on one level – he had never had much to do with the secular world, had never had secular or non-Jewish relatives; and that was a very important part of her life.
My friend is very close with her non-religious family. She grew up with some frum friends and a lot of non-frum and non-Jewish ones, many of whom she is still in touch with. She thinks it’s extremely important that whoever she marries feels comfortable going to her family for non-religious holidays, occasional Shabbosim and family events.
She also really enjoys going to movies and listening to non-Jewish music. It’s something she grew up with, and it’s not something that she feels the need to curtail completely from her life.
He couldn’t understand this. He didn’t understand how she could possibly eat in her parent’s house, which wasn’t strictly kosher (though they made a lot of accommodations for her). He didn’t understand how her family could celebrate holidays in their own way, and how she could take part in their celebrating things in a non-Traditional manner.
He also couldn’t understand why people liked non-Jewish music. He had listened to it a few times, but just didn’t connect with it nor did he find it appealing. And he felt that seeing movies was antithetical to being a good, frum Jew.
In discussing the situation with him further, my friend discovered that he really just couldn’t even relate to a non-frum lifestyle at all. He had never been exposed to non-Jews or even non-religious Jews. He worked in a frum place, had all Orthodox friends and had no non-religious relatives. The secular world was a foreign concept to him.
Because of my friend’s ties to her family and friends who don’t live in the Orthodox world, she had a hard time dealing with this. He couldn’t understand where she came from, and that is a big part of who she is. Because she found they couldn’t relate on that level, she felt he would never truly understand who she is, and that is important to her, especially in a relationship like marriage. She decided to stop seeing him because of this.
I don’t think it’s impossible for people from such different backgrounds to make a marriage work. But I think it is difficult, and for my friend, this situation was more than she could transcend. So I guess as much as you hear about discrimination against Baalei teshuvah in dating, there is a bit of reverse discrimination as well.