I have a friend “Roni” who was unfortunately widowed a while ago. She is the mother of young children trying to bring them up as grounded as possible, without a husband at her side. She has finally decided to take the plunge back into the dating world.
Roni is religious, and has continued to cover her hair (mostly with hats and scarves, occasionally a wig). She has spiritual and communal reasons to do so, and is not looking to change that. If she wanted, she could probably get a heter (rabbinical dispensation) to uncover, but she doesn’t want to, and is not interested in it at all.
She recently started dating a nice young man, someone who had never been married before. A man willing to take on her children and to follow a good solid marriage. A tall order!
But the hair covering thing is an issue for him. Officially, he says that he feels that this is a decision left to the woman he marries however on their first date he immediately asked Roni why she still covers, and was concerned that if someone he knew saw them, they would think he was out with a married woman. Roni tried to explain her feelings and conflict to him as best she could. She thought it was tabled.
In her words:
During our last conversation, we really shared a lot and I finally began to feel like we were becoming more comfortable with each other. I was getting high hopes for our third date, which would clearly be more relaxed and maybe help me sort out my feelings about him. Then at the end of the conversation, he asked me if I would consider not covering my hair while out on dates. I told him I needed to think about it, and maybe even consult a Rav.
But here’s the thing. I don’t want to go out in public with my head uncovered. I don’t feel like I am “there.” Also, I find inconsistency in observance due to circumstance to be inauthentic. I know women who don’t cover at work or on vacation and I have always felt it strange and didn’t get the rationale. But I don’t judge them because of how personal this issue is. It is a really hard Halachah for some, and I give them credit for what they are able to do. But to take a stance of I only cover [going to shul, doing carpool and getting groceries] or I don’t cover on dates, doesn’t sit well with me.
Roni asked me what she should do – she likes the guy. He is decent, there is some chemistry, he’d be a great male role model for her kids. But the fact that he asked her to uncover her hair when she is with him in public really poured cold water on the whole deal.
So dear readers, was this heinous or harmless on his part? What would you advise Roni to do?