Dating gives a person many opportunities to practice the mitzvah of judging others favorably. It’s not always easy to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Jewish wisdom teaches us that God judges us favorably when we judge others favorably. On Rosh Hashanah we take an accounting of the past year and make goals to improve oneself. One way to do such an accounting with your relationships is to ask yourself, “How am I doing in the area of not jumping to conclusions?”

We’ve all been in challenging situations where we have made judgments, some quick, some bad, and some inaccurate. Jumping to conclusions is a common habit and something we all can work on.

Have you ever been quick to judge someone on a date only to discover you didn't have all the facts right?

Have you ever felt that if you knew what you know now, you would have acted differently?

Have you ever been judged unfavorably and not given the chance to explain yourself?

Picture this:

Diana and David are on a date. The conversation was going well until David got a text and decided to read it at the table with Diana. She decided to excuse herself and go to the bathroom so she wouldn't show how offended she was. When she came back she was clearly upset but didn’t say why. The date continued for another half hour. Shortly after the date, Diana called her friend Michelle who set up the date to tell her side of the story.

“He was so rude. He actually texted during the date.”

Michelle called David to find out what happened. David answered the phone and said to her in a whisper, “I can’t speak right now. My brother was in an accident and I’m in the hospital visiting him.”

When Michelle told Diana what happened, her heart sank. If she had only known. She didn’t realize the importance of the text and that he stayed an extra half hour with her before heading to the hospital.

Here are five steps to help you start judging people more favorably this new year:

  1. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Assume a person is innocent until proven otherwise. Instead of stewing about why David is on his phone, give him the benefit of the doubt. Assume it’s an important or urgent call that can’t wait. And don’t hesitate to ask in the moment, “Is everything alright?”

  2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to think how they must feel and stretch your thinking as much as you can. Some situations just don’t make sense. Was David caught off guard by the urgent text? Was he trying not to worry his date? Was he protecting his brother’s privacy? Imagine you were David. Were you feeling pressure, confused, sad?

  3. Don't take things personally. What other people say or do has more to do with their issues than yours. Choose to be a person who has confidence in themselves. Fake it until you make it. Diana could have told herself that David reading a text doesn’t mean that their date wasn’t important to him. She could have smiled instead of stewing and waited for more information.

  4. Don't be quick to judge. You don't know what's going on in another's life. Diana can choose to reserve her judgment until she speaks to the person that set them up or until she speaks with him directly.

  5. Be careful of what is sometimes called a 'thought storm.' Our minds often spin out of control and come up with a story that isn’t true. Trying to make sense of a situation that you don’t understand. It’s exhausting to think so much. Be patient until you can see the whole picture. Don’t waste your time with unnecessary thoughts that will then affect your mood negatively. Practice self-control in your thinking. While Diana can’t make her thoughts disappear, she can choose not to pay attention to them.

Working on judging more favorably in dating can help us be inscribed in the book of life and improve our new year.

Wishing you a sweet year of seeing others more positively!