Hi rwprof. You don't sound uncaring at all - I think I was being a bit unspecific because I was worried about what to say.I don't know what you'd say if you were to comment on my relationship, of course. I've heard a lot of people talking about how to cope with the food element of the fast, and I guess I was hoping people had suggestions about how to get through this element of restriction. Is there maybe a prayer you (or anyone else) feels would be appropriate? I would be grateful. I'm sorry if the comment about kissing offended you. I am just finding out about how the theology works, and it isn't always clear to me why certain things are prohibited/ allowed. For example, although I usually fast with him, I could in theory ask my partner to cook me bacon and eggs on a Friday. I expect that he would want to eat those things (especially right now!). So this to me seems like a form of temptation, but I have not heard anyone say that it is considered wrong. In contrast, I have heard that moving in together would be frowned upon, and I assume that this is because of the element of temptation. Is there some hierarchy of transgression going on? I would love some clarification.
Fasting is a spiritual exercise to help us grow in virtue. It is not a sin to eat meat, but we voluntarily give these things up as an exercise in obedience to the rules the church has set for us. If someone is unable to keep the fasts for medical reasons, they take permission of their spiritual guide and work out a rule appropriate to the individual. It's not that we need the priests permission to eat (thinking in terms of what's allowed or not here is the wrong emphasis), but that he's there to help us work out how to follow God and how to train ourselves in virtue. (St. Paul likens Christianity to running a race the Bible, so we have to train!)
Living together is another topic altogether. Unlike eating meat (which is not sinful), extramarital sexual relationships are against Christianity. It's not a matter of discipline but of commandment, fornication is forbidden in the Bible and has never in the history of the church been thought to be ok. This is not a weird Orthodox thing, all Christians agreed on this for two millennium until recent decades when a few groups, still the vast minority, started to think premarital sex is ok. So living together is not allowed, as it is almost impossible to do with purity.
If you want to talk to someone to figure things out, I'm sure his priest would be happy to sit with you. You couldn't make clear you don't want to convert, but just want to understand.
In Orthodoxy, dating is not normally done for the sake of having someone. It is done to determine if it is God's will to marry. It isn't something that's seen as a long term or semi-permanent state, but a process to seek an answer. If marriage is a future possibility, it wouldn't hurt to check on what your options are, and what decisions would have to be made (normally marriage in Orthodoxy is restricted to practicing Christians as it is a Sacrament who's purpose is salvation).
So the question on kissing is just hard to know how to address. Kissing is a pretty vague term. If you mean an affectionate peck, I don't think most Orthodox married people refrain from this during the fast, only from sexual relations. If you mean passionate kissing, I don't know how to answer since for us that's not something that belongs outside of marriage (not to say Orthodox couples looking to get married don't get carried away and need repentance, just that the question of whether or not it's ok to kiss passionately outside of marriage during a fast doesn't really make sense to us since it falls into purity and avoidance of sin, it's not something good that's fasted from to exercise obedience and discipline).
I don't mean any offense or judgment, just trying to convey where we're coming from to try to explain why it's hard to answer your questions.