THOUGHTS FROM A SHADCHAN
If you have opened up any major Jewish newspaper of magazine over the past several years, you have likely read about the “shidduch crisis” that plagues the Jewish community. Experts have cited data showing that, because of the rising birth rate of Jewish community each year, there are more girls entering the shidduch scene than boys at any given time, since girls typically date at a younger age than boys. Because of those statistics, the experts explain, there will be a certain number of girls every year who cannot possibly find their mates because there just aren’t enough eligible young men out there. The result has left parents terrified and girls praying not to be one of the unfortunates, who like in a real life game of musical chairs, find themselves coming up empty when the music stops, since there simply aren’t enough boys left to go around.
Having spent many years involved in shidduchim, I feel very confident telling you that the so-called “shidduch crisis” is nothing more than a human error. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who are having trouble finding “the right one” – it simply means that this crisis theory is just plain wrong. From the beginning of time Hashem has always created exactly the right number of boys and girls, so perhaps the reason that some people are still trying to find their bashert is that they are looking in the wrong places. Each of us gets caught up looking for certain attributes, such as a boy who is a long term learner or a girl who is taller than average. But so often our pre-conceived notions are wrong and we need to widen our focus and think outside the boxes we have created for ourselves. We have already seen a trend of boys who are marrying girls older than they are; perhaps it is time to for singles to start looking outside their comfort zone and be more open minded about who they are willing to date instead of arbitrarily rejecting entire categories of eligible singles.
There are issues that can come up before a couple even gets to go out on a first date. Many singles have a sense of obligation and feel that they should strive for a particular type of person to marry. These “types” range from being from a certain sect to coming from a well-known family. Singles often focus on the wrong parts of a potential mate’s life rather than accepting a solid prospect who has been sent by Hashem.
Although the availability of one’s personal information is out in the open, it can actually negatively affect a potential shidduch. Many people say “no” to a suggestion based off of a single piece of information that they came across without allowing the other side to provide any type of explanation. For instance, one could decide that a certain medical condition of one’s sibling is genetic and then reject the shidduch when in reality, such a condition could have nothing to do with one’s genetics.
References are yet another reason why so many shidduchim never get off the ground. There are instances when references give information about a person they hadn’t been in contact with for years. These references gave information about the wrong sibling in a family, talked about things that they thought happened but actually never did, and mentioned things that hadn’t been relevant for years. Oftentimes, people frame information based off of their own points of reference. Thus, a reference who is short might describe someone taller than himself as “tall” when in fact the person is of average height.
Well-meaning parents can also create problems when checking out potential prospects. By seeing their own child through rose-colored glass and by and imposing their own preferences onto their child, a potential shidduch could very quickly disappear. A parent who has always wanted their child to grow in their yiddishkeit might suggest a candidate who is far more to the right in hopes of pushing his or her child in that direction.
One of the biggest problems is not giving a shidduch enough time. Boys and girls approach dating very differently as they think differently and their needs are different. 80% of boys are able to tell fairly quickly whether or not a girl is interesting to them. In fact, many come to this realization on the first date, sometimes just minutes after meeting. On the other hand, girls often approach a date with an entire laundry list of questions that they need to answer before they can decide if a relationship has potential. Due to these dissimilar perspectives, shidduchim can often take turns for the worst. A boy who doesn’t feel as though the interest is mutual might decide to stop dating in order to avoid getting rejected or hurt.
GENDERS APPROACH SHIDDUCHIM WITH DIFFERENT NEEDS
A girl who is subconsciously caught up in trying to determine if a boy has the many qualities she needs can be so deep in thought that she can forget to enjoy herself. While wondering if she can trust him with her intellect, safety, and emotions, she can conclude that she isn’t feeling the “chemistry” and call it quits. Having a good shadchan involved in the process can often help things move along. By providing advice and explaining the differences between what goes on in each gender’s head, the matchmaker can be a good source of feedback after each date.
It is crucial for the shadchan to help the girl identify the positive qualities that she sees in her date. This feedback has been the single most powerful tool used in dating as it’s been proven to help singles. For instance, approximately 80% of the boys in shidduchim can tell if they will be interested in meeting in the future after the first date. In contrast, about 80% of the girls in shidduchim need more time to figure things out.
This contrast is the center of the communication breakdown in dating.He thinks she not interested because they are not on the same interest level.She goes along with the break up because she hadn’t determined if she was interested or not.He doesn’t know about the mind of a girl.She doesn’t realize she has this unspoken list of securities, trustworthy qualities, and signs of respect.
In order to safeguard themselves from the possibility of divorce, many singles have fallen into a pattern of over-analyzing each shidduch and each date. Yes, it’s important to be careful and to be responsible but such paranoia can become excessive and harmful.
Reading books and listening to CD’s on shalom bayis in an effort to better understand how marriage works can lessen the fear of a potential divorce. I don’t have all of the answers to every shidduch related problem, but having been directly involved in hundreds of shidduchim, I have had the opportunity to observe many couples during the dating process.