Matchmaker, Matchmaker  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , ,

I have wanted for a while to write about some of the issues in the dating system in today's Orthodox world, and although I have started writing a blog post about it (I'll post that one eventually), something I recently read provoked me to write this one, which I'll post first. This post might come across as judgmental and condescending to some people. If you're the type of person who dislikes that, feel free not to read it.


In last week's issue of the Jewish Press (April 1, 2011), the writers of a column titled 'A Dating Primer' wrote about how singles these days don't set each other up as they used to in the past. Apparently, singles used to look out for each other much better then than they do now. As an example, the writers mentioned two sisters, one of whom started dating about 8 years ago. Her friends set her up with guys, and she was able to find a husband within 2 years. In contrast, her younger sister, who is dating now, does not get set up by her friends. People aren't asking to set her up, while her sister used to get suggestions even before she started dating. The writers of the column suggest that because of this, the girl is "in the midst of a long 'drought' -- she has not had a date in a year."

This girl hasn't had a date in a year because her friends aren't setting her up? Am I the only one rolling my eyes at this?

I don't know if the article was using a hypothetical situation to make a point or was discussing an actual person, but whatever the case may be, it sounds unreasonable to say that the reason a girl has not had a date in a year is because her friends aren't setting her up. This implies that she is incapable of doing something for herself and her relationship status depends entirely on her friends.

Here's a novel idea. She can actually do something for herself instead of waiting for others to do it for her. She can go to a singles Shabbaton, sign herself up for a (*gasp*) dating site, go to places where there are other Jewish singles, and actually meet people. These are perfectly legitimate ways of meeting a guy, and if she was seriously looking to get married, she would look into these possibilities.

I understand that some people in the Orthodox community feel uncomfortable with dating someone they were not 'set up' with, but at what cost? If this system doesn't work, why not explore other options? It is unfair to blame this girl's friends for the fact that she hasn't had a date in a year. How about allowing her to take some of the responsibility?

I have a lot more to write on the subject, but first I would like to ask my readers to weigh in. What do you think about shidduchim vs. dating without an intermediary? What do you see as the pros and cons of both based on your own experience? Which do you prefer and why?

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 10, 2011 at Sunday, April 10, 2011 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

6 comments

Batsheva  

I totally agree with you, Hannah! I read the Jewish Press article, too, and I actually kind of rolled my eyes, too. However, it may not entirely be the girl's fault--maybe her parents do not allow her to attend single's events or go out with a guy that she met herself....it's very possible. I think, though, that when push comes to shove, and this girl has not had a single date the entire year, her parents MUST reconsider the typical, "normal" shidduch-way of doing things and realize that there ARE other options out there. Options that may lead to a daughter happily married. :)

--Batsheva

April 10, 2011 at 9:57 AM
Jaimie  

I agree that the blame should DEFINITELY not be placed entirely on her friends. It is not a friend's job to make sure another gets married. Maybe the problem is NOT that her friends aren't setting her up. Maybe the problem is that there seems to be a race to get married. All these girls who start dating for marriage the minute they get out of high school or seminary not only don't know what they're looking for, they don't even fully know who they are yet. I think if everyone just relaxed, and took it slow-they wouldn't have so many issues. Shidduchim vs. Dating without a shadchan: There are pros and cons to each. I say, to each their own. Just make sure you're doing what YOU want, and not what someone else is telling you to do.

April 10, 2011 at 10:21 AM
Batya  

LOL you guys are so funny-

What is with everyone and being so shy about everything? Like, religious boys these days don't have the courage to go and approach a girl they like and ask for a date. I was talking to a big rabbi, and he said that he met his wife in the library. He went over, introduced himself, and asked for a date. It was perfectly fine. Then we got to talking how people don't do that anymore- they need everyone else to do the work on them. They've gotten lazy, and scared. They've lost their manliness. It's pretty pathetic, actually.

Anyways, we need to remember that Hashem sends you the right husband, at the right time, in the right place, when you're ready.

Love U Hannah!
Batya

April 10, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Comment from Sofia:

"Ok, I'll chip in my two cents.
I agree with Jaimie that there shouldn't be such a race to get married and that most girls fresh out of high school don't know who they are and what they want out of life. (Thinking that you know and actually knowing is not the same thing).
Having said that, there is something to not waiting too long. The sad fact of life is that the older you get, the harder it becomes to get dates and the less choices you're left with. However, as Batya said, Hashem is the one who sends you the right shidduh, and as long as you're doing normal hishtadlut, you don't need to worry.
I know women who got married in their late 20's and I don't think they missed out on much. If anything, they have more appreciation for being married and having kids than the girls who go married younger.
Shedduhim vs Dating, each has it's benefits. The reason why Orthodox prefer shidduchim, is because they assume that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. They do a background check on the boy's/girl's family and hope that if the parents are people with good middos and good reputation in the community, they hopefully raised their kids to be decent people. Of course this could be misleading as no system can be perfect 100% of the time, but there's plenty of truth to this. When you're meeting someone on your own, you only have your own judgement to rely on, which may be clouded by many things we will not discuss here.
If you choose to date on your own, my recommendation is to make it clear to the men you're meeting that you're dating with the goal of eventually getting married and unabashedly ask for references who are NOT his friends (bec what friend would sabotage his friend's dating?).
Finally, remember to daven."

April 11, 2011 at 1:13 PM

I totally agree. I know of a few girls who are getting no dates, but refuse to use YUConnects/Saw you at sinai, or even write a profile for distribution to potential matches - and yet they complain about the lack of dates their getting! ASoG and I have even offered to personally help them as matchmakers on YUConnects and they get nervous and refuse outright.

It IS true, however, that fewer singles will think of a friend for someone they went out with but ended the shidduch because it simply wasn't for them (to the exclusion of someone who is a jerk, an ax-murderer, etc). Rav Willig is a big fan of this, and it's how I met ASoG, incidentally.

April 11, 2011 at 3:55 PM

I'm going to write another blog post about this based on all your comments, but first I just want to briefly reply here.

Batsheva, you're right in saying that a girl's parents might be limiting what she can do, but if this girl is old enough to be dating for marriage, shouldn't she be able to make decisions for herself? If she thinks that she's mature enough to get married, she should also be mature enough to decide how she wants to date. I think that's basically what Jaimie said, that to each their own. A girl should do what she thinks will work for her.

Batya, thanks! And I completely agree with you about how most religious guys now don't know how to ask out a girl by themselves and it's rather sad.

Sofia, I think these days it is much more common for the child to be different from the parents. Some kids from religious families grow up and decide that they don't want to continue following their parents' ideals and would rather pursue their own path. This happens a lot when they go to college and are exposed to new ideas and are able to make their own choices about what they want to do. This is especially true in Yeshiva University, which encourages students to think for themselves. Also, if a girl is set up by her friend, I doubt that there is much room for background checks. A girl might set her friend up with a guy whose family she doesn't really know, and the parents might not be able to check into it as much as with a 'professional' shadchan.

SoG, I also think it's great when friends set up friends. (I've done that before, with success.) Friends should definitely look out for each other, but it's just not fair to blame friends for one's lack of a dating life, since there are so many other ways to meet singles.

April 15, 2011 at 5:27 PM

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