For the past few weeks my column has focused on the difficulties singles experience while trying to find their soul mates. The response has been so overwhelming that before adding more of my own comments, I will share two reader e-mails with you, one from a single woman, the other from a shadchan directed at the anguished, thirty-plus single whose letter in my Jan. 16 column started this discussion.
(B’ezras Hashem, in a future column I will publish more e-mails on the subject.)
Letter 1 – from G.K., a frustrated single:
I am writing this with much emotion. I am angry. I am frustrated. I am a bit heartbroken. I actually don’t know what to feel at this point, but I can tell you I have never felt like this in my life.
I am thirty years old and still in the dating parshah, but I’m not bitter about it. Baruch Hashem, I go out with very mentschlech men but, unfortunately, the matches haven’t been appropriate. I attend shidduch meetings, singles events, and Shabbatons and my profile is featured on various shidduch websites. I have watched many friends walk down the aisle to the chuppah, and my heart is filled with nothing but joy for them because I know that while my time has not yet come, hopefully it will – and soon.
It is not a very good feeling to have to call or meet with a stranger in order to ask for help in finding a husband because nothing else has worked. Some shadchanim take the time to really try to get to know you, but some only meet with you for minutes, insist on a “good” picture, and then, no matter how many times you try to call them, you reach a voicemail message or they never return your calls.
Let me explain what has led me to my current emotional unrest. I was given the name of a shadchan who works for a website. I called and told her a little about myself and what I am looking for in a mate. After exchanging pleasantries, the shadchan began barking at me: “How old are you?” “What do you do?” “What are you looking for?”
No sooner had I finished explaining the type of young man I was looking for than this woman said, “The type of guy you want only wants a model and you are no model. Beside which, guys like that are married by now. These men know what they want – and they don’t want you.”
I was speechless. When I finally regained my voice I angrily said, “How do you know I am not a model? You have no idea what I look like. How dare you say something like that to someone! You know nothing about me.”
She replied, “You are thirty years old. If you are a model, let me ask you: What have you done wrong? Why are you not married by now?”
This a shadchan?! This someone who is supposed to help frum men and women find their life partners? She’d never met me, yet she told me I am not attractive and it is my fault I am not married. When I asked her why she said that, she told me she was just trying to help. What type of “help” is she trying to offer? She ended the conversation by informing me, “Listen, you should really take the next guy who walks through your door or consider dating a divorced man with children, because that’s all you’ll get.”
Who is she to say what she said? Apparently, she is a highly recommended shadchan who doesn’t know how to speak to or treat people. She doesn’t know the damage she inflicts on individuals. Where is the chesed of “bein adam l’chaveiro – kindness and consideration extended to our fellow man”?
As I stated above, it is hard enough to make that call and ask for help, but to be met with such hostility and viciousness was horrifying. For the next few days her words echoed in my head like a bad nightmare – only it actually happened.
Shadchanim are supposed to help singles find their basherte. They should return phone calls to singles who request their assistance. There is no mitzvah in collecting profiles just to be able to say you have a treasure trove of profiles. I once called a shadchan five times over the course of two months and never received a call, text, or e-mail back. I finally got the message she was trying to convey – “I don’t have anyone for you and I am too busy to help you.” I never called her again, but at our initial meeting she had said, “Oh, I love you! In high school we would have been best friends. I have so many names in mind. Call me!”