Last week I shared a letter from a 30-plus young woman who was very troubled over the challenges confronting singles. She felt the Jewish community was not sufficiently engaged in reaching out to and helping the many singles desperately looking for their soul mates.
“I feel that we, as a community, do not do nearly as much for shidduchim as we should,” she wrote.
She bemoaned the apparent indifference to this problem. “I have e-mailed my personal information to so many people,” she wrote. “More often than not, my calls are not returned and the e-mails are not answered.”
She also complained about the insensitive, cavalier manner with which young married couples relate to them – asking them to baby-sit, as if they were high school students, never stopping to consider how hurtful this can be to someone who sees the years pass by with no prospect of marriage or of holding her own baby in her arms.
The following is my response.
My Dear Friend:
There is no doubt that one of the most vexing dilemmas in the Jewish community today is that of the ever-growing singles population. I appreciate all the fine suggestions you made that may help alleviate this problem, and I hope our readers will follow through and give serious consideration to your recommendations.
There are many organizations (including our own Hineni), congregation-sponsored committees and shidduch clubs where concerned women get together and network to set up shidduchim. Painfully however, the dilemma remains, indicating that more involvement is required.
Having said this, I believe it would be worthwhile to examine the other side of the coin and determine whether there are some problems in the singles world that exacerbate the situation and whether singles themselves, albeit unwittingly, contribute to the crisis.
Dealing with singles for many years, I have had, Baruch Hashem, the zechus to make many, many matches, but I have also encountered many sad situations. Unfortunately, I know countless singles who came to Hineni some thirty years ago searching for their basherts and today they are in their fifties or sixties and, tragically, still searching.
Now, mind you, I have introduced them to many potential candidates, but for one reason or another they never made a connection. There was always some excuse – the easiest of course, was to say, “He/she is very nice, but I don’t think it’s for me.”
Obviously, there are times when such a response is legitimate, when there is no connection, but often there are those who are pursuing an unrealistic dream. They reject shidduch opportunities, and then, years later, they regret they did so. Many have confided to me that they now realize they made huge mistakes.
But even as they do so, they continue on the same unrealistic path, looking for an “image,” failing to realize they are chasing a fantasy. To be sure, when challenged, they will tell you they have very modest requests – “just a good person” – but when I question them closely it quickly emerges that “just a good person” is just a small part of the equation. There are many other considerations that come into play: looks, money, etc.
On occasion, I have challenged some of the shidduch candidates and told them to look into the mirror and frankly ask, “Would I want to go out with me?”
I recall a very overweight man telling me he only wanted a thin girl. “Forgive me,” I said, “I do not want to hurt you, but by that logic, why should a thin girl want you?” Unfortunately, such situations are not isolated incidents. Very often, singles just do not have realistic expectations. They chase a rainbow that is just not there.
There are, of course, many other factors that work against successful shidduchim. With the passage of time, many become comfortable in their own niche and develop commitment phobia. This is especially prevalent among men, though girls can suffer from it as well. None of them would admit to it – they sincerely believe they want to get married (and no doubt they truly do), but they just can’t make that leap, so they date and date and the years fly by.
I do not say these situations are hopeless – I have, Baruch Hashem, made many shidduchim for such individuals – but in order to do so, I not only had to be a shadchan, I also had to undertake the role of a “life coach” – making endless phone calls, urging, encouraging and urging again and again – a task that can be consuming and takes an enormous amount of time and patience.
And there are still other factors to be considered.
Continued Next Week