Editor’s note: In advance of Tu B’Av (Friday, July 27), The Jewish Press asked six shadchanim (some “official,” some “unofficial”) to answer the following question: What can – or what should – singles do to increase their chances of getting married? Their answers follow.
Phyllis Blackman (worked as shadchan for Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis’ Hineni Center, marriage seminar creator):
Always be kind. What goes around comes around and your good name is everything. Hashem does not want you hurting His children and everyone wants to marry someone kind.
Say “thank you” after a date. Even if someone isn’t for you, they gave you their time and attention at their expense. Perhaps you know someone for them.
Watch what you think. Negative produces negative, and positive does the same. There are two kinds of people in the world — the half-empties and the half-fulls. The half-empties go to a singles event and notice every thing that’s wrong. The room is too noisy, too quiet, too crowded, too empty. They don’t like the salad dressing, there’s not enough food, there’s too much of one thing and not enough of another, “There’s no one here for me,” and “I could have stayed home and worked on my project.” They’re right!
But the half-fulls come into the same room and say, “Wow, look how many people; there are so many chances to meet someone or network” or “There aren’t so many people here, so I can meet everyone and maybe I’ll meet someone for my friends or business. It’s good to get out of the house and I’m looking forward to having a good time.” They’re also right, and probably will.
The half-fulls are healthier and happier, get married quicker, and have better marriages. The great news is that you get to choose which one you want to be every minute of every day. Be a half-full or, better still, just be a full.
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Dr. Tova Weinberg (co-founder of SawYouAtSinai):
1) We are living in a very visual world today, so make sure you have a great professional picture. No selfies.
2) Remind your matchmakers that you are still alive and single once a month.
3) If you are dating someone and not feeling fireworks, that’s okay. Get clarity about that person from professionals for he or she might be the one, and all you need is clarity.
4) People talk to each other all the time – no one says yes until they ask every friend about you first, unfortunately – so please behave.
5) Respond to people. If they text you, text back.
6) Don’t be flaky, by which I mean: Don’t be unresponsive, unable to commit to a plan, constantly cancel or reschedule, or always have an excuse for why you can’t get together. If you behave, you will have a great reputation and people will want to go out with you.
7) When you are on a date, get out of your comfort zone. If you are very reserved, pull yourself out of that reserved mode and tell the person who you really are.
8) Date yourself first. Ask yourself important questions like where do you want to live, do you want a big family, do you want to work full time, etc.
9) Be a person you would want to date. Act the way you want your date to act.
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Dr. Rivkah Blau (author of Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah):
Instead of thinking that singles have a problem, [we should focus on] the community to whom the current situation should be a matter of concern. We have to create more opportunities for singles to meet in an atmosphere that lends itself to ready, unstilted conversation.
For example, YUConnects recently sponsored an evening for an equal number of men and women to work at the Yad Leah warehouse sorting and packing clothing for shipment to Israel. Conversation was easy as they worked; anyone who was willing to volunteer for this effort had already revealed a quality of caring for others. The event resulted in one shidduch.
If we offer a shiur, we have to provide refreshments afterward to encourage the audience to stay and talk together. The shiur cannot be about shidduchim! It has to be on a high level and on an interesting subject that will lead to discussion.
All of us have to think of – and arrange! – innovative, meaningful, non-pressured ways for people to meet.
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Sylvia Handler (matchmaker at SawYouAtSinai):
In addition to tefillah and emunah:
1) Ask all your relatives and friends – single and married – to think of ideas and network for you.
2) Take a picture for your shidduch resume and ask your friends if they think it presents you both positively and realistically. Run your shidduch resume by a friend. If possible, check what your references are saying.
3) Be flexible with whom you’re willing to date, prioritizing what will really make you the happiest and unhappiest in life.
4) Dress neatly and appropriately for dates.
5) Be a good listener. Ask questions that show interest, and compliment accomplishments.
6) Remember that dating isn’t therapy. If you had a bad day or a bad life, don’t relive the details. Don’t voice negativity about anyone or anything. It’s a sure way not to get a second date.
7) Smile. Be polite to all those you come in contact with while dating. Pleases and Thank yous get noticed. No bad language. Facial expressions and body language count too. No unsafe driving.
8) Barring emergencies, never talk on the phone while on a date.
9) If you’re over 30, and rejecting way more than being rejected, have a conversation with someone you respect and try to determine if there are issues that need to be addressed that are holding you back from commitment. Try to spare others wasted time.
10) For males: Try to invest more into a first date than a coffee at Starbucks. Try to come up with date ideas that your date is interested in. Drive or accompany the girl home. It will help your reputation.
11) Last but not least, whether or not you are interested in the person you’re dating, thank them for the time spent. Being nice never goes to waste.
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Gitty Stolik (author of It’s Okay to Laugh, Seriously):
1) List three key qualities you seek. I’m talking about personality traits – not height, looks, education, and profession. Externals are of secondary significance.
Singles often need coaching to help them recognize what is essential – the unchangeable aspects of the person – and what is peripheral. While I respect a single’s strong feelings regarding external criteria (e.g., height, white-collar vs. blue-collar, etc.), I advocate flexibility. I know one highly-intelligent PhD woman who dated many men with degrees until she found her scholar-husband – a tree-trimmer by profession.
2) Endeavor to be positive. When we display a radiant countenance, G-d reciprocates. I once gave a pep talk to a group of singles, and one of them got engaged several months later. She told me she had been in a funk and resolved, that very night, to up her mood. She attributed her shidduch breakthrough to that shift.
A woman who used to eat with my family on Shabbos had all the qualities that shadchanim denigrate: She was heavily overweight, nondescript-looking, shunned makeup, had no yichus (she was a convert), etc. But every year on her birthday, she had a l’chaim and declared with conviction: “This year I’m going to get married.” Several years later – she did! He was a perfect match – same yichus, and his girth exceeded hers! The moral of the story: Don’t just think positive. Speak positive!
3) Balance ongoing contact with shadchanim with the absolute knowledge that our shidduch comes from Above. Shadchanim are merely tools in His hand. Shadchanim should remember that as well!
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Mindy Eisenman (staff connector and dating coach, YUConnects):
Marriage is a mitzvah from the Torah, and one of the most important accomplishments in this world is to marry and raise a family. Here are some valuable tips; consider it your basic “MODAH” (Hebrew for “information and knowledge”) guidelines for successful dating:
M: Mentschlechkeit at all times. A shem tov, a good name, is worth more than gold. Treat others the way you want to be treated, even if you realize you won’t pursue the relationship. Many good suggestions originate from people we have dated previously.
O: Organize your priorities and put dating at the top. “Harbei shluchim laMakom” means that Hashem has many messengers and we don’t know how we will meet our spouse. Let people know you are interested in dating. Do not sit back and wait. Tell your friends to set you up, attend events, and meet new people even if it’s outside your comfort zone. Meet a matchmaker and join an online dating site.
D: Daven, daven, daven. Hashem controls the world and responds to our prayers.
A: Awareness of self. Be honest and spend time writing down your strengths and challenges – because no one is perfect. Marriage is about giving to someone else, so decide what factors you bring to a relationship. In the same vein, outline your values and goals as you seek someone who shares them. This is far more important than having similar hobbies.
H: Horizons – broaden them. Do not pigeon-hole yourself. While a person may say that they want someone who is outgoing, or adventurous, or intellectual, or has blue eyes, be open to new ideas that are suggested. Every date is a learning experience on your special journey.
Wishing you an easy time and mazel in this exciting adventure!