I have been in the singles scene for a while and have seen many of my friends get married and many stay single. Of those who have stayed single, I have noticed commonalities among SOME of them, which could imply a bona fide pattern. The symptoms are:
1) Obsession with lofty spirituality. Many of these women unwittingly scare men off by flaunting said obsession on dates as a form of challenge.
2) Fixation with pristine perfection. Many of these women act as if it beneath their lofty dignity to stand in the presence of a man who has flaws. Many of them cannot psychologically handle the fact that many single men watch sports or otherwise fall short of their ideals. They deny their zero-tolerance attitude by saying things like, “I’m not too picky. I’ll date someone with divorced parents.” Or, “I am a realist. I understand that a man who is politically powerful in the community will not be the most involved parent.” These women often consider themselves realistic by agreeing to “settle” for someone who is less than phenomenally wealthy, handsome or otherwise high-status, while still running in horror from anyone with an actual imperfection.
3) Social gravitation towards rabbis, rebbetzins or other parent figures. Many of these women know the name of every maggid shiur in town and can converse intelligently about them. When in shul, they are often quicker to socialize with middle-aged mother figures than even single women their own age.
4) Overwhelming desire to idealize their spouse. Many of these women sincerely believe that they deserve a husband they can look up to with starry eyes. They cringe at the thought of being an equal, let alone an eizer kenegdo.
5) “Take care of me!!”- These women have a powerful need to feel protected from the ills of the world. They want a cushy life in an established community, with a house and a minivan, and do not feel bothered by the question of what they have to offer a man affluent enough to afford this, in return.
6) Dowdy physical appearance. Most of the women I am describing here are overweight, sometimes significantly, and commonly have easily curable physical defects like a huge nose. These women go through the motions of putting themselves together, often with a suit and flat shoes, but somehow do not seem to comprehend the importance of looking young, pretty and feminine. When asked why they don’t wear more makeup or consider an updated hairstyle, some give answers like, “A nice boy doesn’t care about those things.”
Many of these women cannot fathom why a thinner, more glamorous younger sister is married to a sports fan with an entry-level salary, who sometimes misses mincha. They sincerely believe that they are worth better.
I have found that this problem tends to feed on itself, with the proliferation of shiurim, Tehillim groups and segulos for single women creating a sort of ghetto where single women with this syndrome can drive each other deeper and deeper out of reality. At a recent shiur for single women (in which a speaker from Israel instructed the girls to automatically break up with any man who uses the Internet), I was shocked to find that quite a few of the girls had weight problems and almost none of them were wearing makeup.
I have found that the extreme emphasis these women place on segulos, brachos parties, and extremist interpretations of tznius only serves to raise the bar for the men they date, forcing said men to conform to the lofty la-la land they have created for themselves, possibly as a defense mechanism, in order to be considered “good enough.”
I welcome feedback to my letter which is written in the hopes of possibly shedding a faint ray of light on the enormous darkness which exists in place of an answer to the painfully burning question –
“Why am I still single?”
Allow me to be the first to comment on your well-articulated and plausible critique of the single woman as you observe her, and to firstly suggest that girls with a diverse range of differences were always out there, though with perhaps less prominence than they are in today’s times.
Another thing to take into consideration: like gravitates to like, and the increase in the number of shiurim, Tehillim groups, etc. certainly helps to facilitate the meeting of like minds, on a much larger scale than ever before.
Additionally, trials and hardships have always been known to bring one closer to Hashem, so the upsurge in spirituality – whether in the form of revamping tznius guidelines or reviving old segulos – should come as no surprise.
As for the overweight and the plain-Jane unsophisticated types, they’ve been with us forever. Call it part of the multicolored fabric of society or attribute it to “different strokes for different folks” – either way, neither a weight issue nor a large nose seems to have hindered countless of singles from acquiring a spouse.
This is not to say that taking things to an extreme (as in the scenarios you so lucidly illustrate) is ever advisable or healthy (for marrieds or singles), but just to point out that one needn’t be slim, good-looking, levelheaded, or even down-to-earth with reasonable goals to land a suitable shidduch.
The key is in the word “suitable” – as in “s/he was made for him/her.” After all, it’s not as if there’s a proliferation of perfect young males having a hard time finding the perfect female (or vice-versa). Boys and girls alike have warts and idiosyncrasies that somehow suddenly don’t matter a whit when two souls predestined to be together discover one another.
Two indispensable components in finding one’s zivug (assigned to each of us long before we got to assert our individual characteristics): a dose of good mazel and siyata d’Shmaya. To that end, Hashem awaits our heartfelt prayers.
Thanks for sharing your thought-provoking perspectives with this column.
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