Dear Dr. Yael,
I am a 23-year-old single Bais Yaakov girl who knows all about the well-intentioned pressures of our community. I live them every day and, as I get older, the looks and comments come with more frequency. What surprises me, though, is the difference between the attitudes of the secular world and ours. I work at a Fortune 500 company in New York City and, at my age, I’m the baby of the office. My co-workers would never believe me if I told them that some of my friends are mothers of 2 or 3 – they are merely children themselves! I’m not saying that the secular outlook is the right one, but I do feel that the so-called “pressure” our community places on singles has evolved to something more. We have become so accustomed to marrying at such young ages that most people don’t even realize that 21 or 22 isn’t really that old! When I’m at work, I feel like I have my whole life ahead of me and it’s amazing what that can do to a person’s frame of mind. Once I get home, I’m considered an “alta kakker.” Don’t get me wrong – I want to get married more than anything else in the world, but, obviously my time hasn’t come yet. Every day, I think, my bashert can say yes today and I can be married in six months, so there’s nothing to worry about.
If I can be positive about this, why can’t everyone else?
I am sorry for the stress you are feeling regarding your present situation; however, I must compliment you on your outlook towards this difficult nisayon. You should never feel old or pressured to get married. Marriage is a once-in-a-lifetime decision and you need to make sure that whomever you marry will be someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. You are correct in that you have your whole life ahead of you and this positive outlook will keep you from becoming stressed or jaded.
I think it’s time that we as a community reconsider our shidduch situation. I have treated so many wonderful “older” single girls who are emotionally stable and special people, but who feel a tremendous amount of stress in regards to their status.
Why should a “good boy” have a list and need a press secretary while a “good girl” needs a press agent? I have had friends and clients who share that their son may be above average and their daughter super special, but it is their son whom people call about and they are the ones calling shadchanim about their daughter.
A recent initiative that will hopefully have positive results is the push for boys to begin dating when they are younger. Of course, this will only work if these younger boys are ready to be mature, giving, and good husbands. Another initiative, that has been around for a few years, encourages boys to date girls their age or older. This has had some success, but not as much as it could. Nevertheless, we need to keep trying, as there is a great need to level the playing field.
I urge all my readers to always be thinking of those whom they know are looking for shidduchim – particularly those of you in your 20s. I believe that young people are the best shadchanim. If you go out with someone and you think that person may be appropriate for your friend don’t hesitate to redt it. It can be awkward, but it can also be the greatest chesed. There are so many couples who were introduced by good friends as well as by young men and women they went out with.
We must stop kvetching about a “crisis” and start taking pro-active steps.
We are told that Hashem spends His time making shidduchim; let us help Him in this endeavor.
Another idea that some still hesitate with is on-line dating sites. I have been zoche to meet a number of happily married couples who met this way. I am not thrilled with the Internet and am very cognizant of its pitfalls and problems; however, if used properly, it can yield results.
S.R. – you have the correct outlook and should not be swayed by the way our community is behaving! Keep up your good work, continue to do your hishtadlus, and try to enjoy your (hopefully limited) free time!