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The Need For Sensitivity In The Shidduch Process

Respler-041114

Dear Dr. Respler:

I related to the letter from Anonymous, “A Reader Offers Shidduch Advice” (The Magazine, March 14), especially the advice: Don’t ignore.

As someone who tries hard to redd shidduchim (I do so because I married later in life), I too get frustrated when I suggest a shidduch only to have the person not even get back to me. Not being pushy, I understand if someone is busy or not interested, but the least he or she could do is return my call. It is only menschlich to do so.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer. The recipient of the offer, following his or her research, has a right to reject that offer.

I fully agree with the writer regarding how hurtful people can be when offering unsolicited advice. I remember being told that I was “too picky” and that I was “only getting older.”

Baruch Hashem, I now share a wonderful marriage (I married at 27) with a great husband after being in the shidduch parshah for eight years and I work hard to help those friends and classmates who are seeking their zivugs.

I appreciate the writer’s advice about not approaching singles at smachot or when leaving shul. I have unintentionally done that, thinking it was a good opportunity to speak with the person at that time. Having learned of its inappropriateness, however, I will instead call the person.

But for their part, singles who might feel slighted should realize that most people are simply taking advantage of an opportunity and not trying to hurt them in any way. After all, it is often difficult to get in touch with them, especially single men, and if you have the chance to catch them on their way home from shul, you grab the opportunity. Nevertheless, I do understand why someone would feel overwhelmed or harassed if this was happening on a regular basis.

I learned much from the letter writer’s advice, and hope that singles and shadchanim learn from it as well.

An Amateur Shadchan  

Dear Amateur Shadchan:

Thank you for sharing your views.

You do not sound like an amateur shadchan; in fact, your comments reflect deep sensitivity. And the fact that you endured some of what Anonymous wrote about may improve your skills as a shadchan. This is because one’s experience is a key component to acting with sensitivity in making a shidduch.

People often feel uncomfortable about partaking in the shidduch process and thus, instead of politely declining after expressing their thanks for being thought of, they may procrastinate. You are absolutely correct to criticize this procrastination, but please try to understand why it happens. And if someone is not getting back to you, you should call and say, “While I understand if you are uninterested, just please let me know.” Doing this will make the single feel more comfortable if his or her response is negative.

Here’s a story about a terrible thing a shadchan once did to a boy who rejected a shidduch suggestion. Feeling pressured by the shadchan, the boy spoke to his rav and concluded that the shidduch was not appropriate for him. A short time later, the shadchan called to inform him that the girl she suggested had gotten engaged. While thankfully this boy is now happily married, I couldn’t help but wonder what point the shadchan was trying to make by calling him with information that had to be painful for him to hear.

This story’s lesson: Just as the principles involved in shidduchim must be sensitive to a shadchan’s time and efforts, a shadchan must be sensitive to those principles.

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