This past week I was told two shidduch stories that made me sad and mad at the same time – because it is infuriating and tragic when people sabotage themselves or let others do so to them.
A friend, a shadchan, told one to me. Apparently a “girl” she knew, in her late 30s, was redd a never-married “boy” her age. He had been approached first and had agreed to meet her – even though she didn’t totally match the criteria he was looking for in a future spouse.
There was enough potential there, he must have concluded, to warrant a date – even though he could have easily rejected her on the grounds that he preferred – and no doubt was going out with girls years younger.
Once this “girl’ was told that this young man was interested, she got in touch with a mentor who is involved in a shidduch group and who, no doubt had been looking out for her. This woman, however, after being given the boy’s information “just didn’t see it” and suggested to this almost 40-year-old not go out with him. She turned down the shidduch.
“Do you know how many people I never thought to set up because ‘I didn’t see it’ are now happily married?” my friend exclaimed, visibly agitated. “What would it have hurt if she just met with him? What did she have to lose?”
A great question, one of several that came to mind, the primary two being – why would a grown woman – herself old enough to have childrenin the shidduch parshah– have to get advice on whether to go out on a date? Couldn’t she have made the decision on her own? It was just a date – not a marriage proposal. And why did she unquestionably accept this woman’s opinion? But that’s for another time.
The bigger question is why her mentor vetoed the date. Did she not realize that in the real world there aren’t long lines of suitors knocking on the doors of older singles? It’s one thing advising a 20- year old against a shidduch that you think isn’t shaiach – but you have be a bit more flexible when it comes to a less conventional situation.
Obviously the person who had initially redd the shidduch felt that there was some merit in having the two meet. Why did she advise against it? After all it only was a date.
Sadly there is a lot of this narrow-minded thinking going around – people with influence who have unrealistic expectations when it comes to a shidduch. Like the rebbeim who, with the best of intentions and fully believing it is in their best interest – tell girls who come from financially challenged families – to only date learners.
Ironically some of these very same bachurim are being told by their rebbeim, who also mean well and are actually being far-sighted – not to date girls from “poor” families (read not rich) whose support – at best – can only be minimal and short term.
These girls are left behind while their peers move on, yet their advisers still admonish them to not settle (i.e. to go out with working boys) – but to stick to their principles and wait for their perfect ben Torah. And so they wait and age.
I am reminded of a phone call I made many years ago that was intercepted by the mother of an older single (still unmarried) who I wanted to set up with a divorced father of one. She, too, was in her late 30s. Her mother asked why I was calling, and being polite and a bit stupid, I told her that I had a shidduch for her daughter.
When she heard that the man was divorced with a child, SHE nixed it, with an indignant tone in her voice that I would even think of setting up her child with such a man. She too, like the mentor above, was wearing rose-colored glasses that had been dipped in the skewed waters of Denial.
It is crucial to incorporate the facts on the ground when involved in a shidduch – and not keep your head in the clouds. Those dating, and those setting them up, must base life-altering decisions on reality and on an honest assessment of the status quo. To do otherwise can – and is – ruining lives.
Next column – the second story.