Photo Credit: pixabay

Many parents wish their children could date “the way we dated.” However, it is 2019, and we need to work the best we can within the present system.

Several weeks ago, The Jewish Press published an op-ed titled, “Stop Asking For Pictures Of My Daughter.” While I admire the author’s desire to ban photos from “shidduch resumes,” dating life is complex, and wishful thinking that shidduch photos can be done away with does little to address contemporary realities.

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Certainly, it’s everyone’s right not to send a photo. And, yes, some people don’t want to see a picture. But let’s face facts. Our young adults have the technological capacity to find photos (and more) with a click of their keyboard, or phone.

Dating suggestions now come from far and wide; they aren’t limited to our own social spheres or circles. The vast majority of those dating nowadays quickly “google” a prospective shidduch or research his or her social media history. Do you want that long-buried, unflattering photo to be the first one viewed by a perspective date? Should your child’s selfie from a high school Shabbaton make the first impression?

You now have a choice. You can withhold a great picture and hope your child never posted an unflattering photo anytime anywhere, or you could send a picture that you and your child like – one of your own choosing.

Parents of daughters may complain that the expectation to send a picture is hurtful, and we can all agree that a single photograph is a poor barometer of future marital happiness. However, these same parents watch their sons scour photos before accepting dates and can’t convince them to act otherwise. Let’s also please keep in mind that many girls/women also decline boys/men because of looks and photos too. It’s happening on both ends.

While this reality may be disappointing to us parents, we need to recognize there are many layers, sensitivities, and complexities in the dating world today. From digital communication (texting, WhatsApp, social media posts) to myriad dating apps, life simply isn’t the same. We raised the millennial generation differently.

It therefore is difficult to speak about the “picture” issue in a vacuum. No one formula suits all. At YUConnects, where I work, we work hard to instill in our members proper values in searching for a mate. We train our matchmakers to be sensitive to this generation’s specific dating preferences. And we often create multiple portals of entry for singles today, including comfortable social events and opportunities for people to meet face to face.

After all, everyone agrees that a warm smile and twinkling eye is more flattering than any photo. May Hashem bless everyone with the ability to find a happy match.

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