Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

I feel like I am ready to start dating but my family situation is complicated. I became frum on my own in middle school, so my family is not religious. My parents are divorced and our home life was always a bit unstable. While I went to a typical Bais Yakov school and seminary, did really well and have lots of wonderful friends, I feel like I am at a huge disadvantage in shidduchim. Who will want me and how do I do this on my own?


Stranded Single


Dear Stranded,

My husband ran out of gas. He was driving on the highway this week when his gas gauge lit up. This has happened to all of us, and we would all probably take the soonest exit and drive to the closest gas station. Yet, exit after exit, not a gas station in sight. Waze was panicking, frantically searching and failing to find a gas station within ten miles. Then finally, a Shell station, but the pumps were all wrapped up, then there was a Chevron, but it was under renovation, and then a Mobil that only had diesel. Just when my husband was sure he was going to stall, a working gas station glittered in the distance! (Ok, it didn’t glitter, but this is my story. Ok, it’s his story. But I’m telling it, so a glittering gas station is now a thing.) No name gas station had one pump, and no grocery store of its own. It didn’t have TV screens offering you the news as you pumped, music playing, or even those window wipers offered everywhere else. But its now my husband’s favorite gas station, the king of all gas stations, and the only one he needed.


Some People Complain That Hashem Put Thorns on Roses…

Thank you for reaching out. Kudos to you for your beautiful journey until now and for being so successful in your personal and emotional growth. You feel like your background and home life put you at a disadvantage. You are sure that typical families will not be interested in you because of these differences. You don’t believe that they would want you, when they could look for girls who come from standard frum homes, and parents who offer more.


While Others Praise Him…

You are right, of course. There are some families that will not be interested to learn more about you. They will overlook your strength, your perseverance, your commitment to Yiddishkeit, and your success in school. They will ignore how valued you are by your friends and teachers, and how you have been able to take care of yourself so beautifully for so long. So sure, you might not get shidduch calls from those families. There will be however, those who are moved by your presence, by your light, and by the gifts that you have polished on your own. There will be families who will feel lucky to include you in theirs, and who will understand that you stand on your own. They will welcome you and trust that you mean more than an atypical background.


For Putting Roses Among Thorns.

That being said, you will need help finding them. Reach out to a trusted Rebbetzin or teacher. Ask them for help in navigating shadchanim and to network on your behalf. They can reach out to shadchanim, help you to create a resume, and they can share your name with any promising leads. They will help guide you, they will support you, and they will be your “family” reference. You can also ask your friends and colleagues to think of you as they might meet or know someone for you. Don’t be discouraged along the way by those who are not interested; instead remind yourself of who you are and what you have accomplished without a shiny name or any “extras.” You have everything necessary to create a bayis ne’eman, and there will be someone who sees that you are all that he needs.


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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at to schedule a phone session.