Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

I have a few non-negotiables when it comes to dating that I always insist on. They are not unreasonable expectations, just things that matter to me. Things like a person must be at least a certain height (I’m tall), etc… I NEVER want to compromise on these issues because then I know I will be unhappy with someone who does not fit these criteria. I think it’s good to be honest from the beginning, but a recent shadchan said I am being too demanding at this stage. So now that I am a certain age I need to give up on my must-haves? I know I need to have an open mind in shidduchim, but these items make sense! Please tell me what you think…


Within Reason


Dear Reason,

Oh, the dress-up box. Ours is filled to the brim with fanciful dresses, tiaras galore, and a few wayward wands. There are necklaces, manly crowns, and occasionally a lost Lego piece. The most coveted dress-up box item however, is a princess dress that fits no one. At first glance, it is flawless, the perfect shade, the right style, and covered in dreamy sparkles. Yet, at the same time it’s inexplicably too long, too wide, too itchy, and universally unflattering. I have tried to throw it out many times, but I am met with horror at the thought by our dress-up enthusiasts. In fact, without fail, every time someone opens up the box, they insist on trying it on. They push up the sleeves, they tweak the hem, they add a belt, and still the dress disappoints. There they stand frustrated, adjusting and pulling until they give up and jam it back into the box choosing instead to play with the other lovely choices. We have started calling it the ‘disillusioned dress’ – one that seems so right, but is consistently so very wrong.


Always and Never Are Two Words…

You are entitled to insist on any myriad of must-haves that you believe in. Everyone has some sort of future blueprint that they hope for in shidduchim and you have mentally assembled yours. When you picture letting go of those items, you are sure that you will be unhappy. It is perfectly normal to have a specific vision for your future and can even be helpful in helping you to achieve and grow. Presumably however, you have dated people with these criteria and have not yet found the person for you. This doesn’t mean that your zivug won’t meet your requirements, but the matches you have gone out with so far have not been right.


That You Should Always Remember…

As a general rule, I would encourage you to stay away from ALWAYS and NEVER. As in, ‘I ALWAYS date someone with multiple degrees and NEVER date someone who did not attend college.’ ‘I ALWAYS date someone from America and would never date someone from another country.’ Those ALWAYS and NEVERS box you into a corner that will leave out potential matches simply because a slot didn’t line up with the others. Perhaps switch your ALWAYS and NEVERS to USUALLY instead. ‘I USUALLY prefer to date a guy who has a professional career like I do, but I would be interested to hear more about the guy you mentioned who runs his own business.’ ‘I USUALLY prefer to date people who are local, but of course I would like to hear more about your fabulous cousin from out of the country.’ “Usually” allows you to hold on to your slimmer criteria without discounting a broader group of wonderful guys.


Never to Use.

The only time ALWAYS and NEVER make sense are when they refer to middos that are essential to our humanity or character traits that are clearly alarming. We can ALWAYS insist on kindness, goodness, and mentchlichkeit. Focus on behaviors that truly matter in building a successful relationship rather than locations, specific physical attributes, and papers that frame our walls. An open mind and open heart do not guarantee that you will be matched perfectly, but they do announce to the world that you are open to possibilities and mazel no matter the size. If you are willing to shift your focus to try on something new, you may be surprised to find the right fit for the princess that you are.


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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.