Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

I am just starting to date and my parents have been getting dating suggestions and profiles from shadchanim of girls who might be a good match for me. While I am flattered to have options, I have no idea what their vetting process is as the girls all sound pretty similar on paper. How will they find the right one for me when everyone is “sweet, smart, with nice middos” on their resumes?


Single Sift


Dear Sift,

I am a champion “thrower outer.” (That is most definitely a real term.) I pride myself on my ability to “let go” of items that we no longer need or use. If it doesn’t fit, I give it away. If it doesn’t work, I recycle it. If it doesn’t serve a purpose for us, I’ll gift it to someone else. So, I was pretty surprised when we decided to clean out our fridge. Why did we own four jars of pickles? Gherkins, dill, half sour, and bread and butter. We had duck sauces in every flavor that Gold advertises, and we had lite, low sodium, and regular soy sauce! Marie Kondo would be appalled by the state of our fridge. (Please don’t tell her.) Did our five different mustards bring us joy?

I took a deep breath.

The mustards were actually all different. We had dijon, yellow, spicy, honey, and deli. Each one served its own purpose and we actually enjoy them all. Take that Marie. ‘Mustard diversity’ is a thing; and we own it.

It’s always exciting to start dating. At the same time, it can be overwhelming and daunting to make sense of the wonderful options of girls that come your way. There can be an element of uniformity to the resumes that makes it difficult to find the right one for you. There are three simple steps however, to better understand the individual gifts of every girl suggested to you aside from a profile page.



Research the references given to you and others that you may have from your own social circle. This will give you a preliminary picture of her character and how she is perceived by others. It will allow you to form a basic understanding of who she is and how she behaves. Research is a valuable tool to dig deeper than the picture and paragraph you were initially offered.



Prepare a list of focused questions. Many references have a difficult time with the ambiguous, “tell me about her.” Specific questions to better gauge if you might be a good match will definitely get you farther. If you have any concerns that matter specifically to you, this would be your chance to ask those as well. Take the time to think about what qualities are important to you and then ask the questions that will better highlight whether those traits are present.



Friends are the best-kept gem in the shidduch process. Their friends know them now (unlike their eighth-grade teacher ‘who remembers them fondly.’) Their friends also know them well and will describe them accurately and with honesty. Friends are less concerned with the clever “sound bites” we use in shidduchim to promote someone, and simply tell the truth. Find out who their friends are, and reach out to them for a more complete picture.

Of course, ultimately Hashem decides how long this process will be for you, but you must do your part to lay the foundation for success. Research, focused questions, and information from their friends will help you navigate the dijon from the honey to date and find the girl meant just for you.


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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 [email protected] to schedule a phone session.