Dear Dr. Respler,
As a person who tries to redt shidduchim, I often suffer from people ignoring me. I am so frustrated when I suggest a shidduch and the other person does not even get back to me. I understand if someone is busy or not interested, and I am not a pushy person. All I ask is that you get back to me. I think it is only menchlich. I always respect a “no” if a person looks into it and it is not for them, but to just ignore someone is not the right thing to do. It is also the shadchan’s responsibility to accept the “no” graciously and move on.
I try hard to make shidduchim, since I married later in life. I remember how painful people could be when they offered me unsolicited advice. I remember being told clearly and often that I was “too picky” and then told “you are only getting older.” Baruch Hashem I have a great husband and a wonderful marriage. I was in shidduchim for eight years, and married at 28. Unfortunately, I have friends and classmates who married young and are now divorced. I try to help them as well, but I resented all those people who made me feel even worse during my quest for a shidduch. Of course I wanted to get married early, but that wasn’t in the cards for me and to make me feel like I was doing something wrong while I was suffering was just unfair and hurtful. I try very hard to not repeat the mistakes that were made towards me when I was in shidduchim.
One important thing I have learned through making my own mistakes was to not approach single individuals at simchas or coming out of shul. I have done that in the past, thinking that it was a good opportunity to speak with the person. I never intended to insult them and never thought that I was doing anything wrong, but a good friend of mine confided in me that it hurts her when people do this. In the future, I will try to be more cognizant of this and maybe pick up the phone to reach out to someone instead. I hope that single individuals who may feel slighted by people approaching them at simchas and after shul realize that most people are just taking advantage of an opportunity and are not trying to hurt them in any way. Many times it is difficult to get in touch with singles, especially single men, and if you have the chance to catch them on their way home from shul, then you try to grab it. Nevertheless, I can understand how someone would feel overwhelmed or harassed if this was happening all of the time. I hope we can all help others in a pain-free manner and that we can all be extra sensitive to others who are struggling!
An Amateur Shadchan
Dear Amateur Shadchan,
Thank you for your letter. You do not sound amateur as a shadchan. In fact your comments reflect deep sensitivity and the fact that you personally endured some of this difficulty may make you a “better” shadchan. Sensitivity is a key issue in making a shidduch.
It is true that many times people feel uncomfortable about a shidduch and instead of just calling the person to say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” they may procrastinate and put off the call. You are absolutely correct that individuals should not do this; however, it is always helpful to understand why they may be doing so. Perhaps if someone is not getting back to you, you can call and say, “I understand if you are not interested, just please let me know either way.” In this way, the individual will understand that you are waiting for his/her response and may feel more comfortable if the response is “no.”
Unsolicited advice and painful comments should always be avoided. However, I know people do not always mean to hurt the single person, they are simply not thinking and maybe just speaking without realizing the pain that they are inflicting.
I speak to many people who try to make shidduchim and it is a very overwhelming job. So to those parents and children who are seeking a shidduch, please be gracious to the shadchan. If they spent a lot of time trying to help you, it is nice to send a gift or something to show appreciation. I myself tried to send a case of wine if I felt that someone was trying hard to help my own child. I even tried to find out which wine that shadchan drank, to show them my appreciation in helping me out.
Regarding speaking to single individuals outside of shul or at a simcha, I think that this is really an individual preference. It is possible that some people feel overwhelmed or harassed if people approach them at shul or simchas, but others may feel special or happy if you would do so. Thus, it may be more appropriate to approach the individual and say, “I thought of an idea for you. Is now a good time to discuss it, or would you rather me call you at a more convenient time?” Like this, you will not be overwhelming the individual and if they do want to speak with you about it, then they can. It is my bracha that all the single individuals and shadchanim will be as sensitive as you are and that they will not cause each other anymore unnecessary pain. Hatzlocha!