Dear Dating Coach,
My family situation is complicated and such that my parents are not able to help me navigate through the Shidduch process. So, while my friends’ mothers spend countless hours calling shadchanim and checking references, I sit in my Brooklyn apartment at 23, never having gone on a date. Please tell me how I can possibly do this on my own?
I often marvel how in the tell-all, over-sharing Insta-world we live in, we still tell the same lie over and over again. How many times per day do we run into someone we know to hear, “Hey, how are you?” To which we automatically reply, “Good, thank you, how are you?” Just once, it would be interesting, don’t you think, if we actually told the truth. “Well, since you asked, I had some bad Chinese last night, so my stomach’s acting up, I have this huge assignment at work that I don’t know how to complete, and my car wouldn’t start…but I lost those last 5 pounds! So, go me!”
Perhaps, we need to find a happy medium between telling everyone everything, and simple succinct honesty.
I sympathize with you, and appreciate how families can complicate shidduchim. However, your current plan isn’t working. We all love those kismet dating stories; the lovely Bais Yaakov girl strolling down the street humming Tehillim, when the local star bachur and his mother happen to pass her on Avenue J. The mother and son immediately know that this is the perfect girl and the rest is history. These stories, while (probably) true, are the equivalent of a lightning bolt hitting you on the day you win the lottery.
So, while you are likely a wonderful girl, sitting at home waiting to win the Powerball is not a viable plan. Ask your friends and their mothers for the names of the shadchanim that they have been working with and call them yourself. It isn’t necessary to explain every single detail of your family history, just that you are in shidduchim and will need to be the point person for any possible suggestions. Explain only briefly that while your parents will not be checking references, you will do the legwork yourself, or with the help of a good friend, rebbetzin, or older sibling.
There is no shame in advocating for yourself – in self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Sitting at home, wallowing in self-pity and despair will not get you ahead. Accept your family situation, make no apologies, and do everything you can to focus on your future.
Make a resume that describes who you are and the type of person that you are looking for. This should be one page that includes basic family information, such as your name and age, the names of your siblings and who they are married to, your parents, the shul you attend, family references, and a picture of yourself. Then, add more personal information about yourself such as what you currently do, how you would describe your character, and the kind of guy you are looking for. This will give shadchanim a way to pass on information about you to potential prospects, and will also help you to narrow down that specific type of spouse you are looking for.
Set up meetings with the shadchanim in person so that they can get to know you (however briefly) as an individual, leaving them with a better impression of who you are. Think about what you will say and share before you go meet them so that you can make a positive impression and clearly convey what is important to you in a match. Finally, tell your friends, extended family, coworkers, and neighbors that you are in shidduchim and that you would appreciate any suggestions that they might have for you.
Contact the shadchanim every few weeks if you don’t hear from them. Be polite and gracious, and remember to ask if they charge a fee prior to making a successful shidduch. Attend Shabbos meals with large groups. Your ability to be friendly and sociable with those around the table will only enhance your visibility in the hearts and minds of those who may know that special someone for you. Expand your horizons by volunteering, attending social events, and the like. You are not your family situation. You are your best advocate. Be positive and proactive, and you will most certainly meet your perfect match.