Dear Dating Coach,
I am ready to start dating, and although I am a ‘Bais Yaakov type’ of girl, I have learned that I seem to be an anomaly. Many of the girls that are the same “type” as me want a boy who will learn (even at least for a while) after they are married. While I look and act like these girls, I do not want to marry a “learning” boy. I have been told by countless people that I must not mention this to shadchanim or I will only be set up with more “modern” boys. Should I pretend to want to marry a “learning” boy just to preserve “type”?
I have always been a stickler for organization. I like nothing more than a linen closet with neatly stacked towels, or a cutlery drawer with utensils aligned just right. The preschool here however, LOVES organization. Every classroom sparkles at attention with serene order and cleanliness. Every shelf is arranged like perfectly pressed origami where there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. My favorite section is the coloring corner (of course now elevated to the ‘creative arts center’) where organization shines with precision. Circular containers hold colored pencils like single soldiers standing at attention – just waiting for a freshly Purell’ed hand to use to Pinterest perfection. Orange pencils, red pencils, and green pencils all fill their own canisters, never daring to mix or radically cross rainbow lines. Sometimes, when I look at those pencils, I feel this evil Jackson Pollack on my shoulder daring me to put just one orange pencil into the green pencil container. (I know – the horror!) So, if you ever go there and see one lone blue tip hanging with the reds, you know it was me. Please don’t tell.
I sympathize with your situation, and I am so glad that you have taken the time to consider your options. Unfortunately, in shidduchim we do like to put daters into neatly labeled boxes, organized by type and preference. When someone doesn’t fall exactly into the category that they seem to be a part of, the shadchan doesn’t know which pile your resumé should belong to. Every classification is meant to help the shadchan offer appropriate suggestion to the majority. When there is someone who leans toward one group, but doesn’t tick every box, people may still encourage them to accept the label in order to expedite the dating process.
However, you are not a package that needs to get from point A (date) to point B (chuppah) as fast as possible. You are a person that is on a journey to meet their bashert, and honesty is integral to that process. Pretending to want a long-term ‘learning boy’ simply to conform to type is dishonest and can only hurt your chances of meeting and marrying the right person for you. Any misrepresentation before marriage will only interfere with your shalom bayis and lay a shaky foundation for your future.
Nonetheless, honesty does not mean you must state who you are and what you want in absolutes. In shidduchim there must always be a degree of flexibility. This makes us open to possibility and opportunity. So, when you speak to shadchanim, tell them that you are a Bais Yaakov type girl who wants a boy who shares those same values, but you prefer someone who will already be working. Be clear that you will not discount a boy who perhaps wants to learn for a year before joining a business, or while finishing school. Life is fluid, and sometimes a rigid view can limit our pool of choices. Drawing a line in the sand can often leave you stranded and alone. Instead, explain your preference, but be clear that your heart is open to ideas, while your hashkafa is firm and resolute. This will give them a better understanding of who you are, and will actually allow them to connect you with boys like you – who worried that they would need to compromise on the caliber of girl that they hoped for because they are already working. Sometimes narrowing the field is all a shadchan needs to make that perfect match, creating a new shade of mazel and joy.