Dear Dating Coach,
I’ve been in a bit of a bubble since getting back from seminary. I spent my summer with friends and organizing my work and school schedule for this year, and gave little thought to dating. But the summer is over, and I am ready to begin. I am the oldest in my family and we are all new to this, and could really use some direction. My parents have contacted shadchanim, and have reached out to family and friends to let them know that I am ready to date and would appreciate their suggestions and ideas. But that’s really it. Do we just sit by the phone now and wait?
One, Two, Three, Umm…Go?
Our preschooler has been taking swimming lessons for years. YEARS. Every summer (and winter – it’s Florida!) a wonderfully recommended swimming instructor would valiantly try to get our tenacious (read: stubborn) little angel swimming. There were games, kickboards, noodles, and incentives (read: bribes). Nothing worked. Our sweetheart could not get from one end of the pool to the other. This summer, we approached this issue with military precision. We gathered intel, assembled data, sought counsel, and assembled a team of Navy Seals to get the job done. (This is absolutely not true. But we did have a short discussion after consulting Google.) A new swim teacher was hired and at the end of the summer, we were summoned for a review. “Your water-averse cutie is able to swim,” the teacher told us excitedly. We cheered, and clapped, and handed out popsicles to our confused neighbors. The next day, we stood at the edge of the pool with our now gold medalist. “What now?” our little fish asked. “Now, darling,” we said, “you SWIM.”
Thank you for reaching out. There are a few steps you can proactively take after reaching out to shadchanim and the like that will help you toward a successful shidduch process. It’s time to C.A.S.T. a net into dating.
Sit down with your parents and discuss what you are looking for. This will encompass the traits and characteristics that matter most to you and that you feel would best compliment who you are. This does not include basic expectations like decency, integrity, stability, and honesty, as we hope that we can assume that these are absolutes. Instead focus on your beliefs, strengths, and personality traits that you believe would make for a successful match. Your parents, the shadchan you use, and anyone who is helping you find your bashert, must be on the same page.
You are now a girl in shidduchim. This means that everywhere you go and anyone you meet has the potential to help you or hinder you. Take care to look presentable and put together. (Don’t roll your eyes. This matters. Instead of feeling frustrated, take ownership of how you present, and make sure you look your best.) Be polite and kind. Be a mentch. Become a valuable member of your community by volunteering and being present at local events.
Take stock of your sense of self. Marriage does not complete you as an individual. It only completes you as a couple. This means that you must be a “complete” person before you attach yourself to a partner. If there is anything you need to work on, now is the time. Work to increase your self-confidence so that you can be fully and happily present on your dates with enthusiasm and peace of mind.
THE Most Important – HUMILITY
There are hundreds of girls in shidduchim. There are many smart, beautiful, kind, and talented girls who are hoping to meet their match. Moreover, in ten months from now, a new group of YOUNGER, smart, beautiful, kind, and talented girls will disembark from El Al ready to meet their zivug. You must retain your sense of self and be certain of your value. However, humility is paramount in shidduchim. You are amazing. But there will always be someone more amazing. Look for the good in the shidduchim suggested to you, be positive and productive, and date with the intent to connect. Do not lead with arrogance, sure that there is someone better just around the corner, discounting suggestions with impunity. Finding YOUR right match is the goal, and you must do so by looking inward, rather than at what other people will say or think. Look for someone who will bolster you, who will support you, and with whom you can build a future, and you will find the right person for YOU.