Editor’s note: Last week, we published an op-ed, “Do Shadchanim Even Care?,” by a young woman about shadchanim who act discourteously to singles by ignoring their calls and texts and otherwise not treating them in a manner befitting their reputation as gracious women trying to help people get married. This is one of two responses we received to that op-ed. You can read the other one here.
I assume most readers of “Do Shadchanim Even Care?” reacted with horror at how poorly two shadchanim treated the author. But the poor treatment of singles by shadchanim should not be the main takeaway from the article. It’s no chiddush that shadchanim treat singles badly; we should be well past that realization.
The real takeaway is that this articulate single woman – and many singles just like her – completely surrendered her self-determination. Imagine she were looking for a job and enlisted a headhunter to search for her. Would she hinge her entire future on this headhunter’s efforts? If the headhunter ignored her messages and failed to produce any leads, would she stick with him indefinitely?
If one or two headhunters failed her, would she resign herself to remaining unemployed and complain to a newspaper about her unfortunate fate? If she did, would anyone take her seriously? What if she were searching for an apartment and enlisted a real estate agent. The real estate agent didn’t get back to her. Would she go homeless?
For some reason, when it comes to the shidduch world, it is considered normal – even “the Torah way” – for singles to put their fate entirely in the hands of strangers. These strangers must be treated with enormous respect, their bad behavior must be rationalized and quietly tolerated, and they must even be paid without producing any results or any guarantee of future performance.
We are constantly told that single women are so bright, talented, educated, and accomplished. If that’s true – and I’m not saying it isn’t – why have they allowed themselves to be reduced to pathetic complainers about shadchanim not returning their messages? Do they represent the next generation of Jewish mothers – helpless victims with no self-determination, beaten and defeated, anonymously pleading for someone to do something?
I can already hear young women responding indignantly that “this is the way things are done in the frum world,” “you can’t change it,” and “you just have to play along with the system.” If only they could display some of that indignation toward those who mistreated them and actually stand up for themselves like real adults.
If you hire people to do a job and you are not satisfied with their work, you have the right to let them know and fire them if necessary. Shadchanim are not gods. The only power they possess is the power you choose to give them. If you aren’t satisfied with the job they’re doing, take back some of that power. Ultimately, it’s your life, and you can’t rely on other people to give you what you want.
Contrary to what people have allowed themselves to believe, the shidduch world was not always this way, and it doesn’t need to continue to be this way. Very few of these so-called “professional” shadchanim met their own spouse through a shadchan. Very few of the rabbis lecturing about “the Torah way” went to a shadchan with a profile and waited for the phone to ring. Many of them even met their wives in a natural way – before deciding you aren’t allowed to do the same.
If you want real dating advice, instead of paying a coach who can’t even get her own life in order yet wishes to run yours, visit a nursing home and speak to an old-timer. He or she will be delighted to talk to you, listen to you, and give you real advice, without watching the clock.
He or she will also tell you how courtship used to work, when it actually worked. Singles went out together in groups, double dated, met one person for lunch and another for dinner, introduced their friends, made get-togethers, and did what they needed to do. No one had a shidduch profile; they hadn’t been invented by shadchanim.
Back then, almost everyone got married, and dating didn’t suck the life out of people. It wasn’t perfect – nothing is – but it worked. They certainly didn’t need to write anonymous op-eds complaining that a shadchan didn’t find them a date in over a year.
The author asked if shadchanim care. No, they don’t. They want your money, a free ride to Gan Eden, and a feeling of control over other people. Even if a few of them do care, you can’t count on them. Instead of asking other people who don’t care about you to do something about the shadchanim who don’t care about you, get together with some like-minded singles and take charge of the situation.
Then, with G-d’s help, you’ll be able to teach your own children to do the same.