Dear Dating Coach,
My mother is killing my dating life! She vets every potential name with a fine-tooth comb and says no to most of them (and there aren’t that many to begin with). I am 30 years old and have not gone out on a date in months. How do I tell her to stop being so picky?
I once took a lifeguarding course because I thought it would be a breeze. Instead, our instructor, who was part drill sergeant and part mermaid, made us complete a variety of tasks worthy of an elite unit of Navy Seals. (That might be an exaggeration, but it sure felt that way.) Her favorite pain-inducing exercise was making us tread water for hours on end (or so it seemed).
At one point, while treading though the traitorous surf, I knew that I had reached the end of my rope. I looked frantically for a life preserver, the Coast Guard, or anyone who would save me from the water that now reached my chin. “Help me! Save me!” I pleaded with the instructor, my voice garbled as I slowly began to sink. Then I remembered: I was treading in only four feet of water. So I stood up – and alas, I was saved.
I hear your frustration loud and clear. At this stage, you know exactly what you want. Someone kind and good-hearted and whom you can connect with. You would be happy to date a variety of girls who fit your pared-down criteria. You no longer want to be bogged down by the minutiae that we sometimes focus on in shidduchim, yet your mother doesn’t seem to agree. She knows you are a prize, a prince, and a scholar to boot – and she wants only the best girl, the best background, and the best name for your future. You feel stuck as she speaks to shadchanim and friends who suggest girls for you to date and seems to find something wrong with all of them. All, of course, under the guise of finding the right match for you – the son she adores.
I know you are struggling, so please take this in the kindest way possible: You are 30 years old. It is time to stand up.
First, you need to have an honest conversation with your mother about your future. Thank her for the hours, the tears, and the endless notebooks she has filled with names and information in her search for potential matches. She loves you and knows that you are truly special, and only wants someone who will be “worthy” of you. However, she may not understand how her meticulous “search criteria” have been hurting you.
Tell her that she should continue to look for you, but that you will do the vetting from now on and that you will be looking on your own as well. Then, start meeting with shadchanim on your own and have them call you directly with any names they think of for you. Call the references on resumes yourself, or have someone else that you trust make the calls. Go to singles events, new Shabbos tables, and community gatherings, and put yourself out there as an adult who is willing and able to take care of himself. Take command of your own future, and don’t allow yourself to pass blame when it is you who must take charge of finding yourself a mate.
Your ability to take ownership and responsibility for your own dates will allow you to look for the things that matter to you: someone who shares the same values as you, someone who is generous and giving, and someone who will support you as a true partner for the rest of your life. It is time for you to take control of your future, and your willingness to do so will definitely attract like-minded wonderful women, who will appreciate a man who can stand on his own two feet.