There’s a humongous double-standard in shidduchim when it comes to giving guys a break.
My friends all agreed that I should write about what really goes on and why it ends up working against everyone in shidduchim.
A girl can tell the shadchan that she doesn’t like a guy’s look, how he dresses (too frum, not frum enough, or just his general taste), that he doesn’t learn, or blah, blah, blah. And everyone will say that she is right, because she is pretty or she is really nice, frum, etc.
But if a guy says that he is not attracted to a girl either because of her weight or he doesn’t like something else about her, he gets yelled at and accused of not being serious about getting married or of being too shallow.
Or — I love this one — they say that his mother mixes in and decides about a girl’s looks. Hello, I know women believe that we can’t think for ourselves, but we really do know when we are attracted to someone or not. Our mothers don’t decide that.
Then there is the age thing. Why can’t a guy say that he doesn’t want to go out with a girl who’s older? It’s his life. Why do shadchanim think it’s OK to lie about a girl’s age? Don’t they know that we can look it up and find out the truth?
I have a better one for you. If a shadchan thinks that the boy’s mother is not fancy enough, she won’t redd a girl who is fancy or whose mother is fancy. But if it’s the other way around, then it’s OK. Why do shadchanim think they have the right to decide which guys fit into specific families?
These are just some of the reasons why good guys will never go to a shadchan. I always hear that shadchanim complain how they have great girls, but good guys who have professions won’t send them their résumés or go to their speed-dating events (because they lie about the girls they have).
Let them look at themselves and how they act, and they’ll have the answer!
So, I just want girls to know that the reason they don’t get redd good guys is because we don’t trust any shadchanim.
Baila Sebrow’s Response
I am very sorry that your experiences with the shadchanim you have dealt with have thus far been discouraging. And I will not defend any person who hurts another even if they feel that the end justifies the means. There is never any excuse to deliberately bring pain to another human being.
But you first have to understand that no certification is necessary to become a shadchan. A person can just wake up one morning and decide that he or she is a shadchan, spread the word to people or on social media, and, bingo — people start raining résumés on them. Once they are sitting with many profiles of singles and start networking, they fancy themselves as mavens in the field. They can charge money, run the speed-dating events you talk about, and do whatever they want as long as they find singles who believe in their (sometimes unprincipled) methods.
That said, you have to understand that your negative experiences come from dealing with people who lack tact and integrity. Baruch Hashem, there are many ethical people who dedicate their lives to shadchanus and have been doing this mitzvah for many years lishma, with much recognized hatzlachah.
You also need to understand that even the most seasoned professional is still human and can make a mistake or perhaps an inaccurate judgment call. The difference is that the authentic professional will own up to it and rectify any errors if possible, as opposed to the non-professional who may react with arrogance.
Now that you understand the variances, let’s discuss some of the issues you presented. Why do you or your friends feel that you cannot decline a shidduch if you believe there is no compatibility? You are entitled to the same privileges as your female counterparts.
Not feeling an attraction to someone is your right. I will say, though, that with the advent of pictures accompanying résumés, there are times that the photo does not accurately depict the individual. From lighting, makeup, and clothing to some people not being so photogenic, there are so many reasons why a girl could be dismissed as a result of the guy not appreciating her look. I am in possession of large files of situations where people have declined one another (in all age groups) based on the photo; yet, when they met in person they felt an immediate attraction or at least gave themselves the chance to find out more.
So, if a shadchan attempts to persuade you to meet a girl whose picture you don’t like, it is possible that she may have your interests as well as the girl’s interests in mind. It comes down to how the shadchan chooses to address such a situation.
Nonetheless, insults — regardless of how frustrated the shadchan may feel — are absolutely out of the question. No shadchan should ever stoop to such a level. If any shadchan ever reaches that point, it means that he or she has burnt out and should perhaps choose a different hobby or profession.
And I will say this, too. There are men who are only attracted to one particular look, be it hair color, height, or something else that might sound silly. And that is also their entitlement. It is interesting that there are people who can only feel an attraction for what they are used to. That is why you will sometimes see that there are in-law children who share physical similarities with the family they marry into. It does not matter how ridiculous it sounds, but if a guy says that he will only date someone who has a specific physical aspect, it may very well have nothing to do with being shallow or not serious about marriage.
You and I, and some others, will agree on this issue, but, realistically, you cannot get everyone to be on the same page. So, if you come into contact with people who only perceive their view and refuse to entertain the opinion of another person, you should move on to deal with a broader minded individual.
I will disagree with you on one facet of this topic of physical attraction. Maybe not in your case or amongst your friends, but there are many situations where the mother of the guy nixes a shidduch because it is she who wants a particular look for her son. I know of countless shidduchim that were dismissed by the mother of the boy because she was looking for a very thin daughter-in-law or had other requirements.
Meanwhile, that was not what her son wanted. It is therefore prudent that the shadchan have a conversation with the guy to gain an understanding of what he is seeking in a potential spouse.
Age is an area both genders have been known to whitewash. It does happen that the shadchan knows the truth, but in an overzealousness to get the couple to meet, he or she will shave off a few years. I am against this practice, because as soon as a shadchan is caught in a lie, trust is lost.
On the other hand, there are times when the shadchan does not know the truth. Someone who is older but looks and acts younger can easily deceive the shadchan, who will then suggest that individual to a much younger single.
Nevertheless, the assumption will immediately be that it was the shadchan who was dishonest. I will add something controversial to this topic of younger guys being suggested to women a bit older. There are many shadchanim and even poskim who encourage this practice, and it has become quite acceptable.
My personal feeling is that as long as people are honest about their facts and realities, and the other party is on board with it, then kol ha’kavod. But if a relationship is initially founded on a lie, then it risks sustaining itself in an unsound way.
You brought to attention a dilemma that is common in all societies, whether frum or otherwise. And that is where those of an affluent class consider themselves better than those less well-off.
It is true that where it relates to shidduchim, people often seek mechutanim who have a similar financial situation. That affects both genders. Sometimes it is for practical reasons; for example, if the parents will be helping the couple with living expenses, and one side does not wish to be the only one contributing. And other times it is as you indicated — a fancy person seeks a fancy person.
While it is accurate that some shadchanim have a larger database of females versus males, that is only true in the under-25 category of guys. And it is not because the guys are so great that they don’t need the help of shadchanim. That is an inaccurate statement. Girls typically start dating at a younger age, so it stands to reason that there will be fewer guys in that age group contacting shadchanim.
As guys reach the age where they feel ready to get married, they have no problem retaining the services of a shadchan. The guys who don’t might have more social accessibility to girls, or their parents might be well-connected to people who know girls to introduce to their sons.
And that, my friend, works both ways. Not every girl needs the help of a shadchan either. It depends on her background and associations.
It sounds like you and your friends have been dealt a bad deck of cards in a lot of ways. But please don’t throw in the towel. From my assessment, I believe that your problem can be remedied by being extremely upfront with a shadchan.
Never assume that the shadchan should be able to figure out your wishes and desires. When you meet with a shadchan for the first time, explain what has not worked for you previously and what you are not willing to compromise on. That is just as important as describing what you are looking for.
Additionally, there are other methods you can utilize to meet girls. Speak to young married couples in your hashkafic circle for ideas that have worked for them.
In conclusion, remember that the ultimate shadchan is really Hashem orchestrating this journey in your life.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.