By Baila Sebrow

Question

I’m a 23-year-old single woman with a college degree and a good job. I’m not yeshivish, but I’m not really modern. I’m put-together and ambitious, mature and grounded, and I have a very positive outlook on life. But my parents got divorced (more than 15 years ago).

I’m not asking for much—just a solid, intelligent guy with a stable career who davens three times a day and learns a few times a week. I want an ambitious man who will support his wife and family. Is that too much to ask for? I find that there are so few men like this who exist, and the ones who are available don’t hear about me. They get so many résumés, and because I don’t come from a perfect family I get left behind.

I’ve tried singles events, YUConnects, met with many shadchanim, etc. I put myself out there; yet, I still don’t get dates. I haven’t gone out in over a year. I’ve only dated a few men, and most were “one-and-done.” I know that if I met a guy naturally, he’d want to date me, regardless of my parents’ marital status. But all the rules of “modesty” in the Orthodox world prevent singles from meeting. 

I’m very happy and living my life to the fullest; however, I’d like to have a companion in life. Humans are built to crave a relationship. So I’m asking you for advice. This system is leaving good women behind. It needs a solution, and more than a perek of Tehillim.

Response

I am very sorry to hear about your challenging experiences finding a shidduch. There are a few topics that I would like to focus on as they relate to your circumstances. To start, I need to address your disappointment that most of the men you date are a one-and-done deal. The fact of the matter is that this is how it ends with most dates, especially when meeting a total stranger for the first time. There is always the attraction factor combined with the various aspects of compatibility, and the most typical reason is the lack of mutual feelings. So while one party might feel the shidduch is right, if the other person does not agree and refuses to give it a second chance, then, unfortunately, it’s over right there and then.

I am curious though, why you are experiencing so many one-and-done dates. You give no indication whether you are the one choosing to discontinue or if it is always the guys. If it is usually you who declines after the first date, then perhaps you might be accepting dates with people with whom you probably never should have gone out at all. I see this a lot, especially amongst young daters such as yourself. You are likely being told to give everyone a chance, but when it comes down to it, if you share nothing in common with the person you are with on a date, or feel no attraction, then your one-and-done dates should never have happened in the first place. If the fact of the matter is that the guys are the ones declining you after the first date, then the same philosophy may hold true, inasmuch as they are no-go prospects, and the dates should probably not have taken place either. However, it is also possible that you might feel dismay that you are not getting dates with the types of guys you really want to date, and without realizing it, you may be giving off an impression of having a chip on your shoulder. Forgive me for saying that because I mean absolutely no disrespect to you.

You say that you that been putting yourself out there. I don’t know which singles events you have attended. Singles events can be very tricky. You can’t just attend an event because a flyer looks good or because the ages seem appropriate. In many cases, advertisements for singles events are no different than advertisements for any other business you might see. If it is run like a business, then very little thought is put into it with regard to sincerely matching people. Rather, it is about getting as many customers as possible to build as much revenue as possible. If you have attended such events, you likely met people who are inappropriate to you on many levels. And even if you did meet someone, the organizers of businesses have no interest in spending time doing follow-ups, which are critical to making matches.

You reference shadchanim who have been unable to assist you. Regarding that, there is much to be said, not to disparage, G-d forbid, those who are dedicating their time to helping singles find a shidduch. Nevertheless, each shadchan has his or her own way of doing things, which cannot work for everyone, and since you have not shared any particulars, I am unable to offer you any illustrations. However, in defense of YUConnects, I will tell you that the founders, organizers, shadchanim, and other volunteers of this righteous organization spend their own money and countless hours of their time (and the time of their families) working and worrying on behalf of singles. I have personally witnessed the sacrifices these holy people are making on a daily basis, some of which are done privately.

I get that you are feeling exasperated. You have every right to feel that way. It seems to you that doors are being shut in your face when what you deeply and genuinely want is to find your bashert and spend the rest of your life with him. But the reality is that the only way that is going to happen is with you. Pointing fingers at failed attempts will not get you what you want. Blaming your parents’ divorce will not get you what you want. It’s analogous to somebody who has an illness, G-d forbid. Blaming what may feel like the cause will not bring about the cure. It might feel good for a few minutes, but in the end the illness is still there and requires treatment. So let’s put aside what you cannot change and instead focus on what you can do to improve your situation.

For your own good, please remove the term “shidduch system” from your thought process. You are not part of any system. You don’t need to be part of any system. You are an educated, frum, lovely young lady and, as you say, “grounded, with a positive attitude.” That said, please use the traits that Hashem has blessed you with in addition to the qualities that you have earned by working on yourself to adopt healthy characteristics that are vital to meeting the person who wants to marry the best version of the person you are.

That begins with being happy with your status as it is now. Yes, being happy that you are single is the best way to start. Using singlehood as the time to be unhappy is the wrong approach. Fall in love with yourself. You cannot expect somebody to fall in love with you if you don’t love yourself and everything about yourself, including the family you come from. Believe that you are an incredible asset to a man’s life. Get rid of any self-criticism because that negative energy resists positive results. Enjoy yourself to the best of your ability. Take fun classes and join interesting tours. Broaden your circle of friends to include people you never would have considered hanging out with. The advantage in doing these things is that you will also open yourself to the possibility of being introduced to somebody you otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet.

Yes, look into singles events, but this time implement changes. Be incredibly selective about which events you attend. Speak to people who have knowledge about the venue and the organizers. Find out if there is follow-up—not just with regard to setting you up with the people who were there, but if the organizers are committed to further assisting you in your search. The same with shadchanim. In your case, it sounds to me that you are best off with a shadchan who is less busy, so that you will be able to receive more individualized attention. While it is true that such a shadchan is not as well-connected, she or he will have more time to network on your behalf.

The best piece of advice is to keep an open mind. Just as you are widening your scope of friends, you also need to widen your scope of the men you want to meet. It is natural to have a list of requirements for a man that you feel would be most compatible with you. But there is the old expression: “G-d has a funny sense of humor.” Singles who adopted that adage in their dating life have somehow managed to meet their bashert. Whatever it is that you want, don’t be so eager to decline someone who is a bit different. You never know with whom you will find that special connection. Because that is what is comes down to—connecting heart and soul with that special someone who will turn out to be “the one” for you.

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 5townsforum@gmail.com. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.

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