By Baila Sebrow
I am the mother of a son who is in shidduchim. I don’t want to make him sound like a “Mama’s boy,” but he is indeed a wonderful son to my husband and me and also goes out of his way for his elderly grandparents. There is nothing that he won’t do for any member of our family. He is educated, good-looking, and has a great job. Everyone tells me that there is no reason that he isn’t married yet, and that he probably has a very long list and is just too picky. That is simply not true. He has no list and no mazal when it comes to girls.
We are not the type of family to use a shadchan. My daughter, who is now married, thank G-d, had her share of bad experiences with shadchanim, and in fact met her husband at a singles event. So when my son said he wanted to start dating for marriage, we encouraged him to go meet a nice girl on his own. But things don’t seem to be working for him in that way.
When he meets a girl he likes at a singles event, the girl says that she wants to go through a shadchan, but nothing comes of it in the end. Can you imagine? My son will talk to a girl for hours, and she can’t go on a date with him without involving a lady who knows nothing about my son?
It’s not just singles events, but even weddings and other simchas, too. Why do the girls feel that they need a shadchan for every little thing? What happened to the days when young people met, dated, and got married? I have nothing against shadchanim, but these ladies the girls want to use never follow up! There is a good reason why so many young people are still single. The system stinks!
My son has friends who are married, but they were the type of guys who chased girls. My son would never do such a thing. He’ll ask a girl for her number, and if she’s OK with it, he will call her. Other guys will find girls on Facebook and start chatting them up. One of his friends told me that a guy like my son has to do the chasing or he will never get a date. Is this true? Are only the aggressive or sneaky guys meeting the nice girls?
I cannot imagine that any “nice” girl would be impressed by a guy who demonstrates aggressive or sneaky behavior. From the way you present the advice from your son’s friend, it sounds like he is guiding your son to become a stalker. Chasing is associated with hunting and pursuing somebody. What self-respecting young lady would want that that from a guy she just met? The type of young lady your son wants to meet would never appreciate that. And if she would, then I can assure you that based on the way your son conducts himself in everyday life, he would eventually be turned off by her.
If your son needs more of an incentive as to why he should not be chasing somebody he meets at an event or simcha, picture a cat that chases a mouse. The cat wins the chase, but oftentimes it has no interest in the mouse for food. Instead, it just dangles the poor rodent from its mouth, while the captured mouse is helpless. In real life, the one who stalks and wins usually loses respect for that person, and it works both ways. A woman does not end up respecting the guy who stalks her to get a date, even if she does eventually go out with him.
This is not to be confused with a man who expresses interest in a young lady with whom he had a mutually satisfying conversation. Demonstrating interest in someone signifies that the person is important to you and that you want to get to know him or her better. Once they become aware that there is interest, the ball is in both courts. Their feelings are either mutual or not. However, there are people who do not take no for an answer. Such individuals do not understand that no means no. And they talk it into themselves that they need to exert added forceful interaction with the person of interest to achieve what they want. They believe that they are meant to date or marry that person, but that he or she does not realize it yet! Those are the type of people for whom it becomes an obsession. Nowadays, it is very easy to do that, specifically via Facebook. I cannot count how many times women have reached out to me about men who contact them on Facebook incessantly, attempting to establish a relationship, simply because they inadvertently met them someplace. It feels threatening, and I advise your son to never adopt such distasteful behavior.
I agree with you that years ago things were different. Young single people met one another, dated, and got married. The system changed, and the system does stink! But to be fair, the world was different back then, too. When a man pursued a woman, there was no social media channel for making contact. In those days whatever method a man utilized to maintain a connection to somebody he met and had a conversation with, it usually did not feel creepy.
Moreover, back then it was common for a frum young lady to give the impression that she is interested in the man she met, and because people were generally respectful, the man who pursued her did so in a way that made her feel secure about his feelings for her. To be honest, in years past there were also unbalanced men who stalked women in ways that felt threatening. But a sincere, healthy, normal man had fewer problems getting to know a woman in whom he was interested.
So what is the solution for your son? I am not sure why he is opposed to shadchanim. You mention that your daughter had bad experiences when she was in the dating scene. Whatever she went through, and whoever she dealt with, does not have to be repeated. Your son is a different person, and he does not have to deal with the same shadchanim your daughter dealt with. In every profession you will find bad chemistry or poor interactions between the provider and client. But there are so many people who do this type of work that there are many options available. And since shadchanus as a route to getting married is so inculcated in our society, when a young lady meets a man she likes, she may feel safer when a third party intervenes. If the people a young lady brought into the picture did not do their job, your son should have been the one to initiate the continuity of a relationship by finding a person to facilitate, rather than leaving it up to the young lady. In the frum world of dating and romance, it is expected that if a male likes a female he meets, he will either directly ask her out or find a third party to facilitate. It is really not uncommon for a man to ask someone to be the shadchan.
However, bear in mind that even if your son is the one who finds the shadchan, just because someone says that he or she is going to do something does not guarantee it. In other words, the person who says he or she will facilitate a meeting may never get around to it. This is where it will be required of your son to be proactive and keep on top of the person to do what she or he promised to do, or to find somebody else to do it.
I will also play devil’s advocate. It is possible that at least once when a third party did intervene, the young lady might have felt that your son is not shayach for her for marriage after looking into the shidduch. The way it works with shidduchim is that rejections happen to everyone, no matter how wonderful, and it does not even have to make sense to the one being rejected. People have fixed ideas of what they are looking for in a spouse, and it is no reflection on the rejected party.
The other thing is that I don’t know how comfortable your son actually feels in large crowds, and going to singles events may not even be his idea of choice, but he is doing it as his hishtadlus in finding a shidduch. If it’s not his thing, then it is possible he is giving off the wrong aura, and just because a young lady spends time talking to him does not mean that she wants to continue a relationship. It could be that she is just being polite and does not want to hurt his feelings by walking away.
Not only that, but singles who attend events are oftentimes already on edge before they even enter the venue. Although they socialize and interact with the people there and take part in the programming, asking one of the facilitators to speak on their behalf to somebody they like is good form. That is what your son should be doing, going forward. However, there is nothing wrong with asking the young lady he is talking to if she prefers that he contact her directly or that he gets somebody else involved. Giving her the option of choosing whatever makes her feel more comfortable and watching her reaction will clue him in to whether she is interested or not. And if she is not interested, he at least has the chance to meet somebody else. Another rule of thumb is not to spend the entire event on one person. People who attend events want the opportunity to meet as many people as they can for obvious reasons.
Your son is on the right track, and with a few modifications to his proactivity, he will attain his goal in finding his bashert.
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. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.