By Baila Sebrow

By Baila Sebrow

Question

When did it start becoming so hard for girls to find a shidduch? My friends and I talk about this all the time. Not all of us were gorgeous and thin, and our parents did not have much money either back in the day. Why is it that today, a girl can’t get married young unless she and her family rate a “10?” My friends and I were all married by the time we were 23 or 24.

My daughter is 25, and she and most of her friends are still single. They are all wonderful, pretty girls who come from fine families. My husband and I don’t know what’s left for us to do for our daughter. Why can’t we find her a decent shidduch? Why can’t other girls like her find a decent shidduch?

Who should we blame? Should we blame the shadchanim who treat the boys that are not half as good as the girls like they are gold? Why do the boys get the chance to hold on to résumés of girls, and why are they given a bunch of girls to choose from? Why can’t girls be treated the same way? Why is it that when my daughter lists her references on her résumé, the shadchan will say that more names are needed? But not for the boys! They can get away with one or two references. It goes even further. A boy can say no, and the shadchanim will run after him. If a girl says no to a shidduch, that’s the last time the shadchan will redd her a shidduch.

Even when a date does happen, you would think that the boy would take a girl out properly. But, no, she can come home tired and hungry, and she has to get herself ready for the date, makeup and hair perfectly done, to go play arcade games! A few times, my daughter even had to give the boy a ride, too! I’m not making any of this up.

What happened to the days when a boy walked the girl from his car to the door to make sure she got in safely? Now the boys don’t care how the girl gets to the date or how she gets home. They don’t even call or text to find out.

This is how things are. Girls are expected to date boys who are not right for them. They are not allowed to say they are looking for a specific type, otherwise they are told they are too picky or that they don’t want to get married. The girls are all told they have to do hishtadlus. The boys are the princes!

Response

I feel your pain, and you have every right to feel disgruntled with the shidduch system. As a shadchan for most of my life, I have never seen so many wonderfully accomplished singles unable to find their match as in recent years. You are correct that young ladies on dates are not being treated as they were in the past. I believe that much of that has to do with women wanting to be considered equal to men, and in my opinion that was taken too far, particularly where it relates to shidduch dating. However, the one thing that should never be tolerated is ill-treatment from anyone. That includes how men and women are to behave towards one another, as well as the shadchan–client relationship. And when it does happen, it should not be excused or condoned in any way.

Why your daughter or anyone feels any sort of pressure to go out with someone she would rather not date is beyond my understanding. A shadchan should never place pressure on anyone to go on a date. The only time I can see why that would be the case is if you hire a shadchan who gets paid to arrange dates. The ethical shadchan will suggest the shidduch and explain why it’s a good idea, even encouraging the match, but no one should ever be placed under any obligation to accept. You said that girls are told they must do their hishtadlus. Hishtadlus to get married does not include feeding anyone’s ego!

Shidduch dating has certainly changed in many ways. Sometimes, even when a guy is a gentleman and wants to treat a young lady the old-fashioned way, circumstances get in the way. Women hold positions similar to men, and they sometimes work late, eating dinner at their desk. So, inviting a woman out to dinner may not always be feasible in the middle of the week. That is one of the reasons that a guy might sometimes suggest going to the arcades for a date. But he should also be sensitive to the young lady. If he is inviting her out at what would be considered dinnertime, he should be mindful that she needs to eat a meal. If that is something he does not feel like doing for whatever reason, then he should indicate that the date is an after-dinner date. In this way, there is no misunderstanding.

With regard to traveling for dates, that should also be discussed when planning the date. If they are both coming from work and one of them drove there while the other took public transportation, that makes a huge difference, too. However, there can be no compromise in terms of the man making sure that the young lady is safe from the time they are to meet until she gets home. Marriage and relationships are not one-sided negotiations. Compromises have to be made when dating, and later when the couple is married. That includes being tolerant and considerate of the other person. I am mentioning this because I feel that a young lady should also make sure that the guy with whom she had a date gets back safely, too, by asking him to let her know that he got home OK. Yes, you read correctly!

I agree that girls are having a difficult time meeting guys who are chivalrous, and that has likely something to do with upbringing in addition to the system. However, I want to make something very clear: although your daughter and others have had disappointing experiences, they do not represent the entire gender of men.

It must be extremely disheartening for any young lady to endure so much unfairness. However, since we are not going to change shidduch dating styles, my advice is to work with what is available so that it works for you. Just as men do, women have every right to be as choosy as they need to be regarding the type of men they will date, without worrying that someone will call them picky or accuse them of not wanting to get married. In other words, the attitude must change.

There is an accepted custom to suggest a shidduch to the man before the woman in order to spare her feelings of disappointment if she gets declined. It is wrong, however, to send tons of suggestions of women in one shot to the men. Unfortunately, there will always be shadchanim who will continue doing so, and nobody can change what they do. Your daughter, or any young lady, should feel free to tell the shadchan that she prefers that the shidduch first be suggested to her.

I am not sure why there are people who feel they don’t need to furnish sufficient references but demand that it be done for them. That needs to be conveyed to the shadchan as well. If something is bothersome to you, it needs to be addressed. People need to speak up!

I encourage female singles that it is OK to say no to a guy who says yes. If it does not feel right to you, it will come out in various ways that are ultimately unhealthy for the relationship. Young ladies and their parents are afraid to turn down a suggestion, even when something does not feel right to them. That mindset needs to stop. Men are not an endangered species; if you decline suggestions, it doesn’t mean that no one else will come along. Going out with every guy who gives a yes will leave a girl burned out and possibly jaded, which is terribly detrimental. If the shadchan no longer wants to deal with the young lady who declines a shidduch, she should find another shadchan!

Your daughter should continue seeking the type of shidduch that is most compatible with her. There is no reason for her (or anyone else) to compromise on important issues and what she seeks in a husband.

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. Baila also hosts The Definitive Rap podcast for vinnews.com and Israel News Talk Radio. 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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