Question

My daughter is iy’H coming home from seminary soon. Because this was her shanah bet, and she was turning 20, we decided to line up a few boys for her to date when she came home for Pesach. She went out with one of the guys four times, and then she had to go back to Israel to finish the year.

We told the shadchan that she was interested in a fifth date but that it had to wait till June. The guy liked my daughter so much that he is takeh waiting. Now my daughter is telling us that she talked it over with her madrichah and her friends and they all advised her not to date this boy again. Instead, she should give herself time, and start dating anew after she comes home.

My husband and I are beside ourselves. This is the type of shidduch my daughter wants–and needs. If she drops this boy, she may never get another one like him. All around, I see girls who are in their thirties and even forties and are still not married. No one wants these older girls anymore. Mothers send out résumés of their beautiful daughters nonstop and they get nothing from it. We can’t let that happen to our daughter. We can’t let her be another statistic of the shidduch crisis. What should we do? We can’t even talk to her. What are we going to do later on?

Response

By Baila Sebrow

It sounds like you are one of the many parents of shidduch-eligible children who have succumbed to mass hysteria. And that is because you–and so many others like you–are terribly misinformed about what is really going on in the world of dating. And for the sake of your peace of mind, I hope I can shed some edification in this area.

Let’s start with the coined term “shidduch crisis.” In the early 2000s, awareness was raised and brought to Jewish media attention that there is a mathematical inequality amongst young frum singles. Girls are primarily dating at a younger age than their male counterparts. That means that a girl who is 19 or 20 has fewer available options to date among boys who are 24 or 25 than the reverse. Additionally, the fact that our population has baruch Hashem increased from the previous generation–and given the number of young girls who get few or no dates–contributes to the impression of a national disaster.

Those families whose daughters are not married after the first year or two after seminary view it as a social catastrophe. But what people fail to understand is that this problem remains in effect only while a girl is still young. When a girl turns 21 or 22, in most cases there are more compatible guys accessible for her to date. Sure, there may be other factors that are preventing marriage, but the “shidduch crisis” is no longer keeping her from dating. And since people cannot let go of that term, they blame every seeming hardship that a single person of any age is experiencing on the shidduch crisis.

Blaming someone or something, whether it’s a system or people, is a common response to stress. It subconsciously shifts responsibility away from the people who are sometimes duty-bound to make a change themselves.

It is true that there are huge numbers of amazing, frum, unmarried girls in their thirties and forties. Each of these girls is in that position for individual and personal reasons. They are not all in that status for the same reason.

At their age they are out and about in the world. They are no longer secluded away from the opposite gender. Many older girls, even those who consider themselves yeshivish, have established a network of friends and communicate with guys. Why are they still single? That is the question that everyone asks. The answer is different for each person.

I will debunk the myth that “no one wants them.” As a shadchan I have documented files of older single women who ended relationships with men within the age range they wanted for reasons that they themselves cannot explain. I am not exaggerating one bit about his. Just recently, I had several situations where females in their forties ended relationships with guys whom they praised nonstop. When I probed further, they admitted to me that this has happened to them before. Some people just cannot emotionally bring themselves to marriage. This is not a new problem, but again, because we have a larger population, there are more such known cases.

Of course, there are many other circumstances preventing wonderful girls from getting married. As much as they truly want to be wives and mothers, at times it may be out of their control to achieve. Perhaps they are searching for the type of shidduch that for whatever reason does not feel shayach to the other party. And there are girls who will hold out for as long as possible until they meet someone with exactly what they desire.

Unique family situations and various life experiences can also delay the marrying process for some. And I will also say that there are older guys who only prefer much younger girls. Whatever the individual reason may be, it is a personal tragedy for those who find themselves single at an advanced age.

I am glad you brought up an issue that I have long been advocating against: the résumé. You are so very correct that mothers are sending out résumés, to no avail. So, here is where I will shift some of the responsibility onto those shadchanim who think that sending a piece of paper will make the shidduch happen. The wretched business of sending résumés is so widespread that it would take years to eradicate this problem. However, if every shadchan would revise his or her methods and take the time to actually redd a shidduch, rather than just clicking the “send” button on his or her computer, more dates would be happening–and perhaps more marriages.

For a while you felt fortunate that your daughter would not have to undergo what countless other girls her age are likely up against. But cut her some slack. She dated a guy four times during her Pesach break from seminary before returning to Israel. Those dates must have taken place in a short span of time. Is it possible that she was caught up in the whirlwind of events, and that is why she agreed to a fifth date when she returns home? Is it also possible that your daughter, away from her family and the guy, confided in her madrichah and friends that there are things about him she may not like? If so, then she was likely correctly advised.

Even though age 20 might be considered mature enough in your circles to begin dating, and the accepted thing to do, maybe she doesn’t really feel that it was the right thing for her. Going into a panic because of what you call the shidduch crisis will not help your daughter, and can bring about much more damage than you can imagine.

I typically advise parents of young seminary graduates, especially those who studied in Israel or anywhere overseas, to give them some time before they start dating. Being far away from home can alter their ideals, and it takes time to settle back down to the routine and customs they once practiced. Those who date immediately after seminary typically find that within a year or so, what they originally wanted and needed in a spouse changes.

If your daughter does not wish to continue dating that boy, then she should not be coerced into doing so. Not only is that unfair to her, but it would be utterly disrespectful to his feelings. He is waiting for her to come home because he likes her. If the feeling is not mutual, then she is stringing this poor boy along.

The honorable thing that you and your husband need to do is to let the shadchan know that your daughter had a change of heart and does not feel ready to continue dating this boy. Leave the option open that within time she might reconsider, but that he should not wait for her.

I know how bleak it looks out there for girls seeking a shidduch. And when your daughter finally decides to start dating again, she may or may not experience challenges in that area. But pushing her to date anyone will turn her off altogether.

When your daughter does feel ready, I urge you to find a shadchan who will respect her privacy and not e‑mail her résumé to random shidduch networks. Instead, work with a shadchan who practices old-school methods of contacting the boy who is compatible and then marketing her in the best possible light. Such methods represent the most humane and successful approach to bringing a zivug together. v

Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to 5townsforum@gmail.com.

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