By Baila Sebrow

Question

I’m a parent in the shidduch parashah. Before I say anything else, you should know that every one of my daughter’s friends is married. But things are not going well here. My daughter is only 20 years old and she is already burnt out. My husband thinks it’s because she went out with every guy who said yes to her. We are well-connected people and there has rarely been a week in the past year that my daughter hasn’t had a date.

The problem is that I say yes to every boy who says yes. I’m afraid to say no, even if I have a feeling that it won’t work out. Who knows who her bashert really is? I know too many wonderful girls who never got married, because they were too picky.

Even when my daughter comes home from a date and she is not crazy about the boy, I push her to go out until the boy rejects her. And the rejections are why she is getting jaded. She keeps getting rejected after dates.

Now we are in the middle of looking into another shidduch. We heard very nice things about the boy, but the parents are not people we would want for our mechutanim. Should we let our daughter go out? We are worried that if a boy from such a family will reject her, she might never want to date again.

Response

There are so many things wrong with your daughter’s parashah that I would first advise you to put every shidduch suggested on hold until you get a grip on her situation. For starters, you don’t know why all the “wonderful girls” never got married. Every case is different. I never buy into the “picky” designation. If people say that they are picky, or others think they are, it’s usually their individual method of protecting themselves from getting hurt.

The mother of a 25-year-old girl recently contacted me in the hopes of helping her daughter find a shidduch. She made sure to indicate in the very first line of her e‑mail that her daughter is “very selective.” After reading that, I realized that this matter needed to be handled by the old-fashioned method–a phone call.

It was a heartrending call, as the girl described at length how her attempts at getting married have proved futile. She made it clear that at this point she is not saying yes to any guy so quickly. He has to fit certain criteria, which she shared with me. She went on to say that if she can’t find what she’s looking for, then she will just wait. Picky? It sure sounds that way. But I don’t think pickiness is her issue. The poor girl is shell-shocked.

After further probing, I discovered that when she first started dating, shadchanim and others suggested guys who were, for the most part, inappropriate for her. Sadly, the boys she liked did not reciprocate the same sentiments. This girl represented what so many others are unfortunately experiencing. Eventually such girls need to protect whatever semblance of dignity they have left. Bruised egos require tender loving care.

Dating is one of the most challenging and humbling experiences a single girl or boy endures. When rejections occur too frequently, a jaded viewpoint is developed. Your daughter, at age 20, is too young to be so disheartened–unless, as you say, you sent her out with boys knowing in advance that they were wrong for her.

Every one of your daughter’s friends has a husband? Mazal tov to them. That has nothing to do with your daughter. Those husbands are good for those wives. Your daughter is unique in her own way, and comparing her stage in life to anyone else’s is not doing her or yourself any good.

I am not putting the blame on your zealousness. Mothers of shidduch-eligible girls fall into a panic if their daughters are not engaged after a year of dating. Not only that, but many parents will convince their daughters to overlook flaws that they know these girls will not be able to deal with. Why? Because the fear of their daughter remaining single is so strong. Here is my advice to you and all the mothers out there: Get over it. Getting married is not about winning the race to the chuppah.

I can, however, understand why you say yes to every guy willing to date her. The way the shidduch system is set up nowadays, girls and their parents feel that if they reject a suggestion, another one may not come up for a long time. As a result, many girls date the wrong type of guys. That is where the catch-22 happens. When a person doesn’t want to be in a situation, they oftentimes subconsciously create a scenario where they will be rejected. Think of an employee who is not happy with his job. He might feel anxious about quitting, so he may slack off in his performance. As expected, he ends up being fired. The unhappy employee is secretly happy to have been relieved from circumstances he was not pleased to be in.

So it is with dating or any other type of relationship. When a person is unhappy with something or someone but does not possess the strength of will to walk away, he or she will generate a reason for the other person to do the rejecting.

And that is what I believe to be the cause of your daughter’s repeated rejections. You admittedly accept non-compatible dates on her behalf. She either doesn’t have the courage to decline, or, as a victim of the shidduch scene, feels compelled to go through with it anyway. I am sure it does not take her that long to figure out that the guy is not the right fit for her. By the same token, he may feel the same way, or perhaps he picks up on her  lack of interest. As a result, the relationship does not progress further.

Adding to your problems is this new shidduch suggestion of a boy whose parents don’t rank high in your estimation. Your dilemma now is twofold. What if the boy rejects her; and worse–what would it do to her if a boy with such parents would do that? (Although somehow I get the feeling that in this case, it’s more about what it would do to you if he rejects your daughter.)

In a perfect situation, of course it would be nice if both sets of parents approve of each other. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s hard enough for a boy and girl to like each other enough to want to continue dating. Even harder is for the boy and girl to like the in-law parents. And that I will say is important. If someone dislikes or does not get along with his or her mother- or father-in-law, that could impact heavily on the couple’s shalom bayis.

I’m not minimizing the problems that could result when both sides of parents don’t like each other. But I would hope that mature people would realize that they will iy’H share equal status where their future generations are concerned. When they start to realize that notion, the feeling that the mechutanim are not good enough should disappear.

You should also speak to your daughter about whether she truly feels ready to get married. Sometimes rejection can be the result of a person not being ready for that step. Believe it or not, the other party picks up on the subtlest hint. If she truly does want to date for marriage, ask her what type of boy she wants to marry. Encourage her to be honest with you.

Don’t worry anymore about declining shidduchim that are not right for her, regardless of who the boy is. If this new boy who was suggested turns out to be a compatible match, and your daughter is sincerely interested in meeting him, then that is exactly what she should be doing. And if he ends up rejecting her because he does not think they are a match for marriage, please do not look down on him based on his parents not being the sort you would want to be meshadech with. That will ultimately bring grief to your daughter.

I will stress again the importance of not pushing your daughter to get married just because everyone else is. Even if she is feeling the social pressure, reassure her that her bashert is out there for her. Perhaps for whatever reason they are not intended to meet yet. Whether it happens now or a bit later, in retrospect it will not matter once she finally recognizes the guy who is “the one.”

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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