By Baila Sebrow

Question

I am the mother of a great boy, and no one understands why someone like him is still unmarried. I think I know what the problem is, and please tell me if I am right. But first I want to tell you about him.

He learned full-time for a few years, and now he is in college, where he also continues to learn. My husband and I thought that he would be married by 23 at the latest. But here he is at 29, still single. He gets suggestions for girls, but not like everyone makes it out to be. I don’t know why people think that boys get long lists of girls to pick from. I think people exaggerate. I don’t know any boy who has such a list.

The main problem is that young kids today think that they are not allowed to date more than one person at a time. For example, if my son gives a yes to a girl, she might be busy. Then when she becomes free, he gets busy. But no one ends up going out with the person they were supposed to, because they gave a yes to someone else. And then the same thing happens all over again with other suggestions.

Why can’t kids today go out with a few people at the same time until they know for sure? That’s how it used to be when my husband and I were dating. The other thing is that parents and the kids sit on résumés too long, and they waste a lot of time. Why do people spend so much time looking into someone from a résumé? Résumés make no sense either, as everyone lies. What is this — a job interview? The whole thing is wrong, and the boys are suffering, too.

Response

This business of résumés in shidduchim has become farfetched, I agree. Furthermore, as you say, it is true that there are boys who are suffering, too, wanting to get married but experiencing difficulty. Whenever mothers of girls complain that the boys have it easy, as opposed to the girls who are sitting around, I always remind them that the crisis of unmarried singles now includes males, too, though each case is different from the next. The reason why one person remains single may not be for the same reason as someone else.

Even though the résumé system has become the trend for redding and accepting shidduchim, most singles admit that they dislike the method. In many instances, résumés, especially those that include photos, end up being deceptive. Additionally, anyone can write or omit whatever they want and exaggerate about accomplishments. And references can be your relative or anyone of your choosing. The bottom line is that with this new-age method, there are more people declining dates they would probably agree to if not for a résumé that depicts the person as either too simple or intimidating.

When résumés became inaugurated in shidduch dating, it was initially assumed that it would save time by helping singles to eliminate those who are not shayach for them. While that might be true in some cases, in others it usually impedes the opportunity to meet somebody who could potentially be compatible. There are married couples who admit that they originally declined one another when they were redd to each other by means of a résumé; however, when they met under different circumstances, they each realized that they are compatible in real life, whereas on a piece of paper they were not.

I will share with you that as a shadchan I have had cases where a school or camp one went to, the shul the parents davened at, or some other frivolous detail, was cause to decline the person. If I felt strongly about the shidduch, I made sure to arrange that they would meet each other at an event or in another impromptu setting. Most of the time it led to an engagement!

The question that any intelligent person would ask upon hearing that a method does not work is: why does it continue to be utilized? The answer is that it makes the process easier for the shadchan as well as the single person to whom the shidduch is redd. And if a couple gets married from the résumé system, that’s great, and if not, they move on. The problem is that for some, they oftentimes move nowhere, just like a mouse in a maze.

You are correct in comparing a shidduch résumé to a résumé for employment. For all intents and purposes, one who is not involved with shidduchim would believe upon reading a shidduch résumé, with all that information provided, that it is meant to be sent to a potential employer for a position in a high-security organization. Names of schools and camps attended not just by the person in question, but by the parents and siblings, positions that were held, names of shuls attended, etc. And regarding photographs, we all know that many are photoshopped, taken at a deliberately flattering angle by a skilled photographer, or are really old. More often than not, I hear how people are disappointed when meeting someone because they liked his or her picture but it turned out that the person looked different in reality. Ironically, if they had never seen a photograph, they would not have built up in their head some movie-star image of the person being suggested to them.

While it is true that years ago, the same details about the person might have been mentioned by the shadchan, reading it on a professional-looking document makes it feel impersonal and cold. It takes the fun out of meeting someone on a date. Not only that, but it used to be that the shadchan would be successful in explaining why a specific shidduch may be a good idea, and the person would listen. However, it is difficult to convince anyone in the same way when done electronically.

Moreover, because résumés are sent via mass email or WhatsApp, they oftentimes become something like chain letters. And like a chain letter, it is read over and over, and sometimes tossed into cyberspace trash. And if it ends up in a spam folder, it is either never viewed or, if it is, weeks or months may have passed by then. And we wonder why so many singles are remaining single?

I am not sure on whom I can blame the system of saying yes to only one person at a time for a date in the way you described. People have different schedules and various life situations where just because a yes was given to date someone should not mean that they can’t give a yes to anyone else. There is no relationship established yet, and therefore there is no issue of cheating or two-timing anyone. It is frustrating when a shadchan redds a shidduch, and he or she is told that the person cannot look into it—not because they are dating somebody, but because they just gave a yes to someone. To an outsider this would be considered a bizarre practice.

And finally, I want to address the issue about the myth involving long lists of girls for eligible bachelors. Are there guys who are more in-demand than others? Sure. The same can be said about girls. There are girls for whom the phone keeps ringing for dates. Sometimes it is about the family they come from, and other times there is no rhyme, reason, or explanation to rationalize the popularity of one single male or female over another.

That your accomplished son is still unmarried is not unusual. I hope that you are not waiting for anyone to come up with an idea for a shidduch for him. Whether it is you and your husband or your son doing the legwork, the important thing is that you must never stop being proactive in finding a shidduch. It does not help anyone to try and figure out what is really going on with other people and whether or not they have an easier or more challenging time finding a shidduch.

Here is what I recommend. First, your son needs to abolish his one-at-a-time-yes to a shidduch suggestion. He is allowed to approve of more than one girl at a time, and go out and meet her. Secondly, he needs to stop wasting time with résumés. There is nothing to study and philosophize about. If you trust the person suggesting the shidduch, then there is no reason to decline or put the person on hold indefinitely. In fact, I have an even better idea. Why not give up on résumés altogether? If your son is so curious to see what the girl looks like, he can always Google her. Most people have a photograph of themselves somewhere online. And if it is not how the person currently looks, then he should consider that the same can be said about a photograph accompanying a résumé.

When a person sees that something they wish to achieve is not happening for them, they need to change their method. No one can amend a system that is already in place for the rest of the society they are living in. That said, your only focus should be in helping your son get married. Forget the made-up rules and ignore the latest shidduch etiquette; there will always be a new one coming up!

When a shidduch is suggested to him, he should not waste precious time scrutinizing things that turn out to be insignificant anyway. Make sure that he has ongoing contact with the shadchan suggesting the shidduch. He should not permit the communication only via e-mail. If the girl being suggested to your son sounds like a compatible shidduch, he should meet her as soon as possible.

In conclusion, if something is not working for him, he needs to regard that as an obstacle and find another way.

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.

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