By Baila Sebrow

Question:

I need help, fast — I must get engaged as soon as possible! I can’t be the last remaining single girl in my high-school class.

I have been dating for 12 years, with nothing happening. At first I didn’t care too much, because a bunch of us were still single. But as time went on, those who got married acted like we no longer exist, like they’re better than the single girls just because they are married. They even ignore us when we meet at simchas. They never bothered to set up any of us on dates either.

Now it’s down to me and two other friends who are still single. I met a guy I would have declined had I met him just a year ago. He comes with a bunch of problems, including a dysfunctional home. My parents and siblings hate him, and they don’t want me to marry him. Easy for them to say! My younger siblings all got married before me. My parents are great people and have set an amazing example for their children of what a great marriage is supposed to be like. But they just don’t get what it’s really like for me.

Meanwhile, this guy is crazy about me, and I feel like this is my last chance. I don’t want to be an outcast anymore. I don’t want pitying looks from people. And I don’t want people to discuss why I am still single and speculate that there must be something wrong with me. What advice can you offer me?

Response:

Your letter has brought me to tears. As I write my response to you, my heart is aching for what you are forced to endure. Your dilemma is the ultimate slap in the face by our frum society that has cast away the future mothers and, consequently, the continuity of Bnei Yisrael.

When it comes to shidduchim, we are our brothers’ keepers. In this regard, I am referring to anyone who has the ability to help his fellow man, yet chooses to look the other way. Each person is responsible to help someone single find a shidduch in one way or another.

You, dear young lady, are sadly correct. The friends who get married sometimes forget what it was like to be single. It might appear as though they sit on thrones, acting high and mighty, like they are better than their still-single friend. And as strange as it may sound, there are those who are married who believe they are in a better place in life specifically because they are married. Not because of what they have accomplished, but simply because they can say that they are not single.

These people assume that if they associate with single people in a friendship, it would somehow demean them. They fail to recognize that perhaps Hashem sent them their bashert sooner so that they can help their friends who are still single. So, shame on those friends who are not only doing nothing to assist you but are treating you like a second-class citizen. My advice regarding those folks is for you to understand that they were likely never true friends and only used your friendship to distract them while they were single. Move on to new friends and don’t give them any credence by thinking and talking about them.

The bigger problem is that society has put it into the heads of singles that if they remain single there is something wrong with them. This mentality has got to stop. And the only way this is going to change is if people stop feeding into this disturbing notion.

You may not be aware of this, but it often happens that the girl who marries last is the one who marries best. Getting married is not about who gets to the finish line the fastest. Speed is no guarantee for happiness, and I think that deep down you know that.

There are singles who get so caught up with the fear of remaining one of the last girls in the class or group to get married that they jump headfirst into a shidduch without any real thought. This is becoming more common in all hashkafic groups. It’s one of the causes for the higher divorce rate amongst younger people than in years past. You have until now avoided such a pitfall by not marrying an incompatible person in order to follow the masses.

You have been dating for 12 years. Depending on when you first started with shidduchim, my guess is that you are in your early thirties. Disregard the opinion of the hoity-toity people; you are still young — with the added benefit of maturity and wisdom. That makes you an even better shidduch prospect than someone younger!

Please stop believing that you are inferior to those who started married life at a younger age. Just because you know girls who married young does not indicate that they are better quality or that they are achieving the fulfillment they need. You never know what is going on behind anyone’s closed doors.

It is interesting to note that, historically, many famous, accomplished people have married a bit later. And they were quality people, too! What do I mean by quality? These people had the time to work on themselves, whether it was personal, academic, or professional growth. And more importantly, many singles, due to their status, also have more time to contribute to society than their friends who married young. Thus, it is common to find that those in your age bracket and older demonstrate impeccable middos and kindness to others.

If they grew up viewing a loving relationship between their parents, they have an even greater advantage, as they witnessed that for a longer period of time. That gives them the added benefit of integrating their upbringing into their home life with their spouse. Those whose parents have set the bar of standards high in relating to one another and their family oftentimes are not too quick to jump into a mediocre relationship. Such singles typically experience further challenges finding a compatible partner, as they will not settle for less. That is a result of understanding what it takes to make a good spouse and parent. And it sounds like that is likely the case in your situation, too.

I will also point out that it is impressive how your parents are so easygoing about your still-single status. As a shadchan, I can truly attest to how wonderful that is. You cannot imagine how many parents push their children — especially daughters — into marrying problematic people just so they’re married. That they did not do that to you, and are still looking out for your best interests, speaks volumes about them as parents and role models. You are lucky to not have added pressure from your parents.

Regarding this guy in your life whom you describe as coming with a “bunch of problems” and from a “dysfunctional home,” my question to you is why you would want to bring such aggravation into your life? Please do not develop the same thought process as the ignoramuses who think that marriage cures all ails. There is no such thing. Whatever you see before marriage is only exacerbated later. Based on what you are saying about this guy, should you marry him, you stand the chance of becoming a divorce statistic, G-d forbid. Your parents and siblings are wise enough to realize that, and they are trying to shield you from future pain.

Continue your search for your bashert in whatever manner you have been doing thus far if you feel that you are getting dates. However, if it appears to you that those dates are coming far and few in between, then divert to a different route. Join new social groups or professional networking groups where there are single men you might meet. Advocate on behalf of yourself. Do not be shy. Tell people that you are looking for a shidduch and ask if they might know of someone to introduce you to. You never know how your bashert will cross paths with you. No one can guess how soon it will be.

Please try not to concern yourself with worries of being amongst the last couple of friends to remain single. In the scheme of life, it bears little significance. I have noticed, specifically more so of late, that there are many girls marrying later, and the men they marry are finer and a better match for them than those they dated when they were younger. I will leave you with this famous quote from Rashi: “Acharon acharon chaviv.”

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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