By Baila Sebrow

Question:

I’m an older single girl. That’s what all the shadchanim call me. And I know that people think and say that it must be because I’m picky. But that’s not true at all. I’m single because of the shadchanim. My parents don’t have much money, and the popular shadchanim only helped the rich families when I was younger. So I was only set up with guys who were not for me. Then I got older, and now shadchanim only want to set me up with men old enough to be my father. This happened to a bunch of other people, too. Shadchanim are the cause of the problem.

I was once at a singles event that was for singles my age, and I went over to a shadchan there to ask her to help me find a shidduch. She told me she just deals with younger people! I also saw that she was only interested in talking to the guys and ignored the girls. Later that night, I went over to the person who ran the event, and she agreed that it wasn’t right what the shadchan did. She told me she didn’t invite her, and that sometimes these ladies just pop into singles events. But I see things like this happening a lot, where shadchanim only care about the guys and set them up with younger girls because they get promised a lot of money. I’m ready to give up on marriage.

Response

I agree there are shadchanim who enable the older men to get dates with much younger women. The reality is such that if a man wants to marry a younger woman specifically, he will do what he needs to do in order to make it happen. But we would hope that a frum shadchan should also consider the feelings of the woman when she suggests a much older man.

There is nothing more painful for a woman who is anxious to get married than to be told that she cannot get a compatible match. Suggesting a man old enough to be her father is like shining neon lights at her with the words that she will never marry the type of man that she is looking for and she might as well accept what she can get. How disgraceful!

I will go even further. People get all excited when an older man manages to marry a much younger woman. I would not have a problem with it if the excitement came from a place of happiness that two people found each other. However, all these people seem to be animated about is that the man was so lucky to get a young woman. Between such reactions and the enabling of some shadchanim, I agree that this empowers men to seek younger women.

Additionally, many men have told me that their rabbis told them to marry a woman who is younger so that they can have children with her. And I am talking about men who already have a few kids.

When I explain to men that nowadays older women are having children, they tell me that it is not safe, and that the child can be born with an abnormality. If that is what they are so concerned about, let them do a little more research on abnormalities that can happen to a child born to an older father. The bottom line is that when it comes to guaranteeing health, such things are best left to the One Above.

I am so sorry about your experience with the shadchan at that singles event. People do crash singles events, and it’s not always singles. Sometimes, they are people looking for a shidduch for a member in their own family and they slip in under the guise of being a shadchan. There are also times it can be a real shadchan who is just unethical and has her own bizarre biases. Unethical behavior, regrettably, exists in all professions and hobbies. All you can do in such circumstances is to stay away from those people.

I will touch upon what you said early on in your letter. You claim that the shadchanim you reached out to in your younger years were not interested in assisting you with an appropriate match; rather, they focused on the rich families. Yes, such shadchanim do exist. And I am sorry those were the only people you enlisted in your search. But what makes you think that those were the popular ones? Because they made a few shidduchim between rich families? No disrespect to them, but perhaps that is their specialty. It could also be that they only set up children of the families they personally know.

Another reason might be that shadchanus for them is not chesed-based, but their parnassah. Such shadchanim might do shadchanus as a means of financial support. And since rich families guarantee them the amount of money they request, those are the ones they work for. My question is why you need to concern yourself with shadchanim who cannot or do not want to help you.

I think that when you were younger, you and your parents got caught up in thinking that those are the only shadchanim who are capable of helping you, and you might have wasted time on them, thinking that one day they would. It is also possible that you were hoping to be introduced to the type of men they typically deal with, and you found out the hard way that they only introduce such men to girls who come from similar families.

So where do you go from here? You are now older, as you say, and you want to get married to a man close to your age. Is that possible? Of course, it is possible. The questions you need to ask yourself are: what else are you looking for in a husband other than being close to you in age, and what are you not willing to compromise on?

If it is just about age, then I am sure you will find a shadchan who can suggest such a man. But I have a hunch that you would want him to have other qualities, too. And there is nothing wrong with that. A shidduch is a very personal choice, and that goes both ways.

To be successful from here on, I recommend that you revisit in your mind those you have dated in the past. Take a deep look within and think about what you could have done differently with regard to those you declined and those who declined you. Of the dates that you think did go well to a certain point, why do you think that happened? How did you present to those men on the dates? What was your frame of mind in those particular circumstances? By being honest with yourself, you might discover aspects that you may need to work on.

It is very important that you network with as many people as you can. Networking can also be in the form of getting involved in communal affairs that have nothing to do with shidduchim. It will give you an opportunity to meet people you otherwise may never have the chance to meet, and they will get to know you in a relaxed atmosphere. As you build new friendships, those people might introduce you to friends of theirs who might know of an appropriate man.

I don’t know if that particular singles event where you had a negative experience is the only one you ever went to, but I encourage you to try again. In most situations where people have a difficult time finding what they are looking for, meeting at an event or even at a meal for singles has brought success to many where they have previously failed. And that is because on paper, people do not always come through as someone another person would want to date. But when you meet the person face to face, it usually makes a more positive imprint.

Regardless of how old you are, please do not get discouraged. There are many singles who deal with the ups and downs (sometimes more downs than ups) in dating. Dating is a daunting process, especially when you want to make sure that you are marrying the right person and not getting married just for the sake of it. So please don’t entertain any thought of giving up on marriage. If you are suggested to or meet a man, go on that first date with him. It might not lead to a second date with that man, but I believe that with the right attitude and patience, it will happen that a first date with someone will lead to a second, and one day increase to the point where you may wonder how that came to be. Bear in mind that it is always darkest before dawn.

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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