I’m not a tall girl; actually, I am short, but I like tall guys. I have no problem getting tall guys to ask me out when I meet them someplace, but no shadchan wants to set me up with a tall guy. If I say no to a short guy who is redd to me, the shadchanim get very nasty and tell me that I’m being ridiculous, and that a tall guy always marries a tall girl. Should I push myself to be attracted to a short guy just because I am short?
And there’s another problem I have. I can no longer go to different shadchanim like I used to. My friends tell me they’re having the same problem. Some shadchanim claim we are theirs, and when they put their name on our picture, nobody else wants to set us up. Do you know what I mean? Why is this suddenly a new thing?
I know exactly what you are talking about, and I will explain to you what is presently going on in the world of shidduchim. As if the way shidduchim being redd in the last several years has not sometimes been contrary to kavod ha’briyos, there is a new unjustified trend that I am seeing with the result of making it increasingly more difficult for singles to find a shidduch.
When résumés and pictures became the only accepted method by which private shadchanim would make matches, I spoke out against the practice because I believed that at the end of the day it serves to objectify human beings. No longer was it necessary to get to know the people being suggested to one another, and thus many shadchanim could not vouch for and advocate for whom they were suggesting. With a click of the send button on the phone or computer, shidduchim are redd. The single man or woman has become like a description in a catalog. It became evident that it was only a matter of time before it could potentially lead to further devaluation.
What is happening now is that the direction of redding shidduchim has moved to branding résumés and pictures. What does that mean, and how did this start? Since there are hundreds of e-mail and social media shidduch groups, résumés and pictures of singles float around day and night, sometimes even without permission. Therefore, it is no longer required to build up a database of singles like the shadchanim of yesteryear had to do. So presently, hundreds of people have now decided to act as shadchanim. They join groups, add the word “shadchan” to their title, and are posting résumés and pictures of singles. Please understand that I am not, G-d forbid, criticizing anyone who wants to help others if what they are doing is wholesome and it comes from a genuine place. However, some of these shadchanim, perhaps even with the best of intentions, and maybe fearing that another shadchan will take the profiles they presented by matching them with someone else (kind of like “stealing their account”), are now printing their insignia on the résumés and smack in the middle of the pictures of singles. In other words, they are labeling the singles they consider good accounts as their own private clients that no one else can go near without their clearance. It’s a sad day in history the moment shidduchim have been turned into somebody’s personal account or “registered trademark.”
You are correct that shadchanim are feeling intimidated to present you or even suggest a shidduch if they feel another shadchan is being territorial with regard to you. In fact, there are fights going on in various shidduch groups where a shadchan feels that her or his account was stolen by another shadchan. The shadchanim of yesteryear would cry bitter tears if they saw what shidduchim have turned into.
Singles can avoid the pitfall of becoming somebody’s personal brand by making sure to ask the shadchan if that is his or her mehalech. No person should ever feel that only one shadchan holds the key to his or her zivug. No shadchanim hold that key, unless they deem themselves G-d! A shadchan is merely a shaliach whom Hashem has chosen to partner with Him. And when a shidduch does happen, it is not because the shadchan was so smart or capable. It is because the person was given the z’chus by Hashem to make the shidduch. So please stay far away from anyone who treats you as an account.
The other issue you might be dealing with is that there are people who will scope out various shidduch groups, find a few singles they consider good accounts, and brand them as their own. This has been happening a lot these days. Unbeknownst to some unsuspecting single men or women, they have become somebody’s personal financial investment that no one else can dare go near.
That brings me to another problem you have with shadchanim. If you feel attracted to a tall guy, it makes no difference that you are not tall. No shadchan in the world has the right to rebuke you for what you want. I do hear this complaint a lot from singles, not just in reference to height. Whether it is a particular body type, family finances, yichus, or any other requirement that a person feels an attraction for, a shidduch is a personal decision. It is nobody’s business or right to belittle people for disclosing what they want, especially when it involves a lifelong decision. No shadchan should ever make you feel badly for wanting something that he or she does not feel you deserve or can get.
Imagine if you went house hunting, and in your quest to purchase a home, the realtor lectured you and scolded you for expressing a desire for a particular style house! I am sure you would never deal with such unprofessionalism again. Shadchanim have the right to say that they currently do not have what you are looking for and leave it at that. Any sincere shadchan will have stories of somebody who called about a specific type of shidduch, and the shadchan had no match at that exact time; yet, shortly thereafter, the same shadchan was contacted by a man or woman who was looking for the precise type as the one who initially called, and a match was made. If you want to marry a tall guy, that might be in your destiny, because one day, a shadchan might get a call from a tall guy who insists on dating a petite or short girl. I am sure you must know of couples where the husband is tall and the wife is not, and they are very much attracted to one another.
You stated that you have no problem finding tall guys when you meet them on your own. I would recommend that you try to continue sticking to that method if you have the most success that way. But I sense that you do still want the assistance from shadchanim. There is no replacement for that personal touch. I will use the example of house hunting again. People can search on their own for a home, but many people still feel comfortable when they connect with a relator who cares about what they want and will go the extra mile in helping them achieve what they are looking for. Moreover, the right shadchan will be your personal advocate without turning you in to her or his personal trademark. Finding a compatible shadchan is almost as challenging but just as important as finding a compatible shidduch. The right shadchan who believes in you and wants to help you will want to get to know you and present you in the best possible way. Not only that, but a sincere shadchan will filter and select suitable guys for you to consider dating. You should never feel talked into going on a date with someone, nor should you be rebuked for declining a suggestion. Consider asking the people in your life if they know a shadchan to recommend.
I want to discuss attraction with you in more depth. Attraction is not a choice you can make. Attraction is oftentimes built in, based on what you have been accustomed to. Yes, you can force yourself to date and even marry a guy you feel no attraction for, but that does not mean you will ever be attracted to him. In certain circumstances there have been cases that people married without being physically attracted to the person, and the attraction did come because of appreciation for other qualities, but, realistically, in many cases, it is just not enough. There have even been unfortunate situations where lack of attraction for somebody turned into resentment for the person. Neither party deserves that.
My concern is that you are not one of those people who needs to feel that rush of excitement from the very beginning or have an image in your head about the type of guy you will ultimately marry. To be fair, there are sincere shadchanim who will encourage singles to give the person they are not attracted to a chance if everything else checks out. But if you still feel nothing for the person, and whatever else that is wonderful about him does nothing to change what you find unattractive, then continuing such a relationship will potentially cause harm in the long run for both parties.
I also want to put something else out there for you to ponder. You talk about tall guys, but is that all? Meaning, is it a particular look in addition to height that you like, but for whatever reason it’s not available? Please do some self-introspection and be true to yourself. What a person feels an attraction for can gradually change in life. It does not mean settling or selling out, but if you do meet a guy whom you may immediately discount because he is not tall enough, but he has other qualities, try instead to see if you could conceivably discover a spark of attraction. It is possible for attraction to blossom, because what a person truly focuses on can grow.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Baila Sebrow’s articles at 5TJT.com.