14 May 2006

On Shidduch Dating...

Sephardi lady, on her blog, orthonomics, ended up talking about my next issue, shidduch dating. She wrote about the misguided idea of relying on segulot to help find a bashert instead of the "crazy" idea of picking up the phone and asking people out for dates.

I agree with her totally. However, not too many people in the frum world are about to do that. I think that extreme male/female segregation is causing a good portion of this situation (read brooklyn wolf about the tzius women-only mall in Israel as well as emes ve-emunah about the Gerrer Rebbe/Rav Aharon Leib Steinman's male-only first class flight to America).

I heard stories from an older friend who grew up frum (and left for a while). He came back because he married a BT girl. She showed him how much everything "changed" over the years. He told me that only a select few had separate seating/dancing at weddings. In fact, weddings were an opportunity for young people to meet other singles, hang out, etc. The chattan and kallah's families arranged for the young people to sit together at a mixed table. Now, you will be hard pressed to find casual events where single frums can interact with the opposite sex. We are at a point where we seem to be limited by internet sites, speed dating, and recommendations based on a resume.

I have been working with this girl (21) who was so embarassed when a boy approached her at shul, just to talk to her, that she pulled me aside and asked my help in getting rid of him. I told her that she has to talk to boys at some point if she plans on getting married. Her response was that she'll talk to them on the shidduch dates, but can't handle strange boys talking to her out of the blue.

What kind of future will the Jewish people have if the young people are afraid to even approach each other? There is not a segula in the world that can help if girls are running from a kiddush and boys feel like they can't even talk to a girl they like. Why do they have to jump through so many hoops to simply go on a date? It's situations like this that make me so happy that I met cool yiddish papa before there was ever an inkling that we would eventually become frum.

I strongly encourage any single person to approach that person that you like about a possible date. So what if it doesn't work...think about it as a learning experience for the next date. In my community, the local Aish Ha Torah minyan seems to be one of the places that the non-frum singles like to go to on Shabbat. There was one woman, 34 years old and still single. She looks pretty enough, seems smart enough, etc. I asked her what she was looking for in a husband. She gave me a laundry list that even included his profession (lawyer or successful business man). It made me feel sad for all the nice men she passed over for dates because they did not make (enough) money or the way she wanted them to make it. It's totally ok to require that your future spouse be a mentsch but it's not to ignore the teacher with the gorgeous smile because his investment portfolio is not big enough.


  1. Great post. My husband used to attend singles events and the genders sat separate and then proceeded to talk to only those of the same gender. Now unless this is a singles event for the opposite team, talking to those of the same gender isn't going to get you very far!

    And, I don't think that the 21 years old of the world that claim they can't make small talk at a kiddush, will do any better making small talk on a shidduch date in an uptight hotel lobby!

  2. And with all of the seperation and idealization, everyone is looking for A spouse instead of THEIR spouse, and focusing on things that have little to do with what will actulaly be important in married life. I have a single friend who I have had endless discussions with on this topic. On one hand, she is terrified of never getting married. On the other hand, she admits that her standards are unrealistic, that she doesn't give certain people a chance, and that the scene she is dating in will not provide her with the match she is looking for.

    SephardiLady, I love your comment! I was close to a mother who was extremely worried that her daughter (only about 23 or 24) wasn't giving guys a chance on dates. Her example was someone who was a close friend of her son. "My daughter says he had nothing to talk about on the date. But I don't understand, because he has so much to talk about with my son..." (The girl is now married of course - because she set realistic standards.)

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