I haven’t yet been to a shadchan. I’ve heard too much about them from friends. About calling and calling back, leaving messages, leaving more messages, scheduling appointments, and having them cancelled. Repeatedly. About showing up to an interview and after a long talk hearing, “I don’t know anyone in your age range” or “I have too many girls and not enough boys” or simply, “Well I’ll put you down, but I doubt I can help you.” About having to call back again and again to remind them that you exist, that you’re still single, that you’re hoping they’ve found someone who might match you.
It is beyond me why any self-respecting would put herself through that. Hashem created us too, even if we’re “girls” and a dime a dozen. We deserve to be treated with dignity. Shadchanim: if you can’t respect your customers, get out of the business.
But no—they can’t get out of the business! We need them. Isn’t the “Shidduch crisis” caused by a dearth of people willing to set up other people? Who cares if they treat us like dirt? If it gets us married in the end, we’ll take it.
That’s the earnest answer I’ve heard from so many friends. It makes me sick. Are we that desperate?
“…I told my boss I wasn’t coming in to work that day. I canceled a doctor’s appointment. I was in my car, about to make the hour-and-a-half drive to the shadchan when she called and rescheduled for next week. I had to show up to work and reschedule my appointment. I was annoyed, let me tell you. And she did that more than once. But she found me my husband! There are some things you just have to do, you know? Dealing with shadchanim is one of them. It’s a pain, but that’s life.”
I know, I know. Intellectually, I know. But emotionally, I just can’t handle it. I had one run-in with a shadchan that I remember. My parents had spoken to her over the phone several times, and she was very vague and non-committal. She didn’t even ask for any information—they had to shove it at her. Finally they suggested a face-to-face appointment, to which she agreed. We discussed timing, and she said how about Sunday morning, at 9:15 am? I agreed and hung up. Then I noticed that Sunday was erev Yom Kippur. Who on earth would make an appointment for 9:15 the morning before Yom Kippur?
Her “shadchan” hours were between 8 am and 10:30 am, so I decided to call the morning of the appointment before going, to ascertain that all was in order.Well, I called and called, and she didn’t pick up. Duh—it was erev Yom Kippur. She was probably busy preparing two seudos and shlagging kaparos. No time for shidduch hours. I had done my hair, dressed up, even put on a dab of makeup, and I sat there on my bed, ringing phone in hand, frustrated, shamed, and angry. She’d chosen the time—hadn’t she realized it was erev Yom Kippur? Couldn’t she have called to reschedule it when she did realize? Did she even make a note of the appointment at all, or was she expecting to be reminded when I showed up on her doorstep, all dressed up?
I could imagine the scene if I would. Her daughter would open the door and ask who I was. I’d give my name and she’d look at me blankly. I’d explain my purpose and her eyes would go wide. She’d tell me to wait here and go running into the house, “Mooommy! Someone’s here for you for a shidduch!” The shadchan would come out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel, looking annoyed. “What’s your name? Oh yes… I didn’t realize the date when I gave you the time. Let me just get your information down really quickly so you didn’t come out here for nothing.” Then she’d ask a few sketchy and unhelpful questions, and I’d be out on her doorstep.
I left a cold message thanking her for confirming her appointment for erev Yom Kippur and asking that she please call me back about a rain check. She never did. And despite my parents’ urging, I refused to call her either. I didn’t see how or why I could trust someone like that to ret me a shidduch.
“What’s traumatized you so much?” my father marvels at me when I refuse to visit a shadchan over vacation.
“It must have been the shadchan who insisted on meeting her at a distant family friend’s vort, and when she showed up, the woman just said ‘Hello, so nice to meet you,’ and refused to even take her ‘shidduch resume’,” my mother suggests.
I hadn’t even remembered that horrible incident. Suppression defense mechanism, doubtless.
“Oh, I thought it was the woman I made her go talk to, who after a half hour of grilling said that she didn’t actually know any boys, and recommended visiting a different shadchan,” my father says.
I’d forgotten that one too, but never underestimate unconscious motivation.
My parents claim I’m being too vulnerable. If I had a healthy sense of self, I wouldn’t mind being treated like a lower order of life, because I’d know that I wasn’t one. Other girls manage it, right?
Not really. Other girls shut down their feelings in the name of a higher goal—getting married. Maybe I can’t shut down my feelings. Or maybe I’m just not desperate enough to get married.
I have an excellent sense of self: I think I’m wonderful. And I think a wonderful person like me deserves to be treated like a wonderful person. Not like a doormat. Not like a second-class citizen. And not like a beggar.