Buying a Date

 

A few weeks ago when I wasn’t home, the Hamodia ran an article suggesting that the shidduch crisis exists because shadchanim aren’t motivated enough. And why aren’t shadchanim motivated? Because they only get paid if they achieve a marriage. The chances of that are so unlikely that it simply isn’t worth their time. Rather, said the article (or anyway, this is what my family had got out of it by the time I got home), shadchanim should be paid for smaller milestones, like a first date. This would make them more gung-ho about matching people up, and would lead to more avid matchmaking in the greater community. My father thought it was a grand idea to offer small cash incentives for a first date.

Maybe I can accuse the Hamodia staff of sleeping through the second half of their economics class, but I know my father was awake. Still, a mostly-free-marketer like myself has serious misgivings about messing with the system.

First of all, you get what you pay for. Pay for first dates and you’ll get first dates. Heaven knows too many people sound great on paper but turn out to be 100% wrong by about 10 minutes into the first date. Why should you pay for that?

Additionally, paying for a first date will encourage shadchanim to hide hindering information so that at least they can collect for the first date, and it’s hard enough to get accurate information as it is. It’ll also encourage them to be pushier. Considering how difficult people find it to say “no” even three times (see Milgram’s obedience experiments), this could lead to a lot of time wasting. (Then again, maybe people will find it easier to say “no” when there’s money on the line. This may require clinical research. Anyone volunteering to be a subject?)

Plus, with money on the line, pre-date research will get crazier than ever, as parents try to avoid squandering cash on pointless first dates. If you’re going to offer money, make it for the second date at least. Though this is likely to increase the number of dating streaks that end well before they can rightfully be called a streak. Then again, if we make the cutoff the fourth date, we may be artificially advancing the critical decision-making point. Hey, look at the ripple effect when the Fed raises interest rates half a point. This is what happens when you fiddle with economics. People are weird about money; they’d rather spend it on themselves than give it away to other people.

As things now stand, the people trying to make shidduchim are the ones who think they can make a marriage result from it, which I think is quite a good way to do things. Dabblers may have luck, but first-date speculators are really not a breed we want to encourage.

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27 thoughts on “Buying a Date

  1. I agree! As it is I have had so many DOA’s (dead on arrivals), and the shadchanim didn’t get anything for it! If they knew they were getting paid for it, yikes! Not only that, not everyone can afford to pay a shadchan for every date…especially if they have a few kids in shidduchim or if their kids are single for a long time. So then it goes right back to the old story…rich people get all the dates!

  2. how about paying shadchanim starting second or third date? this way, real bummers are out…

    i know that when we knew that a shadchan spent a while setting up my siblings or me, and we went out but nothing came of it, my parents would send flowers or a small chocolate platter for shabbos, just to say thanks, even though it didn’t work out.

  3. The Hamodia might have correctly identified the problem. When the chances of making marriages are low, the payout has to be high. So for example if a Shadchan receives $2000 per marriage but only 5% of setups result in nuptials, then her expected payout per attempted setup is only $100. Perhaps that truly is an insufficient amount of money for all the work that goes into setting up a couple. One way to resolve the problem would be to increase the amount she charges for each married couple. If she charged $4000, her expected payout would be $200 per attempt. But since we don’t want to increase marriage costs any higher, that isn’t a good idea.

    That said, I agree that creating incentives for a first-date will cause more problems than it is worth. Shachanim will just look to make first-dates, since actually making marriages is not worth the payoff. We’ll see a shift in their goals to getting any random people to go out, rather than looking for long-term compatibility. If anyone thinks Shachanim are untrustworthy now, wait until this idea starts becoming prevalent.

    Bad4 is right that we must set the bar higher. Make it 3 dates, or whenever the cutoff is for getting the Shadchan out of the picture. A Shadchan looking to get a couple to date a few times will have to try just as hard to find compatible people as one who is looking to get people to marry. There might not be an complete overlap, but the two are similar enough. So the Shadchan will actually try to make marriages because trying to make marriages is a good proxy for trying to get people to date a few times. Moreover, the expected payout will increase because more couples go out 3 times than those that get married. So this might be a better system overall than the one we have in place right now and is better than the Hamodia’s pay per date idea..

  4. Only one little glitch in the thinking here. You are working on the assumption that all shadchanim charge money for their services. The reality is that the majority do not. “Volunteer” shadchanim far outnumber those who do this as a profession. Money, as an incentive, won’t work with this group.

  5. I’m with Dreamer. A token of appreciation after a couple of appropriate dates is more apropos.

    Though personally, I’d prefer money to flowers…

  6. I’ve always felt that if acquaintances took a more active role in bringing compatible people together, then we’d have less of a crisis.

    With that in mind, maybe more communities need to do what Baltimore is doing, and offer a bounty for successful matches. Not sure what their terms & conditions are — maybe the couple needs to be of a certain age? — but such incentives probably can’t hurt.

    If a person didn’t want to accept the bounty, they could donate the money to tzedaka.

  7. Only one little glitch in the thinking here. You are working on the assumption that all shadchanim charge money for their services. The reality is that the majority do not. “Volunteer” shadchanim far outnumber those who do this as a profession. Money, as an incentive, won’t work with this group.

    But even the pro bono ones do it with the knowledge that they will receive some form of remuneration if the couple marries, so money does play a role.

  8. I personaly don’t think that this incentive will work in any sense of the word. (for that matter I’m not sure incentives work at all, but hey, I’m not someone who is particularly interested in aquiring or showing off wealth.)

  9. Nephtuli,
    The shidduch group to which I belong has no expectation of future remuneration nor may we ask for any. When people ask about the “cost” if a shidduch is made, we tell them that all we ask is that they give tzedaka to an organization that provides for poor kallahs, and the choice of what, when and how much is up to them. We don’t check up if they actually do so. Have some of my shidduchim given me a gift despite this? Yes, a gift, not money. And not necessarily an expensive gift either. The only time that money came into play was when a parent of means paid for my shidduch line phone bills for 6 months. Plenty of my shidduchim gave me nothing but a wedding invitation, and that’s fine too. And here is the ironic kicker. when I go to these weddings I give the couple a wedding present. My balance sheet is way in the negative column.

  10. The shadchan is paid for services the way a realtor is paid — the fee is only payable when the deal is done and the buyer and seller or renter and leaser are brought together to actually make the transaction legal and binding. Your real estate agent is not entitled to any money no matter how much effort is put in if there are no real results. That’s the business model. If they want to get paid for expenses, etc., they need a different model. BTW I believe they get way more than $2000. I’ve heard of $5000-$10,000 and even double that when it gets collected from both sides.

  11. I think that paying for a second or third date might encourage more people just to set up- but as profk stated, “The shidduch group to which I belong has no expectation of future remuneration nor may we ask for any”- and that is the way it should be.
    I appreciate those shadchanim who don’t do it for the payment- but for helping those singles build a bayis neeman b’yisroel. And, then when they do succeed in making a shidduch, the proper thing is to pay them- even though they didn’t ask for any money.
    But for those shadchanim who do it for the money- it’s a decent idea to pay for getting to the second-date stage.

  12. The shidduch group to which I belong has no expectation of future remuneration nor may we ask for any. When people ask about the “cost” if a shidduch is made, we tell them that all we ask is that they give tzedaka to an organization that provides for poor kallahs, and the choice of what, when and how much is up to them. We don’t check up if they actually do so. Have some of my shidduchim given me a gift despite this? Yes, a gift, not money. And not necessarily an expensive gift either. The only time that money came into play was when a parent of means paid for my shidduch line phone bills for 6 months. Plenty of my shidduchim gave me nothing but a wedding invitation, and that’s fine too. And here is the ironic kicker. when I go to these weddings I give the couple a wedding present. My balance sheet is way in the negative column.

    You’re right, and I should have qualified my statement. But I would be willing to bet that people like you are in the minority. Most people need a real pecuniary benefit to get them to do the serious legwork that goes into shadchanus.

  13. I think Ari brought up the best point…forget asking professional shadchanim and even non professionals who want to make money. Start getting friends and family into action and things would improve a lot. How many of your married friends have actually set you up? If my friends are any example, I would imagine not many…

  14. I have never had a decent date from a “professional” shadchan. My best dates have come from people who know me and care about me and are not motivated by money. Throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve it! As someone who has received the $2000 that Baltimore offers (I made a shidduch for a Baltimore girl), that had absolutely no bearing on why I set this couple up.

  15. You are one smart woman.
    I’ve thought about posting on the topic, but it’s so vast, I didn’t know where to begin.
    While, as usual, I agree with what you said, what’s the solution? Money talks. So if they aren’t compensated, they won’t be as motivated. On the other hand, the ones who do it now without compensation are the real ones who have good intentions. If there was money involved, yes, more people would be involved but they wouldn’t be the right ones.

  16. Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka:
    End the madness already proposed that idea. I think it would be much better than the current system.

  17. Oh ProfK, you sound lovely. Do you know any nice hafifnikim for me? 🙂

    Payment for the first date=really, really horredous idea. I have yet to go on a first shadchan date that was not nightmarish. If, on top of the date, I actually had to pay money for this, I would totally go postal.

    Not that I am, G-d forbid, a violent person, ProfK. ;P

  18. maybe shadchanim should pay for the first date? (or maybe the community? I mean, marrying someone off is actualy something of a communal obligation.)

  19. Dreamer, that’s a great idea and very sweet. I find it more personal and worthwhile than money.

    Bad4 and Nephtuli, I agree that first date payments are silly and will only serve for shadchanim pushing first dates. A later limit would be a much better idea.

    I read Chananya Weissman;s original article on shadchanim paying couples for dating, but didn’t really understand it. Usually the singles are willing to go out on dates.. aren’t they?

  20. I don’t know if that will solve the problem- I mean, it must be extremely hard for people to have to pay the shadchan for every first date. Then again, I know plenty of girls who are back from seminary two-three-four years, and either have not gone out ever, or only on one or two dates. Perhaps if they had more people vying to set them up, this would not happen and perhaps they would even be married?

    I like b4s idea. After the third or fourth date, a little incentive is nice. But then again, that does put SO MUCH more pressure on that date…

  21. I agree with what SaraK said. My best dates have been from friends setting me up (both married and single friends, I might add) because they’re actually looking out for me and keeping me in mind. They also know me better and have a better idea of what I’m looking for and if personalities are compatible, etc.

  22. I agree with you. I actually have a draft about this somewhere…
    But anyway, I understand that the shadchan’s job is not easy. I don’t mean to underestimate what they do.
    But you raised valid points, (as always) as to why it wouldn’t work.
    The research in the chareidi world is so out of hand already, you’re right – if there were money on the line…uggghhhh don’t make me think about it.

  23. Pingback: My Explanations for the Shidduch Crisis « Bad for Shidduchim

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