Down with the Pre-Date Research


“Oh, he’s great. As far as I can tell, he’s everything he’s touted to be, just what I ‘want’, and everything else that’s good and desirable—“


“Everything but a good conversationalist. Communication between us was just short of nonexistent.”


“If he wants to go out again, I’ll give it a shot, but I doubt he will.”

I’d be curious to know what percentage of matches make it past the first (and second) date.

Just being sensible for a moment, there’s no point in (a girl) doing the FBI-caliber background check until after that first date.

Just from my experience, the extensive research rarely disqualifies a suggested match. Usually you can tell from their shidduch resume if they’re in the ballpark, and if they are, you’re not likely to hear much that doesn’t support that from the handpicked references, or even the references’ references. No – the big disqualifier is the First Date.

The first date is when you find out that the guy who seemed to be a perfect match in every point you asked about is an irreconcilable non-match in the one area you didn’t think necessary to ask about. Like the guy who had the same general goals and even some of the same hobbies as me. We forgot to ask how he handles education in women (and could anyone have answered that anyway?) and yeah, I don’t think he enjoyed the date much, for which I’m still a bit sorry.

The first date is also when you find out that all the flattering details you heard about him from his friends and neighbors were either misrepresented or misunderstood. The most egregious department of misinformation, in my experience, is a guy’s college experience. If they say he got into an Ivy League, you reserve judgment until you know it wasn’t something like NYU’s for-profit division, where anyone can enroll providing they’re eligible for financial aid, or Columbia’s engineering school, where anyone can enroll, providing they’re rich and not a complete idiot. And if they say he’s got a degree at all, well 10-to-1 it’s something his parents forced him to get, is in a field he hates, and is something he never intends to use, ever, even if he goes to work. Or else it’s something like “sociology” because he never intends to use the degree, so why not enjoy the experience? But I’m digressing a lot. Pardon me.

My point is, since the date itself is more likely to disqualify a fellow than the research, why not spare yourself the anguish and skip the research until after the first date? Chances are good you’ll never have to do it! The point of research (I think) is to see if the guy is what he appears to be, which should be close to what you want him to be and also what you perceive him to be. So wouldn’t it make sense to do it after you’ve seen what he is?

Disclaimer: I guess this doesn’t apply as much to guys, who get many more unlikely suggestions, and who also have to dish out the cash for dates. I imagine they’ll want to do just enough research to be able to emphatically cross off anyone utterly wrong.

30 thoughts on “Down with the Pre-Date Research

  1. I definitely agree with this one. I don’t bother with checking the guy out until after the first couple of dates when I know it’s worth my time to start asking around. Of course, the first date can be awful for a number of reasons. I’ll usually go out a second time unless the date was truly hideous.

    Take the guy I’m seeing now, for example. The conversation on our first date was horrible, but the shaddchan told me how impressed he was with me so there was a second date… and a third. And now we never run out of things to talk about. 🙂

  2. Columbia’s engineering school, where anyone can enroll, providing they’re rich and not a complete idiot

    Uhm, what? Fu (the Columbia engineering school) has an acceptance rate of 25%. That’s higher than Columbia’s regular acceptance rate, but it’s still pretty hard to get in. Their masters programs are a bit easier, but their phd programs are notoriously difficult to get into – supposedly the acceptance rate is less than 5% in some disciplines.

  3. OMG! Yeah, I was JUST thinking about this after coming off a COMPLETE dud.
    The guy sounded wonderful on paper. His requirement was that the girl be bright and not jappy. No questions about dress size, as far as i know.
    Anyway, he was completely NOT what was described to me. A degree was something less than a BTL from a yeshiva, and a “grad” program was 6 weeks long, and as you said, his dad forced him to get it.
    Bright? Ha.
    So, yes, the minimal research we did (one reference call) was, i guess, worthless.

  4. Just for you gals out there who associate intelligence and being well-informed with college education: I have never gone out with a girl who hasn’t been impresses (and slightly intimidated) by my pool of knowledge, and no, I am not (yet, tho plans in future) a college grad or even enrolled in a college. There is nothing wrong with spending a few years exclusively in Yeshiva, especially if you eventually plan on going for semicha. My personal interests run more toward geopolitics, social sciences, and history than physics and math, but the key here is an openness to learning. Apparently the page in Pirkei Avos aboutאיזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם is missing in many yeshiva’s editions. I know this from my own experience, and I think that this will have massive ramifications on the ability of the yeshiva world to communicate cogently with the outside world in the coming decades.

  5. In addition to the college degree stuff, I’ve learned that when someone says a guy “knows what’s going on in the world”, they’re not really referring to following politics and checking Drudge… they mean he watches movies. So much for all that research.

  6. I just saw that my blogonym (just made up the term, googled it and turns out it’s been used before) is already associated with some guy who is propagating 9/11 conspiracy theories. I shall henceforth be known as “Jerusalemite”, at least for the duration of this thread. Just sayin’…

  7. Chickita – The ignorance of politics and current events amongst frum young males is absolutely staggering. Holy cow.

  8. Just being sensible for a moment, there’s no point in (a girl) doing the FBI-caliber background check until after that first date.

    I am curious, does this mean that there is a point in running someone through NCIC/Interpol after the first date?
    If so, what is it?

    I imagine they’ll want to do just enough research to be able to emphatically cross off anyone utterly wrong.

    Please clarify, thank you.


    Do the ladies you date ever complain about mirrored interior of your car?

  9. If the shidduch comes from someone who knows me and knows the guy, I don’t do any phone calls/research until after the 2nd date. It’s a huge waste of time otherwise (IMO). You find out the basics on the 1st 2 dates and then do research to clarify any red flags you see.

  10. [i]well 10-to-1 it’s something his parents forced him to get, is in a field he hates, and is something he never intends to use, ever, even if he goes to work[i/]

    Hmmm.. Bad4… you’ve been to Touro… What makes you say that 10 to 1 the ratio is it’s something he didn’t want to get into? That’s a large proportion…

    About research after the first date… Personally, I always thought extensive research before the first date was only applicable in a community where the girls and boys don’t and don’t want to see many people of the opposite gender before they get married. There, they find out as much as they can before, because once you meet, they really want it to be the one, and unless you really dislike something about the person, you get married.
    In the type of community we are discussing here, singles go out with quite a few people before they get married, so I really don’t understand the extensive research. It could all sound fine on paper, but paper is just paper- you really can’t use that as an evaluation of your compatibility. Besides, so many things which you might dislike in one person you might very well admire in another, or choose to overlook because of his other outstanding qualities. The only way you can really assess compatibility is in real life, where you can directly interact with one another and give and take. In a real relationship, it’s all about compromises and consessions, not just a checklist like it is in pre-dating.

    Just to reclarify- and research after the date would be to check that he really is as good as he acts on dates?

  11. I found that it is best not to tell the references that you have had a date or two with the guy. If they know you went out, they tend to be a lot less forthcoming with info – not to spoil shidduch or whatever other reason they have.

  12. G – yes. If you’re thinking about marrying the guy, you want to make sure he doesn’t beat up his roommates. At some point, you may want to confirm that he’s not lying about much. And the best way to confirm that is by asking people who know him. Because you can go out with many people, but you don’t want to marry many people.

  13. -Do the ladies you date ever complain about [the] mirrored interior of your car?

    Somebody seems to have a very high opinion of themselves.

  14. Because you can go out with many people, but you don’t want to marry many people.

    Fair enough, I know people who use that approach.

    I also know those who think that a dangerous way to play things. Let’s say you wait until after a date (or two) to find out those things. Your opinion of the person may cloud you view on the information gathered.
    (Yes, I am aware that this can be a good thing as well)

  15. So– G admits there are two sides to every coin…

    The genius of rhetoric admits there is logic *behind* the rhetoric that actually makes sense…

    And about the mirrored interior-sigh. 🙂

  16. So– G admits there are two sides to every coin…

    That’s actually funny…seeing as I am usually the one who has to provide any sort of alternative viewpoint around here.

  17. But everyone who is listed on the reference sheet is there because they are the good friends/teachers/rabbis/spiritual advisors, who will speak good about the person. So, the first date is to see if they were all telling the truth.
    After all, a girl of 26 is automatically assumed to be 30, so some will lie and say she is 24, just to get an accurate across.
    I firmly believe that first dates are very telling.

  18. That’s why my parents never really looked at that list. Instead, they called people THEY knew from his shul, block etc… who would give them objective information. Plus, what if you really like him and there is a big problem that you find out once you start doing research. Also, what if you like him and it takes time to do research, you can’t schedule another date until you do.

  19. About ten years ago, I met a guy on Jdate who seemed interesting and we planned to go out. He lived in another city, a bit far away, so in the meantime we did the email thing.

    Imagine my shock when I got a call from a friend of mine telling me that this guy’s mom had called her mom to find out about me. Completely freaked me out.

    We never went on that date. What can I say–30 year old guys using mommy as detective just do not do it for me.

  20. I went to Columbia Engineering and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. It was a very difficult and challenging program. Not everyone could get into it and in fact half the class dropped out because it was too hard.

    But above all, I met my Bashert at Columbia Engineering and here we are 11 years later with two wonderful children.

    So, as a Bat Torah you should realize it is Lashon Hara to denigrate educational institutions, just as is it is to speak badly of people and certainly if you know nothing about the school, never attended, and could probably not get in if you applied.

  21. Hey Abby – I based my assessment on the Princeton Review guide to colleges. They rate colleges on many things, including how hard they are to get into. Of the four main engineering schools in NYC – Cooper, City, Columbia, Polytech – Columbia and City were rated in the 60s, while Cooper was 99, and Polytech was in the high 80s. I was accepted to Polytech, and I’m quite confident I could have gotten into Columbia if I’d applied (it was too expensive). I know plenty about it because I have loads of literature from them and have met professors who used to teach there and who describe it.

    The guy I dated who was accepted to Columbia confessed that he chose the engineering program specifically because he knew he wouldn’t get into the main college. He had no intention of going, but his parents made him apply. While it may be a good school, I resent being told “He got into Columbia” when he really got into “Fu”, which is dramatically different.

    Columbia, not being very Jewish, doesn’t come under the laws of lashon hara. However, I agree that it is and was wrong to broadstroke an entire institution like that. I apologize.

  22. It is one thing to be accepted to Columbia’s engineering school (which, I will admit, is not terribly all that difficult), but it is another to excel there. Trust me, maintaining a decent (>=3.5) gpa there was not an easy matter. In fact, if anything, maintaining an equivalent gpa in Columbia College would be far simpler – as we all know humanities are a usually a snap for the mathematically minded.

  23. Yes, my subconscious self made a cruel joke by putting in that a. (What made it cruel was the act of hiding it from my conscious self. The two always fight…silly silly creatures :))

  24. Pingback: Friday Repost: Down With Pre-Date Research! | Bad for Shidduchim

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