The MF as a Reference

So, Good4 is working up her shidduch profile, in specific the list of references at the bottom. The Mater wants to narrow down the list so she chucks out one on the basis that she’s single while the other one is married. “The single one knows me better,” pointed out Good4. The Mater says that the married one is better.

I. Don’t. Get. It.

I really don’t. I know I’ve been through this before when I was picking out my own references. What on earth is wrong with single people? They’re the ones I keep in touch with, for goodness’s sake. I recently checked the bottom of my profile and discovered, listed there, an MF who probably doesn’t deserve the F in her title. Since she got married we’ve seen each other a grand total of once. I went to her for Shabbos – it was a miserable affair – on condition that she’d come to me in return, which she never did.

(Yes, I have MFs over with their husbands. It’s not nearly as awkward as you’d think. I do have a father, you know, and when guys don’t know each other they just swap divrei Torah and bingo! instant socializing. Not nearly as awkward as sharing a table with just your MF and her husband.)

I shot her a couple of emails, tried to organize a couple of get-togethers, and then gave up. We never really had much in common anyway, and heaven knows what she’s telling all those callers. So I took her off.

And therein lays the issue with using MFs as references. You may still have friendly feelings toward them, but they’re not really up-to-date. They’re off in MF-land where you’re just a blip on the horizon. They check up on you once every few months… and they are intimately acquainted with your dating life vis-à-vis reference calls. How absurd is that?

Or, as MF#1 put it, when she found herself fielding shidduch-calls shortly after we returned from seminary (she was the only MF I had): “I don’t know any of this stuff about you! Why am I getting these calls?”

And, as I put it: “Cuz you’re married and They won’t let me put anyone else on the list.”

So, why are MFs preferred? Can anyone explain this to me?

22 thoughts on “The MF as a Reference

  1. Wow, you are really cranking out posts this week. I’m guessing it’s the snow or that you had off this week anyway—likely a combination of the two.

  2. No, that’s just what happens when you schedule something for Jan 03 and forget to change the year to 2011.

  3. Take ’em off.

    We can’t allow fear of being misunderstood to push us into doing things that will… ensure we are misunderstood.

    You’re an eagle. Why act like a lemming for the sake of a shadchan who will then set you up with other lemmings? Find the free-thinking eagle shadchan. She’s out there.

    Gee, I’m more and more grateful that I managed to avoid the shidduchim farce.


    PS – My best to Good4, please.

  4. The reasons to not put single friends on is twofold:

    1) It makes most people feel bad (well at least the ones that the rule is meant for) that their friends are getting suggestions and they aren’t. Many people will not admit it, but it is there.

    2) Sometimes the friends are more interesting to talk to than the person that had been suggested originally. I remember one time where I had more in common with the reference than the girl herself, I was almost tempted to call her back to get more information.

  5. This month is my wedding anniversary. I am married quite a while and am very, very glad that I got out of shidduchim before the craziness of reference lists, resumes (I know you like to call them profiles) began. Maybe the singles should just move on to the next step with a LinkedIn type profile that includes recommendations right on it. Of course, they will all sound the same, “Wonderful girl, attractive with great middos, a warm family, and dedicated to a Torah lifestyle” or something to that effect.

  6. The references are really wholly useless. No one puts down a reference, married or single, who will say anything bad or damaging about them, and yes, that includes your shul rabbi. About the only thing a reference is good for, and only if the shadchan is adept at asking the questions, is in verifying that someone is the age/height/weight they put on their profile, and in today’s information glut, you don’t even need the references for that any more.

    As alluded to by a commenter above, married references are preferred because they don’t have a horse in the race and so are presumably more objective. Someone single, commenting on another single, could well find themselves more interested in the party being redt to someone else than in providing information that would let that someone else be the intended date rather than themselves.

  7. Married people (and friends) give off an impression of responsibility, which gives them more credibility in the eyes of the evil reference checkers. I think it’s good to have one married friend down, just to diversify (another would be not only friends from one school or location). That all being said, to me, the only purpose of a resume was to see who I would know in common- not from the references, but from the schools, camps, etc.

  8. Personally, I don’t care what They say. I will put down single friends as references if they know me better and will be able to give a clearer picture of who I am and what I’m looking for. That said, I will also try to include at least one or two married friends provided that they still know me well enough to give an accurate description of me. Usually they end up being NMFs – by the time they’re demoted to MFs minus the N, they usually don’t know me that well anymore. So off the list they go.

  9. I’ve also found that people tend to use/call Rabbi references rather than friends or chavrusas. As I would assume is the case with most people, my friends and chavrusas know me far better than my rebbeim. Simply put, Rabbis have hundreds of talmidim/congregants while my best friends have me. And yes, my rabbi can talk about how well I can learn or how many shiurim I attend, but my best friend can tell you whether or not I got angry that time our jeep got stuck in the river. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take actual “on the ground” intel over a title any day.

    Primum Non Nocere: Takanas Rabbeinu Gershom for Dating?

  10. The reasons I always heard are the ones Tzafnas Paneach supplied. But more important than having a married friend is having people who represent the different areas of your life: high school, camp, seminary, college and work. And having a roommate (usually one from seminary)is always recommended, as are teachers. And so I have single AND married friends on my resume (and I actually keep in touch with some of my married friends so they know me well).

  11. To echo Tzafnas Paneach, I hate giving single friends as references. I find it tactless. But what I can’t understand is why mothers want to interrogate a 20-something year old who is terrified of saying the wrong thing instead of, let’s say, a neighbor of the victim who has married off a kid. My references are all women of my mother’s age who know me and my family well and who are in the same frame of mind as the mother of the boy. And to reiterate, when a mother calls back demanding additional references, I know I’m never going out with her son. So why bother with the charade?

    Would anyone believe me if I said in my sister’s day (she’s about a decade older than me) there was not this reference hysteria, and single girls were definitely not called up, ever? Who messed up the shidduch system? Because what’s going on now is certainly not the original version.

  12. I think having single friends on the profile is OK, as long as you’re not both looking for the same type of guy.

  13. When I was single, I tried to set up a friend with a male acquaintance I’d met in grad school. He refused, saying that his rabbeim had taught him that only married people should make shidduchim, since they understood what was necessary to make a marriage work. However, it was fine with him if a married couple of our mutual acquaintance acted as the go-betweens, even though they’d met the girl in question exactly once. After all, they were married. Perhaps this idea is widespread, that only married people can assess whether two people might possibly go well together?

  14. You probably knew when you wrote this piece that it’s just another way of making sure that marrieds maintain a higher level of status in the community than singles. It’s not pretty, is it?

  15. Many singles make their own inquiries, and don’t leave this job for their parents, teachers, etc. A single guy calling up a girl’s single friend would surely create some awkwardness, no? Not saying that’s bad, but for many, the purpose of the shidduch system is to eliminate as much awkwardness as possible.

  16. Agreed. Pick the person who knows you better, that is what is important.

    relarela- the purpose of the shidduch system is definitely not to eliminate awkwardness. If it is, then it is doing a terrible job, because I would say that it creates much more awkwardness than there might be otherwise. The purpose of the shidduch system (which I wrote about here: is to keep the focus of dating on what is important- values- and to create an environment where it is easier to keep Halacha.

  17. I only got one call about a friend when I was single. As soon as I got married, the calls started coming- for girls who I’m not even necc. close to. I figured that it was cuz I’m now married- but was STUNNED when I got this question: Now that you’re married, is there anything that you see in your friend that would cause her problems in a marriage?!?!?!?!?!

  18. i once got a call from a guy about a friend of mine. he wouldnt tell me if he was the boy or a shadchan. but later on i found out it was the guy himself. he decided not to go out with my friend in the end but liked me from the phone call. randomly someone suggested me to him and we went out. he wasnt the right one for me but he did tell me that he really liked me from the phone call! so yeah i guess there is something to be said about phoning a single girl for a reference if ur a single guy…

  19. So what if they guy decides he’s interested in your friend based on the conversation they had about you? At that point it isn’t anyone you’ve even met, let alone have a relationship with. I see no reason for possessiveness over some random dude.

  20. i for one have no idea why there’s a stigma attached to having single friends on a resume. the only qualification for being listed should be that they know what you are looking for and say good things about you

  21. Random reference-checking story: I know a teacher who was fielding a shidduch call for her aide. The reference-checker asked if the girl was artsy-craftsy. The teacher responded “I’m sorry, I misunderstood. I thought you were looking for a shidduch. You need a kindergarten teacher?” Which says more about the crazy things people ask for shidduchim than about using co-workers or supervisors as references, which I think is a good idea if they really know you.

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