It’s been a while since I wrote a 5-paragraph essay, so excuse me if it comes out klunky. But my response to Thinking Jewish Girl’s post sounded so much like a response to an SAT essay prompt that it seemed the natural form for this post to take. Since fat paragraphs weary the online reader, I have taken the liberty of breaking up my 5 paragraphs into smaller, bite-sized chunks. But the droning style remains.
Orthodox Jewish singles generally do not ask each other out on dates directly. Instead, they communicate through a shadchan—a matchmaker—whose involvement ranges from introducing the couple to setting up the time and location for their dates and communicating any concerns or reservations after the date.
Thinking Jewish Girl states that the shadchan is an important assistant in expediting a couple’s engagement and marriage because if the couple had to speak about their reservations directly with each other they would have disagreements and break up over minor differences. I disagree. I think the shadchan actually increases the likelihood of a couple breaking up over minor differences by preventing both parties from having to discuss their reservations with each other.
Thinking Jewish Girl is right that a very involved shadchan can smooth over many differences. If a girl is distressed because her beau didn’t wear a tie, for example, or tip the waiter generously, the shadchan can relay to the boy that these things are important to her. This works for larger differences as well. If the boy is worried that the girl is too career oriented to spend time at home with her children, but doesn’t feel comfortable challenging the girl about it, the shadchan can tip off the girl, who can then make a point of expounding upon her maternal persuasions on the next date. Thus, it is true that a shadchan can help two young and shy people smooth over many differences.
However, a shadchan does not always have a clear picture of what occurs on the date, and one of the daters can easily leave out important information or simply refuse to pass it along. A young man may not feel comfortable telling an older woman that he found his date’s eating habits unattractive, or a young woman may not want to say that the guy gave her a creepy vibe or scrapes and stacks. In many cases, all the shadchan hears is a brief summary and a “yes, I’d like to go out again” or the reverse, “no, I don’t think she’s for me.”
And there are many reasons why a shadchan may be unable or unwilling to press for details. As a result of this dynamic, it is easy for one of the daters to turn down another date without providing sufficient reason to the shadchan. This essentially stonewalls the shadchan, preventing him/her from filling that essential role TJG assumes in her statement.
If daters could not break up through a shadchan, they would have to break up in person, meaning by communicating directly with their partner. In many cases, a simple “not for me” would not be sufficient. Some sort of reasoning would be required. Faced with wide eyes and silence, most people will strive to fill the silence, often with excuses or explanations. This would force a dialogue between the couple, wherein they examine their differences and decide, together, if it is worth breaking up over. Breaking up is simply much more difficult. Couples who have to break up in person using ‘State of the Union’ conversations are more likely to date for longer before breaking up than couples able to break up through a shadchan.
Therefore, I believe, that while shadchanim perform an important service in connecting young people who might otherwise be too shy to ask each other out directly, they also do some harm, by permitting those people to be just as shy about breaking up, and do it more easily, sooner, and with less provocation by doing it indirectly.
The whole thing strikes me as extraordinarily Junior High.
“Does she like me?”
“Tell him that I didn’t like the way he dressed.”
“Find out if she wants to go for coffee.”
Honestly, if you aren’t ready to communicate directly, I can’t see how you’re ready to actually get married. Or do they plan on retaining the Shadchan as a full time marriage counselor later?
Dave, you may have inadvertently hit on something with that junior high reference. Since most participants in shidduchim have had zero contact with the opposite sex, they are in an infantile state when it comes to dealing with said opposite sex. They never experienced junior high awkwardness with “girls” or with “boys” – but better late than never.
In my unwillingness to hurt another, if I did not have a shadchan do my dirty work for me I would probably be married right now to a guy I want to smother with a pillow.
Is that infantile of me? I do not deny it. But I do not think I could be capable of telling someone to their face, and I am not alone. Somehow, hearing it from a third party softens the blow. I think.
I don’t think one rejects another based on something they could ask about for clarification. It’s never about something slight, and if it is a personal quality, what would the end point be? “You have this quirk that really bothers me. If you could change it, I would be happy to see you again.”
If it is something inherent, an integral part of the other’s personality, then what would be the point of making a conversation about it?
What someone else doesn’t like about me, someone else will.
Do you think modern couples (I.e., those without shadchanim) have deep, meaningful conversations about why one finds the other creepy, and is then able to work things out? Seems to me that if someone finds his/her date creepy, it’s better to break up!
Even when it’s a more minor issue, as you said, people give excuses and explanations; rarely does this culminate in a resolving of the issue. Keep in mind, the cliches, “it’s not you, it’s me”, or “I like you as a friend” did not originate in the yeshiva world.
Additionally, did it ever occur to you that a good shadchan will encourage a couple to discuss issues themselves? If a couple can’t honestly discuss their concerns (like the one you cite above about a concern the woman is too career-oriented, they shouldn’t be getting married.
Yes, but it leaves girls telling the shaddchan, it was hot in the car, or I didn’t want to be seen in that mall. Instead open you’re mouth and say, “Can you lower the heat?”, or “Can we go to a different mall, my friends shop here.”
Don’t complain to the shaddchan you needed to use the restroom. Open your mouth on the date and go! 🙂
I used to be pro-shadchan (until the fourth/fifth date), but recently I’ve been feeling that more likely that not its its an annoyance:
1) if the shadchan takes a while to get back to both parties
2) makes it unneccessarily awkward. why can’t we be adults and tell each other how we feel? yes you’ll have to dump your date after a few of them sometimes, but thats life. you can do it over phone, text (if its not in a more advanced stage)
3) it makes the “dropping the shadchan” stage a big deal when it shouldn’t necessarily be. At times I’ve felt pressured to drop the shadchan which raised the girl’s expectation of the relationship. I don’t think this would be the case had we just spoken about the relationship face to face the whole time. My 2 cents.
Sorry, I was in agreement with you until you mentioned texting a girl to dump her. That’s just tacky.
Beyond that, yes, if you need the heat lowered, or want to go to the bathroom, or have any other issue you want resolved, please do discuss it with your date! If you are old enough to think about getting married, you are old enough to say, would you mind lowering the heat? I can’t imagine that shadchanim are encouraging people to keep those thoughts to themselves.
I agree texting is not lechatchila but if people really have such a hard time saying to someone after 1-2 dates that they don’t see it going anywhere, better they do it by text rather than ending up marrying them and wanting to smother them with a pillow.
RWMO: Or, they could just man up (or woman up) and talk to the other person, either face to face, or on the phone. I can’t imagine anyone really gets married because they can’t bear to tell someone whom they’ve dated twice “no” in person or on the phone.
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