Why I Don’t Speak to Shadchanim

…because, these days, sometimes I can’t help but sound like the crazy old lady I’m doomed to become.

I have not willingly sought out a shadchan in years, but for some reason they’ve been calling me these days. The following conversation was transcribed about 10 minutes ago. I admit, I was cranky. I was overtired, had half a cupcake for supper and I was trying, unsuccessfully, to make sense of the fees on my 401k. Not really the best time to get a phone call that goes like this:

Me: Hello?

Him: Hi, I’m a shadchan. Can you hold on?

Me: Sure, I guess.

Him: Thanks. [disappears for a few minutes] Hello, thanks for holding.

Me: Yeah, no problem.

Him: So I got your information from another shadchan and I have a few questions. Are you still 26?

Me: No, I’m 27 these days.

Him: And what do you do?

Me: My Job.

Him: I see. So are you looking for a more modern guy?

Me: I don’t know what that means.

Him: I mean do you want someone who is more modern.

Me: I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. Can you please explain this to me? Like, what’s your name?

Him: My name is My Name.  I’m trying to complete your profile so I can set you up.

Me: [In my head] I really don’t think that is going to happen, if you divide your guys into “more modern” and “less modern.” [out loud] I guess I’m looking for a YU type. Halachic Man, not yeshivish.

Him: Left wing YU or right wing?

Me: [sigh] I don’t know.

Him: Moderate, then.

Me: Sounds good. I’m all for moderate.

Him: And your parents? Are they the same as you?

Me: I… [to myself] Is this question objectively objectionable, or is it just me?

Him: I mean, are they to the left or to the right of you?

Me: [to myself] In family pictures, it’s one on either side. [aloud] I guess to the right?

Him: Hm. Okay. And you live OOT?

Me: Yes, I do.

Him: And your parents are there too?

Me: No, they’re IT.

Him: Oh, where IT?

Me: In Their Neighborhood.

Him: Is that Flatbush or Boro Park?

Me: Neither. Or either, if you prefer.

Him: I’ll put down Flatbush. And why aren’t you there?

Me: Because my job is here.

Him: Oh I see. And do you have relatives out in OOT?

Me: No.

Him: You board? Have an apartment?

Me: An apartment.

Him: And are you willing to relocate?

Me: No, not really. I like it here.

Him: [doubtfully] So I need to find a guy who is willing to relocate. Or maybe somebody local… Hm. I don’t know.

Me: [ticked off by the implication that no such people can be found] Tell you what, if he’s got a better job than me, I’ll consider moving.

Him: What’s your salary?

Me: Decent.

Him: Decent for a woman is not very much.

Me: Excuse me?

Him: Well you know, women get paid less out there.

Me: [snappishly] On average, when both the man and woman have the same job. But seeing as most of the last dozen guys I went out with were all unemployed or underemployed or employed in low-paying fields, it really seems unfair that they all expected me to relocate.  Seriously. Even the 35-year-old living with his parents because he can’t afford his own rent. I think he planned to house us both in their basement or something.

Him: Well, okay. I’m glad I have your information. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Me: No fear. Thank you. Good night.

Him: Good night.

Sometimes, I think, you can gauge how likely you are to get a good match from a shadchan based on the sorts of questions they ask. I once had a conversation that went like this:

Him: [To wife] What do you think of NerdyGuy? I taught him in middle school. He’s single now, in Touro, studying accounting. Brilliant boy. So many ideas. He once brought in a kiddie pool for a carnival game and carried it all the way home on his head! Can you believe it?

Me: What’s wrong with that?

Him: Exactly!

Me: [sigh] Sounds like a great idea.

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28 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Speak to Shadchanim

  1. Why say “Their Neighborhood” then say “Flatbush or Boro Park”, trying to hide Brooklyn didn’t really work there.

    And you’re joking about relocating, right? I understand if you don’t wanna live in Flatbush because you had a traumatic childhood, but you won’t even live in Cheaturhurst?

  2. To be fair, you aren’t “bad for shidduchim”; you simply don’t want to get married.

    You can’t exactly complain that you date duds, when that is what you are looking for because you don’t want to marry them.

    You really need to sit down with yourself and figure out what you want in life, and then do what it takes to get there.

  3. I can’t see anything wrong with her answers. I married a kollel guy – and so we rented an apartment in the town where I used to work. And that’s how it works for most kollel couples. Really, Bad4, I find Kollel guys are the best feminist husbands. Not only they will give priority to your career when it comes to living area, they also know they are expected to participate fully in bringing up the kids and doing the house chores. All of the kollel guys I know cook, clean, do laundry, take care of the children from an early age (no nonsense about ‘they are so tiny, I will give them a bath when they are somewhat bigger’), etc. This is NOT the reason I chose to marry a learner, but it’s a definite bonus. Also, it makes you realize what men are capable of..

  4. Ben, I couldn’t disagree more. And even if that was true, I wouldn’t say it. Having perfect strangers that tell you what to do with your life, I’m sure Bad4 has already plenty of this IRL.

    I’m sure Bad4 wants to get married, otherwise I hope for her she would have enough strength to buy herself some cats (disclaimer : if you want some, I have extras) and give up dating. It’s just that in the jewish world, the girl is expect to be willing to drop her studies, her job for the prospect of a beautiful diamond ring. Your whole life cannot be centered around marriage, that’s kind of depressing.

    wellspring – yes, but not everyone is made up for kollel life. You have to be religious enough, able to live with less money (and I want a horse !) and accept to give only religious education to your boys. And some non kollel boys are also taking care of the house. Mine is doing a PhD while taking care of our four cats and do more cleaning than me. Bonus : we can write papers together, go to conferences together and present posters together 😀

  5. Am I missing something? I’ve read this blog for years and probably all of the archives, and I don’t remember anything about Bad4 having a traumatic childhood.

  6. My experience with Shadchanim has been mixed, some are good and some are bad, like you described in your post. You just need to find right one to work with or hustle on your own dating sites. However at 27, you should have “type of YU guy” looking for down.

  7. @wellspring, I do not think your experience is the norm. Most kollel guys are in to learning not playing house and they would not be around enough to help out.

  8. Amen to shadchanim. I refuse to accept calls from them, and when a relative does and lets me know about it, I say thanks but no thanks.

    The only way I’ll let myself get set up is by people who know me. I think it’s ridiculous that a shadchan who knows both parties as well as they know their great great great great grandparents is setting people up.

    As an aside, I don’t think it’s sensible for the girl or the guy to be unwilling to relocate. In today’s economy, I think it makes sense that the party with the greater income (assuming the girl wants to work) has more say on the matter.

  9. Most of this is just amusing, and I can sit by quietly and listen in. But gab, you’re being condescending. I can’t tolerate that.

  10. …but while I’m at it:
    iyhby – I wasn’t trying to hide “Brooklyn.” That’s a known fact. I was hiding their exact neighborhood, which is neither Flatbush nor Boro Park, but must be categorized as such for this shadchan and his clients.

    mir119 – I try to give people a chance, at least.

    Ben – you’re right. I don’t want to get married. That’s not a particular goal of mine. But I’d love to meet someone who makes it seem like a good idea.

    wellspring – all the kollel guys I know insist on choosing the city of residence – it being where their kollel is. Some do help out, some don’t. It’s not a given.

    tesyaa – he made that up. Like the part about me trying to hide “Brooklyn.”

    b – True story. I didn’t answer that one quite right.

    Lost and Found – I agree in theory. In practice, I’ve noticed that guys who are absolutely earning less than me still expect me to move to them, because their “career” is more important. And it’s true, that the decision actually depends on a number of factors that the couple needs to work out themselves. I gave that answer because I was cranky and had already written the shadchan off as a non-starter.

  11. Bad4- I live in Israel, so YMMV. But here, in more than 90% of cases, couples live where the wife works. Period. It’s the only sensible thing to do, seeing that most Kollel families don’t have a car. Also – of course guys are into learning, but they do have afternoon break – during which they usually pick up kids from kindergarten and school and give them lunch – at the very least. Most do more, and I think I have quite a lot of experience, having not only a husband in kollel but also 3 brothers, 3 brothers in law and a few nephews who are all in kollel – and all help out around the house as much as they can. It doesn’t hurt their learning, either. It’s tough being both a mother and an only breadwinner, and the guys I know appreciate that fully. They give up leisure activities so they can help out more. My husband, who learns a lot, spends almost every free moment either looking after our kid or doing chores. And I don’t ask him to – it’s just that he believes dedicating time to his family and home comes before, say, reading the newspaper or going to swim (just to give two examples of things he would like to do).

  12. Bad4 didn’t mean it that way at all.
    I guess what one writes and what the other hears don’t always line up.
    Oh well.

  13. I dunno how you meant it, but one thing gets my ire iring is when people are “psychologically correct” at me. I don’t like active listening or empathizing or anything that sounds like a page out of a parenting or managing or relationship book. I’d rather be told I’m an idiot than nodded at sympathetically by someone who is probably thinking it.

  14. Bad4

    I also have to strongly agree with your annoyance at the assumption that men make more money than women. When we married, my wife immediately got a job that paid more than my graduate stipend. Her income continued to stay ahead of mine during my postdoc and even for a number of years into my current career, in spite of the fact that she has a BS and I have several more advanced degrees (in science and law),

  15. Bad4, I’m totally on your side here. I just got a phone call from a woman who barely knows me, wants to set me up with a guy she “heard about” simply because we both live in the same city. And when I asked him name she said “Oh, no, I have to give him your information first. Please e mail me your profile” SERIOUSLY??? I am 30+. You can tell me a guy’s name.
    Never mind that you are going to expect me to go on a date with him not knowing anything about him.

  16. ditto to wellspring, though in our case the kollel decision came after marriage and aliyah, and I was VERY happy with the choice of neighborhood and already working in the city.

    my husband does an embarrassing amount of housework because I’m out of the house with the baby for about eleven hours a day and said baby doesn’t let me get much done when we arrive home. I can’t imagine what would happen if the husband and i were both working all day (okay- yes I can- we’d hire help and not feel weird about it)

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