The shidduch system is a tried and true method which has successfully brought many men and women together in marriage. Although it is not without its drawbacks, its benefits cannot be overlooked. That being said, it is often taken for granted how an individual will most effectively maneuver through the process and find a suitable spouse for themselves. Without proper education on how to navigate in and out of the development of a shidduch with a shadchan, though, you can find yourself spinning your wheels or worse yet, marrying the wrong person. Here are some important ideas to keep in mind to adeptly facilitate your move through dating:
A) After you have gone out on a date, whether you are the boy or girl, touch base with the shadchan as soon as you can. This does not mean you must provide an answer as to whether you want to continue dating the minute you return home, as you may want to discuss matters with a parent or mentor. However, at the very least, communicate with the shadchan. Confirm with them that you went on the date and, if you already know you would like to proceed further, let them know at that point. If, however, you are not ready to give any answer, let them know that too. If, for example, you went out on Monday night, and would like the rest of Tuesday day and Tuesday night to mull it over, tell them that you will get back to them by Wednesday morning. This will relieve the tension of the boy/girl who is awaiting your response. The shadchan can then convey to your date that you will get back to them in a day, and it leaves everyone involved more room to breathe. The key, though, is to communicate this to the shadchan. Do not think, “I would like a day to think it over anyway, so I’ll just get back to the shadchan on Wednesday morning.” Not touching base with the shadchan whatsoever for a substantial amount of time after a date, however innocent or well-meaning you are, sends a message of disinterest and can potentially hamper any positive momentum for future dates.
B) In the event that you do not want to go out with the boy/girl again or even wish to decline a first date, the best way to phrase yourself is by first, honestly pointing out the positive and then providing a simple reason for your decision. For example, “Yaakov is a thoughtful and genuine boy, but I don’t think our personalities match.” Straightforward and simple. You do not need to get into detailed explanations about how he was boring or awkward. Those are subjective opinions, which someone else dating him may not have. If you have never dated the person, but there is something which clearly offsets you even before meeting them, follow along the same lines. “Sarah seems like an organized, sensitive girl, but I do not think she fits what I am looking for.” You have all the right to decline an offer if you deem it is unfit for you, and you do not need to get into lengthy specifics that rationalize your decision. It will likely only lead to hurt and embarrassed feelings. If there is a misunderstanding on your part, which has led to your declined decision and the shadchan begins to clarify the misnomer, hear them out and explore it. You do not want to shut down the shadchan’s efforts to help. Yet again, it is your discretion, after examining and exploring everything you know about a prospective date, to agree or refuse to meet them.
C) If you are unsure if you would like to proceed in dating someone, explore that uncertainty. If there is a possibility of your courtship moving nicely along, yet there is something which bothers you about them, talk it through. This is often best done with a dating mentor, who can help you examine closely your needs and see if they align with your date’s, but the shadchan can be of help at times as well. Consider the scenario where Yisroel, a yeshiva boy, kept his hat on the entire day with Esther.
After returning home, Esther phoned the shadchan, expressing how the date had proceeded nicely, though she felt that Yisroel came across overly stiff and not too relaxed. Adding that he had worn his hat throughout the entire date, it didn’t take the shadchan long to realize what had happened and clear up matters. Yisroel, being told to dress and remain formal throughout the date in keeping with Esther, who would also appear formal, had kept his hat on. He was acting as such merely to maintain his formality in sync with Esther’s. After relaying this information back to Esther, she understood what had happened, and agreed to go out again with Yisroel. The following date, she did in fact find him to be more relaxed and poised.
In cases like these, articulating your concern or annoyance to the shadchan can be of benefit, as it allows for any misunderstanding, lack of preparation or blunder to be explained and perceived differently.
D) Give the benefit of the doubt to your date. It is important to remind yourself before, during and after a date that the person you are seeing is only human and is prone to feeling better or worse some days. If your date appears to be irritable or tired, do your best to take it with a grain of salt. Perhaps your date had learned of bad news that day, had a hard day at work or gotten little sleep the night before. This does not mean that you continuously make “excuses” for your date, but that you rather soften up.
After Shaindy had agreed to go out with Ari, Ari suggested to the shadchan that they go out Sunday night. When Shaindy learned of this, she expressed that she had prior obligations earlier in the day and would likely be too tired to go out later that night. Tuesday night worked better for her. Ari, however, having finished a year of mourning for his father, was overly eager to have a date sooner than later. Shaindy, after hearing this, acquiesced and decided she would push herself to go out Sunday night. Suffice it to say, Shaindy was tired later that night and asked if they could go out locally instead of making a trip out to the city, where Ari had preferred they go.
Nevertheless, Ari kept Shaindy out longer than she could handle, and she had trouble keeping her eyes open throughout the date. This, in turn, disturbed Ari and left him feeling uninterested in by Shaindy.
Here is an example of where not cutting your date any slack can lead to less than desirable results. For one, Ari could have been understanding and compromise to go out Monday, if not Tuesday, instead of Sunday, as he wished. Additionally, once on the date, Ari should have offered to end the date sooner, and after the date, he should have realized that Shaindy was simply fatigued and was not trying to be rude.
In situations like these, discussion with a shadchan as to what happened before a date or during a date is helpful.
Do not jump to conclusions yourself without being fully aware of the whole situation. Optimally, learn of the other boy/girl’s options and work together with them. You are interested in forming a relationship with them, and along with the shadchan, having the pieces fall into place requires coordination and understanding.
E) More often than not, a date does not progress as imagined and it leaves either the boy or girl with a less than enthusiastic prospect for the future. It may be that the boy came across as shy or the girl too loud, and you feel that is doesn’t fit you at all. However, here is where patience is not only beneficial, but potentially gamechanging. Keep this in mind: If you have a specific concern, allowing another date to pass with a close eye on that particular concern will likely clear the air. If something overall about the person bothers you, however, it may take longer for you to warm up to them, if any; but it can definitely happen. A prime example of this, both on a particular and broad scale, is attraction.
You may not be attracted to a specific physical feature of his or hers or you may be unattracted to them overall. Giving this time will help you discern if your attraction develops and builds. In many cases, surprisingly, it does. Given this fact, the shadchan will often encourage another date to ensure that you are certainly not attracted to them.
You may feel it will be a waste of time, but unless you are repulsed by them, it is beneficial, as another date generally gives you more clarity either way (deciding to continue or end it with them).
F) If the date does not materialize as you had wished, nonetheless, show your gratitude to the shadchan. Do not criticize them for mismatching you or misunderstanding what you are looking for. For all practical purposes, you want to be on good terms with the shadchan, and demonstrating that you are a mentch by telling them how you appreciate and value their time and efforts will hopefully set you up for success down the line.