I made a mistake in my dealings with a shadchan, and I’m worried it will affect my future shidduchim. I am a 30-year-old never-married girl. Recently, a shadchan whom I have become close to over the years mentioned the name of a guy to me. It turns out that his aunt and my mother are friends.
I know the ways of the shidduch world, and that I should have gone through the shadchan. But I got excited when I heard that name, so I told my mother, and she contacted the boy’s aunt. The aunt arranged the shidduch and we dated for a while.
Unfortunately, the relationship broke off. When I called the shadchan who originally mentioned the name, she practically hung up the phone on me.
I am so ashamed at what I did. And I don’t think the shadchan will ever want to suggest another shidduch to me. The problem is also that she has access to the type of boy I am looking for.
How can I fix this mess? I am scared she might tell other shadchanim about it.
By Baila Sebrow
You certainly got yourself caught up in a web. But the situation is not hopeless, and yes, it is fixable. Before embarking on a “forgive and forget” mission on behalf of yourself, you need to analyze the variables in the making of a shidduch from a shadchan’s perspective. Furthermore, you need to understand where she is coming from.
There are at least two approaches amongst shadchanim who work one-on-one. There are those who charge an initial flat fee or pay-as-you-go for their time in assisting singles and their parents seeking a shidduch. Those who hold by that practice feel that the time they spend in meeting with a single guy or girl and reviewing their profile, in addition to the countless hours that go into every shidduch suggested, is worth their monetary reimbursement. That fee has nothing to do with the fee that one is halachically obligated to pay when a marriage results from the shadchan.
Then there are those shadchanim who perform the exact same service—devoting much time—with the exception being that they do not charge one penny for the innumerable hours they put in on behalf of the singles they assist, until it results in an engagement.
You do not indicate which category the shadchan you are referring to in your letter falls into. If she is a volunteer shadchan who has spent much time with you and was never rewarded for her efforts, it would stand to reason that she would feel betrayed by you for having someone else arrange your shidduch with the guy she mentioned. Even if you had paid this shadchan an initial fee, it would still be understandable for her feelings to be hurt. Either way, I believe that since this is a recent situation and her nerves are still raw, her refusal to speak to you is justified.
At some point in their careers, many shadchanim have experienced some sort of betrayal or hurt feelings from those they have been dedicating their time in assisting. There are countless “war stories” told by shadchanim of being taken advantage of in terms of shidduchim they suggested to singles who abruptly dropped them, only to find out later that their shidduch suggestion somehow resulted in an engagement. Others talk of various boundary issues.
Shadchanus, like any business or hobby, can at times include emotional occupational hazards. For some it feels like a thankless job in the best of circumstances. The savvy shadchan, however, understands the psyche of single guys and girls, and appreciates the vulnerable state they find themselves in, whether by their own choice or not. This type of shadchan possesses the ability to give the benefit of the doubt when there any improper interactions.
As being a shadchan involves dealing with personal issues, the single guy or girl may rightly feel concern that any negative information the shadchan has on them can potentially be shared with others, should a falling out in their relationship occur. I can understand your fear and perhaps dread of the shadchan telling her tale of your behavior to other shadchanim. However, the sincere shadchan who truly believes that making a shidduch is a privilege and is one of the very few opportunities to partner with Hashem will eventually overlook slights and not take revenge by speaking lashon ha’ra about singles who have insulted them.
You need to institute damage control as soon as possible. Do not attempt another phone call, as that will only aggravate the situation. Instead, write a letter to the shadchan. Not an e‑mail, but an old-fashioned handwritten letter mailed to her home.
Begin your letter by thanking her for all she is doing on behalf of singles. Focus on instances where she has gone the extra mile for you. Remind her of an anecdote you might have shared with her during the period she has helped you. Write from your heart and explain the fears that plague you—being unmarried at 30 years of age. Do not make any excuses for your behavior, and be sure that she understands that. You must make full acknowledgment of your negative action in treating her unfairly. At the same time, be frank with her and explain that you reacted impulsively. Indicate that in your excitement upon hearing the name of the guy she mentioned, you regrettably suffered a momentary lapse in judgment as you knew that his aunt is friends with your mother.
In expressing how very sorry you are for causing her grief, ask her to forgive you. Although this shadchan may not feel comfortable suggesting another shidduch to you for a while, at least you will have had the opportunity to mend fences by restoring some semblance of the relationship you once had. Even if all is forgiven, expect the possibility that she might not feel comfortable in the role of being your shadchan anymore. However, you might ask to benefit from her vast experience in another area. Perhaps she can become a mentor to you and guide you along the path to your ultimate goal in finding your bashert.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
Questions and comments can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.