I am 24-year-old guy and I consider myself “yeshivish.” When I was younger I was worried that I would have a hard time in finding a shidduch. I am 5-foot-2 and everyone in my family is short. Some members of my family are even shorter than me.
When I entered the shidduch parashah, I always made sure to tell the shadchanim my real height and that they should only set me up with petite girls. Somehow I always ended up being redt to girls who were taller than me. Most of the time, they did not want a second date, and I found out that the girls were told that I am 5-foot-5.
Recently a similar story happened. A girl who is my age and much taller than me was told that I am taller than I really am. This time around, not only did the girl want to go out with me again, but we continued to go out and I hear that her parents are pushing for us to get engaged.
I am nervous to go forward with an engagement for two reasons. First of all, I always wanted to marry a girl who is shorter. I am also worried that she wants to marry me because I heard that she had a very hard time with shidduchim. How will I ever know the real reason that she wants to marry me?
My parents are angry that I am dragging this shidduch out, but how can I be sure why she wants me? What if she decides after we get married that she really wants a taller guy?
By Baila Sebrow
Chemistry is complex. No one understands why one person is attracted to another. We all know and see couples who, to our perception, seem mismatched due to physical contrast. There are couples where the dissimilarity involves vast differences in weight or, as in your case, height. Obvious differences are not just seen in our frum circles, but in secular ones as well. The tabloids are filled with pictures from celebrity couples where the woman is infinitely taller than the guy she is involved with. And those women are not lacking for dates. But, whatever the reason may be, there is something unique about the guy that propels her in making the choice to overlook his shorter stature.
The days where the guy traditionally had to be taller than the girl—as in “tall, dark, and handsome”—are now past, in most circles. Not that most girls are hoping to marry guys shorter than themselves, but they are more receptive to the value of inner qualities.
As a tall girl gets to know the guy who is shorter than her, she can usually let go of her initial discomfort over their heights. So, although a girl may be taken aback when she first meets a guy who is shorter, her first impression can dissipate as she views his qualities from a different perspective.
From a guy’s perspective, however, the physical characteristics of a girl are one of the main attributes that will capture his interest. In your case, you envisioned yourself marrying a petite girl, and made sure to inform the shadchanim of that desire.
The shadchanim you were dealing with presumably encountered difficulties in finding you dates when revealing the true nature of your height. So they took matters into their own hands and fibbed about your height, hoping to get you that first date. Although I do not subscribe to such methods, I must admit that they sometimes work. Your situation is a case in point where, if the girl you are dating would have known your true height, she might not have agreed to go out with you.
Dating in frum circles is worlds apart from the secular approach, and singles are conditioned to question every intention—even those that serve to benefit them. Your concerns and fears are real, and you have every right to question the motives of the girl you are dating.
In the shidduch world, there is tremendous pressure for a girl to marry young. When a girl reaches the age of 24 and is still unmarried, she is customarily advised by everyone—including parents, teachers, and shadchanim—to either lower her standards or broaden her horizons in what she is seeking in a husband.
There are many girls who, at 24 and older, will marry guys they never would have considered a few years earlier. But that is not a bad thing, and should not deter you from this shidduch. Maturity, and not necessarily desperation, can be what makes someone open her eyes to other possibilities.
It seems you are more bothered about your own short stature than the girl is. If this girl you are dating is as desperate as you imagine her to be, there are other serious areas in a guy’s qualities she could have chosen to overlook, even before you came into the picture. Instead, she chose to overlook the difference in height by dating you, and furthermore in wanting to marry you. It is she who is pushing for the relationship to ascend to the next level.
If you are sincerely not attracted to her because she is not the petite girl you’d go for, then clearly you need to do yourself and her the favor of ending this relationship immediately—without any delay. However, if you are nervous about getting engaged simply because you are not sure if she is marrying you for the qualities you possess outside your height, then simply ask her what she sees in you.
Schedule a date and, while speaking to her alone, compliment her on the qualities she demonstrates. Talk about her middos and what you admire most about her. She might reciprocate in verbalizing that which she finds admirable about you. If not, there is nothing wrong in asking her what she appreciates about you. From her response, you will get a feel for what she really likes about you. You need to hear it so that you will get over the notion that she wants to marry you out of desperation.
If you ultimately decide to go ahead with this shidduch and get engaged, take pride in the fact that, unlike some of the so-called perfect-looking couples, you were blessed to attain true appreciation of each other.
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
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