We are Modern Orthodox and have three daughters. Baruch Hashem, two of them are married. My oldest daughter, who is Modern Orthodox as well, is a professional librarian working for the Department of Education. She is beautiful both inside and out—smart, educated, and with many good middot. She has many friends, both male and female. She has been on the dating scene for many years (she is 36 years old) and is open to dating almost anyone. She also always gives her dates a second chance on the chance that the guy was nervous on the first date.
She is not one of those who reject people out of hand for appearance. She wants the person she dates to be frum (she will not go out with people who are not shomerShabbat/kashrut) and intellectually on a par with her. She has dated divorced men and widowers (with or without children) as well as men who have never been married. She has dated ba’alei teshuvah as well as FFBs (frum from birth). As long as the person is sincere in his religiosity, she is willing to give him a chance. She has dated guys who are significantly older or younger than herself.
She has an active social life and has tried online dating as well as recommendations from her sisters, friends, and family. I was active for many years in our local shidduch clubs.
Unfortunately, she has not had any mazal in finding her bashert. She sees her younger sisters happy with their families and, though she is happy for them, it hurts her that she has not been able to find her bashert.
I would really appreciate any advice you can provide.
By Baila Sebrow
The first thing you need to eliminate from your thought process and speech is that your daughter has not had any mazal in finding her bashert. When parents have such a belief, they likely transmit that message to their child. When that happens, she may develop an attitude that there is no point in trying anymore. After all, if there is no mazal, why bother? The one thing you do not want is for your daughter to give up hope on finding her bashert.
I understand how deeply you are pained. Although you have nachas from your other two children, you also want to see your oldest daughter settled in life. That is the wish of every parent.
In order to help your daughter find her happiness, we have to look at every angle objectively to determine what issue has yet to be addressed. However, since it is you, not your daughter, writing, I can only speculate on the reason she is still single.
From the way you describe your daughter’s dating methods, it sounds like she is open-minded. You insist that she is willing to go out with anyone as long as he is frum, and even gives them a second chance. The question is: Does she end up rejecting most of the guys she goes out with, or do they reject her? When the issue is rejection on either side, the reasons can provide clues to what is happening.
If your daughter is the one rejecting the guys, even though she may have good reason in doing so, is she still going out with the same type of guys she rejects? It might be that those guys do not work for her. Oftentimes singles think that they are supposed to date a particular type, but that may not work with their emotional or personality makeup.
If it turns out that the guys reject her, then I am sure that by now she must have some inkling as to why she is repeatedly being rejected. Especially if she has had online dating experience, she would know what went wrong on those dates. Moreover, since her friends and family set her up on dates, their feedback should help in finding out what went wrong.
I am not saying that your daughter falls under this category, but there are singles who reject one another on the basis that they feel that their date, although attractive, may not be going out of their way to look their best. This phenomenon applies to guys and girls, particularly those who have been dating for a long time. It is not that they don’t care—they just don’t feel the need to impress anyone on a date anymore.
When singles first start dating, they typically ask for advice on how to look their best. As time goes on, singles tend to go on dates with the attitude that they just want to be comfortable. Comfortable is great, but I always stress the need to look a little dressed up on the date. It shows that you respect the person you are with. I am not saying that singles should dress to the nines as if going to a wedding. But if you go on a job interview, wouldn’t you want to look your best? I always advise singles to adopt this mindset. First impressions are crucial.
It could be that your daughter finds some of the guys she goes out with slacking off in dress, or perhaps she might give off a similar impression without even realizing it.
Slacking off does not apply just to manner of dress; it can be attitude, too. Singles who have been dating for many years might not look forward to going out as much as a starry-eyed young person. For older singles, dating is at best frustrating and can even be a dreaded occasion. Those feelings cannot be hidden. They show up on the faces of both guys and girls, with the result that they are then turned off from each other.
I will also touch upon a problematic aspect in dating that Modern Orthodox singles encounter more than their right-wing counterparts. Years ago, there were fewer labels attached to people. If someone was Modern Orthodox, their hashkafah was clear to others. Nowadays, along with the Modern Orthodox title come attached subtitles. There is Modern Orthodox machmir, Modern Orthodox middle-of-the-road, Modern Orthodox liberal, etc. I have no doubt that there are more subtitles in the process of being generated. Singles rack their brains trying to figure out which category they belong to. They ask their friends, but are frequently misguided. These labels end up serving absolutely no purpose, as no one can be sure which category a person fits into. The result is that suggested dates may be totally off-target.
It could be that the Modern Orthodox singles your daughter goes out with do not feel well-matched to her, or she to them. Your daughter might not necessarily fit into just one subcategory. Her hashkafah might be part of a few categories. That would set off a cycle of frustration and mistrust. In addition, people typically tend to group others together. So, if someone went out with ten people who are similar to each other, then the eleventh will surely feel the same. Although your daughter is open-minded in that she is willing to date from a wider pool of candidates, how she analyzes her dates may also be a part of the explanation for her lack of success to this point.
My advice is to sit down with your daughter and discuss your concerns with her. Hear what she has to say. She might have an explanation that is totally different from what was discussed here. And, surprisingly, as much as she wants to get married, she may not be as worried as you. I will leave you with the following: It is not about how long it takes to get married, but rather finding the right person to marry.
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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