Lately, most people I know have been getting engaged through friends setting them up. At 28 years old, I still haven’t found my bashert. I’m looking for a normal guy. I must have tried every shadchan under the sun. I have written checks to them just for the interview; over the years, shadchanim have cost me thousands of dollars. I attend every singles event. I am also on the popular dating sites. But I don’t have the right type of friends who can introduce me to guys.
I’m not complaining that I never get dates. But the guys I’m set up with are just not normal. One shadchan set me up with a guy who wore his black hat the entire time on the date. The last guy I went out with had absolutely no sense of humor. I’m not looking for a comedian, but he was just way too serious for me. One guy I dated a few times never spent any real money on me; we always went to coffee shops. Where are the normal guys, and how can I meet one?
By Baila Sebrow
Normal is a relative term. The problem is that people often misuse that word when looking for a shidduch. When calling me, some singles say, “I’m looking for a normal girl/guy.” When I ask them to explain what normal means to them, they respond, “You know, normal.” Actually, no, I don’t understand what someone means by normal. Because we all define normalcy differently.
One mother of a young single girl complained that the last guy her daughter went out with was “not normal”—he wore a kippah srugah, she complained. “How is that not normal?” I queried. The mother, annoyed with me, answered, “That’s not the type of yarmulke my husband wears.” My response was, “Oh, I get it now. You mean this boy is too modern for your daughter?” Elated that I understood her, she said, “Yes, my daughter needs a normal guy.”
In this scenario, “not normal” to that mother meant a guy who was hashkafically different from her family. But that’s not what normal means. Being normal typically refers to not suffering from a mental disorder. It’s not about what someone wears or how educationally advanced a person is. Furthermore, possessing a sense of humor or a more serious disposition does not make one normal or not.
It sounds like you need to take stock of what you really want and need in a spouse. And that starts with self-examination. Who are you, and what positive (and negative) aspects of yourself would you be bringing into a marriage? Those are very important questions to ask yourself. Once you have that down pat, you will have a better understanding of the type of guy that would mesh with your personality. Furthermore, although the character, hashkafah, and goals of a guy are essential as it relates to marriage, one type of hashkafah or personality type or another does not make one abnormal.
Unless a guy is acting with extraordinarily unacceptable social skills, do not refer to him as “not normal.” I have a hunch you are not being set up with the right guys because you are not very clear about what you seek. Without an accurate explanation of the type of guy you would like to date, shadchanim or anyone else will keep setting you up with those whom you describe as “not normal.”
Having the concept of normal clarified in your mind will also help shed light on the type of singles events you should be attending. Although I am a huge advocate of singles events, I cannot sanction anyone’s attendance to every event, as you say you do. With events being so popular nowadays in frum society, you need to be careful about whose event you are joining. Hashkafah, approximate age of the singles, and the minimum and maximum number of attendees expected should be carefully weighed according to your preferences before you go. Not only that, but I typically caution singles to choose a few events per year to attend. More than that is overkill, as you do not want to be the face everyone sees at every event.
I cannot allow your comment about spending thousands of dollars on shadchanim just pass by. Why are you permitting anyone to take such advantage of you? Thousands of dollars just for being interviewed by shadchanim? Something is very wrong with this picture. You must put a stop to that immediately.
There are shadchanim who ply their craft purely as a chesed until a shidduch comes to fruition. Such shadchanim do not take a penny from the singles or their parents until an engagement is announced. Then there are those who do this for parnassah, and expect to get paid for the time they spend interviewing singles and conducting searches for compatible matches.
Some people feel that the shadchan who charges money will put more time and energy into the search. That may or may not be true; it depends on the shadchan. There are plenty of selfless volunteer shadchanim who conduct endless hours of work and see no monetary reward for their efforts; some may even be more devoted than those who are paid. But if any single guy or girl chooses a shadchan who charges a fee, that is where some savvy needs to come in.
If you go shopping, do you just buy without viewing the item? If you are meeting a shadchan who charges a sizable fee, then it is your right to interview him or her too. Find out their success rate of marriages regarding the type of shidduch you seek. Ask them for references. If they act offended, move on. A reputable shadchan should have no problem with supplying names of satisfied clients. Additionally, you need to clarify what you are paying for. Is it just for the interview, or does that include searching for dates? If so, how much? Try to get everything in writing, so that no one can later make conflicting claims.
I must agree with your first comment about people getting engaged through friends rather than shadchanim. I, too, have been seeing more of this positive trend, and it’s a wonderful and healthy method. Regardless of how intuitive a shadchan might be, that cannot compete with a friend who knows you very well. But you need to have friends who know and understand you. Not only that, but they must also have the time to set you up and have the social connections to other singles. That said, why not spend some of the time you now devote to singles events and use it instead to do some networking with people?
I would recommend that you attend shiurim or other lectures frequented by married women in your community as well as from other areas. This will increase your chances of being invited to their homes for Shabbos or even for a meal where they might have other singles over, too. Moreover, there are many young married couples who enjoy introducing singles to their friends. You need to put yourself out there so that those who are inclined to play matchmaker will get the opportunity to do that for you. And as people get to know you, try to avoid using the word “normal” when describing the type of guy you want.
I also feel that a bit of information about what you should expect on a date is in order here. You appear to be offended by guys who take you to coffee shops instead of spending “real money” on you. Forgive me, but here is where you need to reevaluate your priorities. Going on a date with someone (especially in the beginning) is similar to an interview. You are both there to determine what you have in common, or whatever else it is you hope to find in a spouse.
There is no reason that a guy should feel obligated to spend a lot of money for either him or the girl to conclude whether they are right for each other. Nor is it an indication that he is frugal if he takes her for a cup of coffee. If a guy took you out and did not even offer to buy you something to drink, that would be the time to wonder whether he is an inconsiderate person. (And I have heard of such stories happening to girls even on a hot summer day!)
Being on a date with someone should be enjoyable in that you should be able to appreciate being in their company, regardless of where you go. If you are having good conversations and would like to spend more time with that person for a future date, then know that you are on to something good. v
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. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to email@example.com.