Question: I am a 30-year-old guy, and against the advice of my friends, went to seek the services of a popular shadchan. My life has since fallen apart.
My dating history began officially at age 23, and I admit I was quite cocky at the time. The rumor about boys having long lists of girls’ names is true. I had my pick of top girls, but every time I went out with someone, I felt that maybe there was something better out there for me.
It got to the point where I dated over 100 girls. I felt like I knew everyone out there. In retrospect, I now realize that the girls, whom I probably should have given a second chance, have since gotten married.
So I decided to try the shadchan route. Initially, this shadchan seemed nice and sincere. She showed me pictures and résumés of many girls, and it looked promising. For the first time in a long time, I felt that my zivug was “right around the corner.”
Within a few days, my phone started ringing non-stop with suggestions of females. Shadchanim and mothers of girls were calling me from all over to redd me shidduchim that were totally not shayach for me. I didn’t get what was happening.
After much investigation, I discovered that the shadchan I had interviewed with presented my profile at a shidduch meeting. It gets worse. She forwarded my profile to every shidduch group in the tri-state area!
Where previously I was considered an exclusive guy, now I am made to appear desperate. This explains why people are calling me with embarrassing shidduch suggestions.
What can I do at this point? My name is still circulating in mass e-mails, and my profile is on display in the albums of every shadchan and shidduch group. How can I end this mess I am in?
The Panelists Respond
The establishment of shared profiles amongst shadchanim was an initiative in response to the shidduch crisis. Shadchanim, feeling powerless as they were bombarded with desperate requests from singles, sought innovative strategies to help them make shidduchim. Hence, the shidduch meetings and mass e-mails. As professionals in any field are aware, networking potentially brings about positive results.
At first, the process of shadchanim networking with one another seemed like the perfect solution. However, in their enthusiastic zeal to make shidduchim, shadchanim became so enmeshed that they lost sight that their methods impacted negatively on those they were assisting.
Savvy shadchanim have eventually come to realize that they need to tone down their tactics and act with more discretion. Others, however, felt that more aggressive measures are needed to attain results. They felt that networking amongst fellow shadchanim was not enough, that they also needed to create shidduch albums for public viewing.
I have been repulsed by some shidduch meetings as I observed singles and parents of singles flipping through pages of profiles, while loudly commenting on the physical characteristics of those they were viewing.
You, unfortunately, became a victim of the actions of an overzealous shadchan who, believe it or not, was hoping to make your shidduch. This woman was oblivious to the fact that by posting your profile in every available shidduch album, she was in actuality denigrating you.
Your situation is not hopeless. At this point, you need to activate damage control. Do not contact this shadchan again. Appeal to your rav to send this woman a certified letter asking her that, per your request, she must contact the shidduch groups and her e-mail recipients to remove your profile from their albums and shidduch lists. I recommend that you wait a few months before proceeding with other shidduch opportunities.
The next shadchan you contact must be someone who is highly recommended and known for his or her fair demeanor. Before divulging any information about yourself, develop a habit of interviewing the shadchan. Do not worry that doing so will impede your chances of finding a suitable shidduch. On the contrary, an honorable shadchan will be impressed by your cautious manner.
Ask the new shadchan whether he or she possesses a shidduch album. A young man recently inquired of me whether I have an album of girls’ profiles to show him. I proudly replied, “I am not Achashveirosh.”
Your next question should be how the shadchan feels about presenting singles at shidduch meetings without their permission. Furthermore, inquire as to what methods the shadchan employs in the act of networking.
Singles and parents of singles make a big mistake in working with several shadchanim from the same community. Commonly, they all offer the same shidduch suggestions. In addition, working with more than one shadchan at the same time may possibly cause the shadchanim to marginalize you as they discuss their clients amongst themselves.
You and your shadchan need to have an open line of communication throughout the process. Be patient while giving your shadchan a few months to produce desirable matrimonial results.
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.
It is clear to you now that you had no valid justification for rejecting so many prospects in the past. Your self-concept was, at the time, a bit inflated; however good they may have actually been, you thought you deserved better. So here you are now, continuing to toil in the marketplace of shidduchim.
From the sound of it, you still maintain that high self-image. This is why you are so troubled by the way your name has been cheapened by becoming so familiar to a whole network of shadchanim.
You should stop worrying so much about how your good name has been tarnished and focus your energies in a positive direction. If I may venture something personal, turning your heart upward and davening for Heavenly help is prescription number one.
Shadchanim are presenting you with many prospects who, they say, merit your serious consideration. Yet you feel that they are far off the mark, and that the whole avalanche is counterproductive. You see it, also, as an affront to your sense of self-worth: you see yourself as deserving to be offered only the privileged few, those for whom only the best dare compete.
Maybe you need to modify your preconceived notion of what the proper shidduch for you ought to be like. It is not about scoring points. It is about finding a lifelong partner. We need to engage not just our instincts but also our imaginations when thinking about the possibilities. If we do, perhaps we will begin to imagine what we somehow couldn’t imagine previously. It’s not just about getting someone and bringing her to you. It is also about achieving better self-understanding and, in this way, bringing oneself to her, whoever she may be.
Yehuda Koppler has written articles for various publications and is actively involved in shidduchim. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. v
In each installment of the Five Towns Jewish Times Dating Forum, a question pertaining to contemporary dating issues will be addressed by our diverse and experienced forum panelists. Questions and comments can be submitted to email@example.com.