One Young Man’s Perspective On The Shidduch Crisis
By Mr. Imperfect
This article is not intended to insult or rebuke anyone. Rather, I would simply like to suggest some possible reasons for the existence of the so-called shidduch crisis.
There is an image in the shidduch dating community of the ideal guy. Rebbeim in seminaries advise the girls what they should look for in a future husband. The Gemara in Eiruvin is very clear about what qualities a girl should seek in her potential husband. However, the common denominator I have seen, between myself and my friends (having collectively dated over a hundred girls), is that many are looking for “the perfect guy.”
I say with full conviction that some of the girls I have dated could have been married by now had they given other guys a chance. I am not suggesting they should “settle” for just anyone. Rather, these girls have been fortunate enough to date wonderful b’nei Torah. It is their choice to continue rejecting these fine young men. These are guys who want nothing more than to make a wife happy. Quoting a friend of mine, some of the girls are “amazing” and “the best b’nos Yisrael the Jewish people have to offer.” But when it comes to rejecting guys, they are too quick. Once they stop their quest to find a perfect guy, I am sure they will get married.
Do you think this is far-fetched? You may be thinking, “Why would a girl pass up a good guy?” I don’t know the answer.
To give you some perspective, let me introduce myself. I am a 25-year-old male who has several degrees and is about to finish a master’s in social work from a reputable graduate school. People say that I am good-looking and have managed to appeal to even the prettiest girls across the board. I cook, bake, clean, do laundry, iron, and even fix things around the house. In addition, I am a musician and am comfortable talking about almost any subject. I am in touch with my emotions and am able to control them. I am laid back and open-minded, and I have no problem admitting when I am wrong (even though I don’t enjoy it). I am not sharing this information to brag or to get dates; I am simply stating that I think I may appeal to a lot of girls, yet I have found some of these common problems that other young men share.
It appears that almost every girl I have dated wanted a guy that qualifies as a perfect guy. Let me define what I mean. Girls have been told to want a worker-learner who has time for their wife and children and also has a sense of humor (but he shouldn’t be too funny). And those are all-important qualities. Some other girls want the guy to be a mirror image of themselves. This is the common picture in their heads of the ideal guy. The problem is that this guy is almost impossible to find.
Here is an example. I attended an all-boys yeshiva for my elementary and high-school years. Out of a grade of approximately forty guys, only four are currently working and learning. Out of the four guys, two are very serious and don’t really have much in the way of a sense of humor. That means only 5% of a grade would qualify as almost perfect. I say “almost,” because I am unsure if they make time for their relationship with their wives and children or make time for their own health.
This brings us to the other category of perfect, the “mirror image.” According to the most recent girl I dated, I am too open-minded. I was asked to share my views on whether it’s OK for girls to wear pants, to which I replied that the quality of the person means more to me than the garment around the person’s waist. I asked the girl what her thoughts were on the subject. She replied that she is aware that according to halachah pants are technically allowed. Now try to follow this: She wanted a guy who wouldn’t allow his wife to wear pants, because she didn’t want to ever feel inclined to buy pants—even though she wanted a guy to be open-minded enough to be OK with her wearing sweatpants around the house.
The reason for doing something appeared to be more important to her than whether the act was done at all. This girl was conflicted, to say the least. Even if she received the end result, she wanted the reason for doing something to align with hers. This type of person is looking for a mirror image of what she considers perfect. So even in this instance, the person was looking for a perfection that does not really exist in the real world. I am not saying she won’t find a person that has the same reasons for doing things and the same leniencies that she has, but I would say her version of perfect might be very hard to find.
Girls want an honest guy, but are really interested in the perfect answer (which may not be honest). This is one of the biggest problems. A guy has a choice: he can either answer truthfully with the knowledge that he may not get the girl, or he can provide an answer that he knows the girl wants.
Here are anonymous profiles of girls currently on some (unnamed) Jewish dating sites, which highlight several of the problems with their search for the “perfect guy.”
1. I am looking for a masmid who will only work if he has to and I will try and support him and our mishpachah as best as I can while also using government assistance to support our mishpachah.
2. I am looking for a bright, kind, good-looking, outgoing person who has a good sense of humor. He needs to be college educated and career oriented. I want someone who values davening in a minyan regularly, and sets aside time to learn. I would like him to be easygoing and sensitive (but not too sensitive), and someone who enjoys going out to do things, but at the same time also enjoys just staying home and relaxing.
As I see it, the important feelings and characteristics for a lasting relationship are honesty, commitment, responsibility, compassion, understanding, caring, love and respect, whether that special person makes you feel special, makes you laugh, shares similar interests, puts you first, is willing to communicate about any topic you wish to discuss, is attractive to you, davens, and can help support a family with the help of their future spouse.
Learning Torah is important, but not at the cost of the other things on the list. It is not a requirement for women to brag about their spouse’s learning to their friends. Learning is great, but only if the values are implemented in life. A man who has most or all of the above attributes will be a good husband, and will probably be a good father. I am not saying that learning is not important, but for someone who works to support their family and wants to have time with their spouse and family, learning may not always be attainable.
Dating is a two-way street. A number of men I have talked to feel that the process of dating relies solely on them (which is frustrating). The man picks up the girl, is expected to pay for the date, and is expected to run and guide the conversation. May I ask what the girl brings to the date (besides themselves)?
If you would like the other person on the date to be interested in you, you must be interested in them. I understand that some girls are shy on the first date and that some of them feel too intimidated to talk. It is very important to try to overcome this insecurity. But neither men nor women like feeling that they are doing all the work or initiating all the conversation.
For those who are unsure what to say or how to show interest, there are some tools I can recommend as a paraprofessional and as someone who has been dating for a few years. If someone asks you about a specific topic, such as interesting classes you have taken in college, it is reasonable to reciprocate the question after responding. Continue to show interest, by asking what specifically the person liked about the class.
Communication is said to be 80% non-verbal. Some non-verbal cues that show interest are leaning forward, smiling, and looking at the person (not at the table or the ceiling, or rolling your eyes).
In addition, every few dates, sharing the bill will show that the woman is also invested in the process and respects how expensive dating can be.
In summation, I hope that the girls realize that perfect guys don’t exist. v
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