Thank you so much for this wonderful forum. I have a daughter in the parshah and have gained a lot of insight from these columns.
I know that there is some debate regarding the acceptability of shadchanim taking money up front before meeting girls. I’m not sure I agree or disagree with the practice, but three weeks ago, I went to a well-known shadchan and gave the $150 requested. As I left the meeting, the shadchan told me that I would hear from her “in about a week.” Well, it is three weeks later, and not only have I not heard back, but I have reached out several times and not gotten a call back.
I understand that shadchanim are legitimately overwhelmed, but a word should be a word, and I feel like, at the very least, I am entitled to a call, or even a text, back. I think that the money she took obligates her to respond, on some level.
Is a quick text or call back too much to ask for?
In truth, I believe that there are actually a number of questions that need addressing here in order to arrive at answering what I think is your final question, which, in a vacuum, is actually a fairly simple question and one that is not shidduch-specific.
Specifically, if someone has made an explicit commitment that they will accept the responsibility of following up, that is what they must do. This has nothing to do with shidduchim, it is simple mentchlechkeit. That, however, is their achrayus. On the other hand, it is equally important for the person on the other side to be dan l’caf zechus and consider that perhaps there was a miscommunication. Alternatively, maybe the person who made the commitment simply forgot or for unforeseen circumstances was unable to follow up as they had planned. One should not assume that the lack of follow up was willful neglect.
Returning to the topic at hand, I would like to separate your question into four different questions. I will try to be reasonably brief, even though a full article could be devoted to each question in and of itself. The thoughts I would like to share are based on many conversations with shadchanim, singles, Rabbanim, lay-leaders, and in particular on much back and forth about the topic with those involved with NASI, whom I cannot thank enough for sharing with me the vast wealth of knowledge they have amassed.
Should a shadchan charge for meeting a single/Should a single pay to meet a shadchan?
There is really no answer to this question. It is 100% up to the shadchan to ask for a meeting fee, and they certainly have the right to ask for it, as their time and attention are both quite valuable. At the same time, there is nothing requiring a single to meet with such a shadchan, and there will always continue to be successful shadchanim that do not charge for meetings. This is through and through a personal decision for both the shadchan and the single.
I will add though, personally, I strongly believe that singles and their parents should be invested in shidduchim. For some this is an investment of time and effort, and for others it could also be money, but both singles and their parents should be truly invested in getting dates and getting married.
As an aside, when a community organization or shul prepares an event, spending thousands and thousands of dollars on behalf of the singles of their community, and giving them the opportunity to meet numerous excellent shadchanim in one evening, there absolutely should be a fair registration fee, which will invariably be different from one community to the next.
If a shadchan accepts compensation for a meeting a single, what obligations exactly does that place on the shadchan?
This question is where things get start to get sticky, and the question really is, what exactly did I just pay for?
To be completely honest, in this case what was paid for was; the shadchans time, attention, and to now be on their radar. Both during the meeting itself and for some reasonable period afterwards to think of ideas for you, and please remember that not every shadchan will have ideas for every single they meet. Nothing more and nothing less, as there is no way that any shadchan can actually guarantee any specific single that they will get them a date, a yes, or even have an idea for them that is shayach.
Therefore, when a shadchan meets with a single, they should make it abundantly clear that this is what they are offering in return for their fee. Should the shadchan neglect or forget to mention this, both the parent and single should still be aware that they did not pay for a date, a yes, or even call. In your specific case, it was not the money that obligated the call or text back, it was the fact that you were told explicitly that you would receive that. I truly hope that was not a misunderstanding or miscommunication, as that would indeed be a shame for both you and the shadchan to have created accidental contention.
I am sorry to be blunt, but having this awareness will make it much easier for singles and their parents to have realistic expectations should they choose to pay for a shadchans time. It is for this exact reason that many feel it inadvisable to pay to meet a shadchan, because at the end of the day, when one has paid a fee (and sometimes a sizeable one at that) to meet a shadchan, it is natural to expect results. When results are not realized in short time, it can create tension between shadchan and parent/single, which is highly counterproductive to a person in shidduchim.
Who should be following up with whom after a single meets a shadchan?
Whether or not a shadchan takes a meeting fee, unless the shadchan explicitly states that they will be following up, it is upon the single/parent to follow up with the shadchan. Even if a parent has 8 children in shidduchim at the same time, every shadchan essentially has hundreds of “children” in shidduchim of their own. It is just not possible for the shadchan to shoulder the follow up, short of informing a parent or single that they got a yes or that they need to clarify an information point that the other side has asked in order to try and get a yes.
What is the appropriate amount of time to wait before following up, and what should I expect after I reach out to follow up?
It is hard to say exactly how long to wait before following up, and it’s probably best to ask each shadchan this question point-blank when you meet, but my general opinion is to follow up about every 3 weeks.
As far as what one should be expecting after a follow up email or voicemail, if the shadchan has no new ideas for the singles, or had a new idea but got a no from the other side, this really depends on the shadchan. They may respond with a quick, “Thanks for following up,” or there may be radio silence, entirely dependent on the shadchans personality and time constraints.
However, and this is a big however, do not assume that because you received little to no response that the shadchan is ignoring you or not working on a shidduch for you. I have personally found shadchanim to be a very earnest and kind group of people who deeply care for the singles they are working for, and they have one of the hardest jobs out there.
When a shadchan receives a follow up call, text or email, it puts the single back to the front of their mind and may cause an idea that had not occurred previously to develop, or perhaps just yesterday they met someone new that is right for you, and your reminder generates the inspiration for the shadchan to connect the two singles. Do not think that their lack of response equals a lack of care or that they are not trying to think of ideas for you. It most likely means nothing more than that they just unfortunately have no good news to share with you just yet.
I hope that this helps to clarify things for you to some degree, and that perhaps it gives you a greater understanding of what heathy expectations you should have after paying to meet a shadchan. More importantly, I that hope that your daughter finds her bshert, b’mihayrah u’bkarov, b’ezras Hashem.