I am 24 years old and have been dating for five years. Sometimes I’ve said no, sometimes the boy said no, and sometimes it was mutual. I have no regrets, and if I’d start all over from 19, I wouldn’t do anything different.
Up until this point, I’ve gotten dates pretty easily, but since I’ve turned 24, we’re beginning to hear feedback like, “They heard wonderful things, but the boy is just starting, and since you’re older than him…”
I haven’t had a date for a few months now.
It would make sense for me to date 25-, 26- and 27-year-old boys. The problem is that we just can’t seem to find them. My friends would love to help, but their husbands say that they don’t know anyone. All of their friends are already married.
Where do I go from here? Do I just wait? I know many, many girls who were “sitting and waiting” three years ago and they are still waiting now. Am I really supposed to do that?
I’m not interested in becoming another statistic. I want to get married. My question to your panelists is: Now what?
The question you ask is not only a highly difficult one to answer on a Klal level, it is also perhaps one of the most difficult questions to answer when asked strictly on a personal level. I am unsure that there is really any one answer that can solve your question, and I hope that, b’ezras Hashem, the collective answers of the panel will help guide you through what is surely a very stressful and taxing period for you and your family.
It is very clear from your question that you have every intention of being pro-active and not just waiting for someone else to swoop in and find you your partner in life. That alone means a great deal. After being in shidduchim for 5 years, as you have been, it is very easy to get burnt-out and disillusioned, and wind up removing one’s self from truly being pro-active. The fact that you are not allowing that to happen to you is inherently going to help prevent you from, as you said, “becoming another statistic.”
There are three things I would like to suggest to you that I think may prove helpful.
1. Speak with a mentor. This could mean a professional or a Rov or teacher who is known to be skilled in this area of mentoring. I cannot stress this point enough for both young men and young women who have been in shidduchim for a long period of time and still find themselves single.
You state that you have no regrets and given the opportunity to start over, you wouldn’t do anything different than you did the first time around. This is a statement that gives me some pause. It is possible that it’s true, and in reality, each young man that you dated could not have been your future husband. It is also distinctly possible that it’s not true, and that for one reason or another, you were not allowing yourself to move forward with shidduchim that could possibly have found you married.
I know that sounds harsh, and it is a difficult thing to both say and hear, but it is also the truth, and not saying it would do more harm than good.
Unfortunately, the resistance to seeking a mentor is two fold. Firstly, there is still a stigma attached to seeking help in this way, especially in speaking to a professional in the mental health field, which is truly a shame and a reality that handicaps so many in so many areas. Secondly, from the point of view of the single in shidduchim, they often feel that all of their decisions were sound and sensible. It often requires the perspective of someone outside of the single themselves and their family to pick up on things that are missing or mistaken and help the single to see that, and to successfully correct their approach to dating.
This is not an eitzah that I can claim to be my own. Almost any Rebbi, Rov or teacher that is heavily involved in shidduchim will make this recommendation, and could personally attest to the myriad times they have seen that singles who really commit to accepting guidance, more often than not, find hatzlacha in shidduchim after doing so. There is nothing wrong with seeking guidance, quite the opposite, it is a fundamental part of yiddishkeit. Accepting that perhaps one is not seeing things as clearly as they believe they are, and looking to a mentor for help, is a necessity for success in Jewish life in general, shidduchim being no exception to the rule.
As an addendum, when it comes to looking for eitzah, I would like to share a crucial point that I heard recently from Rabbi Shraga Neuberger. One should absolutely not be seeking eitzah from or discussing the particulars of a shidduch with, single friends. Without going into details, it is, simply stated, an inappropriate and often harmful venue, and must be avoided. I would also add, that in this case, I feel that seeking counsel from young married friends is also a mistake. This is an area where guidance is most appropriately and successfully sought from professionals and from Rabbanim/teachers that specialize in this type of mentoring.
2. There are most definitely young men in shidduchim that are 25, 26, 27… years old. Most likely less of them than their female counterparts, but they absolutely exist. Both in yeshivos and in the working world. If your friend’s husbands do not know any single men in this age group, broaden your search.
Continue to meet with professional shadchanim, as I am sure you have in the past. There is nothing prohibiting a single from meeting the same shadchan numerous times. If the last time you met with a particular shadchan you were 22, it is unlikely that they would think to set you up with a 27-year-old, whereas now, that is something you would be 100% interested in hearing about. As well, the shadchan certainly has meet many many more young men in the time since you last met them, and meeting with the shadchan again may be the inspiration for this shadchan to set you up with one of them. There are also shadchanim who specialize in helping singles over a certain age that perhaps you did not meet when you were younger. It is tiring regimen, I know, but do not give up on it. The more people, especially those actively involved in shidduchim, that you make aware of your need, the more likely that one of them will be able to help you.
3. I know this will come off as trite, and I am not saying that you are not doing this already, but just in case, never stop davening. This is not to say that davening alone excuses one from other forms of hishtadlus, but the koach hatefila is unparalleled and should never be forgotten or underestimated.
I hope that along with the collective advice of this panel, and your pro-active attitude, that Hashem will see that you find your zivug b’karov u’bnachas.