I recently redd a shidduch and the boy and girl went out one time. Strangely, after the first date, I was told by the chosson’s mother that the boy and girl will set up the next date and that I won’t need to be “bothered” with it. I was happy to hear that the boy and girl had such a good rapport that they could already set up a date, but I thought it was strange. I was kept out of the loop for a couple of weeks. Then I suddenly got a call from the boy’s mother. She explained that some things had come up and wanted to know if I can resume being the go-between.
And I felt like a used shmatteh.
After the first date, I was so quickly disposed of, which I thought was ridiculous, yet here, I was suddenly needed.
I felt like telling the mother how I really felt. I am still debating whether or not I should say something. Thus far, I have been diplomatic about it.
What advice or guidance can you provide in dealing with this scenario, which I assume is a rare one?
Indeed, you were put in a challenging position when you were first told that after just one date the couple would like to “drop the shadchan.” Had you protested and tried to insist that they not drop you yet, it is very likely that you would have been labeled as meddlesome, and yet, at the same time, by saying nothing, you have ended up in the uncomfortable position where you now find yourself.
Regarding feeling like a used shmatteh, it appears to me that the issue here is probably not how soon you were dropped as the shadchan, but that you must have been spoken to in a dismissive or unappreciative manner when being told that you were not needed and then felt taken for granted when you were asked to resume, having been kept completely out of the loop for two weeks. Assuming that is the case, it is understandable that you felt hurt and unappreciated.
As far as being dropped as their shadchan, however, it is important for a couple’s development that they are able to speak directly with each other, and that may happen at different stages for different singles. When a couple reaches that point, as long as the shadchan is informed of their decision in a mentchlech way, and as long as the shadchan is intermittently informed on how things are going, that is a perfectly appropriate and natural way to move forward.
The greater question is; how does a couple know when they have reached that point? While your exact scenario might be rare, the underlying question of when should a couple drop the shadchan is a very common-place question that many people are unsure about how to handle best. On the one hand, it is important for the couple to reach the point where they are comfortable speaking directly with one another. On the other hand, dropping the shadchan too early can easily lead to situations like yours, and whether it was after one date or five, if the couple is not really ready, it is likely to be a decision that causes difficulty.
In speaking with my Rabbeim who are heavily involved in shidduchim, the eitzah I have heard is as follows. It is not about how many dates have taken place. Rather, a bachur should not drop the shadchan unless he is as prepared to have the difficult conversations, directly, as he is to have the easier ones. The reason for this is that once a bachur has decided to drop the shadchan and speak directly to the young woman as far as moving forward, he should now also speak directly to her if he has concerns or if he wants to end it, which is much more difficult. Once he has made the transition to speaking directly with the young woman, it is poor middos to then send an emissary to have the harder conversations. If the bachur is ready for that, that is one thing, but if he is not, dropping the shadchan may be taking on an achrayus that he is not ready for.
A case in point would be your situation. Clearly, some difficulty between the couple had come up and they were not yet ready to discuss it directly with one another. As a result, they reached back out to you asking if you would return as an intermediary and relay messages that they were not prepared to relay directly themselves.
If you were to find yourself in a similar position again, I would recommend that instead of either acquiescing to being dropped at what would seem like a premature point based on what you know about the couple, or telling the mother flat out that you think she is making a mistake, perhaps you could reply with the following; “I would be happy for the couple to speak directly with each other to arrange future dates, and I am so glad that things are going well! But I would like to ask you, if difficulty should arise, are they ready to have those conversations directly as well, and if they decide to end it, are they ready to end it directly with one another and not through a shadchan?”
By responding in that way, you are removing yourself from the equation. It is not about what you want or if you think she is making the right decision. Rather it is about what is best for her son and the young woman he is dating, and if they are truly ready to not only have the easy conversations, directly, but the harder ones as well. Hopefully, by posing that question, it will cause the person you are speaking with to give some more thought to their decision and figure out whether or not the couple is really at the point where they should be dropping the shadchan.
As far as talking to the mother about how you feel, that is really a personal decision, and one which also depends on what your motivations are. What is your goal in having such a conversation? Is it to establish a better working relationship with the mother of this bachur and help her make better decisions when it comes to her son or just to tell her that she hurt you and that she made a mistake? How well do you know her and how do you think she would respond to being told that what she did was hurtful to you? If you do not tell her how you feel will you soon move on from feeling hurt or will the pain linger, possibly even causing you to find it hard to redd shidduchim for her son? These are questions that you must answer within yourself before deciding whether or not you should say something about how you feel to the mother of this bachur.
May Hashem bring you continued hatzlacha in your avodas hakodesh, and see that you regain your full strength in order to continued redding many many more shidduchim.