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Website sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Malkiel Goldberger in honor of their precious children
info@shidduchcenter.org | 443.955.9887

Yated Shidduch Forum 9/23/16: Mislead About Getting Engaged

Question:

I was dating a boy for several weeks and we connected well on many levels. Each date was quite long, leading us closer to cementing the relationship. At the very last meeting, we spoke about finalizing the shidduch. The boy clearly led me to believe that the next meeting would be a prelude to an engagement. The shadchan was shocked when she got a text from the boy on the following day (not even the courtesy of a call) stating his decision to end it, with no explanations or apologies. Understandably, I was devastated, and a family member called the shadchan pleading with her to try getting it back on track.
 
Apparently, as he subsequently explained to the shadchan, he decided to “end it” after speaking to someone (perhaps a rebbi) who had not been involved in the initial stages. No explanations or apologies were given to the shadchan. I know the shadchan tried to persuade the boy to reconsider or at least do the right thing and call me directly to let me know of his decision and wish me well. The boy refused and felt it would be too awkward.

My question to the panelists is: Should the shadchan have been more persuasive in getting the shidduch back on track? Perhaps I would have been less hurt if the boy called me directly to end it in more sensitive way. Is that an accurate assumption?

Answer:

Kodem kol, I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to you for the experience you had to endure. I am sure that I cannot possibly appreciate in full the disappointment you felt, and I hope that it is something you never have to experience again.

Before addressing your two very precise questions, there are a few points which I feel are important to highlight.

1. Although this can be difficult, it is necessary that you do not conflate your disappointment, and perhaps anger, towards the young man in question, with your feelings towards the shadchan.

2. While this may sound like a small matter, unless it is something you know with absolute certainty, I think it better not to assume that this young man’s decision was precipitated specifically by a conversation with a rebbi. He could have spoken to anyone: a friend, a relative, a teacher/mentor, or a rebbi. To just assume that it was a rebbi, can cast a negative light on all rebbeim, by association, and that is something we really ought to stay away from.

3. Your line of questioning is directed towards trying to imagine or predict how you might be feeling if something that happened in the past had happened differently than it did. This presents the following two difficulties.

First of all, it is impossible to change the past; therefore, the more important task at hand is assessing how you feel about what actually did happen, between all parties, and what you can do to move past that and get back to dating with comfort and confidence. For that, in addition to reaching out to this panel for support, I would strongly recommend continuing to explore and examine your feelings with those who know you more personally: be it your parents, your teachers or your rav.

If after doing so, you continue to feel that this experience is holding you back from dating with positivity and confidence, it would be prudent to meet with a professional who can help you work through your emotions and to find the necessary tools to move forward.

Secondly, it is very difficult to make an accurate assumption about how a hypothetical situation would theoretically have affected one’s own feelings, and what would have alleviated one’s own distress had things gone differently, let alone for someone else to accurately provide such an assumption about another’s feelings (in this case, your very understandable feelings of pain and disappointment).

All that said, as far as whether or not the shadchan should have been more persuasive in getting the shidduch back on track, that is very hard to say. Your narrative states that the shadchan did try to persuade the young man to reconsider, and I would hope that the shadchan did so to the fullest extent of her abilities. It is also very possible that based on exactly what the young man said to the shadchan, she realized that pushing him harder to reconsider would have been ineffective or even detrimental. Given only the general overview of what happened, it is impossible to know if there was anything else that could have been done, or even should have been done. Consequently, and especially as we are heading into Rosh Hashanah, I believe you are best suited by being dan l’caf zechus that the shadchan did everything in her power to resurrect the shidduch, and that at that point it was completely out of her control.

Regarding the young man himself, I think it is certainly plausible that had he contacted you directly, as I believe he should have in this case, and had an adult conversation with you about ending the shidduch, you would have been less hurt. It is also distinctly possible that the conversation could have turned highly contentious and conceivably may have been even more painful – who knows what he might have said.

Either way, for a young man to go from talking about engagement and finalizing the shidduch one day, to breaking it off the next, and to not relay that information directly, is unacceptable. Yes, it might have been awkward, but as we go through life, we all learn that doing the right thing can very often be awkward, and that is no excuse for not doing what is right. That’s just the nature of difficult situations, and it would appear that this young man was not mature enough to fully understand this reality of adult life.

Part of being an adult is handling and acting upon the decisions we make like an adult, and if someone is ready to get married, they should be ready to approach life like an adult. As such, at the point that this young man made his decision to end the shidduch, he should have acted upon his decision in an adult fashion and spoken to you personally about it. At which time, the two of you would hopefully have done your very best to have that difficult conversation in as respectful and mentchlech a manner as possible.

There is one final point I would like to address, and I want to preface it by making myself clear that this is in no way meant to minimize the error in judgement that this young man made or the hurt you experienced, and by acknowledging that the following does ask a lot of you. Another natural and unavoidable part of life that we must all understand, is that in human interaction, people do not always do the right thing, and we can never really and truly know the reasons and motivations that result in people’s mistakes in action. As ba’alei bechira, however, it is entirely up to each and every one of us to choose how we respond to the actions of others that have hurt us – both internally, by how we think, feel, and process, and externally, by how we speak and act.

Once again, as we head in to Rosh Hashanah, I believe you are best suited by being dan l’caf zechus that notwithstanding this young man’s mistake, there was some sort of rhyme or reason behind his decision to end the shidduch that you will likely never learn, and that he just did not know how to deal with it. I hope that with reflection upon this consideration, b’ezras Hashem, you will be able to be mochel this young man for the pain he caused you, b’lev shalem. I believe that doing so not only helps to prevent his mistake from leading to harsh denei shamayim on his end, chas v’shalom, but can also create untold zechusim for you, in ways that are truly immeasurable.

May HaKadosh Boruch Hu be yimaleh kol mishaalos lebeinu l’tova.

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