A while ago, one of my relatives told me that she has an excellent shidduch for me. She described the boy as excellent in every way and proceeded to call the mother and give her my name. Every few weeks, she would update me on the progress – “the boy is busy now,” “the boy is not busy now,” “the mother agreed to listen now,” “now they’re not sure because something else came up,” etc. Finally, she recently called me up all excited to tell me that the boy had given a yes and she wants to set up a date.
Honestly, I just don’t feel like it anymore. I’m sure this boy has every quality, but all modesty aside, I think I match every one. I hate that I’m made to feel like I’m begging. At this point, I don’t think I can go out with an open mind.
My relative is telling me that I should set aside my pride, and that I’m just punishing myself, and she’s probably right. But how many times can I be expected to smile and say, “Sure, it’s all okay. I’ll just swallow it,” without feeling so disrespected?
Any insight would be appreciated.
In reviewing your very well thought-out and articulated question, and reflecting upon the multitude of vital points that could be addressed in response, there are three in particular that I would like to focus on: objective and subjective disrespect, swallowing one’s pride, and which side to contact first when redding a shidduch, along with how much intermediate information should be shared before a yes is given.
Before beginning, I am going to work on the assumption that all the back and forth with this young man and his family was conducted in an upright and polite fashion. Consequently, the only disrespectful point here is the seeming lack of immediate interest in the shidduch by this young man and his family, causing you to feel – understandably – like a second class citizen who is begging for a date.
Supposing that to be the case, when looking at this particular situation and gauging what your response will be, it is crucial to consider whether you are objectively or subjectively being disrespected. As a clearly self-confident young woman, you have no doubt about the good fortune any young man would have to be your spouse, and I admire your gumption. However, not having ever met you, it is simply not possible for this young man to be fully cognizant of your many wonderful attributes. All he can possibly know is what he has been told about you by your relative, and in all likelihood, he is being told the same about the other young women he is being redd to, as well.
That being the case, and with neither of us knowing exactly what this young man is looking for in a shidduch, how could we know if you were presented in such way that illuminated you as the most obvious young woman for him to date, above all others? Furthermore, and with all due respect to your relative, how much credibility does she hold with this young man? Perhaps he has had longer and more meaningful conversations about what he is looking for in a shidduch with other shadchanim, or has been in touch with other more successful and reputable shadchanim and, as a result, he quite naturally is giving their suggestions more sway?
With that in mind, let us consider what would be if the tables were turned. Meaning to say, what would be if it were his relative redding this shidduch to you, singing the praises of her relative and suggesting that you date him? Let us then propose that when you first heard the suggestion, you were busy; then you weren’t, and were ready to listen, but then suddenly something else intriguing came up from another source; and then, finally, you gave a yes. Have you committed any egregious disrespect to this young man? Assuredly not. Perhaps during the course of this fictitious exchange, he felt cheapened or undervalued, but you certainly could not be accused of any wrongdoing. You don’t know him, his relative is most likely biased regarding his praise, and you had other fine options coming from other valuable sources. As such, you made the smartest decisions along the way, given your options, and it is only now that you are ready, and hopefully wholeheartedly, to say yes to the shidduch presented by this young man’s relative.
In all likelihood, this is a rather close approximation of what transpired on this young man’s side in your actual real-life scenario. I am not saying that I expect you to feel good about this trajectory, but it does not appear that there was any objectively disrespectful behavior directed your way.
Approaching the shidduch now, with the aforementioned narrative in mind, you are not begging for a date, you are not being asked to swallow your pride, and you are not being treated as a second class or undervalued citizen. It was simply the totality of the bigger picture that led to his not saying yes at first. But now, he is saying yes, and is ready to go out with you and give just as much consideration as he has ever given to anyone else. The only difference is that your chance is taking place later, chronologically. If the shidduch itself sounds as good now as it did at the start, and it’s only the sting of not being “picked first” that is giving you pause, it would suit you best to remind yourself that it was nothing personal – only a very reasonable course of events that caused things to transpire the way they did – and at the present moment, you have a wonderful opportunity knocking at your door.
Just to push it a little further, imagine that I had invented a time machine, and I am just returning from 20 years in the future. After re-acclimating myself with all the outmoded technology of 2016, I inform you that you indeed marries this fellow and are living the dream together with a beautiful mishpacha. Knowing what you know about yourself and what you are being told about this young man – and not for an instant considering that you were not given a yes when the shidduch was first presented – does this news surprise you? Given only the maalos of the shidduch when it was first suggested, could you envision that to be your reality 20 years from now? If yes, what downside could there be to pursuing the shidduch in the here and now?
Somewhat parenthetically, it is precisely because of this very predicament that you have found yourself in, and because of the advantage that young men hold in today’s shidduch universe, that the young man’s side is generally approached with the idea first. Additionally, it is quite common for there to be little or no back and forth between the shadchan and the young woman’s side regarding the replies from the young man’s side until a definitive yes is given. To the best of my knowledge, this is how many, if not most, seasoned shadchanim operate.
Again, not to indict your relative, but had she gone to the young man’s side first with her idea and not said a word to you until she had the yes in hand, you would have avoided all the confusing and uncomfortable emotions you are currently experiencing. You never would have known that the initial answer was no, nor that there was some hesitation at a point when he was not busy. All you would have is the thrilling call from a relative letting you know that she has a yes for you from an outstanding young man and would like you to look into it and see if you want to give a yes, too.
To be clear, I do not mean to say that 100% of the time the young man must be approached first. Every rule has its exceptions. I am only saying that there is a rhyme and reason to that being the normative order of things, and that it can often spare a young woman undue stress or pain, not having to spend months on pins and needles waiting to hear back. If a young woman is only aware of a shidduch idea once the yes has been given, it’s an entirely different experience and allows one to remove much unnecessary anxiety, and even ache, from their decision-making process.
Be’ezras Hashem, you will find your zivug hagun veyafeh – maybe it will even be this very young man about whom you write – bekarov mamash, and live many happy and healthy years of mutual admiration and respect together.