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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 7/7/17: Is a Second Date Worthwhile Even for Experienced Daters?

Question:

In the past, some of the panelists have discussed whether a second date should be a given. Some are of the opinion that there should always be a second date.

My daughter has been dating for several years already. She’s gone out quite a bit. When she goes out with a young man for the first time and just does not see them as compatible, is it wrong for her to say no after that first date? Why waste everyone’s time?

I understand having newer daters go out a second time, because perhaps they weren’t themselves or didn’t pick up on everything. But with seasoned daters, I am wondering if the second date is simply a waste of time, money and energy.

Either way, is there a difference between a boy and a girl in this regard?

Answer:

By my estimation, this may be one of the most poignant topics related to shidduchim. While it is impossible to point to any specific situation and posit that a second date would have resulted in marriage, I do believe that many worthwhile opportunities are improperly explored, and thus missed, due to declining a second date.

Not only do I feel this to be true of younger daters, but for those who are more experienced, as well. Although it’s less likely that a seasoned dater will misrepresent themselves, or misread the person they are dating, there is always the possibility that a poor first date was just an aberration, and a mulligan is called for.

Whether a consequence of being unexpectedly or unusually tired, or an unrelated earlier incident which left one on edge or distracted – but a few examples of many – age or experience provides no assurances that one will flawlessly present themselves or fully and correctly read the person they are dating.

Moreover, for those who have been dating longer, there are perhaps even more significant reasons to entertain a second date.

From a practical standpoint, opportunities can slowly become diminutive with time, and it is prudent to be absolutely sure of a shidduch’s potential before its conclusion. Especially if there is no seemingly better option waiting in the wings.

Coming from a more emotional standpoint, as one progresses in dating, there are two common phenomena which occur. Firstly, one may still be clinging to the same ideals, or looking for the same type of person as they were years ago, both of which may no longer be relevant to who they are and what they want at present.

This shift is frequently mislabeled as “settling” or “compromising”, epithets which are rather disquieting and unpalatable. It is simply a changing of the guard; a recognition that people transmute with time, and what was needed and wanted prior might no longer be applicable in the here and now.

Secondly, as experience is gained, one develops new life philosophies which can take a deep hold, and inhibit appreciation of other viewpoints.

In marriage, these differences become part of its challenge, and couples must work towards appreciating disparities, and continuing to live together affably. Contrastingly, what often happens during dating, rather than working to ascertain if a shidduch is meritorious – despite dissimilar ideals – one prematurely assesses the hurdle as insurmountable, and, therefore, decides the shidduch must be concluded.

Further complicating matters is that these two phenomena tend to be somewhat insidious in nature. There are no great signs along the road of experience, notifying us of the changes taking place in us and the way we see the world. As life must continue, and provides no shortage of means with which to keep us busy, these changes easily go unnoticed, or their manifestation is overlooked. As such, conscious consideration is required to identify them.

Now, second dates aren’t some sort of prestidigitation which may remedy or mitigate all the maladies and malaises of a calamitous or mystifying first date. However, what they do offer, is another look – an opportunity to reconsider why one is saying no. And it is this reconsideration which is truly the crux of the matter.

It is always one’s right to pass on a second date. If one feels absolutely sure that a shidduch isn’t nogaya, and can demonstrate to themselves, sensibly and definitively, why it is so, that must be respected. However, what gives me pause, is the stifling of opportunities without essential reexamination; which is often internally expressed through unqualified and unequivocal sentiments along the lines of, “I have a lot of experience, and I’m really good at dating, so I can just tell that a second date is pointless.”

As correct as one may be that a shidduch seemed incompatible, that doesn’t mean it actually is incompatible. Without taking a good hard look at oneself, and honestly considering whether one is looking through the lens of who they are now, or who they were years ago, and without genuinely reflecting upon whether or not certain conflicts would meaningfully stand in the way of a successful shidduch, refraining from a second date is unfair to oneself, and perhaps even irresponsible in the realm of hishtadlus.

Subsequent to internal reappraisal, second dates can be truly invaluable, and often lead to epiphanies and volte-faces so complete that it’s as if one is dating an entirely different person, and one that has great potential to be their zivug.

Consequently, reconsidering a shidduch, and giving it another shot, is not to be done as a favor for anyone else, or to satisfy anyone else’s demands. It is done for one’s own benefit, to be absolutely sure that one isn’t missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime.

Parenthetically, and so as not to rudely disregard your parting question, I see little difference regarding the value of a second date when it comes to young men versus young women.

May The Gibor Elyon see that all those who stand at the crossroads have the forbearance and insight needed to earnestly assess the potential of each shidduch that comes their way.

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