Sometimes, people look into a proposed shidduch and get back to the shadchan saying, “I will not pursue this now, but I am not saying no. Perhaps in a few months from now…”
Is this an appropriate way to turn down a shidduch or is this insulting? Is it better just to say no, and then, if you reconsider later, you can have the shidduch suggested again?
While I can certainly appreciate that being the recipient of such a response could be taken as insulting, I do not believe it to be inherently so. Nor do I believe there is necessarily any less potential for insult by just saying no outright, whilst surreptitiously retaining the notion that returning to the shidduch at a later time is a possibility.
B’emes, receiving any kind of no is generally unpleasant, and, at times, even a little bit painful and discomforting, no matter how reasonable an explanation was given, or how it was stated. Nevertheless, ultimately, the feelings it may generate will vary from recipient to recipient, based on their unique sensitivities, how they internally interpret the no, and the meaning they give to it.
For example, let’s take a look at three common reasons for saying no, and two polar-opposite potential interpretations for each one.
1. We looked into the shidduch, and it doesn’t seem to match up with what we are looking for, so we are going to pass on this opportunity.
Interpretation A: They looked into me, and what they found through the course of their research was unfavorable or uninspiring, so they are saying no because they think I am unworthy.
Interpretation B: Although their inquiries proved me to be a highly impressive individual with many exemplary qualities, they just don’t feel that I match up with what they are looking for in a shidduch.
2. We looked into the shidduch, and, although we are not going to pursue it at present, we might come back to this idea later.
Interpretation A: They view me as a second-class citizen and are only interested in me as a last resort, in case none of their more choshuv and appealing potential shidduchim pan out.
Interpretation B: They were very captivated by what they found out about me, and think that the match might be great, but they were also presented with other ideas which appear even more mat’im, and are rightfully going to start with those ideas – just as I might do if the tables were turned.
3. Our son/daughter is very tall, and is looking for a taller young woman/man.
Interpretation A: They saw me, or a picture of me, and think I am unattractive.
Interpretation B: Attraction is completely subjective, and while I may not be what this person needs, for one reason or another, that doesn’t mean I’m not an attractive person.
In conclusion, then, as long as one isn’t being outright discourteous or pretentious when saying no, there is no reason not to be honest about the shidduch’s future potential in their eyes, or unnecessarily sugarcoat it.
It is anyone’s right to pass on a shidduch, even if the decision to do so is a poor one, and amounts to missing an excellent opportunity. Commensurately, almost everyone who spends some sustained time in shidduchim will receive a no at some point, and, of course, it is not the greatest of feelings.
However, when interpreting and processing a “no” – whether it has lasting effects on a person’s self-confidence and emotional well-being, or is treated more like water off a duck’s back – that is in the hands of the recipient.
May The Shoichen B’gvurah give all those who endure a no for a prospective shidduch the mental and emotional fortitude to both remediate the hurt and withstand the nisayon, and perhaps even view the experience in a positive light, as they continue to seek the match that will lead to their personal binyan adei ad.