According to information that I have gathered, five out of six shidduchim involving a bochur who is dating for the first time, where the shidduchim don’t result in a marriage, end with the girl rejecting the boy after three or four dates.
While this 5:1 ratio may be similar to the overall dating statistics in that nearly five out of six times the girl rejects the boy, the fact that it takes three or four dates is not. Besides, in these cases, the rejection comes as a total surprise, leaving the boy stung and depressed.
Although, in retrospect, many boys will admit to having been surprised, most boys who didn’t marry their first girl will sincerely tell you, “The shidduch was no shaychus!” and, “I don’t know what I was thinking!”
It seems that the mindset of most of these boys when entering the parsha is, “Of course I’m marrying my first girl. Only those guys take time,” and so on. This, in turn, has them going into the parsha totally disillusioned about marrying the girl they’re dating, and they thus tend to continue going out and saying yes despite the fact that the shidduch has no shaychus. It is then clear why they are usually rejected after three or four dates, and also totally unprepared for it, because they were dating a girl who, from their point of view, in essence had no shaychus, but it took until the third or fourth date until the girl gave it enough chances and then rejected the boy.
Whether having this mindset is a positive thing or not, I am wondering if there is a way to better educate the first-time dating boys, who don’t have the actual experience of dating, to be able to determine when, indeed, a shidduch has no shaychus. Obviously, I am not trying to make sure that every boy doesn’t marry his first girl. If it’s his basherte, go ahead!
Do you, esteemed panelists, agree with my observation? Do you think it’s a problem? If yes, what is the best way to rectify this problem?
Please note: This may be a problem amongst girls as well; I just don’t have the information on them. Also, amongst boys the problem may seem much larger due to the fact that many of them begin dating at or around the same time.
Although I cannot speak to the veracity of the proffered 5:1 ratio, the overall issue you have brought to the fore is certainly an important one and well worthy of discussion.
When it comes to dating, much like anything else in life, we are not going to be perfect right out of the gate. However, steps can certainly be taken which will better prepare daters for the decisions they are going to have to make in shidduchim. The objective is not to prevent anyone from ever misjudging a shidduch. That is simply not an attainable goal. Rather, the goal is to prepare single men and women as best as possible in the three following crucial areas.
1. As single men and women contemplate entering shidduchim, they must start to consciously paint a picture of who they themselves are. One cannot possibly be matzliach in comprehending whether or not a shidduch is shayach without first having developed a strong sense of self-awareness. It would be akin to taking a puzzle piece and trying to figure out if it fits with another piece that remains hidden in the box.
This process can be commenced through posing fairly straightforward questions that help to develop greater self-awareness. What do you consider to be your strengths, and what do you feel you bring to the table in a relationship? How would you describe your personality and techunas hanefesh? What are your immediate and long term plans and expectations? The questions and answers do not have to probe to the depths of the soul, they just need to give the single person a starting point to more meaningful self-discovery.
After one has formed a more defined sense of self, they may then more intelligently move on the next step of asking, “What type of person will complement and complete me?”
If one has acknowledged their strengths and weaknesses, has identified their primary personality traits, and has a reasonable idea of what they expect the next five years of their life to look like, they can much more aptly put together a general idea of what type of person they need to marry – given what they have already learned about themselves.
When that is the framework that one is operating within, they stand a much greater chance of going into a date asking the right questions, and not completely missing the boat when it comes to the potential of the shidduch.
2. Along with the above, one be must made aware of the fact that we all can make mistakes, despite our very best efforts.
It is possible to misjudge oneself, or to err regarding what one thought they needed in a shidduch based on their self-assessment, and it may only be after a few unsuccessful attempts at dating that one more accurately adjusts their picture of who they are and what they are looking for. It is also quite possible to be so taken by an aspect of a shidduch that one loses sight of the picture they painted until rejection wakes and shakes them up, leaving them with the clear retrospective that the shidduch was not nogaya at all.
The potential for miscalculation always looms, and should that happen, it doesn’t take away from the work put in beforehand. It just means that more work needs to be done, and the process must be continued.
3. Every person who begins shidduchim must be educated that rejection is always a real possibility. Regardless of how exceptionally talented one is, what schools they went to and how well they did there, how highly they are spoken of by Rebbeim and teachers, how many friends they have and how good they are at cultivating relationships, how wonderful, chashuv, or wealthy their family is, anyone can get rejected.
And that’s ok. It doesn’t make anyone less of a person, and it doesn’t detract one iota from all the good that one has going for them. Within the scope of dating, rejection does not mean that one is “less than”, it only means they were not the right match for the person they were dating.
This is not to say that rejection can somehow be made to be painless, but it can be less painful when the reality of rejection is less of a surprise and when one understands that it is not inherently a personal insult.
As one final note, the responsibility of generating all of the above mindfulness falls squarely on the shoulders of parents. With all the enthusiasm and anxiety that accompanies entering shidduchim, and given their overall inexperience in this new area of life, daters cannot be expected to achieve earnest self-reflection of their own volition, and without an experienced guide.
These are conversations that must take place prior to young men and women beginning shidduchim, and must be continued throughout the shidduch process. As such, should a parent feel unable to carry these conversations for any reason, they must be sure that their child finds a mentor or coach to lead them. This is a chelek of chinuch, and it is essential for every parent to properly prepare their children as they enter shidduchim.
May the Aztasoi Emunah see that all those who enter shidduchim receive sage counsel, are properly equipped to being the journey of dating, and are furnished with the skill of keen perception, in order to make astute decisions.