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Yated Shidduch Forum 11/3/17: Can I Change My Mind After Saying Yes?


There’s an unwritten rule that once a boy gives a yes to a girl, he has to go out. I have a scenario in which I wonder if that should indeed be a given.

A boy comes home from a date. It’s 11 p.m. when he sits down to discuss the date with his parents over milk and cookies. He tells his parents, “The date went so so. It was fine, but I’m mesupak. I’ll give it another chance.”

So, the parents immediately call the shadchan – she was doing laundry and almost dropped her cordless into the washing machine – and tell her that their son has agreed to another date.

The excited shadchan pours Downy into her Whirlpool as she assures the parents that she’ll get back to them as soon as possible.

[She then WhatsApps her best friend – also found at her washing machine, albeit an older model Maytag – to let her know that “my boy said yes – but don’t tell anyone. You’re the only one I’m telling.” She then proceeds to say the same thing to another 17 friends in a whisper.]

The next morning, the boy (nervously walking from the Irv to yeshiva, making believe like he has things on his mind other than this shidduch) and his parents (Totty at work and Mommy – you guessed it – at her washing machine) wait with baited breath for a call from the shadchan. 9 a.m. passes. 9:30 a.m. 10:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. Lunch hour comes and goes. Mid to late afternoon. The sun is setting. Hashemesh yavo veyifneh. No call. Silence. Crickets.

 Just the sound of the washing machine in final spin.

 In truth, the one being spun around is our darling boy. 

Evening descends and he has no clue if he’ll be meeting this girl again. This is a matzav in which the boy – that would be me, by the way – would have reason to say no. I only said yes to go out again because I figured I’ll give it another chance. But if I see that the girl can’t give an answer until the next afternoon or evening, then it’s geshpart – meaning that it’s derivable – that she herself is shtark mesupak, like I am. At that point, since there seems to be doubts on each side, as evidenced by her delayed response, may I kindly pull back my “yes” to go out again?  

Furthermore, the girl – a wonderful bas Yisroel, to be sure – might have 27-and-a-half excuses as to why she couldn’t give an answer yet, but the boy is, in essence, a fidget spinner in her hands, and this builds up great resentment – even annoyance – in his heart for being toyed with. He has no interest in meeting this girl any longer. 

So, am I right to take umbrage at that point and cancel my prior pledge to go out again?

Taking your narrative at face value, the answer is simple. Yes, all societal standards have exceptions, and it appears you may have identified one relevant to shidduchim. As such, if you feel you must back out, that would not be terribly unreasonable, given the conditions.

Coincidentally, and while you may want to consider creative writing as a potential future career, I would urge caution in your depiction of women. Especially as a young man embarking on getting married to one.

Although I am all for indulging those engaged in the crafting of humorous narratives and analogies with a little poetic license, being that your words are to be printed in a major publication, and read by a sizeable audience, it is important to note that women do involve themselves in tasks other than laundry and mindless prattle.

As a matter of fact, given the sheer volume of working women who are almost singlehandedly supporting their husbands in kollel – along with the parents of these women – perhaps it is the men who should be operating the Maytags and Whirlpools.

As a further aside, it is also imaginable that instead of 27-and-a-half excuses being the cause of postponement, there is but one fair and extenuating reason. When the 24-hour post-date mark approaches, it is always prudent to check in with the shadchan and verify whether the delay is solely a result of uncertainty, or if there are mitigating circumstances at play.

That said, and if I may be so bold, I can’t help but wonder if there is something deeper to be understood, reading in between the lines of your chronicle. Rather than pondering whether or not this scenario is one where a dater could be given the allowance to revoke a commitment, the underlying, and more salient issue, may be something else entirely.

Considering the various possible unstated themes to address, while it is certainly worthwhile to discuss the matter of establishing what exactly is the proper time-frame within which daters should convey their interest in going out again to the shadchan, it appears that the greater issue to explore in response to the inquiry being presented here is how to deal with the wait when the other side has indeed exceeded that appropriate response time – an experience which many daters come to face at one time or another.

Digging deeper, then, it is perfectly understandable for one to feel slighted when the person they are dating does not seem interested enough to respond with any great alacrity.

The question then becomes, how is one to address feelings of vulnerability, offense, and diminished self-esteem when they give an immediate answer of “yes” to another date, only to be left apprehensively awaiting a reply, as the other single takes their sweet time in deliberation? Meaning to say, it is not so much a question of can one annul their obligation at that point, but why do they feel compelled to take that course of action, and should they, in fact, do so.

Further complicating the issue, when the one who did respond with a timely yes did so primarily out respect for the other person, and not because they were particularly taken with the shidduch, it may lead them to regret offering that deference. The sentiment might be something along the lines of, “Well, I only agreed to date that person again for their sake, and since they don’t seem to respect me enough to have responded with any degree of immediacy, why did I bother putting myself out there like that? I should have just said no, and spared myself the anguish.” When we give respect, we anticipate that it will be returned, in kind.

Moreover, when one has a sense that the pain of abandonment is imminent, there is often an innate reaction, borne of self-preservation, to preempt that pain by severing the connection themselves, before the other person has the chance to complete the act. By doing so, one is able to actively place themselves in the empowered position of the rejecter, instead of passively being placed in the helpless position of the rejected. Provided the opportunity, almost anyone would choose the former option of avoiding the pain.

Notwithstanding the validity of all of these cognitions and emotions, generally speaking, choices made out of umbrage, vengeance, or fear are ill-advised.

Rather, the healthier response is to take a step back, acknowledge one’s feelings honestly, genuinely reflect on those feelings and how they are impacting one’s motivations and planned behaviors, and then react accordingly.

What must ultimately be assessed is whether or not the shidduch itself has merit. After processing one’s feeling of pain or hurt, if the conclusion is that the shidduch indeed does have potential, and the only factor holding one back from proceeding is their anger at the delay in return reply, that would likely be an unwise reason to retract assurances of another date.

Conversely, if one concludes that this shidduch isn’t really quite what they are looking for, and perhaps they shouldn’t have said yes to begin with, regardless of the offense that ensued in playing the waiting game, that would provide a significantly more rational reason to rescind their guarantee of a future date.

Consequently, my personal recommendation to you – along with anyone else in a similar situation – would be to sincerely revisit the true drives behind one’s intended resolution to withdraw, even in a case where the instigation of delay was not particularly justifiable, and only then follow through with a decision.

May the Chomel Dallim lend support, encouragement, and resilience to all those experiencing difficulty in shidduchim, and lead them to wise conclusions and beneficial outcomes.

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