A common quandary in shidduchim is whether to go out on a second (or, at times, a third) date. The hadracha provided in this forum is to, barring any obvious red flags, go out again as meaningful relationships require some time to blossom.
I would like to suggest a process singles can follow that would significantly alleviate the element of uncertainty. That is, before responding to the shadchan, imagine that the other side has already replied in the negative. Then gauge your reaction and proceed accordingly.
For example, the boy had a satisfactory first date but isn’t sure this girl is his basherte. Relax; you don’t need to decide on a second date, because the girl has just informed the shadchan that there won’t be another date. Now, if you feel a clear sense of relief or that a heavy burden has been lifted from you, it’s safe to assume that you really aren’t interested in this individual. Feel free to reply with a no. Short of this, however, you should proceed with the shidduch, subject to the above-listed caveat.
This exercise necessarily demands emotional input and self-reflection on the part of the single. Consequently, for such purpose, parental involvement should be scrupulously avoided, as it will not help.
What do the panelists feel about this particular approach?
Though I can surely appreciate the mental and emotional value of the advised exercise and steadfastly applaud the creativity of the recommendation, strongly believe that the value of another date surpasses that of the suggested approach, and remain unconvinced that relying on this method alone is sufficient to decide whether or not a second or third date should be sought. However, where I do believe that this tactic may provide more meaningful practical use, is when indecision lingers into the later intervals of an overall positive prospect.
Meaning to say, the primary objective of a second or third date, when uncertainty persists, is to ascertain whether one has unwittingly misjudged anything of importance. In the very early phases of shidduch, it is quite common for either dater to have been nervous, tense, or exhausted, or to simply have been unsuccessful in offering an authentic representation of themselves – for any number of understandable reasons – leaving both parties with the nebulous notion that perhaps they are not compatible with one another. And it is another date which can immeasurably assist in illuminating whether that is indeed the reality, or if, in actuality, it is discovered to be a wonderful match – subsequent to both daters having grown comfortable with each other and displaying genuine depictions of who they are and what their aspirations are.
Conversely, pondering how one might feel if the plug were pulled predominantly aids in defining one’s position in the here and now, given how gloriously well, pedestrianly mediocre, or sepulchrally poor the prior dates had gone. But again, that is all very much subject to modification after an additional date. Going out again after an unconvincing or uninspiring first or second date is not so much about gauging one’s feelings towards the past as it is about revealing what the future may hold. In its essence, it affords the opportunity to discern whether there is any noteworthy improvement in the connection and harmony between the two daters, going forward.
Consequently, whereas this innovatory system may not suitably serve as the principal decision-making tool at the beginning of a shidduch, for couples who have already gone out together many times – and when the chief concern is no longer really a matter of allowing for upcoming transformations in personal expression, but rather, a matter of understanding just where one stands, coterminously with what has transpired thus far – it might be exactly what is needed.
And as far as identifying that juncture where this procedure would be most ideal, it would appear to me to be once one has reached a point where they are confident that the nature of the relationship has been firmly established. Namely, when one deems to have effectively tendered an accurate depiction of who they are, and to have gleaned with enough precision the qualities and characteristics of their counterpart, and is still left irresolute regarding whether this is a person with whom they could spend a lifetime, or whether there is even a measure of desire to proceed in detecting if that is the case. It is then that I imagine it would be significantly more advantageous to employ envisioning how one would react to the shidduch coming to a close, as a means of better demarcating one’s own commitment to, and interest in, the perpetuation of the proposition they have been pursuing.
Lastly, and somewhat parenthetically, with respect to who should be involved in this practise, I reckon that it shouldn’t be a single man or woman all by their lonesome. And while I have long been a proponent of thinking for oneself, and reaching resolutions about matrimony based on one’s own personal needs and interests, rather than satisfying those of another, I would still consider it quite the rare circumstance where one should be cut off entirely from outside help, parental or otherwise. To make such momentous evaluations without any support whatsoever seems imprudent and overly pertinacious to me, and though the ultimate conclusion must be achieved internally, I would not profess external involvement to be fundamentally oleaginous or contraindicated.
May the Nosein Lasechvei Binah Lihavchin grant clarity of purpose and direction to us all, as we navigate the unavoidable ambiguities and opacities of Olam HaZeh.