Ayala receives a yes from Binyomin. Ayala and her parents do some checking and are really unsure as to the viability of this being a match for her. Ayala feels that there is less than a 50% chance that anything will come out of their meeting. Would Ayala be leading Binyomin on if she agreed to a date?
Does the scenario change if it’s the young man who is unsure of any positive outcome resulting from a date?
Prior to addressing the topic of whether or not anyone in the above scenario is being “led-on,” I would like to take a step back and delve deeper into what I feel is a far more salient subject, as I believe the two matters will prove to be inextricably linked to one another: namely, Ayala’s conclusion to go out with Binyomin in the first place, for her own sake, or, conversely, Binyomin’s conclusion, if it were he who was crunching the numbers – as by my estimation, the below is entirely irrespective of whether it is the young man or the young woman who is unsure about the potential of the match they are pondering.
As I imagine we are all fully aware, when it comes to shidduchim, there are no “sure-things,” and initial appearances are often quite deceiving. Accordingly, there are no shortage of suggestions that seem nearly perfect at the outset, but will never make it beyond a first date, and, commensurately, countless suggestions which seem to only marginally meet the minimum requirements of being deemed a worthwhile investment of everyone’s time will yet culminate under a chupah. As such, it could be argued that properly gauging the value of an opportunity, and deciding whether or not to advance it, is one of the more formidable and principal challenges for many in the dating world.
To be fair, and so as not to be guilty of raising any false hopes, there is really no hard and fast methodology which might allow for one and all to know exactly what to do in each and every circumstance, and the unique situational elements which weigh so heavily on such determinations are as varied as the individuals who approach them. And thus, any attempt at even roughly outlining a collection of common or relevant factors would necessitate the writing of a small dissertation, and, at the same time, inevitably fall short of its lofty, intended goal.
Nonetheless, we all have been, or will be, charged with making these appraisals. For some, this exercise will be a one-time affair, while for others, a fair amount of recrudescence may ensue before the task is satisfied. Whatever the case may be, it is my strong and long-held belief that these resolutions are not about playing the percentages, compiling boilerplate lists and merely counting the subsequent pros and cons, or checking off boxes on exhaustive, arbitrarily hierarchical, and exceedingly impersonal inventories.
Rather, one must begin by looking at and within themselves. What are my strengths and weaknesses? What is my techunas hanefesh and derech hachaim? What are my personal likes and dislikes? What positive attributes do I offer as a husband or wife and father or mother? What are my primary characteristics and personality traits?
And as crucial questions such as these – and others – are answered, an image of what one needs in a spouse in order to complete and complement themselves should start to emerge. The clearer, more precise and detailed the answers, the richer, sharper, and more lucid the resulting image will hopefully be.
At this point, one can commence with evaluating the suggestions they are presented, assessing, to the best of their abilities, how closely the prospect they are considering approximates to the lineaments they have conjured. Of course, it will never be akin to a child’s game of memory, and one should not be expecting an exact match to suddenly arise simply because they are the Vincent van Gogh of mental and emotional imagery. The picture one has painted should be vivid enough to provide a reasonable structure, but not so thoroughly comprehensive and unambiguous as to prevent them from taking a dive even when the waters are perhaps a little cloudy.
To be sure, such an approach is no cake-walk, and as mentioned above, even the most astute dater can be deceived, but I do believe it remains an integral framework from which to employ self-reflection and initiate one’s decision-making process.
Returning now to the inquiry at hand, once one has adjudicated in favor of going out with someone – ideally, due to an overall feeling that this single man or woman resembles, to a reasonable enough degree, the depiction they have created – it is no longer meaningful how probable it was that they had presumed the shidduch might reach fruition. Such a prediction of plausibility is purely for the purpose of producing a precedent for, or partiality towards, proceeding or passing. What it ought not serve as, however, is a mysteriously prophetic indicator meant to predetermine how the shidduch will actually end. When such assumptions are made, they often become self-fulfilling prognostications of sorts, as negative outlooks carry the capacity to preclude that which could have been, from ever happening at all.
Consequently, if one is utterly unable to perceive a shidduch suggestion as panning out, owing to a sensation that it is just too unlikely a pairing to be sustainable, I would think that it is then not a question of whether or not they would be leading anyone on by saying yes, but why is it that they are at all inclined to approve of a suggestion which they cannot fathom as having any real promise?
Contrariwise, once the verdict is in to give the idea a shot – whether it is based on a 1% chance that is somehow reckoned as meritorious, due to some extraordinary aspect that cannot be discounted, or a 99% chance that sounds almost too-good-to-be-true – one’s mindset should be rooted in a firm understanding that this person could very well be their future husband or wife. And provided that is what one truly believes as they head off on a date, there is no “leading on” taking place, regardless of any previously projected percentages of matrimonial realization.
In other words, and in short, I would posit that leading someone on is not defined as agreeing to a date, despite one’s calculating a relatively underwhelming conceivability of success before saying yes. As once a subsequent commitment is made, former computations become wholly irrelevant. Leading someone on, in my book, is going out on a date that one feels no desire to be on, and has no confidence in its potential, before even walking out the door.
May the Eynav Pekuchos ensure that all those in shidduchim are able to truly see that which lies in front of them, and may that clarity of vision lead to wise and erudite discernments.