I recently went out with a girl and after five minutes knew that it was, what I call, “totally no shaychus,” or “DOA.” For the duration of the date, I still tried to remain focused and polite and gave it my all. My feelings remained the same throughout the date, so I gave the shadchan a no, explaining, “I don’t see it going anywhere.” The shadchan accepted it and relayed the message to the girl’s side. I thought we would both move passed it quickly, as it wasn’t a drawn-out parsha. However, some of my closest family and friends (and even a rebbi) gave me tremendous flack and mussar when they heard what happened. They called me insensitive and rude, and said that it is so insulting to be dumped after one date.
I want to know what the panelists think is correct behavior in such a situation. Should I drag it out and waste my time, the girl’s time, and the shadchan‘s time if I know a shidduch isn’t going anywhere, just on a chashash that the other party may get insulted?
And also, won’t it be harder after more dates if I break it off? And is it even okay to date just for that reason? I have always thought that we date solely for the sake of potential marriage.
One and Done
Having observed this very scenario play out for many couples over the years, I have come to recognize that rather than an objective right or wrong way to proceed, there are many layers in need of consideration. As such, we must understand what is at stake when one chooses to say “no” to a second date without prior knowledge that their counterpart is of equal mind to end the shidduch. And once the scope of such a statement is appreciated, a suitable course of action can then be charted for each individual circumstance. Accordingly, and due to the magnitude of the topic, I would like to broadly address both sides of this proverbial coin, and hopefully it will aid those who find themselves in this predicament as they strive to reach a conclusion that is optimal for all involved.
Before delving into the heart of the subject, though, I feel bound to emphasize that no matter how abysmal or mismatched a date may be, it is crucial to stay composed and focused for the duration of the date – to the best of one’s ability – and I commend you for doing so. It really is no small feat.
Returning to the topic at hand, first and foremost, there are a number of items in need of reflection, apropos of how much weight ought to be given to the propensity for offence due to being rejected after but one date.
To begin with, after the culmination of the Aseres HaDibros in Parshas Yisro, there are a handful of mitzvos communicated to Bnei Yisroel, a number of which pertain to the construction of the mizbeach. And the last of these mitzvos is the instruction to manufacture a ramp, as opposed to steps, so that the Kohanim may ascend to their avodah in the most refined manner conceivable, without causing insult to the edifice upon which they are walking. From this, Rashi explicates a notion nearly nonpareil. If we must be concerned with the honor of inanimate objects, which have no capacity to be disturbed by their humiliation, how much more so must we always exercise vigilance when it comes to the pride of our fellow man, who was fashioned in the image of his Creator, and who is fully aware and exacting of his degradation.
Consequently, if there is but a minute plausibility, let alone a reasonable “chashash,” that someone will be pained by their being spurned, it may well be worth devoting further time and energy on an additional date. And even if one is abundantly convinced of the futility of the effort on a pragmatic level, should doing so assist in maintaining the other person’s dignity, there is great value and zechus to be gained by the expenditure. Indeed, I have heard numerous rebbeim and rabbonim stress this concept, and exhort those who are in shidduchim to be cognizant of this concept whilst they are dating.
With respect to the propriety of dating solely for this reason, yes, I would assert that it is perfectly fine to go out again. Simply put, although the ultimate goal of dating for frum yidden is to ascertain the aptness of the match for matrimony, such does not obviate one from obeying obligations of mentchlechkeit. Thus, there is nothing un-kosher about engaging in a second date for the purposes of safeguarding another person’s spirits.
Nonetheless, as upstanding and appropriate as this endeavor is, there is a difference between a manageable expenditure of time and energy, and utter exhaustion. As unquestionably integral as it is to be attentive of the morale and regard of others, one is not beholden to do so at the cost of their own emotional and mental well-being. Moreover, if one is crystal clear that the shidduch has zero potential, and is concerned that their dispiritedness will be evident on the date, going out again may actually do more harm than good vis-à-vis the other person’s feelings.
Correspondingly, for those who find themselves facing this dilemma, an honest assessment should be made of the following inquiries. What is my capacity to courteously endure another date that I imagine will not be productive or enjoyable, exclusively for the benefit of upholding the self-esteem of another? What is my hesitation? Is it purely a matter of self-absorption, and desire to avoid bothering myself with schlepping off to a date towards which I am apathetic? Is it for fear that it will sap my vitality entirely and negatively impact my ability to date again for some time? Or is it somewhere between the two extremes? Once one has properly placed themselves along this spectrum, they should then be able to discern whether or not they are up to the task of a second date in the interests of protecting the welfare of their compeer.
Second, and though this was not explicitly broached in the narrative provided, many first-date disasters have proven to be segues into splendacious marriages. And while this is not always the case, it remains unarguable – for a host of reasons – that a first date is not exactly the most reliable barometer of potential. However, one is not mandated to presume that such will be the case for them, and one’s gut reaction is often a staunch and trustworthy indicator of where things stand. Hence, as long as one is not employing intransigence, and is conscious of the fact that another date may alter their position, it is up to them to decide if they would like to travel that route, or rely on their inclination that the shidduch is a nonstarter and that supplementary dates will have no meaningful or transcending impact.
Third, and lastly, while it is true that the sturdier the bond, the harder to break it, that is much more salient an issue when one is deliberating the significance of another date far deeper into a shidduch. Contrariwise, in general, there is little difference between terminating a shidduch after a second date or after a first. In either case, the rapport created will most likely be notably limited to the surface – and certainly so when the first date generated little forward movement, if any at all. And yet, despite this relatively negligible variance, going out again lucidly demonstrates that one found sufficient positive attributes to the person they are dating to deem it meritorious to explore the opportunity at least a little bit more. Contrastingly, an unequivocal and immediate “no” can convey an impression of being thoroughly compelled to run in the opposite direction, as fast and as soon as humanly possible.
Furthermore, provided one is not disingenuously exuberant on the second date, and is not insincerely expressing strong partiality towards commitment, one may be able to preclude the mistaken cultivation of a meaningful connection which would then soon be at risk of severance. All told, in my opinion, the concern of it being unnecessarily challenging to discontinue a shidduch after a second date holds little water in the vast majority of cases, and pales in comparison to what can be gained on a number of levels.
May the Chassid Bchol Maasav guide us all through the intricacies of generating genuinely argute interpersonal interactions.