My friend mentioned to me that she has a dating mentor and was raving about how beneficial it is and how her dating has totally changed. As someone dating for the last year and a half, I would like to have a dating mentor, because when I come home from a date and my mother asks how it was and whether I want to see the boy again, it is somehow just not cutting it for me. I feel like there’s got to be more to it and I’m not getting the guidance I know is necessary.
The shadchanim are wonderful, but they’re so busy with redding shidduchim that they can’t give each match the time it needs. And why should they have to put in more time? They’re overloaded as it is.
I always feel like both my mother and the shadchan just want this one to work. They mean well, but I need more.
The question is: How do I tell my mother about my desire to have a dating mentor without offending her? And how do I tell the shadchan that I will be using a dating mentor without offending her?
Technically, neither one needs to know about it, but I’m just not comfortable with not telling them. So I guess I’m asking for guidance on how to receive my guidance.
Tempted though I am to wax poetic on the immeasurable value found in utilizing the services of an expert dating mentor, I think your narrative sums it up quite nicely. Nonetheless, there is one fundamental point which I would like to underscore, and due to its sensitivity and propensity to be taken as an affront, it is likely a subject that most daters would prefer not to explicitly broach when communicating with their parents and shadchanim.
There is a reason the Torah prohibits relatives from testifying on behalf of one another, and it is not limited to a susceptibility of outright lying. Parents are biased towards their own perceptions of their children, and sometimes towards their own needs. Consciously or subconsciously. Similarly, to some degree, every shadchan is biased towards their own ideas. Anyone who is nogeia b’davar has intensified, and sometimes insurmountable, partialities. Such is the reality of the human condition. Accordingly, having an experienced third-party resource to turn to and discuss one’s concerns or dilemmas provides critical perspective that is often just not possible to glean from one’s own parents, or the shadchan who has arranged the date.
That said, regarding how to express one’s desire to secure a dating mentor in a delicate manner, I believe that an honest, straightforward, and courteous approach is the most favorable and constructive route. It can be as simple and succinct as saying, “I understand from many people who are involved heavily in the realm of shidduchim that I could benefit greatly from working with a dating mentor, and a number of my friends who are dating told me that they have gained considerably from doing so. I am going to reach out to some of my teachers/a rov to find out which mentors they would suggest for me. Of course, I will continue to talk to you about my dates, as I hold your feedback in great esteem. It is only that I feel it will be advantageous for me to absorb even more hadracha, and develop enhanced skills, from an additional source of support, as I further navigate the ins and outs of dating.”
Such a message conveys four crucial components. First, when presenting an interest to engage in an activity that may be deemed as insulting to parents or shadchanim, attributing endorsements to the enterprise from respected professionals, and noting the past successes of one’s peers in this arena, may aid in avoiding a conceivably contentious conversation. Second, it is a statement of fact, not a plea for permission, as a young adult who is nearing the precipice of marriage does not need to be subject to approval from anyone else before working with a mentor. Third, it makes it clear that one is going to employ trusted leaders for recommendations, and is thereby going about the endeavor responsibly. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, it validates the feelings and opinions of the person receiving this potentially surprising notification, which will hopefully achieve the goal of preventing one from being put in a rather invidious position. By indicating that one appreciates how their intent to seek outside counsel might be taken offensively – without being defensive or apologetic about it – it assures the recipient that they are not about to be removed from the picture entirely.
In short, rather than this matter becoming a topic of debate, which could easily devolve into damaging discordance, one is merely making mention of the fact that they will be supplementing their current team of advisors with another key member, and that all parties can co-exist in mutually respectful harmony.
May the Atzaso Emunah ensure that all those in shidduchim are provided with requisite guidance and encouragement, so they may reach the chupah with unfettered confidence and simcha.