My friend and I have been in shidduchim for some time. We have noticed that there are close friends and family who want to show that they care about us and therefore try redding shidduchim for us. I am under the impression that they mean well, but it doesn’t necessarily come across in a pleasant way. They tend to pop names on us directly with basic information and say, “Maybe you want to check him out…”
We aren’t our own shadchanim. Those who thought of the idea should be taking the steps needed, looking into the other side a bit more and then contacting our parents before it comes to us.
We feel that when names just come and go, we get some hope that is totally useless, so why not avoid it in the first place? Any tips for us on how to handle it and any guidance to those who are trying to help their loved ones without hurting them in the process?
First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your publicly addressing this vital matter, and for doing so in such a clear, concise, and comprehensive manner. Indeed, it is struggle which many daters have shared as having experienced, and especially so by those who have been in the parsha for a prolonged period. And, if my memory serves me correctly, it is a topic which has not been discussed here recently, if it all, over the past number of years. All told, it is without question that this remains a persistent difficulty for many daters, and is certainly worthy of our collective attention.
That said, while I will attend to each of your concluding inquiries separately, the basic premise and theme of my reply will revolve around creatively redirecting these well-intentioned, albeit nebulous, suggestions. In doing so, hopefully, they can be developed into more productive avenues towards generating shidduchim.
With respect to daters, as was astutely noted, when a name is mentioned, along with but a farrago of ambiguous details, it leaves one in an awkward and precarious position. On the one hand, they are in receipt of a kindness which is expected to be received with joy, excitement, and appreciation. On the other hand, notwithstanding the genuine gratitude daters have for any opportunity afforded, they are not meant to function as their own matchmakers, and are thus stuck in the rather unenviable spot of having a name at their disposal, but with very little they can actually do about it, and without even knowing if the recommendation is substantive.
As such, I believe an appropriate response would be to politely put the onus back on the one who has unwittingly devised the dilemma. This can be achieved relatively easily with the following rejoinder: “Thank you so much for thinking of me, I deeply appreciate it. Would you perhaps mind speaking with Mrs. X about it? I have worked with her a lot in the past, and she really understands what I am looking for. I think she would be in the best position to determine whether or not this is something I should pursue, and I am sure she would be happy to look into it further and officially manage the shidduch if it appears to her to have real promise.”
Such statements serve to convey the proper hakoras hatov for having been kept in mind, while returning the responsibility of taking any next steps back on the person who presented the suggestion, and accompanied with clear instructions on how to accomplish the task. And should the appeal falls on deaf ears, one can simply smile and nod; request an email containing the name and résumé (if available) of the person that has been vaguely redd; forward it to a shadchan of one’s choice; and ask if they would be agreeable to do some investigation, and oversee the shidduch if it turns out to be matim.
As far as family and friends are concerned, in essence, as a klal, we continually entreat all community members to regularly think of our single men and women, but we give little to no instruction on how to do this effectively. In truth, laypeople are not shadchanim either, and they are oft thrust and cornered into an murky predicament of their own. They profoundly want to heed the call, but they may be feeling commensurate sensations of apprehension and uncertainty regarding how to successfully proceed. Furthermore, they may be entirely unequipped to do the research correctly and accurately, and may even fear they will accidentally tank the shidduch before it starts, should they misspeak when conducting research or contacting the other side.
Accordingly, their alternative process would be nearly identical to the above, only without schlepping in the dater from the get-go. Instead, one can ask the parents of the dater for names and contact information of shadchanim the family has enjoyed working with, and then relay the suggestion straight to a shadchan, so that a professional who is also familiar with the dater’s needs can then take charge. Doing so lends far more likelihood that the idea will be realized, and it helps a great deal in preventing daters from enduring otherwise circumventable discomfort, discontentment, or disappointment. Quite the contrary, if the idea is poor in reality, the dater will never have had to be made aware of it. However, if it has actionable potential, it will be cultivated by an individual with the greatest ability to transform the seedling of an idea into a future chasunah.
May the Gadlo Vetuvo Malei Olam grant from His wisdom to all those who toil in the hallowed realm of shidduchim.