I am an easygoing out-of-towner who has been inshidduchimfor a couple of years. With different Covid restrictions in different places, and each cityresponding differently, there are potential problems that can come up while traveling in to date. If I would have to fly in to date, according to state rules and CDC regulations, I would be required to quarantinebefore the state allows me to go out anddate, and when returning home, I would have to quarantineas well. I am okay with doing that. However, because traveling in to date at this time requires many sacrifices, I would want to do a little more than the usual inquiries to make sure that I am not flying in for a “one-and-done.”
My question is what I should or should not say when contactingshadchanimto ask for new ideas. If I explain to theshadchanimthat there may be these difficulties, I fear that they will think of me as picky and hard to work with and choose to not help me at this time. If I do not explain what I will have to go through in order to come in to date, then I fear that if ashidduchcomes up, theshadchanmay be upset at me for asking them to help me if there are so many obstacles in the way.
How do you suggest I handle contactingshadchanimduring this time without ruining our already positiverelationship?
Generally speaking, it is my belief that breakdowns in relationships are highly correlated to breakdowns in communication. And as you astutely noted, the nature of connection between dater and shadchan is very much that of a relationship, and is one which therefore requires careful cultivation and regular upkeep in order to be sustained effectively, constructively, and pleasantly. Accordingly, it would usually be my opinion that the more background information one can proactively share with a shadchan, and the more the two individuals can talk through the issues, the greater the likelihood for positive results.
That being the case, my initial reaction upon reviewing this query was to recommend a heart-to-heart with the shadchanim one is working closely with, in order to come to a mutual understanding of the situation and an acknowledgment by all parties that we are most definitely not living in a time of standard operating procedure. Indeed, it appears that most larger frum communities are seeing a significant rise in Covid rates and, in accordance with the guidance of our rabbonim and Gedolim, are reverting to stricter protocol once again. There is no question that the matter remains one of pikuach nefesh, as we are persistently devastated by petiros, and that the exhortation of “U’shmartem meod lenafshoseichem” is painfully pertinent. As such, that one intends to strictly abide by all up-to-date best practices and mandates should not only be appreciated, it should be applauded as the ideal approach to our current challenges.
Consequently, I would sincerely hope that shadchanim refrain from viewing your attitude as picky, and do their utmost to support you as you endeavor to continue dating safely and responsibly. Your wholehearted willingness to travel, despite the subsequent ramifications that will greatly impact and hinder your life and those of your family members, is no small show of dedication to the permanency of your hishtadlus, and evinces your intent to do everything you can to see yourself to the chuppah. I anticipate that this outlook will be similarly plain to the shadchanim you contact, and that they will in no manner hesitate to come to your aid during these most trying of times.
However, there is one point which I would deem optimal to keep to oneself. And that is any mention of perhaps passing on an idea because the obligatory exertion at present seems to dictate that the opportunity does not justify the effort, whereas it previously would have. In other words, while sharing details about the overall struggle and potential impediments one is facing should prove helpful, the exact decision-making process, maybe not so much.
As should be understood, when a shadchan tenders an idea, it is never intended to be a one-and-done. It is because they feel it holds true promise. Now, to be clear, I am not talking about when a shadchan shoots off an email with seven résumés attached. Insofar as we live in a post-Cherem d’Rabbeinu Gershom world, it should be obvious that not all of those suggestions can come to completion concurrently, and thus it should be equally evident that the confidence behind each idea is notably diminished. Hence, one’s shelving of all of those simultaneously offered options, with little to no explanation, should not be taken offensively whatsoever. Conversely, when a shadchan checks in with a specific idea, for a specific reason, and makes a point of elaborating why they are enamored with the idea, it should be abundantly clear that the shadchan in no way surmises that the shidduch suffers from a scarcity of sizzle.
Consequently, I would posit that one’s attitude in this regard endure as unchanged. If the idea appears to have real value, it should be attended to with that mindset. If it was worthy of travel pre-Covid, it is probable that it is commensurately advisable to do so post-Covid. And if one is really not bothered by travel, can afford the expense, and after looking into the shidduch feels only lukewarm about it, leaving them deterred due to contemporary global conditions – even though they otherwise would have rolled the dice on it – that personal adjudication can be left unsaid. For if one is to essentially divulge that six months ago they would have jumped on the opportunity, but now they will not, that could lead to a shadchan legitimately wondering about one’s degree of commitment to getting married. After all, a good idea is a good idea, is it not? Both the dater and the shadchan have valid perspectives in this scenario, and being that the chasm between the two may be too vast to close, I think it would be optimal to avoid this sort of conflict altogether.
Correspondingly, all one has to say is, “Thank you so much for thinking of me. We looked into the shidduch, and while we certainly see where the idea is coming from, all things considered, we do not feel this is something we will be pursing right now. But please feel free to check in about it another time, things may change!” Simple statements along these lines are common – crystalizing all the important information without oversharing or inviting discord – and will hopefully keep the dater-shadchan relationship alive and thriving.
May the Rofei Cholei Amo Yisroel hastily eradicate this machalah from our midst, and all of its intersecting and interconnected intrusions right along with it.