I would like to start off by saying thank you to all the wonderful shadchanim on this panel for their constant efforts to think of and guide singles in the complex world of shidduchim.
Although this is not something I will typically do, there are times when one might go beyond their comfort zone to help a situation that so desperately needs improvement. The topic that I will discuss here is out-of-town single girls.
As an out-of-town girl, I often face difficulty in shidduchim due to my location on the map. Aside from the long distance travel, many times families are hesitant to involve themselves with out-of-town families. Yet, we all know that Hashem is the true Shadchan, and if it is His desire, the shidduch will happen regardless of the long distance travel.
A few months ago, a shadchan contacted me. She heard that I was in town and just spoke to a boy who was redd to me several times. Upon hearing that I was in town, the boy agreed to give me a yes. The shadchan was inquiring if I would be available to meet the boy for coffee. Although it was last minute, and after checking out a few points, I told the shadchan that I was available for a coffee date early the next morning. I explained to the shadchan that I had a late afternoon flight, but had time to meet for coffee in the morning. After hearing that I was leaving so soon, the shadchan responded to me, “I didn’t realize that you were going back already. I am thinking that it is not a good idea to go out if you won’t have the option of going out a second time. The boy raised the same concerns. Let’s wait until you are here next time.”
I replied that I was assuming that the boy was not really interested, because of course I would be able to come back if needed. After explaining her reasoning to me (I didn’t agree with it at all), she insisted that it was not a good idea to start with the shidduch.
I have three questions for the panel:
First, do you believe the shadchan acted the correct way?
Second, it is my understanding that once a boy or girl has given a yes, it is incorrect to take back that yes. Do you believe that by the boy pushing off the shidduch, he was essentially taking back a yes?
Thirdly, a coffee date does not guarantee a second date. When the shadchan used the term “coffee date,” it was my understanding that a coffee date is generally understood as one date and then it will be taken from there. I actually saw this as a perfect opportunity for a coffee date. Is my understanding correct? If not, can you please define the term “coffee date.”
I look forward to your responses. Thank you.
To begin, thank you for your generous and gracious introductory words. It is always gratifying to hear that a reader enjoys and gains from this column. Second, I am very sorry to hear that an excellent and developing opportunity not only fell out of reach, but dissipated in such an unpalatable fashion. I am sure that was highly deflating and dejecting, and I hope you are able to march forward with the same kind disposition you have displayed in your narrative. As far your closing questions, I will attempt to briefly and succinctly address each inquiry.
1. Having only half of the exchange at my disposal, it would be markedly imbalanced for me to assert that any party acted unfairly or incorrectly. And based on what has been shared, it appears to me that an attempt was made to set up a date at the last moment (which is wonderful), and due to some unfortunate miscommunications all around, that prospect petered out in a notably sub optimal fashion. I believe that the shadchan made a valiant effort to get something started in short order, to the benefit of everyone, and sadly, it did not pan out. Could the situation have been managed differently and to a more satisfying conclusion? Perhaps. But again, having not been privy to the entirety of the back-and-forth, and in real time, I would prefer to refrain from passing judgement on any of the three people involved.
2. In general, a yes is a yes, and absent a bombshell of new material (which in no way looks to be the case here), that yes should not ever be rescinded. That said, presuming this young man is willing to reschedule the date within a comparatively short time period, and not go out with anyone else in between – unless he is informed that the date cannot or will not resume – I do not think that is tantamount to taking back his word, nor do I think it expresses any lack of interest in the shidduch on his part. As mentioned above, it is quite lamentable that the date fizzled out before it ever took place, but provided that the counter-proffer was simply to find a more conducive time in the very near future, I cannot in good conscience claim that anyone’s bond was broken.
3. As far as the strict definition of a “coffee date,” I would tend to agree that the implication is just one date, for the purposes of making an initial assessment of compatibility, and with no further commitment at the moment. Nonetheless, it might also have been assumed, and not wrongly so, that although an adverse assessment would translate into the end of the shidduch with no hard feelings, if it went favorably, then a second date would follow relatively soon thereafter.
Thus, when one party unexpectedly discovers that their counterpart is about to head out for some time, I can understand that party deciding that if the shidduch will definitively and abruptly pause even after a great first date, maybe it is better to wait a bit. True, a coffee date usually denotes that no second date is guaranteed, but it does not necessarily, in my opinion, also suggest that a second date is likely to be delayed for longer than the standard duration between a first and second date. Accordingly, if at the time that the coffee date was agreed upon, it was somehow omitted from the conversation – intentionally or unintentionally – that one person had to leave town immediately afterwards, it would be hard for me to blame someone for making the assumption that everyone was indeed available to go out again soon, if that first date went pleasantly.
All told, it seems to me that rather than anyone having behaved badly, with impropriety, or dishonestly, it was more a perfect storm of missteps that may or may not have been preventable. Consequently, I would hope that everyone is able to rinse out the remnants of any bad tastes from their mouths, and pick up the date as soon as possible with the same fervor and excitement with which it had begun.
May the Someich Noflim gently uplift all those who have been let down, and grant them the strength to march forward with renewed and enhanced energy and positivity.