I’m interested in reading the opinions of the panelists regarding boys and girls exchanging phone numbers before they are fully ready to get engaged. Personally, I feel that breaking down this barrier causes unnecessary anguish if the shidduch doesn’t work out, and it also forces the two of them to share their feelings about how it is going with each other as opposed to giving their feedback to the shadchan. What are your feelings on this matter?
Having found myself inclined towards both sides of this conundrum over the years, I have come to the realization that this topic is not one which I believe can be formatted into a one-size-fits-all standard operating procedure.
On the one hand, and as the question presented correctly notes, premature direct dialogue between daters can have ill-effects. On the other hand, however, for many couples, opening up those lines of communication is a critical component in cultivating their relationship so that it may grow strong enough for an engagement to follow at all.
Similarly, there are vastly different expectations in this regard among the different demographics in the frum world. In some communities, any exchanges sans-intermediary during the dating process would be considered unseemly and unacceptable. In other communities, it would be thought backwards and foolhardy to purloin from daters the opportunity to speak with one another as they deem necessary. And in yet other communities, that juncture very much exists, but it is contained within set parameters – wherein the more delicate and sensitive information is generally still conveyed through the shadchan – and often under the auspices of a rebbi or rov (wisely so) who has much experience in this area and who can oversee the matter with a keen and astute eye (both are vital components for such an overseer). To each their own.
All things considered, I would posit that each couple – along with their parents – needs to address this quandary on an individual level, gathering guidance from rabbonim and their shadchan, so that a decision which is most optimal for the success of their shidduch can be arrived upon.
May the Dover Maisharim lead us all on the path of prudence and uprightness as we navigate the myriad enigmas that life brings about.