I was wondering what the panel thinks about taking a personality test before starting the dating process to help understand one’s own personality and what kind of person one would align with. It would also probably help shadchanim match people up. What are your feelings about this idea?
Of the many fascinating idiosyncrasies which weave their way through the fabric of our experiential reality, I have noticed that oftentimes a notion permeates the air, presenting itself recurrently from various sources and within a relatively short timeframe. As it so happens, the impression that a highly specific and systematized categorizing and cataloguing of daters would perhaps enhance the dating process and increase both the amount of dates which are generated and the quality of those dates, is an idea which has come my way quite a few times in recent months. And though I cannot say that there is anything inherently wrong with the suggestion, in whatever particular form it may take shape, personally, it holds little appeal to me, if any. To be unequivocally clear, the value of self-knowledge cannot ever be underestimated, be it in terms of internal growth or interpersonal relationships. However, it is this particular avenue of speculative, simulated, and synthetic self-scholarship that does not leave me without a large measure of pause. And I say this for three reasons.
First and foremost, dating is a connaturally human endeavor, and human beings are infinitely complex and layered. No amount of artificial probing for augmented compatibility can authentically account for the myriad and continually developing characteristics and features within each of us, and I am rather skeptical about any such method yielding results that are any better than those which we are currently seeing. In fact, there is a part of me that imagines the product of these procedures may even generate poorer outcomes, simply due to an unnecessary overthinking of things and the spurious ideology that we could ever precisely pin down the essence of a person. That is G-d’s domain, not ours.
Second, and notwithstanding the above, if a person lacks sufficient self-awareness to the degree that they are turning to a set of standardized questions for the purposes of automated self-definition, the probability that they will find that which they seek seems rather minimal to me. Is there some value to these undertakings? Possibly. But they also tend to be comparatively capricious and unreliable.
Thus, if one is in need of gathering enough critical information about oneself to successfully segue into shidduchim, professional help and many hours of skill building and introspection are the proper remedy, in my opinion. Personality evaluators and regimented forms, for the purposes at hand, are nothing more than intellectual shortcuts and academic attempts at an easy out from underneath the burden of a legitimate emotional issue which demands concerted energy and a fair amount of time. To arrive at meaningful self-knowledge, one must deeply engage in the work of examining and understanding one’s inner being, and filling out a quick questionnaire does not strike me as earnest work. One cannot cross the finish line without ever running the race. Parenthetically, if a shadchan requires formal disposition analyses to accompany the meetings they take and the résumés they receive in order to do their job efficiently, they are likely in the wrong line of work.
Third, even if we could somehow dependably corral and demarcate the core of a person, and even if the proposed tools were up to the task of doing so for those who feel too uncertain about themselves to achieve their dating goals unassisted, accurately predicting with whom and with what type of person one will ultimately connect, based only on a constricted and fabricated perception of one’s own constitutional markers, is an effort in grievous futility. Some people need a virtual mirror image of themselves, others need a polar opposite reflection for the sake of harmonious balance, and yet others need just the right mixture of similarity and dissimilarity. And in most cases, it is the dating process itself – the trial and error of it all, and the glorious epiphany that occurs when one genuinely meets their match – which bears out the truth of concord and kinship, not the solitude of pen, paper, and test results.
May the Tzofeh Veyodei’a Sisareinu suffuse us all with overflowing wisdom, insight, and understanding.