PSA to singles: Just because a shadchan says something to you, it doesn’t mean it’s true. In order to date, you must have what they used to call “a strong constitution.” Don’t cry or cave or have a pity party because someone insults you or says what you feel is an insult. The dating “game” can be cruel at times. All I can say is: Believe in yourself and know who you are, inside and out. You’ll have a better chance of surviving the Survival game until you reach the chupah.
The last guy I went out with kept bringing up politics and international issues and, yes, I have heard about everything he talked about, but I don’t really pay that much attention to the news. I hear it at home and in the car, but I don’t sit down and watch it, taking notes. But it seems that my date does. He watches and listens to it for much more than that. It was as if he had been asked to be a guest panelist on CNN or MSNBC and the world needs his opinion when decisions are being made to hear what he would do if the decision were up to him. I didn’t know enough to contribute much to the conversation. There were moments of awkward silence. My date asked if there was something I wanted to speak about; the only things I was able to think of were family, hobbies, and fun vacations we had been on. I just wanted to get to know him better, not exactly what his views were about Critical Race Theory. I felt so inept and shallow. I know I’m not an idiot, but just the way that he looked at me when I suggested we speak about hobbies seemed weird. After that, I felt as if he was almost speaking down to me by the tone he was using when we spoke.
Afterwards, I told my mother, and she said I may have misinterpreted his reaction. But there was no mistake when the shadchan suggested that I brush up on current events when she called me the next day. I told her the guy she set me up with was a little “too” intellectual for me and only wanted to speak politics and world affairs, while I was more interested in getting to know him. She answered by telling me it was a “turn-off” to the guy that I seemed not to know anything about topics he felt were very relevant and important. She actually said the words “turn-off.” I explained that I’m up to date with current events and did know about the topics he kept bringing up, but I wasn’t interested in debating him. I told her that he seemed more interested in my political opinions than my personal ones. The shadchan gave me advice to follow, which was basically to let the guy lead the conversation, and if he wants to speak about politics or molecular biology, I should go with it and look interested. She told me that if I turned the conversation to simple topics as hobbies and family, a date may think there is no depth to me. I asked her if she was calling me shallow, and she just kept saying how I want to put my best foot forward and would want to show the many levels of interest and knowledge I have.
I think this shadchan and date were a little crazy. What do you think?
Nechama, thank you for your email.
Before I respond to your question, let me address the element of your letter that bothers me the most: the shadchan. Now this is only my opinion, and I am giving it based solely on the information you wrote in your email. I think the shadchan is rude and doesn’t have any tact. By telling a girl (or young man) that it’s a “turn-off,” that they do not know as much about world affairs as an international correspondent for a news outlet, basing the statement strictly on the say-so of the person they set up on a date for a couple of hours, well that’s idiotic. Does the shadchan know you, your background? Does the shadchan know anything about you other than what’s on your shidduch resume? If this is a shadchan who called you out of the blue or that you’ve only met once or twice, I would tell this “shadchan” that he or she ought to retire their single binders/folders/profiles. Truthfully, that was a cruel statement for the shadchan to say.
Shadchanim aren’t court reporters. They sometimes forget that they do not have to tell the other person what the other party/date actually said about them. The shadchan is allowed to reword what she was told. She may even choose not to reword anything and just say, “He (or she) said you were nice but weren’t for him (or her). No explanation. I’m so sorry.” By setting up two people, the title of shadchan does not magically appear and rest like a halo on her head. A shadchan has a responsibility to both parties she sets up. She needs to treat both male and female well and use her seichel as human beings regarding what should be reported back and what ought to be kept in confidence. If a shadchan thinks that by repeating word for word what one party said about the other without sugar-coating it, that she has no blame because she is only the “messenger,” she is wrong. Such shadchanim are doing a disservice to the singles and inflicting more harm than good and are actually worse than the person who had gone out on the date. At least that person didn’t have the audacity to say something so rude and judgmental to a stranger he had just met, but for some reason the shadchan thinks “because I’m just the messenger…” her words won’t hurt, or she won’t be seen as the villain? I’m not really sure what reason she would have for sharing the exact wording of an insult.
Anyway, getting back to your email. You acted just as I have and thousands of others on a first date. You wanted to find out about the person you were spending time with. First, get to know the person and form an opinion about him or her and then, if you do end up developing feelings, you can then tolerate opinions that you may not care much about or even agree with. To delve right into world affairs on date number one? That’s too much for me. Maybe he was trying to show off how in tune he was with the world around him. I really hope you misinterpreted his tone as speaking down to you and him thinking less of you because you asked about hobbies instead of how our current president thinks that global warming is the most dangerous crisis facing America today.
I once dated a psychologist for almost two whole hours. It’s true. And it was one of the hardest two hours I ever had to stay awake for. He kept speaking about different papers he had published in journals of psychology. After 20-30 minutes of this, and he not taking any hints that I was trying to change the topic, even after I said, “Let’s speak about something other than what you wrote,” I just sat staring at the glass jar of ketchup on the table and broke into his monologue by saying, “I love ketchup. I eat it with everything, but never knew it was high in antioxidants.” I promise you he looked at me as if he wanted to prescribe anti-psychotic drugs to me. And that’s when I said, “Your mother probably tells all of her friends at Mahjong about your accomplishments, but this is a date. Can we talk to each other, have a conversation, and get to know each other?” Thinking he was being cute, my date started speaking about ketchup and the acidity of the tomatoes. I couldn’t believe it. But did I tell the shadchan any of this? No. All I did was tell her, “Thank you, but we are not for each other; we aren’t on the same page in the same book or even in the same bookstore together.” The shadchan thought I was being cute, but I was telling the truth! I can almost guarantee that the fellow told the shadchan that I was weird, that “she wanted to talk about ketchup. Ketchup!” But do I care? No. I know who I am and what I am. I am an intelligent young woman who has interests in a little bit of everything: entertainment, politics, current events, the weather (just to know how to dress my children in the morning, not because of global warming), my family, and a plethora of other things. If someone I met once thinks that I’ve spiked the ketchup with vodka and drink it straight from the bottle, what do I care? I’m never going to see him again. And from the conversation you had with the shadchan, it may prove that this isn’t the shadchan you should be dealing with. Shadchanim and singles need to click, as well.
Nechama, you did nothing wrong, and even if you didn’t know anything about what he was talking about, it shows how ill-mannered your psychologist date is among mixed company. He seemed more interested in talking about himself and his accomplishments than trying to get to know someone he was on a date with on a personal level. You are not his colleague or potential new employer. You didn’t need him to dissect what he had written. I say that it is his loss that he did not get to know what a wonderful person you are and it was a missed opportunity. But: This brings you closer to your bashert.
Hatzlachah to you all!