What does the title of this article mean? It means that sometimes, when a shadchan is given an answer to a question that he or she asked, that should satisfy the shadchan. The next question can be asked about something else. But some shadchanim don’t like the answers provided and will push trying to get to the “heart of the matter.” All of a sudden, the shadchan starts questioning the single, “Why...” “What….” “Explain once more…” – trying to get to the root of why the single answered that way. I dealt with a few shadchanim who would press me for answers and try to get to the “bottom of it.” I would politely tell them, “I don’t know what you’re looking for, but that’s it. There’s no ‘story’ here.” If I had never met this shadchan and it was a call out of the blue, I’d be appreciative of the shadchan reaching out, but I wouldn’t tell this person everything about my life. I don’t know who she is or what she will do with the information. Let’s not forget about the broken telephone game, and in shidduchim you have to be so careful about what is said, because you don’t know how the other person will interpret it and then tell others about you.
As per usual, I have a few examples of this:
I have written about this a few times, but it fits into this situation. As a senior in college, I thought I wanted to become a lawyer. I took the LSATs, applied to law schools, was accepted by some, but I ultimately decided not to follow that route and so I went on to Wurzweiler to earn my master’s degree in Social Work. It is not a decision that I have ever regretted. But at the time, when I was speaking with shadchanim, and they asked the question of, “What’s your plan after college?” I answered that it will either be law or social work. Many wanted to know what the deciding factor would be, and after I had made the decision to pursue social work, the question was asked, “Why not law?” Some shadchanim were satisfied with my answer, but some were not. “But you can make more money as a lawyer? You don’t want that?” and “But lawyers are looked at more prestigiously than social workers, so why choose the lowly career of the two?” And then there was: “There’s gotta be a reason there. No one in her right mind would choose social work over law.” I told them that my heart was not fully committed to law school, and I’d rather earn my MSW. Still, it wasn’t enough for some. Truthfully there wasn’t any specific reason why I didn’t want to attend law school. But some of them kept asking and digging. I guess they decided that if I wouldn’t answer the question phrased one way, they would phrase it another way, and I’d answer it then. But there was no deep, dark secret reason to reveal! I would always say that I may be a successful lawyer, but that didn’t mean that I was going to be happy or like what I was doing. Again, it satisfied some and not others.
Another example: A cousin of mine in her late 30s was called by a shadchan who has redt her a few dates in the past. He suggested someone who was not what my cousin was looking for at all. It was the age, it was the personality, it was… everything about the person. At this stage of dating, my cousin didn’t want to even spend an hour with someone whom she didn’t want to date in the first place because she did that in her 20s and 30s. She was in a different place in her life and wasn’t going to “just try it.” I’m told the shadchan hounded her for a few days. Thinking he was both Woodward and Bernstein, the shadchan asked if it had anything to do with the fellow’s age (he was 12 years older than my cousin). My cousin said that among the many other issues she had with the shidduch, yes, age was an issue. Imagine the surprise, shock, and anger my cousin felt when the shadchan told her that at her age and with her single status, not even did she have a broken engagement or divorce listed on her resume, but because she was in her mid-40s and never married, it was considered a liability, because “there must be something wrong with her if no one wants her!” The shadchan asked if there was a reason she hadn’t been engaged before. Had she ever come close? Was there a disorder, even a small minimal one, in her family that prevents her from committing to someone or vice versa? My friend was incensed! This shadchan knew her. He had redt her a few shidduchim. My friend said that it was as if she was hauled in for questioning by the police. The questions from the shadchan kept coming. She said it was infuriating and embarrassing: There had to be something wrong with her because that’s the only reason it could be as to why she is still single – forget about it not being her time – but she had to have a genetic disorder or be a carrier of something. My friend was more delicate with her words than I would be and told the shadchan that she appreciated all of his help, but if this is what he was thinking, she’d rather him focus on other singles and not her. She told me that the shadchan didn’t even put up a fight. He thanked her and wished her luck.
A conversation that I had with a friend of mine two years ago always comes to mind in such situations. A shadchan called her a few times, suggesting different men that she should date. Apparently, my friend either went out with all of these eligible bachelors, or she knew of them or knew them and did not want to go out with them. The shadchan suddenly said to her that she will offer some unsolicited advice, advice she would give her own daughter, so my friend should not get offended by it. Right away my friend tensed up. The advice: Since you’re already in your 40s and who knows when you may meet someone you like enough to marry, you should have your eggs frozen, so that when the time is right, you’re ready and your age isn’t an issue.” She asked my friend if she considered freezing her eggs, or if she had done it yet. The shadchan had a couple of names of doctors with wonderful reputations. WHAT? The shadchan went from trying to redt a shidduch to finding out about my friend having her eggs frozen and even recommending doctors. My friend pretended to write down the information but didn’t, and she hung up the phone with a feeling of hopelessness. It wasn’t what the shadchan had told her – but I think it was – but how the shadchan chose to phrase it. It sounded as if she was placing the blame, burden, reason (whatever word you choose) solely on my friend.
Why is this happening? I may be alone in this opinion (and that’s fine), but I feel that some shadchanim, like those I’ve written of, are truly not thinking of the single when making the shidduch. They are not thinking of their “client” first and then of themselves. It sounds like they have an agenda and will do anything to reach their goal without taking the single and his or her feelings and the situation into account. Should someone like this be a shadchan? No. Shadchanim should listen to the singles they deal with and truly take to heart what they have to say and their wishes. I dealt with a few pushy shadchanim and I’m glad to say that they were few and far between. But yet, dealing with them made me appreciate even more the shadchanim who were truly trying to help. They were a breath of fresh air. I was finally able to say that I was speaking with someone who was going to put my needs first and not just set me up with a random person in their Rolodex of profiles. Being a shadchan is not just pushing your agenda and what you feel the single needs upon someone else. You need to respect singles as well as their past and what they have been through. I am speaking from experience; many singles have had many experiences that they don’t want to repeat and may be overly sensitive to some situations. A shadchan needs to have a balance of understanding, sensitivity, but yet be realistic and able to tell a single who refuses a second or third date with someone because “their breath stank,” to look beyond the silly stuff and at the real character of the person. Any shadchan who does not listen to singles or goes against their wishes is in the wrong business.
Hatzlachah to you all.