I received an email from someone who took me back in time five and a half years. This person quoted an article I had written after I had gotten married. She said that she, too, needed to change the way she was thinking about shidduchim. She said that after she recently made a decision about ending things with a fellow, she realized how wrong she was. She felt she was wrong in what she thought and what she did. I think all can learn from Leah. I’m not saying this because she read an article of mine, but because she reflected upon her actions and has now seen the light, as a matter of speaking.
I know you have written about this in the past so I thought maybe you can help me.
I went out a few times with someone and had an okay time with him. He wasn’t everything that I was looking for, but he had some of what I wanted. There was no reason not to go out again, so we went out on three dates. Then a shadchan called and told me that another guy wanted to go out with me and he sounded even better than the guy I was going out with, so I stopped seeing the first guy for the second guy.
I know I made a stupid decision! I have gone over this a thousand times in my head. I can’t say that I made a stupid, youthful mistake, because it was six months ago. I just heard that this other guy had even more of what I wanted, so I chose to go out with him instead. It was a stupid move on my part. It was a “one and done” date, as my mother says. We both ended up saying no to each other. I want to kick myself. My parents had warned me that the other guy may not be “better” than the one I was seeing, and it didn’t matter that this new guy had more things checked off his list than the first; the point was, I was having a nice time with the first guy and I should see it thought to the end. I thought I knew better. But I didn’t.
My mother gave me an article that you had written years ago, titled, “What I Did with My Shidduch List,” which ended up on Yeshiva World, but I think it was written in a different newspaper originally. My mother said that when she read it, she knew she should save it for her children. She gave the article to my older brother when he was dating, and now it was my turn. The line that really hit me was when you wrote, “Very simply put: I threw away my list of prerequisites; if I had never compromised, I would still be dating.” You wrote that your husband had some qualities you were looking for and others you weren’t looking for. You wrote that he smoked and was younger than you. Here I am thinking how foolish I was by letting a good guy go in the hopes that the grass would be greener with the other guy who had more “prerequisites” checked off for me. I don’t have the luxury of working with this guy (“fellow” – you call them fellows), so I didn’t really have the chance to get to know him before I dated him. Maybe if I did, I would have said I was busy to the shadchan when she called.
Can I call the original shadchan back and ask her to contact the fellow for me? I look back now and maybe it’s because I haven’t been on a date in a few months, or maybe because I realized that I really am stupid; but I see now that I had a nice time with the guy and there was no real reason to say no. I just told the shadchan I didn’t think it was going anywhere. You wrote in your article that you dated your husband once and it didn’t work out and then you reconsidered it and now you’re married. He didn’t meet every standard you were looking for, but you gave him a chance and got to know him as a person. I know I haven’t done that in the past, and I know I have to change.
What if the shadchan asks me what my real reason for saying no to him was. Do I say that I wanted to go out with someone else? Then she’ll think I’m shallow and dumb and maybe won’t want to deal with me again! What if I did go out with the guy again and he asks me – how do I say, “Someone sounded better than you. I didn’t meet him, but just hearing about him made me want to date him.” I know of a cousin who went out with his wife a few times; it didn’t work out and then a year later they went out again and now they have five children. So maybe it’s worth a shot. But what do I say to them?
Leah, thank you for your email.
Firstly, don’t call yourself stupid. You may have made a poor choice, but at the time, you considered it the right one for you. True, if there was no clear-cut reason for saying no to this first fellow, and you were having an okay (even good) time with him, you may have opted to see it through to the end (whatever that may be), but you didn’t and so here we are.
Secondly, now I know that this may cause some controversy: Can I ask if you considered agreeing to date the second fellow while still seeing the first? Yes, double-dating. It’s not as if you had been out with the first fellow for two months and were already involved in a relationship. The two of you were still getting to know each other. I don’t see the harm in saying yes to another fellow – especially because we know, all too well, that if you hesitate for a moment or ask to put the shidduch on hold, the fellow will move on to the next woman on his list – you were worried that you may lose your chance. I double-dated in the past, and I even triple-dated once. I had a dry spell for about six or seven months. Then all of a sudden three shadchanim called within a day of each other. I said “yes,” to all. I don’t think that was rude of me. I think I did it more out of desperation – a 30-year-old who hadn’t dated in seven months? C’mon, throw her a life vest. It just so happened that a life vest, tube, and boat were thrown my way all at once. I know I will probably get hate mail for telling people to double-date, but I’m saying you can do it in the very beginning of a shidduch. I would never do it after a month of dating one specific person (or the fourth or fifth date) because feelings and emotions come into play as do trust issues if the other person found out.
Thirdly, thank you for reading “What I Did with My Shidduch List.” I wrote it right after I was married. I wanted everyone, male and female, to know that had I stuck to my list, I’d be in the same place I always was – stuck in time, stuck in place. I knew I had to make a change, and the change was to think differently when it came to shidduchim. Yes, I know that not everyone has the opportunity to work with potential zivugim and I was lucky in that respect – but I looked beyond the smoking and age differences as well as other little things and it ended up working out. I can’t say that the same will happen with you or anyone else who wants to try to date someone he or she previously dated and then rejected. But you won’t know until you try.
To answer your question as to how to answer the shadchan or the fellow if they ask you why you stopped things first time around. You don’t have to tell them the whole truth, but don’t tell an outright lie either. You can say that you weren’t feeling “it,” and now that time has passed and were able to think back and reflect upon things, you feel that it may be the right time to try dating him again. All of that is true. If you were feeling “it,” you wouldn’t have dropped this fellow like a hot potato to date another.
Some of you may not agree with the advice I’ve given, and that’s okay. Differences make the world go round.
Hatzlachah to you all!