I

’m done. I’m totally and thoroughly done. I am 23 years old and a “top girl.” I went to the right seminary, I’ve always been a bas aliyah, I’m slim and pretty, and I’m not looking for anything outrageous or over the top. Just a nice, solid boy who wants to grow alongside me.

The problem is that my family situation is very complicated. I have a brother who is off the derech and a sister who has been in remission from leukemia for five years. Neither of these situations is hereditary, but no one wants to touch us with a ten-foot pole. You wouldn’t believe the inappropriate and hurtful suggestions that have been sent our way.

I cannot describe to you the hurt and sense of betrayal I feel. But that’s my problem and I’ll have to work it through. My question for you is this: Is it time to move beyond shadchanim and start looking for appropriate matches on the frum dating websites? I feel like by definition, the people there will be more open-minded and more people will give me a chance. It’s not my type, and I never envisioned myself doing this, but I’m wondering if it’s my best bet.

Worn Out

 

Dear Worn Out,

I’m so sorry that as a society we have caused you so much pain.

As humans, we irrationally believe that we can protect our children by avoiding the things we fear. But it still really hurts to be on the receiving end of that rejection.

We are so incredibly tiny, with tunnel vision and limited access to information. HaKadosh Baruch Hu in His infinite vision creates scenarios that our narrow minds could have never conceived, to fit into a greater picture that only He can see. Things that need to happen come about in the most unlikely ways, and sometimes our journey takes us places we would have never imagined — physically, geographically, and even spiritually.

Is it possible that by closing the regular and predictable channels to you, Hashem is preparing a new road that you would never have chosen three years ago? Have the painful experiences of the last few years brought your values into focus? Have you perhaps shifted your priorities, slowly discovering what is truly important to you?

There’s an observable trend in which women who have been dating for several years find that they are constantly remaking themselves, sometimes related to the dating experience and sometimes because of concurrent life experiences. Often, with that comes an expanded view of hishtadlus. It sounds as though you may be at that place, and if that’s the case, let us remember that “harbei shluchim laMakom.”

There are some inherent benefits in the traditional shidduch system and, obviously, some inherent pitfalls. What you’d be trying to do here is capture the benefits while avoiding the pitfalls. Of course, before we even begin this discussion it goes without saying that this is a decision that needs to be made with daas Torah. I don’t know what your relationship is to social media, but you’re about to open yourself up to a whole new world, and it’s always highly recommended that you take along a guide when stepping onto new terrain. Please know that once you enter, there’s no turning back. The force is as subtle as it is powerful. So I can’t answer whether or not you should enter, but check your denial at the door.

Should you and your rav/rebbetzin (and I hope your parents as well) decide this is a worthwhile next step, I implore you to do your research. Not every dating website is the same. Some are run through shadchanim and others allow direct connection between the members. Some do a really good job of allowing you to specify which hashkafah you are most aligned with and interested in being matched with, and some don’t. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that you have some say over details such as who gets to see the résumé first, etc. It would seem to me that developing a relationship with the shadchanim who work for these websites would be a real advantage so that the matches are more on point.

I feel your anger and hurt and I can see how those emotions would make everything feel urgent. Please know this isn’t magic either. Yes, if you use frum dating sites, you will have more exposure and more access, but at the end of the day, it’s just another form of hishtadlus. You can have a profile on a dating website for months and not get any suggestions, just like you can sit at home and wait for the phone to ring for months. Stay focused on the goal and on your values, and be careful not to use this as a way of “punishing” the system. It’s fine to be open to different expressions of your most cherished values, but never lose sight of them.

And, finally, continue to pursue your regular hishtadlus. You never know where the yeshuah will come from.

Wishing you besoros tovos b’karov,

 

Sara

Originally featured in Family First, Issue 605. Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed social worker and a columnist for inshidduchim.com. She also lectures on topics related to relationships, personal development, and growth. She welcomes questions, comments, feedback, and interaction at inshidduchim@mishpacha.com.