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Red Light, Green Light

Elisheva Appel

Given the vast amount of energy we invest into shidduchim, it’s no wonder singles and their parents tend to analyze, and overanalyze, every bit of information

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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H ours of research, dozens of phone calls, endless agonizing...

Given the vast amount of energy we invest into shidduchim, it’s no wonder singles and their parents tend to analyze, and overanalyze, every bit of information gleaned over the course of an hours-long date.

Combine nerves, differences in conversational style, and the lack of context inherent in a date, and it’s all too easy to mistake the inconsequential for the life-altering, or to miss the forest for the trees.

Here, four experts on relationships advise us how to differentiate between the red lights that should stop a single in her tracks, and the green lights that encourage her progress toward her ultimate destination

Meet the Experts

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin

a noted relationship expert, is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, a Certified Imago Relationship Therapist, a rabbi, and a father of five. He’s an Advanced Clinician in Imago Therapy.

Rabbi Doniel Frank

directs M.A.P. (Motivation and Performance) Seminars, Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps people create, design, and launch their life plans successfully. He also maintains a private practice in marriage and family therapy and is a dating coach.

Esther Gendelman

MS, LPC, CPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and certified professional coach who specializes in working with relationships. A veteran educator, speaker, and shadchan, she is the co-author of book The Missing Peace by Menucha Publishers.

Rosie Einhorn

LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist, has worked extensively with singles in her private practice, and presented hundreds of programs throughout North America, Europe, and Israel for single Jewish men and women and their families, friends, and communities.

Chilled or Irresponsible?

When he reported on Ari’s learning, the rosh chaburah praised his intellectual abilities and emphasized Ari’s enthusiasm, which we took to be a compliment.


Now that I’ve been out with Ari three times, and he hasn’t managed to show up on time even once, I’m not so sure that it wasn’t just an attempt to come up with something nice to say. When the shadchan, who’s my aunt, delicately broached the subject with him, Ari’s response was, “Look, I’m a laid-back kind of guy.”

Laid-back seems to be his general term that describes someone who often davens at the minyan factory’s latest Shacharis, can forget to bring his wallet on a date and misplace his parking stub, but who also doesn’t bat an eyelash when Waze goes berserk and sends him in futile circles around Lower Manhattan.

Ari’s clearly good-hearted. He’s gentle and funny. But should I be concerned that he can’t manage the rigors that adulthood will demand?

Yellow Light

Mrs. Esther Gendelman

This is a tough dilemma, because while you see his good qualities, you also see a lack of responsibility.

What you’re perhaps forgetting is that discipline and structure, on the one hand, and warmth, generosity, and an easygoing nature, on the other, are often opposite sides of the same coin. You seem to be looking for a young man who scores high marks in qualities that derive from very different strengths.

Ari might never have the meticulousness to become an accountant, but that’s fine —every person has strengths in one area and corresponding weaknesses. If his strength is what Rav Shlomo Wolbe called “zriyah — planting” — the organic, nurturing processes — he’ll likely be weaker in “binyan — building” strengths, such as routine and discipline. But a good person can use his strengths to compensate for his weaknesses. He could very well surprise you and rise to the occasion, being the warm, comforting presence that everyone wants to lean on in a time of crisis.

In practical terms, what you’re missing is the confidence that Ari is a baal achrayus. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 578)

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