Are our high standards causing us to ignore the young people in shidduchim who don’t fit our vision?
By: A bochur who deserves a “Yes”
here it was again. Another “no.” Another slap in the face. It was the sixth rejection in a row, and it stung.
At the start of my shidduch journey, each negative reply from the girl’s side was a huge blow. I would nurse the pain of rejection until finally another date came along. And then the cycle would begin again. By now, the constant rejections are merely blips on the radar. How can I be 22 years old and feel so unwanted before my life has even begun? How am I supposed to react and deal with this?
There is lots of talk among our community about the shidduch crisis, and it seems like almost every other week another solution is offered to relieve some of the issues. But one all-too-common issue seems to have slipped everyone’s notice. I don’t know what’s worse: a girl not getting suggestions in the first place, or a boy being rejected time after time. Of course, both are issues that need to be addressed, but while the former is at the forefront of society’s awareness, the latter has been largely ignored. Rejection in the shidduch world can take the ultimate toll, and it is not discussed enough, if at all.
I agree that for the most part, our shidduch system heavily favors the boys. But this doesn’t factor in bochurim like me whose family situation means that the odds are stacked against us. Having an OTD sibling, or parents who are divorced, or any other “abnormal” family situation, immediately gets our résumés marked with a red flag, even when these strikes are in no way indicative of who we are as individuals.
Unlike our peers, bochurim such as myself do not have kitchen tables overflowing with piles of shidduch résumés. Suggestions are few and far between, and when they do come, they almost always require some form of compromise. The shadchan says, “This may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but she is an amazing girl. Just give it a shot.” So we do. We do the research and hear great things, and suddenly there is hope once more. But the hope is all too fleeting, for inevitably the shadchan returns with yet another “no,” another rejection.
I often wonder whether the other side took any information about me at all before offering that resounding snub. I suspect that more often than not, the girl’s parents take one look at my résumé and simply wait a couple of days in an attempt at politeness before dismissing me outright. I try hard to be dan l’kaf zechus by telling myself that the other side did put in some effort and that their “no” is due to legitimate reasons of incompatibility. But when the people listed as my references tell me that they never received a call, it’s challenging to push those nagging thoughts out of my mind.
There are amazing young men and women out there who are diamonds in the rough (literally). People like me are stuck in situations that are not of our own doing and have no bearing on who we are as individuals. And yet they seem to be holding us back from finding our basherts.
I understand the hesitancy to pursue such shidduchim. Our community places a lot of emphasis on family, and rightly so. We also tend to strive for perfection. Are our high standards causing us to ignore the young people in shidduchim who don’t fit our vision?
No one is perfect. Every relationship requires compromise, whether we’re aware of it or not. Sadly, too many people have married into families who seemingly checked all the boxes, only to discover that all was not as it had appeared. Perhaps there is something to be said about choosing your compromises, rather than falling into them by mistake.
A year and a half into shidduchim, I’m working hard to change my own perspective. Whereas I used to torture myself by speculating about every rejection, now I remind myself that every “no” is facilitated by Hashem. I’ve also realized that I have to appreciate each opportunity to give another person a chance. And when that person doesn’t return the courtesy, I am grateful that I was spared the time and energy that I would have otherwise invested into the shidduch. When I started shidduchim, the rejections were a major stumbling block. After lots of internal work, I am now able to view them as stepping stones.
The next time someone suggests a bochur like me, please look into the shidduch like you would any other. Do your research, find out how our family situation has affected us — don’t just write us off. We’re diamonds in the rough, and deserve a real chance.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 919)
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