| The Conversation Continues |

Mix & Match: The Conversation Continues

Our shidduch stats generated a great deal of discussion. Savvy singles and seasoned shadchanim offer their insights into the process

If I ever become a shadchan I will…

Not push someone to say why a specific girl/boy is not for them. If they don’t want to say, I want to respect their boundary, especially because their reason can be personal, reflect the other party in a negative light (making it lashon hara that isn’t always l’toeles), or uncomfortable to say.

Give more feedback after dates. Not just, “He said yes” or, “He said no.” I’d give details and call the single to hear what she has to say.

NOT look at my phone while a girl in front of me expresses herself. I will give her the courtesy of properly listening and find a way to take notes afterward, or say, “Hold on, I’m just writing this down so I can remember it,” and pause the conversation to write it down.

Tell the boy/girl to sleep on it. I wouldn’t ask them to call me right away after the date, because after three hours of small talk and smiling and looking perfect, you’re emotionally and physically drained and probably not thinking logically. (Most of the shadchanim I’ve been involved with are perfectly fine with not hearing from me until the next morning, and I would want to work that way, too.)

Try to respond to messages from singles. So often, I hear my friends saying they reached out or texted a shadchan and got no reply. Singles feel so vulnerable reaching out to shadchanim, the least you can do is respond. We understand you’re busy, but even just a short reply goes a long way.

Mention when meeting a girl, that even though I don’t always have the time to pick up, I will see that you called, and it will remind me of you.

Try to give encouragement to singles and let them know I’m thinking of them. If a shidduch doesn’t work out, I want to let them know I’m thinking of other ideas. Every kind word means a lot.

Try to call the person to update him/her on times and whatnot — not suffice with a text or email. Singles often prefer to speak to the shadchan, but don’t want to call because they don’t want to be a bother.

Respond to every text/email I receive. Even if all I write is, “Thank you.” I want to tell singles that they aren’t just screaming into the void.

Note to shadchanim:

if you push too hard for a reason why a shidduch didn’t work out, know that single may end up giving a fake reason because they don’t want to say the real one. This isn’t helpful to anyone.

If you could change something about the shidduch system, what would it be?

Classes should be given to the boys about how to date. They should be given by women, and need to be mandatory.

I wish we could normalize coffee dates — for daters of all ages. There are plenty of fine, young people in shidduchim who would have a much easier time dating and being authentic on dates if they didn’t have to follow along with the formal lounge dates, heels and all. It doesn’t have to be for everyone. If first-date lounges work well for you, kol hakavod! But let the people who do better in a more relaxed natural setting do what is best for them — without judgment, please.

I think there should be more dating workshops for singles. Teach singles important dating skills and how to help relationships progress, etc. Singles are thrown into this without being prepared. A lot wing it and are fine, but a lot just need a little guidance. Dating coaches should be a norm.

Let’s create more casual situations where singles can meet. There is so much pressure in the shidduch world. Casual meetups are a far easier way to meet a lot of people quickly and to remove some of the pressure of résumés and references.

It’s frustrating and frightening to be picked up by a boy who doesn’t have enough money, doesn’t have enough gas, whose car is on the verge of breaking down, who drives 90 mph, who won’t admit he’s lost, or who shuts down on the date because he’s lost interest and won’t talk (it’s okay not to be interested, but please be courteous and try to make conversation for the next two hours so I don’t feel like a piece of dirt). This is not to say that girls don’t have room for improvement, too, but I’m a girl, so this is my vantage point. (I’d love to hear from a boy’s perspective what it is that we can do better to improve the dating experience.)

I would make dinnertime dates illegal and punishable by fine if we do not actually get dinner. I get so hungry on dates.

The pressure on single girls to look, act, and be perfect is just too much. I can’t handle having to look amazing every time I step foot outside. Spending an hour every morning putting on a full face of makeup and doing my hair is impossible, hard to keep up and, honestly, shouldn’t be necessary. I’m tzniyusdik, I’m doing the best I can, and Hashem will send me my zivug when the time is right. As a society, I think we’ve gone too far. We need to let single girls be.

The way our system works now is that you can spend 10-plus hours with a boy, give a hearty thank-you after your (fill in number) date, and never see him again. This process, which tends to happen many, many times if you are in shidduchim for a number of years, systematically eats away at the girls’ and boys’ sense of self and dignity. Why is it right that after connecting with a boy/girl for hours and hours over the course of several or many dates, the relationship ends with a shadchan saying it’s over? It leaves both parties without a sense of closure or understanding and can really feel horrible. I suggest implementing a two-minute goodbye phone call when a shidduch ends after four-plus dates. All that’s needed is for both parties to say, “You’re a great person, I’m sorry it didn’t work out, and hatzlachah going forward.” That closure will spare so much heartbreak and confusion and will hopefully leave both parties feeling empowered and ready to move on with the next parshah.

What would you like to tell people to stop saying to singles?

Although it’s socially accepted to always say, “Im yirtzeh Hashem by you” to singles, especially at simchahs, we’ve heard it enough. We know we’re single, there’s no need to remind us. If you want to help, just quietly say a perek of Tehillim with us in mind.

I know myself. I know what I need. I also know how painful it is to spend four hours on a date with someone who isn’t even in the ballpark for me. Make suggestions, and then accept their response if the single turns you down. Remember, this isn’t about you. 

Don’t give false hope. Don’t say things like, “You’ll see. By next Pesach you’ll be coming with your husband!” Or, “I’m telling you it’s going to happen soon!” You have no idea if that is true. I’m all for emunah, and I believe Hashem has a plan for me. But you don’t know His plan, so don’t pretend you do.

Don’t tell me, “There are no good boys left.” I like holding on to hope.

When you meet me, please ignore my single status. I don’t need your chizuk or great segulos (I’ve heard them all), and I’d appreciate being treated as a regular person. I’m a regular person even if I’m not wearing a sheitel. Just like you wouldn’t walk over to someone who’s overweight and immediately give them diet tips and health advice, if you don’t know me personally and you don’t have an idea for me, then my status as single has nothing to do with you.

Please don’t tell singles to, “Just go out, it’s just a date.” We know you mean well, but to us it’s not “just a date.” Each date is draining. Getting our hopes up, and then having them dashed again and again is exhausting, so we only want to date if we think it makes sense.

Stop trying to convince me to go out with someone just because you know of another instance where a girl refused to date boys who had certain traits, and then she dated one and BOOM! They got married!

Don’t tell me to stop being so picky or that I should be working on XYZ as a zechus. Especially if you’ve never been in my position.

I once worked with a girl — younger than I and married — who told me (unsolicited) that maybe I should give up my smartphone “as a zechus.” I wanted to answer, “And what major thing did you give up on to be zoche to get married at 19?”

I hate when people say, “Oy, I just don’t know any boys.” Really? Are you sure? You gotta know someone. It feels like an excuse — and a lame one — for such a huge thing.

Don’t embarrass a single by offering her a segulah in front of other people. You want to give me the kallah’s jewelry to hold by the chuppah? Come over quietly. It’s hard enough to be at your (much younger) cousin’s sheva brachos. You make it worse when you announce, “Pass the kos shel brachah to her!”

Please don’t argue with me when I tell you which qualities I’m looking for. My decisiveness may sound unusual to you, but I’m very self-aware and a lot of thought and experience has gone into choosing those qualities. I feel disrespected and frustrated when a virtual stranger expects me to explain and defend my choices.

Please don’t push me to go out again if I really, really know that I don’t want to. I’m not talking about going on a second date (that’s another conversation). If we went out three or four times and I really know, because I’ve had a feeling all along, that I don’t want to see this person anymore, and I’m not going to marry him, please do not tell me to try one more time. It’s leading the other side on and wasting everyone’s time. And yes, I’ve been on both sides of this. I’ve wanted to go out again and the boy didn’t. It really hurts when you’re the one being rejected, but I know it’s better to have the shidduch end sooner rather than later.

I don’t appreciate when people come and tell me every segulah to try. I always think, just daven for me. I’m not bashing segulos but I feel like they’ve become the first response instead of tefillah.

From one single to another

Trust your gut. You, and only you, know yourself best. If something is niggling at you, listen to that something. It doesn’t mean you should say no or not go out again or give up on the shidduch, but you should definitely not ignore it, no matter what anyone tells you (it’s nerves, you’re “losing your bashert,” etc.). Try to figure out what it is that’s bothering you, and talk it out with someone.

Being single is hard, and being an older single is harder, but we cannot live in suffering. We all have pain in our lives we cannot control that is from Hashem. However, what we can control is the suffering, how we react, and the thoughts that go through our minds.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that it’s okay to really feel the pain, loneliness, and sadness, but not to drown in it. Cry and talk to Hashem in your own words. There are days that are easier and days that are harder. Surround yourself with people who you feel good with, and do activities that make you feel happy.

Tefillah doesn’t have to be with a siddur; just talk to Hashem in your own words, tell Him about your pain, your day, your anger, how you are feeling. It may feel weird in the beginning but it becomes natural very quickly.

When people say im yirtzeh Hashem by you, I’ve learned just to smile and say, “Amen.” People are saying it out of caring and not pity, and it’s a brachah. Who knows if that one person’s brachah is the one that will bring your zivug?

I believe each single should always focus on personal development and growth. They should work on getting to know themselves the best.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Some people will be more involved in chesed, some won’t, some may travel a lot, some won’t, etc. It’s okay not to be the most ambitious person, working hours to make tons of money. It’s more important to just enjoy your time. Find hobbies or things that bring joy. And it’s okay to spend your money.

What I want you to know

If you’re too busy to respond, then I’m sorry — you shouldn’t be a shadchan. We need shadchanim who treat singles with dignity and not make them feel worse about themselves. In my opinion, “mitzvah she'ba b’aveirah einah mitzvah.” If you can’t treat singles with respect, don’t be a shadchan.

I strongly believe that there might be an emunah crisis — not a shidduch crisis. My daughter has been dating for more than three years, but I’ve never felt the shidduch crisis. Hashem has decided a long time ago who her zivug is… and he just hasn’t appeared yet.

Shadchanim: when you meet a girl, please do not ask her about her brother! I know you want to hear about him, but it’s inappropriate to ask about him at this time. It’s hard enough seeing how much attention he gets from shadchanim while I have to beg for a meeting. Figure out another way to find out about him.

Can a shadchan step up to the plate and prioritize families that have buildup? It is so stressful for families who have multiple children in shidduchim! Please take those families under your wing. Feel the plight of a mother who cannot sleep at night! Your sechar will be endless.

In retrospect, I would not have included my picture on my profile. My parents wanted me to, so I did, but I didn’t like it. Especially when shadchanim would start nitpicking my picture selection, as though that mattered in the grand scheme of a bashert shidduch.

A few well-placed compliments mean the world to me. In a world where my self-esteem gets beaten up, a nice, “You’re such a considerate person/so talented/love working with you/you’re pretty” gives me a boost.

When redting ideas, please call to suggest the shidduch, and explain why you think it’s an idea. I’ll take it much more seriously. On the flip side, I’ve had profiles end up in my inbox, with the sender hurriedly clarifying that she doesn’t know the person that well. I’ve had times where I felt forced to validate every suggestion, even though little thought had gone into it. Forward me a person, not a paper.


The shadchan's take:

On sending shidduch pics

I don’t love sending pictures, but I try to use my discretion (and my brain!). I won’t send a picture to a mother who makes decisions based solely on pictures.

— Bashi Salzman, LMHC, is a shadchan and dating coach from Far Rockaway.

Pictures are a sensitive topic, especially when you live out of town. There’s a pressure for a boy or girl to take time off work and spend money to fly in just to discover it’s not their look. However, many girls don’t want their pictures shared.  It is so tempting to send a picture (without permission), as I know that will seal the deal to get a boy to say yes. If the girl is adamant about not sharing her picture, I still hold out and don’t send. For me, honesty is the foundation of being a shadchan; without it there is no credibility on my end. Earning one’s trust is my success in making shidduchim. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’m trying not to cave.

— Naomi Cohen is a shadchan and dating coach from Detroit, Michigan, with over 20 years of experience.

The change needs to happen from the boys’ mothers. It’s not on the shadchanim to change it; it does put them at a disadvantage. And it’s not on the girls to change it, it puts them at a disadvantage, too. The boys’ mothers are the only ones who can put their foot down and say, “I don’t ask for pictures and I don’t let my sons ask for pictures.”

— Meira is a shadchan from a large out-of-town community.

When people complain about shadchanim

I want people to understand that most shadchanim are not paid — we do this solely as a chesed. I try my best to respond to all messages within a few days even if sometimes I’m just replying with a smiley face. But people will call me, very upset, saying, “I couldn’t reach you!” I have a family and a job and many other responsibilities. Even if people feel we do get paid when a shidduch goes through, the vast majority of my time and effort is unpaid — meeting with girls one on one, redting shidduchim. It’s not a job, it’s really a chesed.

And there are ways to send messages — you should see my phone. Here’s a pretty typical text:

Hi trying to reach you


Where are you???


The best way to remind me about your child is just to be nice. A mother recently texted me:

Hi, hope your summer’s going beautifully. I’m just reminding you about my daughter Shani. Have a great day!

Just a polite reminder, no demanding a response. And it worked!

— Bashi Salzman

Singles don’t realize that shadchanim wear many hats. We have careers, we may be wives and mothers — and we’re people too. Yes, it’s our pleasure to help every single that we can, but often people don’t realize when they reach out to a shadchan asking about a shidduch, it’s them and literally 20 to 30 other people at the same time. I’ve been working on replying, “I’m not available right now, please remind me later.”

Shadchanim really work overtime, and I think there needs to be more sensitivity to that. Instead of criticizing shadchanim for not getting back quickly enough, give them the benefit of the doubt: Maybe the shadchan is in the hospital, maybe the shadchan is taking care of their own child’s needs, maybe they have a big project at work. Be dan l’chaf zechus that there’s nothing personal there.

— Naomi Cohen

If you look at my phone — and I’ve seen other shadchanim’s phones and so I know I’m not alone here — you’ll see that it’s not humanly possible for them to respond to everything. When you reach out to a shadchan to check in, your goal is just to get back on their radar. We’re constantly meeting new people, and there’s a limited amount that can stay at the front of our mental rolodex. So, when your name pops up on my phone, whether or not you get an answer, you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do.

— Meira

What I’d like to tell singles

One woman wrote that you should never redt a shidduch if you don’t know the boy’s side well. I completely, passionately, disagree!

Only Hashem is mezaveg shidduchim. No one else is involved — not your neighbor, not your cousin, not your friend. And as a shaliach, if you have an idea, you have an obligation to redt the shidduch. At a recent shidduch I made, I walked into the vort and people kept asking me, “How did you know the families would go so well?” I said, “Only Hashem knew.”

You can’t wake up when your kids are in shidduchim and say, “Oh, of course, Hashem runs the world.” Working on bitachon and emunah is a lifelong process.

If you had to know every side perfectly, no one would redt shidduchim! I make so many shidduchim where I don’t know anybody; it’s not my obligation to do the research for you. Of course, as a shadchan, if you know something is wrong with one side — lack of middos, unresolved mental health issues — then you should reevaluate if you should redt them a shidduch at all.

— Bashi Salzman

I know the dating process is hard and at times seems endless.  It can feel as if it’s never going to happen, but Hashem really, really brings your bashert at the right time in your life. I witness this every time I make a shidduch — whether it’s for an older single, second time around, or singles who are first-time daters.  But for each and every shidduch I’ve made, I can express why it was that particular time in their life that it was right.

Sometimes singles have to go out with multiple people to understand what the right fit is. Recently I made a shidduch where the boy was 25 and the girl was 20. He needed to wait for her to get her driver's license and graduate high school. She had to catch up to him! I’ve redt shidduchim where they dated and it wasn’t the right time, but the couple got engaged years later. Ultimately, Hashem is guiding you and will bring you your bashert at the perfect time.

I know that there are times when the phone doesn’t ring, and you feel like no one is thinking about you, but it really does happen.

— Naomi Cohen

This is going to sound a little preachy, but I think we need to focus on the concept of hishtadlus. People will tell me, “I went to a million shadchanim and I was never even redt a shidduch.” That’s a really frustrating feeling, but I think we forget that in all areas of life — and especially in shidduchim — our hishtadlus doesn’t always translate into direct results that we see from that area of hishtadlus. But that doesn’t mean that we should stop trying. For some people, going to shadchanim is very draining and frustrating, and to them I say, “Maybe that’s not your area of hishtadlus.” If a specific opportunity comes up, then great, but don’t push yourself. Maybe your hishtadlus is tefillah, reaching out to family and friends, or trying to set up your friends. Hishtadlus will look different for everyone.

— Meira

What I’d like to change

We’ve created this panic and frenzy that I wish would stop. Think how much happier and calmer life can be when we allow ourselves to fully enjoy each stage. We have so much to gain if only we can be more present.

I think every shul, school, and community should be actively working to help their own with shidduchim. One good thing we started doing in Far Rockaway is the Lev Leah TMM High School Initiative, where we incentivize both teachers and shadchanim to redt shidduchim to our students . We bring in shadchanim every few months to meet our girls, and pay them for their time. Additionally, we incentivize both those shadchanim and our staff to set the girls up.

— Bashi Salzman

Shadchanim bombarding boys and girls with random résumés with no follow-up calls. In today’s age of WhatsApp, texting, and email, people receive endless résumés and everyone looks the same. I really feel it’s important for a shadchan to make the follow-up call, to explain why they thought of the idea and make it personal. It’s the shadchan’s job to sell the shidduch, not the résumé’s — a résumé is just a list of basic information. Every shidduch needs to be tailor-made.

— Naomi Cohen

I hate how superficial the shidduch system has become. When you’re just redting pieces of paper, it just turns into, “Well, which seminary did she go to? How much money do they have?” I don’t have a way to fix that; I think it’s just a reflection of the world in general. I think that people forget they’re looking for a person to spend the rest of their life with, not to put on a postcard to send out to everyone you know.

It’s very easy, when you’re talking about people you don’t know, to judge them based on very superficial things, to put them in a box based on specific parameters and match them up that way.  “Oh, this seminary is the type to go with that yeshivah.” “Oh, he’s short and she’s short.”

Sometimes these externalities do mean something, they can be a starting point, but you need to be sure you don’t start just throwing random names at someone because they fit into a random category — you need to spend a little more time thinking. The basics may check off, but do other things make sense?

When you’re dealing with huge volumes of names, it’s too easy to fall into this. It’s not easy to delve into the nuances of personality and types; you also don’t know what’s going to work. Sometimes it’s just like, okay, this is the right basic type, let them meet and figure it out.

— Meira


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 807)

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