| The Lonely Wait |

Too Picky?

Three possible alternative explanations for why a single might be viewed as “picky”



well aware of the argument that singles are too picky. In my years as a dating coach I have met and helped hundreds of singles, young and old, male and female, looking for a first spouse or trying marriage again. Yes, from the outside it may seem they are too picky. But as someone who’s working from the inside, I can say that this isn’t generally the case.

Allow me to share with you three possible alternative explanations for why a single might be viewed as “picky.”

Firstly, when a single lacks social confidence, what his or her friends might think or say about their potential spouse becomes a high priority. When a single says, “No, he’s too short,” what she really might be saying is, “No, my friends will wonder why I married such a short boy.”

This nuanced distinction can make all the difference in helping to guide a single through his or her decision process. It will take time to help a single get past this hesitation but, so long as your focus remains directed at the root of the problem, you’ll eventually get there.

Secondly, the perceived "pickiness" may well be an inability to properly communicate. A single will return from a date and say, “She’s too quiet.” You might be ready to dismiss him as “picky” but don’t be so quick to make assumptions. There is likely something else that is bothering him, something that he is having trouble expressing. It takes time, experience, and skill to help him or her remove the layers and communicate the core of the issue.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we are all subject to the influence of Western culture. Our ideas of an ideal spouse are tainted by a power that is far less than ideal.

One can conjure up an image of marriage as it has been depicted by advertising agencies. A beautiful beach setting, rich blue skies, sparkling ocean, and martinis with swirl straws and lemon perched perfectly on the rim in the hands of a laughing couple on vacation. Should you pursue that depiction, you are allowing yourself to be duped by the skin-deep facade of “modern” values. But we do pursue it, and we end up shocked when the clouds are grey, the waters are choppy, and there is definitely no time for martinis.

The same dynamic plays itself out in dating. We look for someone who will fit the picture that we’ve lived with for so many years, not realizing how unrealistic that picture is.

It’s not a matter of being picky. It’s a matter of being raised in a very challenging time.

Once we’ve determined that the problem is rarely a simple matter of “pickiness,” the question becomes — so how do we deal with it? Whatever the problem is, what is the solution?

One technique that I’ve found useful is to respond to a concern not by dismissing it, but by embracing it. I will say something like “Write it down, and we’ll review this later. In the meantime, try to continue the dating process without thinking about it. For the time being it’s here, on paper. We won’t forget about it. Just try to adjust your focus for one more date.”

If, after a few more dates, it becomes apparent that, yes, the general picture seems to fit but the smaller issues continue to be a problem, then, at that point, I like to share what I think is a powerful insight.

“Assuming you marry your idea of a perfect spouse,” I will say, “do you think that no problems will crop up over the course of your life? Of course they will. And you will be forced to see past those problems and focus on the larger picture. This, in fact, is one of the main purposes of marriage, to learn how to get beyond the obstacles. So now you have the opportunity to do exactly that. It’s great practice for married life.”

We can make progress when we learn to be sympathetic and understanding. Empathy works, criticism doesn’t.

We must also have the right mindset when we speak to singles.

“You are too picky” is a judgment. Instead of saying you are too picky, say: how can I help you? How can I support you?

When the single feels that you are genuine, they will respond to you differently. Most people respond if they feel safe. They need to see that you are trying to help them find what they want, not what you think they should want.

When they feel that you are on their team, they will invite you to play a role in their journey.


Rabbi Yechiel Rhine lives in Passaic and has been a shidduch coach for almost a decade. He focuses on bringing clarity to daters and parents of daters to help assist them through the shidduch process.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 948)

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