Nobody wants to be blamed for the Shidduch Crisis. (Yes, there is a Shidduch Crisis - I’ve met so many wonderful young women who are well into their 20s and have yet to meet their basherts.)
I hear the arguments already. “Maybe they met their basherts and they turned them down for meaningless reasons.” Girls are too picky, people claim.
Bachurim have written to various publications lamenting their own hardships when it comes to dating. Apparently they get rejected, too. They try to give the impression that they’re the ones who are anxious to get married, only to be turned down by the girls for no apparent reason.
These young men were bitter that the girls are the ones who get all the sympathy. Needless to say, I have turned down my fair share of guys. Trust me, though, I don’t enjoy doing it. People ask, “Don’t you realize, you could have been married had you not turned down so-and-so?” That’s incorrect. Who’s to say he would want to marry me? Maybe we’d date for a few weeks or months, and realize that we aren’t right for one another.
Many shadchanim dread hearing the words, “It’s just not for me.” They think either that we are seeking perfection, or we are expecting to experience the magic that’s represented between couples in secular media. In other words, we’re picky. Those beliefs, for the most part, are incorrect.
There was one guy whom I was told learned about four times a week, which for me was acceptable. On the date, he admitted that he’s lucky if he makes it to Beis Midrash twice a week. (This was not due to an intense workday, either.) Not for me.
How about the guy who was completely rude to the waiters and busboy in the restaurant? I don’t mean skipping a thank you or two, I mean downright condescending. He then proceeded to yell at me to “hurry up!” as we walked (ran) in the rain to his car, and he was 10 steps ahead of me.
I didn’t think it was right for me to report to the shadchan that this guy was rude. I didn’t need it getting back to him. I didn’t want the shadchan to blacklist him because of his behavior. So, I used the clichéd, “just not for me.”
As for chemistry, which seems to be a treife word, I find it integral to a relationship. A spark, if you will. Yes. A spark is important. I don’t mean exploding love-at-first-sight, head-over-heels feeling. If a girl rejects a guy on lack of chemistry, that usually means that the conversation didn’t flow easily, or they didn’t feel comfortable in each other’s presence. Lack of chemistry can happen to the “top boy” and the “best girl.” So, when we say, “not for me,” perhaps we are referring to lack of chemistry - not lack of fireworks.
In addition, we can easily blame the boys and their mothers. Many of them are not willing to even give a date on the basis of a picture they’ve obtained. Sometimes mothers screen the photos and decide whether their sons will “be attracted” to her. Nobody knows that but him.
The boys can turn down girls just as easily as the girls turn down boys. They also know a lack of chemistry when they see it, and there’s no lack of girls with bad middos out there.
The boys and their mothers know that they have the upper hand. When I spoke with the mother of a Lakewood boy, she estimated that she received 15 calls a day for her son. (Working boys are lucky to get half that, by the way, but that’s a story for another day, perhaps.)
The quest for perfection has become more difficult and more and more people get eliminated every day. Whether it’s a broken engagement (damaged goods, they say) or a divorce, or sibling or parents’ divorce, financial loss, or family illness… any nisayon a family goes through can be used against them, because they are no longer “perfect.”
One woman was perfect proof of this: I was the second reference on her list that she reached. The first reference called me and warned me: “Make sure you get to your phone when this woman calls. She said that if she doesn’t get through to any other reference for this particular girl, she’ll just move on to the next one.”
We aren’t just names on a list. We are people. People with qualities, middos (generally speaking, of course), lives, and hopefully potential.