So imagine this: You are single. You’ve been around shidduchim for just long enough to, maybe, perhaps, feel a little bit cynical about the process. And your friend, or your shadchan, or your aunt calls with any of the following questions:
“Are you open to dating someone who is divorced?”
“You’re not dating now, right? How about a new baal teshuva who’s not talking to his parents?”
“Maybe you want to date this bochur whose family has mental issues…”
How do you feel right now? I’ll bet you are super psyched about this great prospect, right!? But more realistically you ask yourself, “Wow, has it really come to this? Is that what’s in store for me?”
Well, that’s a great starting point for a successful shidduch! I mean, who doesn’t want to just jump in such a relationship on that kind of note?!
But if you’ve been around, this might be the first suggestion you’ve had in 6 months, or a year, or 3 years. And now you feel obliged to consider this suggestion. The truth though, despite the opening line of this suggestion, it might actually be a good suggestion.
The offer just wouldn’t let you know it that because all you heard about that person is a stigma – divorced, baal teshuva, mental health issues. Or any other ‘flaws’ for that matter.
Everyone has their match out there. And we’ve all got ‘selling points’ and we’ve all got baggage. We are human after all. But when someone starts off making a suggestion the sounds like “would you like to marry someone with issues,” you want to scream “NO!”
And you should!
Because they’ve not given you even one reason to say yes. They said nothing endearing about that person. They said nothing that would even make that person even sound like a human being.
Now imagine this:
Your friend, who knows and cares about you, calls and says, “I met this guy/girl, and you know what, they remind me of you. Maybe it was the smile, or that comment they made at the shabbos table, or maybe it was just a feeling. He/she made me think of you. And from what I can tell, I think you might hit it off. I think it’s worth your time. But I want to be upfront with you, he was married before, and he does have children. I don’t know everything, but I’m happy to help you do research or put you in touch with someone who knows more. I think it’s worth your time, and I think it’s worth looking into.”
Now how do you feel? Do you feel like a reject or do you actually feel hopeful?
I don’t dare to suggest a solution for the so-called “Shidduch Crisis” when I’m in the midst of it. But I can tell you this is one small improvement that could have a huge impact.
Let’s move away from defining people on paper. Let’s get to know people more. Let’s be open to seeing all the amazing good they have to offer. Let’s make shidduchim more personal. Let’s put ourselves in the position to vouch for other people. Not to lie, but to really see the good, and look for a good match. Let’s not open conversations with the seemingly negative, especially when we actually think there is something positive here.
And if we are not sure if this is a good idea, let’s try to find out more about this person, before making the suggestion and potentially starting a really good shidduch with a really bad first impression. If we do these things, we might see more of our dearest friends finally celebrating their own simchas.
So I leave it to you, to all of you. To us. Let’s try.