I am a girl who has just started the shidduch process. I am fairly attractive, wear a size 2, come from a good family, and I think my personality is OK too.
Does any of this sound familiar? Yes, I am sure that to some of you, it does. I am the girl who posted comment #31 on the op-ed “What are Bochurim Thinking?” As I was reading all the comments, I became quite disturbed by some of the things I read.
Firstly, it seems that so many people are not educated in the correct approach to shidduchim. The girls learn some things in seminary, but of course, they only remember to begin teaching it at the end of the year. This of course means that we don’t have enough time to learn everything we should.
The guys have it even worse than us. They never learn the proper behavior one should have regarding shidduchim, dating, and all involved. They never learn what they should be looking for in a girl. They don’t know how to behave on dates.
Secondly, now that I am in this stage of my life, I am truly beginning to doubt the system. Throughout my entire life, I was always taught to keep my distance from the opposite gender, to ensure a “good” shidduch. Now that I am older, though, I see couples who found each other on their own and they seem happy. And I wonder if the “system” is something adults made up to keep us out of trouble, and in reality does not exist.
My third trouble is this: Why are educators so afraid to teach us right from wrong? We want to do this the right way and at this point in our lives, we need answers. Why can’t we have shidduchim classes to educate single boys and girls? A Mashpia is not enough.
I would like to finish off by saying that for those of you who thought I sounded interesting from my previous comments, what is the point of giving me your email address? If I am the good girl you think I am, then why would I email you? This is my exact worry. Do boys really know what they are looking for? Well, we girls aren’t sure either!
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Mrs. Sarah Junik’s response:
1. Food for thought: Amazing how we complain about how “others” only look at externals and how “they” are obsessed with looks, and yet when we describe ourselves the first words are “I am fairly attractive, wear a size 2” and only after that we get “…come from a good family, and I think my personality is OK too.”
Even if our motivation is that we are writing for a crowd that puts priority on looks, we should not buy into the philosophy ourselves but we should start our description with our family, our good midos, our personality, and then, if we feel we must, go to the looks department.
2. You are right to observe that many people are not educated about the correct approach to shidduchim. Some seminaries will have lectures on the subject but obviously not encompassing the full spectrum of yichud, tznius, etc. Some basic discussions on how men think and act differently than women would be useful as well.
When first coming to Sem, the girls are still in “High School Mode” and there are a lot of other things that should be taught. Even after a few months of maturity, some girls will say (or think) “Why do we have to hear this now, I don’t want to get married yet!” or “I have 2 sisters before me.” Therefore, it makes sense that the subject is taught more towards the end of the year rather then at the beginning.
3. When it comes to bochurim, ignorance is indeed even more common. With no structure available – group classes are not suggested – some youngerleit should volunteer to discuss, one on one, what is appropriate for shidduchim and on dates.
These private mashpiim would also be relieving the minds of a lot of out-of-town parents who do not know who to send their chossen bocher to for advice. (if someone wants to help, email [email protected]).
4. Your comment about setting up your own date is actually very worrysome.
Our views are skewed by the world around us, focused mainly on looks before character, trends before ideology. Your parents are influenced by the western culture, knowingly or not. How much more so you, the children!
Let’s be clear: A couple who found themselves also had a matchmaker – the same almighty that matched Adam and Chava. But a do-it-yourself Shidduch is compared to driving wild: just because you didn’t crash does not mean people who try it are safe.
More then often, a secular couple that has been dating for weeks still don’t know the basic life goals each is striving for, and could not mention three positive character traits (again, character not looks) they have observed. The whole idea of those dates is to have “fun.” Not very conducive to finding a fitting mate.
We are not even touching the fact that being Nogea B’Dovor, one is in euphoria and completely blinded that even if something off with true character is noticed, it is immediately dismissed or excused.
Human nature has not changed drastically in the last 100 years. What our bubbes knew to be right is still right and what was wrong is still wrong – whether you’re from Poland, Italy, France or New Jersey.
It’s easy to blame “the system,” instead of being clear with yourself (and it’s not easy) and looking within to know what complements you, what you have to offer and what you really need.