The following is an open letter written by a single woman shared with the Adai Ad Institute in Crown Heights:
To my dear loving parents –
I know you want to see me settled into a happy marriage, and that is why you are working so diligently for a shidduch for me. I too want to get married. Very much so. But here’s the thing: I am getting so tired and dragged down by all the judgment that comes from this shidduch dating.
Really, I am not so picky. I am obviously dating bochurim who are not quite right for me. One has a shlichus lined up for him in a third-world country, and I’m not ready for that type of move. Another was entirely too reserved for me to have a proper conversation with him. Yet another was a chauvinist who loved to share racist and sexist jokes.
All this dating is emotionally draining on its own, but what is even more draining and painful are the judgments and well-meaning comments I get from my family, friends, and ‘wise’ fellow community members.
“Why are you so picky?” “Why don’t you give it one more chance?” “Height isn’t everything.” “Wouldn’t you rather live in Timbuktu than stay single forever?”
No, I actually wouldn’t. (gasp).
I know everyone is coming from a place of love and concern, they just care to see me happy. But what they don’t realize is that such comments are not conducive to such happiness. They just make me more anxious.
Just recently, you set me up with someone, because, as you say it, “I can’t figure out what you are looking for, so what’s the big deal to just meet. You never know.” So I met him- because you thought it is a good idea- and even though after meeting with him I am positive that he is not for me, you prodded and urged me to meet him again and again. Is my judgment not good enough?
I also figured out that you created a situation where I would be at the same Shabbos table as someone I told you I did not want to meet – because you still thought it was a worthwhile shiduch idea.
These little anecdotes make me feel belittled, like my opinion is really not important. It is straining our relationship, something I desperately don’t want, especially at this delicate stage of life. A stage where I so desperately need to be supported, encouraged, entrusted. Not questioned, judged, and reprimanded.
There are times when we talk about shiduchim, I feel a knot in my stomach, my shoulders stiffen and I feel pounding in my head. I feel anxious about our relationship, and about what you will say this time. Will you minimize my concerns and dismiss by reservations? And worse, will you blame me for being so picky? Will you make me doubt myself? Will you try to convince me that something that bothers me isn’t all that important in the scheme of life?
I dread these conversations, because they all go the same way. You getting frustrated at me, and I feeling more confused than before. I need to feel that we are in this together. Both of us working in tandem, in sync – as friends. I want to feel supported and empowered during this trying stage of my life. Actually, I need that. I need you to validate my concerns, trust my gut, and build my self esteem. All done in the way that I feel supported, not in the way that you think I ought to feel that you are supporting me (ala ‘Five Love Languages’).
Let’s remember that I didn’t put myself in this situation. It’s the cards Hashem dealt me, and I’m now left with the decision on how to play them. Let’s play them with happiness. Let’s recognize Who’s really making my shidduch.
And please recognize that I can be happily single, until Hashem decides to make me happily married.
We both want what’s best for me. We’re in this together. But sometimes I feel that we are on opposite sides.
I love you, I truly appreciate your intent, but the way you are going about it isn’t working for me. Please, please let’s have a conversation about how to move forward from here.