Before beginning, I would like to clarify that this is not intended whatsoever to Ch”V bash or speak disparagingly about anyone. It is for the sole purpose of educating families involved in shidduchim about what are some of the unspoken happenings behind the shidduch scene.
Being married only a few years myself, I am well aware both from my own experience, as well as those of my friends, the tales of wows and woes throughout the dating process.
Over those few years, there was one scenario that would often repeat itself, one that would add much unnecessary stress to an already stressful endeavor. With this in mind, I would like to describe what this scenario is, and how it can best be dealt with.
Case in point: Bochur is flying in to meet your daughter.
From the bochur’s perceptive: Not quite so simple. Dating out-of-town presents its own unique set of challenges that are often overlooked, that with a bit of awareness and preparation need not be so challenging.
1 – Express appreciation: Make it a point to communicate to your daughter, that the Bochur is putting in a lot of effort to come. He is flying in, which includes airfare, Uber’s, luggage whatnot, and to just say “Thank you” for making the effort to come.
In addition, there is the matter of time between dates. Spending full days in someone else’s home or wherever it may be, isn’t quite so pleasant. Many Bochurim wind up feeling hurt that the energy they invested to come out there was not acknowledged, and will at times unfortunately affects the Shidduch, it simply comes across as insensitive.
It used to be, that most Bochurim were learning in Yeshiva, while the girls were mostly working, nowadays it’s very different. Many Bochurim have jobs as well, and so for them to take off work is obviously difficult, from requesting time off to finding a substitute, it’s a hassle. So please, just a “Thank you” and a bit of recognition for the effort made, would be great.
2 – Financial assistance: To parents; consider chipping in for the Bochurs flight expenses. It’s no secret that as many parents have expressed, the time has come for the entire dating expense to be an equal split. Perhaps a step in that direction that could be, that whenever the Bochur is flying in, offer to contribute toward the ticket. There are already quite a few families that do help with airfare, but it’s got to become more of a trend.
3 – Being thoughtful: When a Bochur flies to a city or state that he isn’t from, he generally will not have an easy time finding a place to stay, eat, go to Mikvah, Daven, etc. as he likely knows no one from there. Chances are however, that the girl’s family does. It is therefore surprising to hear how many times Bochurim fly out for a few days, have a difficult time locating a Minyan and Mikva and end up eating all three meals in cafes and restaurants. I doubt that this is done intentionally, which is why I am writing this.
Dear Parents, please try to find out if the Bochur has a place to stay, knows his way around, or simply needs some meals or food for his flight. These are just a few simple acts that can really make a world of a difference. The same would apply even if the Bochur is flying into Crown Heights, as not everyone has friends and family that can host them.
4 – There is a concept in Shidduchim that many Shadchonim like to share, “Unless you are certain that this Bochur/Girl isn’t meant for you, always meet a second time”. Especially, say the Shadchonim, “When the bochur flies in, it is only menchlich that you make his time and effort worthwhile by going out twice”. While this piece of advice is usually very helpful, girls and Bochurim alike, sometimes take it a bit too literal. They do just that, go out a second time…no talking, no smiling, no questions, no answers, just a car ride to the hotel and back. The most unmenchlich, uncomfortable and awkward thing possible Why? All in the name of Menchlichkeit and sensitivity. It is just so backwards.
Here is what can be done:
1 – Explain clearly what the goal of this second date is – and isn’t. It is to actually try and see if I like this person and want to marry them, by which the accepted method of doing so is by engaging the other in conversation. It isn’t a Leshem Mitzvas Pegisha and not to just be yotzeh being polite and then “Good bye Charlie”.
2 – If the Bochur or girl feel that they aren’t remotely interested in pursuing this shidduch any longer, better drop it now than give the other person an undesirable time. However the latter suggestion will need to take openness, honesty and a pressure free environment, which I suppose we can save for another Op-ed.
To conclude with Hakoras HaTov, there are families, whom when a Bochur came to meet their daughter, went above and beyond to make him feel welcome. Here are some of the things they did; Arranged a place to stay, gave him a list of the local Mikvahs, Shuls and minyonim times, as well as local supermarkets and places to eat. In the morning they left a bag of bakery goods and snacks at the home he was staying. They also offered a list of ideas of places where he can date.
I have no doubt that many would appreciate it, if a similar article was written about what others “What I Wish He Knew.”