To the Shadchan:
I am what you would call an older single, a successful professional in my early 40s. I am reasonably good looking and have lots of friends. I think I am a nice guy. I treat a woman well. I’m not cheap and am always willing to travel to wherever she is located.
As you can imagine, I’ve dated quite a few women. Many of them did not want to continue seeing me, and many of those who wanted a relationship, I wasn’t interested in. I don’t think I’m overly “picky.” I’m looking for a regular, nice girl. She doesn’t have to be a beauty, although she should be attractive to me, of course. One thing I do not want is someone who is a super-achiever. Some of the women I have met have become too sharp and efficient for me over the years they’ve been single. My belief is that I am not married because I have not yet found the right one, and I do still hope to find her.
My problem is with my friends and their wives as well as with random shadchanim in town. Some of them have decided that I have a commitment problem and refuse to set me up at all. Others continue to make suggestions and encourage shidduchim, for which I am grateful. What I don’t like is when they assume I need their “advice” on how to date and what I am doing wrong – or right, for that matter. One young shadchan told me that she wanted to fix me up with this great girl – if I would agree to talk to her (the shadchan) after each date to make sure that I wasn’t wasting the opportunity or her time! This shadchan was 25, and I was 40 at the time!
I have also had the experience of being set up with women who, after I traveled to meet them, were totally unsuited to me. I suppose I share some of the blame for that, because I do not do much “checking” beforehand. Still, I would tell well-meaning people to think about whether two people have anything in common before setting them up.
I like my friends and don’t want to offend them. I enjoy being their Shabbos guest, and I do my part to contribute to the Shabbos table enjoyment. I just want to say to them: Please remember that I am an adult, not a child. It is inappropriate to offer unwanted advice and opinions about me and my actions and choices.
My question to you, an experienced shadchan, is how to let my friends know this – that I appreciate them and their friendship, but I want them to give me privacy and treat me with the respect I deserve, the same respect with which they want to be treated.
The Shadchan Answers:
Your letter is very interesting. You are a successful professional in your early 40s. You have dated many women but have not yet found your zivug (mate). You say you travel for the date and are often disappointed when you get there. I do not know how far you travel. Is it California, Chicago, St. Louis or nearby New York? I would suggest that, for a trip longer than three hours, you – not the shadchan – should arrange the date. Speak to the woman on the phone a few times to see if you connect. This will avoid the scenario of a shadchan matching you up at random without considering whether you and the young lady have anything at all in common.
Regarding your preference for someone who is not a “super achiever,” let me say, first, that not everyone fits into that category. But you have to realize that many young women over the age of 25 are quite polished and successful. I don’t think they are necessarily super achievers, but many of them are in the professional world and are undeniably “sharp and efficient.” You don’t have to be intimidated by them. You are also a professional, working successfully in the outside world. You should be able to find someone who is of the same caliber as you and who also has a pleasing personality.
You mention that some of your friends/shadchanim have given up on you, thinking that you simply can’t commit. You might consider whether your friends are correct in their assessment. This will take some introspection on your part. I have no way of gauging whether this is true, but I hope you have not become what I call a “career dater.” This is the person who goes out and goes out and never “seals the deal.” There was once a man in his 40s who came to a well known Rebbe in Eretz Yisrael and told him of his plight: he could not find his true zivug. The Rebbe answered, “No, that that was not true. You found her but her nose was farkrumpt (crooked).” Has this happened to you? Have you been in relationships that seemed to be progressing and then decided at the last minute that, for some reason, it wasn’t for you?
I agree with you about “young shadchanim” who are new in the field giving advice. They should not be telling you that you have to check with them each time you go out to see what you did or did not do right. It is not up to them to decide if you are wasting the opportunity. They are there to listen and be your sounding board, but they should encourage you and help you figure things out for yourself so that you can come to your own conclusions. At your age, you do not have to be told that “you do not know what you are doing.”
By the way, I want to commend you for your efforts to meet potential marriage partners and being willing to go wherever they are located. This in itself is unusual these days, when the boys expect the girls to travel to them. As I have written in previous columns, this was unheard of years ago. Boys traveled anywhere to meet the girl. Remember, as far back as the days of Avraham Avinu, Eliezer was sent to find a wife for Yitzchak, and not the other way around. This is the way it should be, but, unfortunately, times have changed.
Your main question seems to be about your friends. I think they only want what is best for you. Rather than seeing it as a lack of respect, try to view their questions and advice as their attempt to help you see the issues from their perspective. How should you let them know that you want more privacy and respect? I would tell it to them straight, just as you describe in your letter. Say that you appreciate their concern for you but that some discussions are “off the table.” Tell them that you want them to respect your choices and your privacy. If they are true friends, they will understand.
I hope that I have guided you in some way. If you would like to meet with me, I suggest you contact me through the Where What When. In the meantime, I wish you hatzlacha (success) in your search, and may Hashem reward you with your true ezer kenegdo at the right time during this coming year.