There are NO RULES in Shiduchim.

“This whole shiduchim part of my life is so frustrating and stressful, I wish there was a manual of how to navigate through it.” “Indeed, what are the protocols; wouldn’t it be great if those were written and shared with all?”

Though it may be easier to have a clear set of guidelines, there really are no rules when it comes to shiduchim. OK, there are just a few which I’ll mention soon. Every potential shiduch is unique – in so many ways that it would be difficult to state explicitly the way they should be done.

Some questions and answers.
You can send your questions to [email protected] or you can use the ‘Ask Anonymous question’ form.  We will try to answer your questions and add them here.

“This whole shiduchim part of my life is so frustrating and stressful, I wish there was a manual of how to navigate through it.” “Indeed, what are the protocols; wouldn’t it be great if those were written and shared with all?”

Though it may be easier to have a clear set of guidelines, there really are no rules when it comes to shiduchim. OK, there are just a few which I’ll mention soon. Every potential shiduch is unique – in so many ways that it would be difficult to state explicitly the way they should be done.

Some rules:

  • Take care of Dor Yesharim matching before even the first date. Your shadchan will probably ask both families for the information and share with both. If the shadchan doesn’t ask for it, you can offer the info to her/him.
  •  Be menchlich. Thank the shadchan for their efforts. If they have put time to helping you, some kind words or a small gift can really go a long way.
  • Be honest and forthcoming. When you don’t share all pertinent information, it just wastes the shadchan’s time when she makes suggestions to those who aren’t applicable for your single.
  • Communicate closely with the shachan while a shiduch is in process. Do not make the shadchan chase you.
If you have an idea for a shiduch, who should you approach first – the family or advocate of the young man or woman? It depends.  There are some points to consider.
  • If you are closer or friendly with one side, you may know if it is better to approach the other family first and see if they are interested before bringing it up to your friend, or the other way.
  • You might tell both sides that it is just a suggestion and that they can each make 1-2 calls in the next day or so to see if it something they would like to pursue. Then touch base with both to see if they are interested in pursuing further. If they both are satisfied with what they found out during these first calls, they can do more research if they’d like and proceed from there. However, if one side is not interested in pursuing further, it is important to let the other family know that, in a tactful and gentle way.  In this way, neither side has expended too much energy in the research.
  • Some feel that is best to approach the family of the young man first. The thought is that they don’t want the young woman or her family to know that someone has investigated and is saying ‘no’; they are concerned about sensitive feelings.
  • Different families have different preferences if they’d like to be approached first or second, and at what point in the process. Ideally, you’d ask them what they’d like.  (Personally, our family doesn’t mind if others research about us and our children; we don’t want to research about others until the other family feels that there really may be something to talk about.)
  • To the family or advocate: If someone reaches out to you about a shiduch, you can tell them your preference. “Please come to us, once the other side has done some research first and thinks this might be a good idea.”, “We prefer that you approach us first before sharing about our child to others.”, “We think it is best to tell both sides at the same time and then we touch base with you if we think it is something we would like to pursue further.”

How to tell the shadchan that you do not want to pursue the suggestion?  Again, there are several things to consider.

  • You don’t have to say much – if you don’t want to. You can simply say, “We’ve heard nice things. We simply don’t think it is shayach.” Or “We’ve heard wonderful things, we don’t think it is a good fit.” You don’t have to explain further.  At best, do not use the phrase, “I just don’t see it.”
  • If you are working with a shadchan who has been looking out for shiduch ideas, it would be helpful to give an explanation of why you think it is not shayach. In this way, you can help them narrow their criteria; make it easier for them to help you.  “My daughter really wants someone who loves to be around people and have friends over.”, “My son needs someone who is strong and independent and can take care of the family when he is away on business.”
  • Another reason why it is important to share with the shadchan: Perhaps there is something that you found out that she didn’t know about the person. If you share that information, it will make her work easier.  She will not be suggesting that person to people who are not shayach. “We understood from you that he was still learning full time, we heard that he is working full time and barely has a shiur once a week.”
  • Lastly, sometimes, you might hear things that are not accurate. If you mention what you have heard to the shadchan, she can help clarify misunderstandings.

So why is it that people don’t share the reasons? Sometimes, it is that the shadchan will minimize or dismiss those concerns. So they’d just rather not share anything.  In that case, you can simply tell the shadchan, “I really appreciate your insights. Nonetheless, this isn’t something we want to pursue or discuss at this point. Thank you.”  Others may not share because they fear the shadchan will think less of them and prefer not to share. “We can’t get past her way of dressing.” Or they don’t think the shadchan will understand the rationale. “I can’t get my son to go out with her because he disliked her brother in camp 7 years ago.”  Or they simply have a gut feeling that just can’t be explained.

Bottom line, when should I say “not shayach” and when should I give a reason?

  1. It depends on the shadchan. Is it a random person, or someone who really is trying to help you find shiduch?
  2. Your personality. How forthcoming you generally are.
  3. What the reason is.
  4. If you feel confident / trust the shadchan won’t share the negatives that you say, for example, “I don’t like the family”.

What to do when you receive a “it’s not shayach”?

  • Take a deep breath and be grateful that your single did not spend more time and energy dating someone who is not shayach.
  • Be grateful that you didn’t expend more energy doing more research.
  • If no explanation was given, don’t poke around for one. See above about why people don’t share their reasons.
  • Move on. The shiduch is out there. No point in expending any energy on trying to make someone want to pursue the shiduch.
  • Don’t take the ‘its not shayach’ personally. There are many many more people who are not shayach for your single than are.  You may have been hoping that this would be the ‘one’ and you might feel frustrated or upset that you must continue your search. Don’t let that emotion take over and make you sensitive and take things personally.
  • Sometimes, it just might be that other family is busy looking into something else and the timing isn’t right, so they don’t give it any thought and throw out a ‘it’s not shayach’, or ‘not now’. Ideally, this information would be shared with the shadchan and relayed to you. However, in reality it often is not. So, you can come back at a later point to the family through the same shadchan or someone else and have the suggestion brought up again.

What to do when you consistently get “it’s not shayach”?   There are several things that might be happening:

  • Your single might be described inaccurately and so the suggestions are off base, so they indeed are not shayach. It might be worthwhile to touch base with the shadchanim who are looking out for your single and re-describe your single. Or better yet, your single should speak to the shadchan directly so she can get a better sense of who they are.
  • The references might be describing your single inaccurately. It might be worthwhile to have someone call the references and see what they are saying.  You may have to change the references or update the references on the resume.
  • Your single may have changed or worked on middos in the recent past, and the ‘old version of the person’ still comes up in the research. You might ask the few references to mention that. “If you call people from his past, you may hear that he is full of himself. He really worked in that area; he is a real team player and really takes in others’ perspectives.”
  • There may be something in the family or about the single that others do not feel they would want in a spouse for their single. There’s nothing you can do about that. This is your single’s nisayon in life. It’s hard, but this is where emunah really comes in.  Keep smiling, do not despair. The shiduch is out there.

How much time might one take to do research?

  • However much time you think it will be, be upfront with the shadchan. “This is a very busy week for me. It might take me 10 days to get back to you.  I will get back to you by Monday the Xth the latest.”  If you do not specify how long you think it might take, most will assume one week is sufficient time.
  •  And get back to them by that time. Even if you determine that it is not shayach, don’t leave them hanging. It’s simply not menchlich.

How might you describe your single?  

  • Often people try to categorize singles into different labels – chasidish, but chilled; working and also learning; frum the way we were back in the 80s, etc.  These labels are only somewhat helpful, but really they are subjective; people have different understandings as to what these labels might mean.
  • It is much better to give concrete examples to illustrate what you are talking about. “He works from 9-5 and has a consistent chavrusa 3 nights a week, and on Friday nights.” “She davens shachris every day, on most days, she doesn’t get to davening mincha.”
  • You might describe the type of home and family life they envision for their future. “She envisions a home where the husband is working and invites ‘not yet frum’ co-workers for Shabbos and yom tov and the family is involved in mivtzaim on chol hamoed.”
Confirm with your adult child how they want to be described.

The shadchen never calls me or follows through with suggestions. How often can I call the shadchen without being a nudnik?

  • Firstly, do not rely too heavily on any one shadchan. Network, network, network.  More shiduchim are made through friends, family and acquaintances than an official shadchan.
  • If you do not like the approach that particular shadchan is using, reach out to someone else, to many other people.
  • It is human nature for people to work harder for those who show appreciation or compensation for their efforts.  You might send a gift card or a box of chocolate, or even a note of sincere appreciation for their efforts and concern.
  • When you start working with any shadchan, ask about her process.  You can also ask if it would be OK for you to text every few weeks or so, just to bring your name to the fore of their mind.

Perhaps, the most important part of the discussion with the shadchan is about how you will work together on the shiduch.  This would include how to share about yourself/ your single, how quickly you would call back after doing your ‘research’, after the dates, etc.

While the word on the street is that you must get back to the shadchan with 3 days of hearing of a shiduch suggestion, for some that simply isn’t possible.  Let your shadchan know that upfront.  “I will get back to you in 8 days.”  You might share your reasoning, but you really don’t have to.  “I have a simmcha out of town.” “I have a huge deadline at work.” “My single is out of the country and we will not be able to have a conversation about this shiduch.”

Similarly, many shadchanim expect to hear back from both ‘sides’ the morning after the date.  Sometimes, that is not possible.  Time zones, unaligned work schedules, the single needs some ‘awake’ time to process.  If you know before the dates that it will be impossible to update the shadchan until the day after, let her know upfront.  “My single comes home too late for me to have a conversation at night, and mornings are too rushed. The first time I can have a few minutes for a real conversation is later that evening. I will let you know by the next morning.”

If your single needs time to reflect, you can let the shadchan know that there will be a slight delay.  “My single needs some more time to think things through. He works all day and can’t really give much time and headspace during the day.”

The shadchan should not have to chase either of you down.  Be a mench to the shadchan and to the other side. Keep everyone updated about when they should expect to hear from your side.

One experienced shadchan says that “if neither contacts me I assume they both need time to contemplate – and I want to be generous and give them that time to think. I don’t push anyone.”

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