I don't think I've ever been so overwhelmed with shidduchim suggestions as much as I have been in the past week. I'm so used to considering one suggestion to consider at a time, and have not encountered the somewhat confusing dilemma of needing to choose between several theoretically positive candidates. I am beginning to feel that contrary to the more modern belief that being given a selection of potential dates to choose from is not the best idea, particularly when there are pictures involved...
The primary culprit (although certainly not the only one) is the relatively new and exciting website called YU Connects (or Saw You at Sinai for the non-YU students/alumni). As a YU student, I get to join YU Connects for free, where I fill a profile of sorts, answering a bunch of preference questions, questions about me, and write two essays, one describing me, and one for the potential shadchan to read regarding what I'm looking for.
The way the system works is that the members of the website (IE all the young single folk) have no access to viewing one another's profiles. Instead, the numerous trained connectors(YUCon) or matchmakers (SYAS) get to search through and read the details in the member's profiles, and the then send suggestions to either party, or both at the same time. When you are given a suggestion, you have access to view their profile, including up to three pictures. You're then given 10 days to respond to the suggested match, and can either accept (wherein the other person has to accept as well to make things official), decline (and provide a reason as to why, or suggest another person for the rejected nominee), or put the suggestion on hold so that you have more time to think about things and reactivate the suggestion later for a 2 day period. Once the suggestion window closes, you no longer have any access to that profile unless the shadchan suggests the person again, either voluntarily, or by your prompting.
In truth, I like this system a lot. Particularly since my friends and acquaintances (as of late) had been a little on the slower side when it came to giving me suggestions, I wanted to try something new. I think the idea about members not seeing one another's profiles, and instead leaving the "connecting" to the shadchans is an interesting, frum, yet not too crazy twist from the typical Jewish Orthodox dating sights (that I have seen, but not joined). It just sounds much more modest and less creepy, where people aren't potentially stalking other members, and the overall system feels more tachlis-oriented. I've heard/read some horror stories on other blogs of stalking and terribly mismatched dates, so this added geder of sorts hopefully prevents that sort of thing from happening.
The bad part about this, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, is the fact that (at least for a "Gold" Member, which is automatic with YUCon) you can receive up to 10 matches a week, and theoretically have them all active at the same time. I haven't had 10 in one shot, but in a period of 2 days I received 6 or 7. Some came in staggered, and a few came in at one time. You can change your dating status to different notifications, such as "available" which is when you'll receive matches, or various statuses that indicate you don't want to receive any more suggestions, such as "temporarily out of town," "reviewing matches," and "dating" to let the matchmakers know to back off for a bit. The matches seem arrive so quickly - one even snuck in in the few seconds between me changing my status to "reviewing" and the system registering that.
In spite of all that, I won't even be going out with any of these suggestions due to a rather random meeting with a very nice stereotypical (in the positive sense), caring, Jewish motherly woman who struck up a conversation at last Sunday's Medical Ethics Conference (the recordings are now available at YUTorah.org) after she noticed my name tag and recognized that my last name was very similar to her daughter-in-law's maiden name. Of course, the conversation veered off into inquiring if I was available, and after discussing that for a bit, we exchanged contact information, I did some research, and now I'm scheduled to have a date in the near future.
On top of that, they had a YU Connects, "Meet the Connector" night at YU this week (which I had intended to go to anyway, even before all this craziness started). I met with 3 different shadchanim, all of whom were very nice - and one of them actually had heard of me/seen me at the Medical Ethics Conference and requested to meet me when she saw my name on the registered attendees list. One of them (rather a pair working together) sent me a suggestion right after the even was over through their own shidduch system they run, including a profile and a picture. Needless to say, I appreciate their efforts, but I definitely did not need more distraction when I was trying to focus on the developing shidduch from the conference.
But wait, there's more! (Now I sound like an infomercial). Two independent friends emailed/texted me saying they had suggestions after I'd committed to the shidduch I am soon to begin, which I had to politely turn down for the time being (if/when I ever need to contact them again, but who knows with these things).
So at least the discombobulation sown by YU Connects has been averted for now. I declined all the enticing matches with the added response that they were (to varying degrees at any rate) fairly on target, but that I was busy and to please re-issue them in a few weeks, or whenever (if ever) I am available next. Two were entirely not shayich, so I declined and politely explained wy. You have the option to write a longer email message to the connector, and I made sure to do that and thank them for their efforts - it seems they put a good bit of time into this (assuming they're actually trying and now just throwing out ideas). These shadchanim were quite serious and dedicated, in fact, and said they appreciated getting a response. Some of the shadchanim I met at the event this week told me that it's frustrating to get numerous declines from guys who never explain themselves.
So who knows what the future will bring? I hope everything works out well, however they are meant to. To whomever may be reading this (and including those that aren't), have a great Shabbos!