As I regroup from the most recently ended shidduch and continue to speak with friends and would-be shadchanim regarding what to do next, a certain incident comes to mind from the last time I was in this investigative phase.
The mother of my sister's friend contacted me regarding a girl from her out-of-town city who was now living in New York for graduate school. I thought I recognized the name of potential candidate she suggested, and after we concluded our phone call I got in touch with the wife of a friend of mine who lives here in the Heights. I wanted to confirm if a) my memory was just playing tricks on me, or b) I had actually met the person before - conveniently at their dinner table one fine Shabbos several months prior.
It turns out that my brain was not fabricating memories, and I had in fact enjoyed more than one meal at their apartment where this young lady was also been present. My friend's wife was also kind enough to show me a picture on their refrigerator to jog my memory when I stopped by their place a day or two later on an unrelated visit.
Having recalled the times spent playing Bananagrams with this particular young lady (and the her general personality, demeanor, etc) along with a hearty recommendation from my married friends, I called back the shadchan and said yes. A day or so later, she emailed me saying that the girl also remembered me and was pleasantly surprised that I was interested in going out with her. The girl was going to do a bit of research and give her reply in a day or two.
Shortly thereafter, I received another email where the shadchan informed me that the girl had spoken to a few friends who happened to "know" me, and they told her they didn't think it would work. Based off of this "advice" she declined the possibility of a date. The shadchan then apologized and wrote that she didn't agree with this sort of reasoning and had tried to talk some sense into her with no success. She was convinced and wouldn't hear anything more about the idea.
Far be it from me to question the hashgacha pratis workings of whether or not I actually get to go out with each attractive candidate (not physically, but generally) that gets suggested to me - but I think the shadchan was right to question these friends' "helpful" input. It's not as though she called my references or people who really knew me and found out in-depth information that indicated there was no real potential based on some important reason. Instead, she spoke with her friends who also happened to have met me on those two or three occasions we all shared meals at our mutual married friends' apartment - who I am fairly certain have just as vague an impression of me as I have of them. I don't know who specifically she spoke to (the crowd of invites was different at each occasion), but running through a mental list of who I can remember was there does not ring any bells of other girls who knew me in any serious fashion.
It's one thing to speak to a person's Rav or a married friend they grew up with and to find out that the proposed candidate is on an entirely different wavelength or has significant life goals that will cause conflict later down the road (such as intending to make aliyah, pursuing a certain demanding career, or an unyielding desire to live in Podunkville Nowhere to do kiruv). It's entirely different, and far from substantial, to ask your fellow unmarried friends for a generic, very uninformed opinion.
This is why Rav Goldvicht recommends that single people don't discuss potential/actual dates and daters with their single friends - and that single people are allowed to suggest ideas for shidduchim, but shouldn't act as the intermediary between the guy and girl.
I wish I had heard that second idea before I voluntarily began a shidduch where my single guy friend was talking to his female best friend (because she wasn't comfortable talking to me, which is understandable) who was then talking to the girl . There was quite a bit of miscommunication back and forth - such as my friend telling me after several dates that his friend didn't sound enthusiastic about the continued life of the shidduch. Apparently she had sighed or something when she mentioned the possibility of another date and he took that to mean the girl I was actually going out with was going to dump me (which she eventually did, about a month and a half later). I didn't believe his "intuition" or whatever, and, recognizing it for the mishugas that it was, called his friend directly to ask her point-blank if she felt that way or not (and if she had conveyed it wordlessly as he described). The +1 shadchan immediately replied that she had no clue what I was talking about, and she certainly did not intend to give such an impression to my friend to report back to me. After the next date, the girl and I decided to end the unnecessary frustration of double communication and dropped our well-meaning shadchanim.
As a side point - this is another important lesson I learned from one of my rabbeim in Israel. If you have a ta'anah (claim) against/about someone, don't speculate and discuss theoretical possibilities with a distantly connected other party - just ask the person! Sometimes being respectfully direct can be most helpful - in dating and in any other area of human interaction in life.
I guess my point is that while us singles are indeed the main tokens on this board game called "The Dating Game: The Home Version," we shouldn't be the ones moving the pieces. Yes your friends are wonderful people (and I'll probably find that out during my research), but their word can't be accepted as absolute - unless they really know what their talking about. Even so, I would still take any single friendly advice with a grain of salt. As I've heard from Rav Goldvicht and other rabbeim who talk about this specific aspect of dating, they're in the same boat as you, so they are not as objective of a third party as you might believe.
I hope I don't sound bitter over this old history. If anything it's her loss, not mine. No, that's not arrogance, but a healthy dose of self confidence - which we all need when facing the often demoralizing and discouraging dating world (everyone should have a reasonably positive view of him/herself). I'm sure she'll move on and find her bashert just as I will mine - or in some twist of fate, perhaps we will eventually go out and live happily ever after - but I'm not holding my breath.
So let's all make an effort to refrain from uneducated or uninformed expression of opinion - and the skies won't be cloudy all day.