Thursday, July 14, 2011

Y U Don't Connect #4: Being Unfairly Dismissive

As a dater, I tried to be one of those who was very dan lekaf zechus, both for myself and other singles when we were constantly berated with the belittling retort “well, the reason why you’re not married is because you’re too picky!” I thought that most guys and girls were simply being lectured by the older generation who were lamenting how much easier it was “back in the day” and that the modern generation is so super-saturated with choices in life that they apply this misdirected attitude toward finding a spouse. Granted, there definitely exist a certain subset of singles who are so full of themselves, usually portrayed as egotistical guys, who want nothing short of perfect and gorgeous, but I believed they were an incorrigible minority.

Speaking from my own dating experience, I can honestly say I tried to give every profile I received proper consideration. I’d read over what was written, make a few phone calls (or have a dating mentor help me with research), and come to a conclusion that whether the girl was worthwhile or not. On a few occasions, I did receive profiles that I declined shortly after reviewing them, because it was simply clear that we were hashkafically mismatched, or in some cases that included a picture I legitimately didn’t find her attractive whatsoever (and as have I mentioned before, to each his/her own in that area, as long as it’s reasonable).

During our time working as Connectors, ASoG and I have experienced what I would describe as a significantly high number of people, both men and women, who are unusually and unfairly dismissive of perfectly good suggestions for the most ridiculous reasons. Certain individuals who we’ve sent dozens of suggestions to have not yet accepted a single idea we’ve given them. It’s not as though we’re coming up with ideas that are a hashkafic mismatch, one person wants to make aliyah tomorrow while the other isn’t interest whatsoever, or that the other person’s appearance is utterly unlike anything they are attracted to. These individuals point out spelling and grammar errors, unclear sentences, or “general feelings” they get after reviewing a profile and simply reject the person outright instead of say, being reasonable and calling the references to find out more.

On the surface, these uber-picky people will tell us, either in their initial decline or when we press for more information when they send a blank response, the person we sent is actually very much what they are looking for. But, there is some seemingly minute detail, which is only apparent in the profile itself that they then use as the lynchpin to reject what otherwise seems like a great shidduch.

Understandably, this is quite frustrating for us, because ASoG and I really do read the profiles and try to match people up as best as we possibly can. Granted, nothing is ever perfect, although sometimes they seem as though they are almost perfect, but I would think that any shidduch that legitimately looks like it has potential should be investigated as much as possible before just throwing away a perfectly good opportunity.

I’m not really sure what the problem is with all these guys and gals. Do they think that there are so many people out there that they can simply turn down any suggestion that is less than a 99% match for their “list” of requirements? Why don’t they actually invest some time into checking out these prospective candidates? Granted, daters using YU Connects, and often daters in the YU World in general, are not required to perform the more extensive research protocols found in the more right wing/yeshivish dating circles. Doing so requires a lot of time and effort, and it can be very frustrating, so many rabbeim encourage a middle ground of some investigation before and more while dating (if things are going well).

At any rate, whatever means of researching suggestions a person may utilize, it seems ridiculous to me that all these people don’t want to put an ounce of effort into checking into prospective matches if everything isn’t picture perfect on paper. Why not ASK for the person’s reference numbers and inquire from the people who know him/her? Or, as a few saner people do, simply ask the connector to find out for you. It’s really very simple. We will email the person saying a potential match would like elaboration on point X in your profile, and we almost always receive a thoughtful reply. I think it behooves each and every member on YUConnects/Saw You at Sinai to treat each suggestion with the utmost seriousness, to the exclusion of the random, dart-board suggestions thrown at them from uncaring connectors.

To the readers who are involved in the more Modern Orthodox-type dating world, particularly those who use YU Connects or SYAS – do you actually make an attempt to check into profile sent to you? If you don’t, why not?


  1. There are a few things I check for -I try to keep them minimal -in a superficial or cursory way (think "check mark"). Mostly basic stuff. Then I'll give the woman a shot; the point in dating is to get to know her, and I think it's ridiculous to have a ton of criteria for before I'll even go out with a woman.

    But I've also found that I may easily be inundated with suggestions very quickly (seems like I'm a hot commodity sometimes), and while I'd like to give more of those suggestions my time and consideration, my experience is that many of the suggestions specifically ignore the criteria I've put in my profile and even the things I've said I will not compromise on. The result of this, of course, is me often hitting the "decline" button, necessitating my being more picky, or having to be more discerning and trying to figure for myself (a) what was going on in the shadchan(it)'s mind to make the suggestion, (b) whether they took my criterion seriously and (c) if this woman is a good suggestion.

    In a certain way, that undermines the point of the system; I can feel like I'm at square one instead of being able to trust that a suggestion arrived through consideration (and thus, for a reason). I've noted before that even a single line with a reason/connection would greatly increase my attention/attraction/interest (in part because it shows the consideration and allows me to trust the shadchan[it]).

    There's actually research (regarding asking to cut in line to use a copy machine) that shows people generally comply with requests much more (about 93% of the time) when the requester gives an explicit reason versus giving no reason (about 47% of the time).

    Lastly, my experience is that one out of every 3-5 suggestions (and that's actually a high estimate) I "accept" will "accept" me (be that because of attraction/hashgafah/busy/other... I don't often know). Some may make the argument that I should therefore just accept more, be more open/flexible, etc. But I'd rather be more discerning and have better odds and better experiences on dates (which would give me feedback that I'm hitting the right type/style for me). Additionally, going out with a lot of women (or accepting a lot of them) just to be told, for example, that my hashgafah isn't a good fit for them (based on questions clearly in my profile that were ignored or pushed aside), it just seems like a waste of my time/effort/resources.

  2. If something is unclear on a guy's profile (like is the case with guys who write 2 sentences about themselves), then I would contact the matchmaker to ask for points of clarification. However, most of the time things are pretty clear. If I am not sure whether there is potential, I will accept, instead of looking into it more, because one date can’t hurt. I guess my reason for not looking into it more is that I think that all the info I need is already on the profile- what more is there to add?

    In defense of singles, I think that some of the reasons which you state are ridiculous, are not really ridiculous. To quote what you wrote: "These individuals point out spelling and grammar errors, unclear sentences, or “general feelings” they get after reviewing a profile."

    The only one of these I understand is unclear sentences. If something is unclear, ask for clarification, don’t use that as an excuse. In terms of those other reasons, I don't think I would say no based only on spelling errors, but the appearance of such errors in guys profile is a big red flag. Others have told me this is ridiculous, but it does make me wonder why a guy can't take the time to capitalize or spell check. Have they written papers for school? Why give those papers more thought than their shidduch profile? More often than not, if a guy does not capitalize, it is a sign of something else. Maybe writing with a lower case “I” is not a big deal, but usually there is something else there that goes with it to make me wonder. A profile is how you present yourself. The same way you have to leave your house looking presentable, you have to take the time to make your shidduch profile presentable.

    Also, I always have a “general feeling” after reading a guy’s profile and if my overall impression is not positive, then I think that is a valid reason. Sometimes you can just tell if a guy is weird or you can tell if the guy has a personality that you will not get along with. Sometimes you can’t put it into words and pinpoint it, but you can just tell. If you’re not sure, that is one thing, but often the general sense is very strong. Also, sometimes saying you have a general feeling can be code for the fact that you don’t find the person attractive. The bottom line is that this is the person who I hope to spend the rest of my life with. I don’t need to explain why I feel what I feel. Sure, I always err on the side of saying yes , but sometimes we can tell it’s going to be a bad boring awkward disaster of a date, and so we try to avoid that. That being said, if I receive a match suggestion that fits my basic three criteria, then I accept.

    Thanks for sharing the shadchan perspective. I really respect the matchmakers on YU Connects and SYAS because it takes SO much time and it is not easy!

  3. I'd say around 70-80% of the suggestions I've received on SYAS don't indicate that the shadchan has read either of our profiles at all - namely incompatible hashgafas (I am Yeshivish or Modern Yeshivish and was suggested someone who wrote that he wants his wife to "maybe cover her hair" and "wear skirts if she wants to"), or completely incompatible life plans, mainly (in the near future) to definitely live in Israel or America. It's made me quite frustrated. But I am happy and encouraged to hear that you and ASoG actually read everyone's profiles!

  4. Although once there was someone who forgot to mention in his profile (I got this from checking references) that he aspires/plans to be a community rabbi in an obscure European city.....put important information like this in your profile!!


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