It’s common to hear of someone who has moved to the “big city” where there are more frum Jews than in their hometown in order to find a shidduch. It’s understandable to do that if you live in the middle of nowhere or if your hometown has a very small frum community. You want to maximize your chances of finding a spouse, so you move. Besides having more of a selection in dating, moving to a busier metropolitan area may bring professional career opportunities as well. Seems like a win-win situation, right? You can go out with more and have a chance at (better) employment opportunities. Some singles jump at the chance to relocate in order to live and work in a city with a large frum population. Others aren’t as enthusiastic, but they do so anyway. And then you have the person who emailed me. She is actually a friend of a friend. I’ve written about the topic of dating someone who lives “out of town,” but I will let you hear it from a firsthand account and hear how she feels about “all the good men” being enticed to date girls from other towns rather than looking in their own backyard, where they may find some very suitable and terrific women. After reading what she has to say, some readers may also try to talk some sense into single men they know and urge them to make the trip to another city for a chance at marriage. You never know, you may find that rose waiting for you outside the city limits.
It’s Chani, Chaya’s friend. I didn’t know you wrote a dating column. Wow! I was talking to Chaya and she suggested either calling you or writing to you. Call me chicken, but I chose to write.
As you know, I live “out of town.” I don’t live on a desolate farm with my family, but in the shidduch world I may as well. I live in the large frum community of Baltimore, Maryland. Your sister lives here, so I don’t have to tell sell you on the community. I know that you have spent many Shabbasos, yamim tovim, and vacations here. May I ask if you felt a passport was needed when you made the drive across the Delaware River? Did you have cell-phone and Wi-Fi reception throughout the drive and in Baltimore? Is it a very arduous journey? I wouldn’t think so because you keep coming back.
Why am I asking all of these ridiculous questions? It’s because I don’t really have an opportunity to date much. And when I do date, I either have to drive to New York or meet the guy halfway between Baltimore and wherever he lives. I am 42. I know I’m not prime dating material only if you consider age a factor. I don’t, but so many people do. Shadchanim are just as bad as the guys. They urge me to go to New York or to fly to a different state to date someone. Fly to a different state? Yes. Whatever happened to the guy picking the girl up for a date? I understand that we are all living very busy lives, but why am I and other girls in Baltimore and Silver Spring constantly being asked to go meet the guy instead of the other way around? I’m a lawyer with responsibilities. I am not partner in a firm where I can take vacation anytime I choose. I save vacation days for yamim tovim and a week in the summer and winter to relax. Do you know what it is to give up weekends driving to another state, and spending Shabbos with relatives or friends in order to date, only to drive back late Sunday night and roll out of bed at 6 a.m. on Monday morning? It’s hard!
“Why won’t men take the three-to-four-hour drive on a weekend
to come on down and date me and the other single girls here?”
For the past couple of years, shadchanim have been urging me to move to New York. They tell me that I have better chances of finding a shidduch if I move. They can’t guarantee anything, but they come close to saying that if I uproot my entire life and move to a new city, I will find my bashert. You know what? I would move to a larger frum community for the chance of finding my husband, IF I lived on a farm in Arkansas. Baltimore has a huge frum population. I actually gave serious thought to moving to New York’s Upper West Side for a few months about a year ago. Through friends, I was able to find roommates looking for another “roomie” in a very decent building. I even put out “feelers” for jobs. I found that I would have to take a pay cut as well as start at the (almost) bottom of the totem pole at new firms. I would have lost all that I have worked very hard to gain since I started working. Added to that, my parents, siblings, cousins, and many friends live in Baltimore. Yes, I know people in New York, and, yes, it would be exciting to “start over” in a new city; but I don’t live in the middle of nowhere! So why won’t men – yes, I mean grown men – take the three-to-four-hour drive on a weekend to come on down and date me and the other single girls here? Why are we being urged to move? And I will add that many men from Baltimore make the trip up the New Jersey Turnpike to date (and marry) girls from New York. Do they even consider a girl from their hometown? I don’t think so. I asked a family friend who recently married a New York girl how many Baltimore girls he dated. He said that he dated “only a few local girls.” When I asked him why, he said shadchanim told him that New York girls are more his “speed.” I have no idea what that means. Why are local shadchanim suggesting that the men go elsewhere to date when there are so many great girls/women right here at home for them to date?
It annoys me and my single friends when we hear that money or other incentives are offered to men who date and marry girls from their hometown. Don’t give men incentives to date girls from their hometown! Don’t pay them if they marry a local girl. Why can’t you just encourage them to start local, and if nothing pans out, then look national? Is this the reason why I have to move? Because anyone who may be a potential match for me is being directed to go to New York?
I can go on and on, but I’m sure you get my point. Any thoughts?
Thank you for your letter, Chani. Yes, of course I know who you are and emailing me is fine.
I agree with you that working a whole week, traveling for Shabbos, only to go out once or twice, and then rushing back home for work can take a toll on a person. I know a few friends living “out in the boondocks” who do it. I give you all much credit.
Yes, this is an issue that I have heard about for a while. You actually hit on two good topics. The first is being urged to pick up your life and move it to a different city for shidduchim, the second is why men have to be paid or given some other incentive to date local girls in their hometown. I, myself, am a homebody. I enjoy being home. I’m not the type to go looking for greener grass elsewhere. It sounds as though you are very satisfied with your life (in Baltimore) except for the fact that you are single and are having a hard time dating. Your career is on track; you live amongst family and friends and probably have a very active social life. You live in a community of thousands of frum Jews, so I understand why you would balk at being told that moving may be the only solution for you. I have also read about the incentives that you have spoken about. Many are worried that the women in smaller towns (such as Baltimore or Silver Spring or other cities) are being overlooked and growing older while the men are the ones driving up the Turnpike to date girls from New York. I, too, would be annoyed that the local men are making the drive, but the New York men won’t (or will only meet you halfway). It would frustrate me to know that someone had to be bribed to date me, because that is essentially what it is. I hear the announcer’s voice now: “Want $10,000? Just stay home, date, and marry a local girl and the money can be yours!” The best I can offer is that those who thought of such ideas only mean well and are trying to help.
You are correct when you wrote, “They tell me that I have better chances of finding a shidduch if I move. They can’t guarantee anything.” How many times did shadchanim tell me to leave the agency I work at in order to find my bashert elsewhere: “You won’t find anyone there. Switch jobs! Go to a different agency!” Easy for them to say! It wasn’t them leaving the comfortable environment I had worked at for over a decade. It wasn’t them leaving a job they enjoyed. And who’s to say that I would find a job I liked as much with the same salary AND find my husband. It was a tall order they were asking of me. I would only reply, “Can you guarantee that I’ll find a husband if I leave the agency?” Of course they couldn’t, and in the end I had the last laugh as my husband worked in the agency! Don’t let any shadchan force you to move or to change anything about your life that you don’t feel comfortable doing. Yes, they may mean well, but it is your life and they don’t get to play around with it, even if they have the best of intentions.
Hatzlachah to you all!
Goldy Krantz is an LMSW and a lifelong Queens resident, guest lecturer, and author of the shidduch dating book, The Best of My Worst and children’s book Where Has Zaidy Gone? She can be contacted at email@example.com.