I’d like to rant, and you’ve written that your column allows for it.
I’ve been dating for over a loooong time, and I finally figured it out: You can’t win. No matter what you do or don’t do, wear or don’t wear, behave like or not behave like. There is no winning in this non-sensical world. For those lucky enough to marry, cherish your spouse and give yourself a pat on the back that you were able to escape the craziness.
I’ve heard it all from shadchanim: “She likes ______, can you try to accommodate her? OR “Don’t do__________ because it says she reminds her of an old boyfriend.” OR “Have you ever been fat, because she’s not looking for someone with a fat gene.” Yes, you read correctly. And don’t I love it when asked about my father’s looks, because how my father looks now is a 100 percent guarantee of how I will look at his age. Right? You want to look into my yichus? Fine. You’ll be sorely disappointed, because I’m a regular frum Yid, from a long line of regular frum Yidden. Nothing remarkable to claim or boast about. And even if there were something, it isn’t mine, I just happen to be related to someone that _____. It wasn’t me. Does it make me more desirable because my great-great-uncle owned the biggest home in the shtetl? How will that help your daughter because she is marrying me, a 36-year-old CPA living in the UWS. Me, not my ancestors. Fine, you want to marry into a Rebbeshe family? Want to be related to a gadol? Date their great-grandchild or great-niece/nephew or cousin-twice-removed. But let me tell you, my friend is a great-nephew of someone this generation thinks of as one of our g’dolei ha’dor, and he ain’t no choirboy. You marry the person, not the relative.
It’s not just me or men who are judged – women, too. My sisters used to talk about how they were being judged based on how our mother looks. If she was fat or ugly, then that meant that my sisters would be the same at her age. Are these people nuts? Ninth grade biology would tell you how wrong you are, and can tell you how wrong you are about the “fat gene.” Let me ask you: How often do you see a grown adult look exactly like his/her same sex parent? You don’t! You get half your genes from each parent, which then makes up a whole new person – you! But these nincompoops don’t get that.
Sometimes I think it’s like being hazed into a fraternity. Because every married person went through this when dating, they have to put others through it in order to join the Fraternity of Married People. Don’t they realize that their children are being judged/hazed, too? And they approve of it? They complain when it happens to them, but they’re doing the same thing to everyone else.
If you want to look into a person and his or her family to see if your child would fit in, go ahead. I’m all for it. But asking these ridiculous questions and going back in lineage just so you can say, “My son/daughter married into the ______ family,” is moronic. Then it’s as if you don’t care who your child marries; you’re all about appearances. I wish your kids good luck.
I’m just frustrated. Like I said, I do everything I’m supposed to, and then I find out that someone didn’t want to date me because I attended a preschool that wasn’t elite enough for her liking. I’m serious. A preschool I attended over 20 years ago. Maybe the hours didn’t work out for my working parents. Maybe they would have had to pay extra for a babysitter to pick me up if pick-up time was at 3:30. How does that work for regular 9-5ers? I don’t know why my parents didn’t send me there. Maybe my parents would be able to afford it now, now that they have had 20 years to build their wealth. Now they can spend their wealth on me being able to fingerpaint with other “elite children.”
Nothing specific has happened recently, except for the preschool issue. But it’s crazy. Your column is against all this. You marry the person, not the family, although the family is an important part, but you live and sleep with your spouse, not your in-laws (hopefully.)
I’m not giving up. How can I? I want to be a husband and father. I believe I will be both. But the hoops I have to jump through are crazy. I’m not hopeless and negative. I’m (usually) positive and upbeat. But this just reminded me how out of touch people are and how we are doing ourselves in and contributing to the crisis of there being more older singles now, more than ever.
Thank you for the email, Menachem.
I gladly give over my column to you for the week, because you bring up very good points. Yes, yichus is important, to some more than others, but it shouldn’t be the end all be all. There are some amazing Yidden out there in the shidduch world who are “regular and normal.” The fact that they may be getting overlooked or rejected because nothing makes them remarkable makes my blood boil. Tell me about Jeff Bezos’ parents before he created Amazon. Tell me about Bill Clinton’s mother, before he became President of the United States. My point: They were ordinary, normal people, and their children grew up to become a billionaire and a President. Truthfully, how many parents would allow their daughter to date Bill Clinton (no snide remarks, please.) “Did you know his mother was married several times? Must mean he doesn’t know any stability. Must mean he will leave the family if things get tough because that’s all he knows.” That’s what would have been said by many. But then, as soon as he takes the oath for the Oval Office, it becomes, “You know, my daughter was redt to him...”
Menachem, you are not doing anything right or wrong, because that would mean there are rules to dating and other than being a mentch, there aren’t any “must follow” rules. It’s a free-for-all. It’s anarchy out there! Don’t change who you are or what you like because that wouldn’t be fair to you. You need to like yourself before anyone else will. If you like yourself the way you are, then this is you. You are presenting the truth. If you change, according to what shadchanim say, you may end up not liking yourself. I was once told by a shadchan, “Can you dress differently?” I didn’t know what she meant. She said that the way I dressed was reminding the man I was then dating of a “girl from Flatbush he dated a while ago.” Excuse me? No. This is me. This is how I dress. Is he going to reimburse me the thousands of dollars to restock my closets according to his preference? And, oh, I could just see how the future would look and what else I’d be asked to change.
People are saying that there seems to be more “older singles” than there used to be. Truthfully, I don’t know how many “older singles” there were 20 years ago. What constitutes “old?” Don’t tell me it’s anyone over 30. All I know is that I know and have come into contact with many singles over the age of 45. I agree that “we are doing ourselves in,” and not helping the situation if pre-school questions are so important in terms of redting a shidduch. But I’m not telling singles to date whoever they are redt to. Do your research, just make sure it’s on things that are important and that count.
Menachem, I do believe you are upbeat. Nothing is wrong with venting and complaining once in a while. It reminds us that we’re human and it’ll prevent a huge explosion later on if you don’t vent occasionally. You have every right to be frustrated. Hang in there. Your bashert is out there and she (or whoever is redting the shidduch) will love that you are a regular, normal Yid.
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?