‘My Matchmaker Ignored Me!’ And Other Ways I Can Empathize
By Shira Hirschman Weiss
I was single
not too long ago and a part of me still is. When friends tell me about perfectly
mismatched blind dates I shudder, vicariously taken aback by how off the mark suggestions
can be. I become exhilarated when I hear about impossible romantic endings that
actually panned out in real life! I am the first to suggest eye-catching, yet modest
outfits that will elicit appropriate interest from my friends’ dates. And when it
comes to setting two people up, I light up at the thought of how much these two
people have in common, how they are capable of the highest form of intellectual
discourse, and alas, what a wonderful marriage it will be – Not so fast!
Matchmaking comes with a price and I’m not talking about the green stuff. When I
was only 20 and living with my parents, their friends would kindly suggest matches
for me, and I would almost immediately agree to give out my phone number. About
90 dates and three failed relationships into the process I was living on the Upper
West Side, often feeling like a has-been at the ridiculously young age of 25. I
had either “dated everyone,” “met everyone and was everyone’s friend” or was seriously
“checking into” guys from Brooklyn whose names were mentioned to me.
The matchmaking system had molded me into Cautious Female Dater, one less inclined
to accept a potential date because “it’s just a date,” and one whose antenna was
always up for possible “warning signs.” I had learned to consider everybody’s time
(not to mention money) before accepting a date.
When I eventually met and married my husband, I knew I could not allow myself to
forget the struggle of dating. Having made three successful matches in my single
days, I also could not overlook the matchmakers who tried so hard to get it right.
So, I promised myself I would accept that same responsibility when setting up friends
and acquaintances – I try very hard to get it right.
I could have used a more personalized and secure approach when I was dating online,
but the options were a bit more limited then. At that time, I had my profile on
one of the more popular sites and it was viewable to all members, along with a picture.
I walked to shul slightly paranoid on Shabbat, half expecting someone to point to
me and say: “ha ha, I saw your cheesecake picture online!” Contrarily, through SawYouAtSinai.com,
singles pick their personal matchmakers who only show profiles and pictures to potential
matches and are not available for public viewing.
I think back to my own experiences with matchmakers and I remember the one who ignored
me. A syrupy woman in her early fifties, she told me about this “fantastic guy”
who sounded too good to be true- and he was: he never materialized. According to
her ebullient description, he was a modern Orthodox Adonis with pecs of steel and
an IQ well above 200 – to say the least, a rare and sought after combination.
Then she dropped the ball. I would see her at shul and she would smile kindly at
me but never mention the Greek god again. I did not want to seem too eager so I
suppressed the urge to hound her with “Hi, did you mention me to this Orthodox Brad
Pitt look-alike? Did he say no? Is he already seeing someone? What’s the deal?”
I smiled back, trying to restrain the instinctive gritting of my teeth, all the
while consumed with negative thoughts- “my hair is too frizzy, I’m not enough of
an intellectual, people are spreading horrible rumors about me,” etc.)
It took a little snooping on the part of a friend to finally get the truth which
was not ego-shattering at all: he was seeing someone seriously, on the brink of
engagement, and my name had not even been mentioned to him. I was only miffed by
the matchmaker’s approach. She rejected me by not following up and not letting me
know where things stood.
In all aspects of life and not just with matchmaking, I try to be extremely tactful
and avoid bluntness to the point of hurtfulness. Shockingly, this approach is not
shared by all of my contemporaries and I have heard shadchanim say “you are not
his look” or “perhaps you should try to lose a few pounds.” Matchmaking is not a
series of Extreme Makeovers and we are not personal trainers, hair gurus or fashionistas.
We are agents who act on behalf of singles to find the best possible matches .We
try our best and that is our promise to singles as mothers, fathers, home-makers,
career people or otherwise busy individuals who remember life before a significant
other came into it. Because we can empathize, we hope to make a difference.
Special thanks to the Orthodox Caucus for allowing us to publish this article www.ocweb.org