In The Ballpark

When to Say "Yes" to a Shidduch Suggestion
By Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, Esq.

From our perspective, one of contemporary dating's biggest challenges for daters and date-makers alike is knowing when to say "yes" to a suggestion for a shidduch and when to make the suggestion in the first place. We know how demoralizing it is for singles to hear ideas for potential matches that seem so far afield that they don't believe the people making the suggestions understand what they are looking for. We also know that it is even more frustrating for a dater to be accused of being too picky, or not serious about wanting to get married, because they turned down a suggestion for someone whose qualities sound very different from what he or she is looking for.

At the same time, we've often seen people turn down suggestions that appear to have good potential on grounds that, in the overall scheme of things, shouldn't be deal-breakers. And we know of many friends, relatives, and acquaintances of singles who may hold back from recommending a shidduch that sounds great "on paper" and may actually work, because in their mind's eye they "can't see the two of them together". Even though these difficulties are just some of the reasons why the process of setting people up is far from perfect, the fact is that most people first meet the people they will marry through an introduction. Nevertheless, the process can use some improvement, and we have a suggestion to make it better. It can help open up the field of potential candidates and at the same time eliminate those "players" who aren't qualified. It can keep the "talent scouts" focused on finding the right "draft picks". And it can help facilitate more successful mergers. We call this concept, "In The Ballpark."

Two Things You Can't Pre-Judge

The idea is simple….to make and accept ideas for shidduchim on the basis of a limited set of important criteria, and to leave the rest to the dating itself. In other words, don't guess in advance whether personalities will go together or whether one person will like the other's appearance. These are two criteria that people cannot pre-judge, because as much as they think they "know" what attracts or interests them or the person they are trying to set up, they cannot predict what will happen when two people meet face to face. That is the province of HaKodesh BaruchHu.

Ronni and Shana, who have been married for 10 years, decided to start dating after they met at a friend's housewarming party. They had a number of friends on common and were guests at many of the same weddings, but none of their friends bothered to introduce them. Even though Ronni and Shana were both bright and sincere, wanted to move to Israel, had similar religious outlooks, and were looking for a good-hearted person, none of their friends thought their personalities would go together. Fortunately, the Ultimate Matchmaker knew better.

Judah agreed to a blind date with Abby even though she wasn't the "type" he was looking for. She seemed to have everything else on his short list except the tall, dark appearance he was attracted to. They had a pleasant time on their first date and Judah asked Abby out again, even though he felt that there was nothing special to him about the way she looked. Their second date was even better than the first, and fifteen years later Judah still remembers the moment he looked at Abby and realized, "Wow, she really is a pretty girl!" Judah had become attracted to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman who became his wife, even though her "look" was very different than what he had believed would attract him.

When to Say "Yes"

The principle behind "In The Ballpark" is simple. We can't know if someone is right for us until we see them as a whole person. If we check that the most important qualities we are looking for are present in a potential dating partner, and decide to be flexible on everything else, we'll often see that we're really happy with the match, and the reasons we might have used to disqualify someone in the past aren't really that important in the overall scheme of things.

That's why we suggest that daters look for someone who is in the ballpark in terms of compatible values, goals, direction in life, and background, and who has approximately four of the important personal qualities you or the person you are setting up is looking for. Unless you have strong negative feelings about a personality trait (e.g., boisterous) or physical quality (such as a big difference in height or weight), we recommend that you don't disqualify someone for reasons that your dating mentor, or a married friend, tells you may turn out to be irrelevant in the overall scheme of things. Try to be flexible if the suggested person is a little taller, shorter, younger, older, balder, heavier, thinner, polished, unpolished, more frum, less frum , than your initial preference. We also suggest that you don't turn someone down on the basis of a vague sense that your personalities aren't compatible or you won't be attracted to them. It often takes two or three dates for personal and physical attraction to begin to develop, and if you deprive yourself of the opportunity to allow this to happen you just might be passing up the person who is right for you.

This article is from

Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W., a licensed psychotherapist, and Sherry Zimmerman, Esq. , a family lawyer and dating advisor, have worked extensively with singles in their private practices and have presented scores of programs throughout the U.S. and Israel to help single men and women date effectively and overcome the individual barriers that prevent them from forming healthy relationships that can lead to marriage. Mrs. Einhorn and Mrs. Zimmerman are the authors of the popular books, Talking Tachlis – A Singles’ Strategy for Marriage and In The Beginning - How to Survive Your Engagement and Build a Great Marriage. They write a bi-weekly advice column, Navigating the Dating Maze, for Aish Hatorah’s on-line magazine,, and a weekly column, A Dating Primer, for the Jewish Press. They have networked with community leaders, rabbinic advisors, singles’ organizations, matchmakers, and mental health professionals throughout the Jewish world to develop programs that can better serve the single Jewish population.

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