The Shadchan Says
December 9, 2021
Mr. Menachem Schmuckler with Elisheva Braun
I’m no shadchan, but I know so many singles and wish I could help them get married. How can I help?
People often ask me if I’m a shadchan, and I tell them I’m just a person with shidduchim on his mind. Shidduchim is not my full-time job, but wherever I go, I am aware of the singles there. We are all surrounded by people who want to get married; they are our cousins, siblings, neighbors, shul members, and the men and women at simchos we attend. Almost anyone can make shidduchim; it is just a matter of opening your heart and caring, then taking a step back and thinking about the singles in your life. Brainstorm. Think, Whom do I know for him/her? It takes work; you’ll have to do research, track down phone numbers, and involve a professional shadchan or dating coach if necessary. But it’s something ordinary people can do.
Our shadchanim are overloaded, and we cannot rely solely on them. Recognize what a valuable database you have stored in your mind, and work with it. Try to think about one single every day and see if you can come up with an idea for him or her. Once you get involved in shidduchim, it becomes a part of you. You suddenly hear more and more names, and people start to reach out to you with contacts.
Opening our eyes
Two years ago, I was at my parents’ for Shabbos and met a boy in their shul who I thought would be a good idea for my cousin. I got the résumés and set them up. Soon enough, they were a couple.
All we have to do is open our eyes and make an effort, and Hashem will help us help others.
Parents in the parshah
A few years ago, I was in Eretz Yisrael and I visited Rebbetzin Kolodetsky. I asked her what a single’s hishtadlus should be when it comes to shidduchim, and she responded that her father, Rav Chaim shlit”a, advises singles to meet a few shadchanim to get their name out there, and then to daven.
Once you have met a shadchan, you should make an effort to stay on his or her radar. There is a mother of a girl who texts me every few weeks to remind me that her daughter is still single. Yesterday, I saw her text and reached out to a boy who I thought would be a good match for this girl. The bachur responded that he’d recently finished a shidduch and was available to go out. The point is that it is important to refresh shadchanim’s memories and remind them about your child. You never know when they’ll think of an idea.
On the date
First of all, hang in there! It can be so, so hard, especially after a failed shidduch, to dust yourself off and start over. The pain is real, but you need to find a way to keep going.
Try to be as relaxed as you can on dates; it makes a big difference. It is normal to be nervous for the first few minutes of a date, but you should be able to be yourself after that. The meeting shouldn’t feel forced; you should enjoy yourself and enjoy spending time with the other person. Ideally, you should feel like you’re talking to a friend or acquaintance as opposed to enduring an interview. If you don’t feel comfortable with the other person or you’re struggling to be open with them, don’t ignore it. There are many ideas you can try to help cultivate the connection, such as:
- Try doing different things to bring out different sides of yourself and your date. Do a fun activity, bring up interesting or multifaceted conversation topics, or play a game that helps you open up.
- If your difficulty opening up is a recurring problem for you, you may need a dating coach to help you learn how to share and be natural on dates.
- If your discomfort is only with this particular person, find out why. There may be an underlying concern that you are not consciously aware of that is bothering you. Dig to find what it is about the shidduch that unsettles you; often the issue can be easily addressed.
- There may be a lack of chemistry. For many, there is an element of “fake it till you make it” when dating, and that’s okay. But you need to feel something; you need to at least enjoy the dates. Even if you’re not 100 percent sure your date is your soul mate, it needs to feel right and good on some level. Don’t go ahead without making sure there aren’t problems that are being ignored. If you went out several times and still don’t feel you can be yourself with your date, you may just be incompatible. Feelings—and certainly dating and engagement—cannot be forced. If you’ve given it a real shot and nothing helps, it may be time to call it quits.
Menachem Schmuckler made his first shidduch while engaged 14 years ago, setting up his friend with his kallah’ s friend. He has been involved in the field ever since. He can be contacted through the Voice.