Enough Talk on Shidduchim
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- This topic has 139 replies, 23 voices, and was last updated 13 years, 2 months ago by AZ.
February 9, 2010 9:27 pm at 9:27 pm #591208
The shidduch crisis is constantly being discussed in the frum world. As a single in shidduchim, I can assure you that’s it’s not appreciated amongst most people. Friends of mine have told me that they wouldn’t feel nearly as much pressure to get married if they weren’t always hearing about the crisis. Many singels jump into a marriage without being 100% sure that’s it is their bashert because they are scared to become another statistic. We all know of the increase in divorce rates among young couples. On behalf of many singles, please stop. We all know of the problems contributing (yes AZ, every one of us has heard of the age gap) to the so called crisis. If you have a “solution,” fine, but most discussions just go in circles with everyone blaming everthing instead of coming up with an answer.February 10, 2010 6:57 am at 6:57 am #681094haifagirlParticipant
I agree with dunno. I’m getting a bit tired of hearing about people who have been dating for 2 or 3 or 5 years and still single. Yes, it’s difficult for them when their friends are becoming parents. My friends are becoming grandparents.February 10, 2010 6:44 pm at 6:44 pm #681095anuranParticipant
The problems are structural and cannot be solved without a radical overhaul of the system. Those repairs will only happen when the leaders in our community decide that the damage to families is great enough to warrant changing the process.February 10, 2010 6:48 pm at 6:48 pm #681096mybatMember
dunno, dont worry and Hashem does not forget about anybody. Just do your hishtadlut and hashem will take care of everything beezrat hashem.February 11, 2010 4:22 am at 4:22 am #681097
Sorry that you feel that way but if you are upset about the shidduch discussion you should turn the page or shut the screen. Obviously the discussion is not meant for you. The only way to find solutions is by discussion and by exchanging ideas, comments and experiences. It is unfortunate that some people usurp the threads with an ongoing feud but only the moderators can control that. I choose to skip over the posts that are irritating or take the discussion into another direction. On the other hand I learn from other’s experience and insight.February 11, 2010 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm #681098
“yes AZ, every one of us has heard of the age gap”
Awesome! That was step one of the solution!
As for solutions to the Macro issue re: the communal Age Gap problem serious work is being done and progress is being made
here is a very very serios game plan
We know that we need to accomplish 3 things
1. Encourage boys to date girls their own age
2. Encourage boys to start dating slightly earlier
3. Encourage girls to start dating slightly later
Here’s the plan
Part A). A Staggered Lakewood freezer- tu b’shvat/ pesach or even better tu’bshvat/shavuos. meaning at tu’bshvat they can only date girls above 21 (or 20 whatever) to date younger girls they must wait till pesach or shavous.
This will automatically yield the following:
1. 800+ boys a year with a selfish incentive to date close in age
2. If these boys want close in age, inevitably far fewer 19 yrs olds will be dating and the shaddchanim will be focusing on the slightly older girls in order to cater to these boys.
Part B) Slowly lower the entrance age to post EY yeshivos. If in 2 yrs from now the top entering age is 22.5 as opposed to that being the average age, we will have boys dating slightly younger. If boys are coming in around 22 and dating girls 20/21 we have basically solved the lions share of the problem.
Part C). Shortening/cutting out time in EY. Same result as B)
Until these extremely effective ideas are implemented
Part D) restart the shadchan incentive project to keep close in age on the forefront of shaddchanims minds.
Any and all help on all these idea would be greatly apreciated.
I will now present four things that parents individual girls can do (the micro) that will give them the best shot to get married.
1. Encourage your sons/brothers to date girls their own age
2. Let shadchanim know that anytime ur daughter gets to a 3rd date u will pay $200 in recognition for the time effort and work that the shadchan invested.
3. Every date after the 3rd date the shadchan should get an additional $50
4. Girls 23 and older should date like they are 4 yrs older then they are. Anything u would go for at 27 go for at 23. That will make sure u don’t hit 27.February 11, 2010 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm #681099
Is this the place to rehash the problem with boys leaving Eretz Yisrael at an arbitrary cut off date and dating earlier (i.e. requiring even more support)?
Can you imagine if the tuition crisis were to be attacked with such a dry by the numbers approach?February 12, 2010 1:24 am at 1:24 am #681100Lo YitzlochMember
The Dems also solved the $$$$ crisis, Take it from the rich and give it to the poor! Sometimes we have to live with a crisis and try to help as much as possible by redding Shidduchim instead of telling everyone what age they should marry. If you have Chasidim Marry Misnagdim that will also solve the crisis.February 12, 2010 2:11 am at 2:11 am #681101
“Girls 23 and older should date like they are 4 yrs older then they are. Anything u would go for at 27 go for at 23. That will make sure u don’t hit 27. “
UNBELIEVABLE. That is all I will say.February 12, 2010 2:44 am at 2:44 am #681102d aMember
Talking about age gap (I do not read these Shidduch posts, but want to mention something), Avrohom was 10 years older then Sarah, Yitzchok was 37 years older then Rivka, and my other set of grandparents I’m not exactly sure about, but the AGE GAP didn’t seem like a problem to them!February 12, 2010 4:52 am at 4:52 am #681103
Let me know when we are on the same madreiga as the Avos and Emahos, not to mention our grandparents, so we can talk about it.February 12, 2010 1:57 pm at 1:57 pm #681104
Re AZ’s suggestion #2:
Hashochad yeaveir einei pikchim.February 12, 2010 3:07 pm at 3:07 pm #681105
tzippi: Is offering compensation to someoe who spends hours tutoring your child also shochad???
Lo Yitzloch: “Sometimes we have to live with a crisis”
Last time I checked chazal went to extreme lengths to enable INDIVDUAL agunos to remarry. Our community is facing a situation of epic proportions.
NO, it’s not a crisis we can live with so long as there is what to be done.
it’s the most obvious thing for individual girls to do. Ask people in the field and see what they say.February 12, 2010 3:11 pm at 3:11 pm #681106
Ok, one may use the shochad argument re any time a shadchan completes a shidduch and the couple gets engaged, but it’s a lot easier to finagle a third date, even when it is clear that it shouldn’t happen. I still stand by it.
And MOST PEOPLE CAN’T AFFORD IT. I can’t see my tuition committee saying, oh, we need more assistance since we have to cheshbon a possible thousand dollars or more in miscellaneous shadchan fees.
Hachnasas kalla is a different story.
And please don’t accuse me, or like-minded people of being chazirim.February 12, 2010 3:36 pm at 3:36 pm #681107
1. NO one is insisting that peoplle have to pay. I just statet the obvious. Parents that offer to recognize a shadchans efforts and time will get attention. If a parent doesn’t want to they don’t have to, but those that do will be treated the way they treat the shadchan.
What’s not to understand. And it’s something practical that indiviual girls and parents can do to help themselves.February 12, 2010 5:25 pm at 5:25 pm #681108
This is the same argument about “tipping” rebbeim: if people give what they can, from their warmest appreciation, maybe a token gift, and always treating the shadchan or rebbe courteously and speaking well of them, they aren’t entitled to the same full attention as the one who can smear the palms?
And putting myself in a shadchan’s shoes, I might well get more sipuk hanefesh from some of the have-nots and the shidduchim I’d be able to pull off for them.
“Instituting” (note the quotes, I know you haven’t said here it should be required) additional expenses beyond one’s capabilities may cross the lines into achzariyus.February 12, 2010 5:31 pm at 5:31 pm #681109YW Moderator-80Member
It used to be the practice that before asking a Rebbe for a Bracha one would give him a small amount of money, called a pidyon.
A gift affects ones Neshama and bends ones heart to the giver, as well as increasing Simcha. This is why Yaakov Avinu asked Esav to hunt some delicacies for him before giving him the Bracha.
Ones heart, everyones, is bent by a payment, this is thoroughly discussed, regarding bribes, in many sugyas in the Gemorrah. It is a universal component of human nature.February 12, 2010 5:51 pm at 5:51 pm #681110
Mod, good point. Though my rich Chassidishe blood has been diluted, and marrying a thoroughbred Litvak has really buried it.
Over the last few generations, as many of us have become, to a degree more Americanized (though B”H with an unbroken chain of shemiras Shabbos in particular), certain things, like excessive nadan (I’m not talking about parents making a chasuna and providing dishes, pots and pans, and maybe the most minimal of furniture) are so far out of my frame of reference that I have a visceral reaction.
And if I knew a given shadchan was of the caliber of the rebbe I would go to were I to go to a rebbe, I might see things differently as well 😉February 12, 2010 5:59 pm at 5:59 pm #681111
No on is asking anyone to do anything. It is simply a suggestion for girls and their parents. Shadcahnim are hounded by hundreds of people and they are only human.
It’s your choice be one of 500 or be special. Show them you appreciate their efforts, time etc. You will get more attention from them. This is not about bribing anyone, it’s that people will you better if you show them that you appreciate their efforts.
I write this because I know first hand that it works. Girls and their families can either take the advice or leave it, but whats to debate.
If you don’t like it don’t do it.
YW Moderateor-80: with all due respect, this is NOT a bribe, it is appreciation after the fact for time and energy invested.February 12, 2010 6:04 pm at 6:04 pm #681112
Additionally, the main point of my post was to answer the OP’s request for real answers to the shidduch crisis and what is actively being done.
Interesting, that after all the time spent in the CR on the issue there seems to be silence re: the solutions.February 12, 2010 7:49 pm at 7:49 pm #681113YW Moderator-80Member
I did not say it was a bribe. A bribe however shares the same mechanism of a pidyon in that it is an implanted nature that a gift bends the heart of the recipient. This is why I mentioned the Gemorrahs.
And it is NOT given primarily for appreciation, it is always given BEFORE the Bracha, and must be so in order to be effective. The appreciation is a secondary intention. It is given in order to bend the heart of the Rebbe towards the recipient of the Brocha, to increase the intensity of the Brocha. The Rebbe himself wishes to have the pidyon so that it will help him give a better Brocha. This is well known, even great Rebbes, even Yaakov Avinu.
I am not attempting to argue with you, I don’t even know what your position is. I’m just bringing some useful information to whomever wishes to think about it.
Unfortunately, today we have been drowned in American values and think such a practice is lowly, or at the best, a matter of showing appreciation. It was something else entirely.February 12, 2010 8:13 pm at 8:13 pm #681114
I thought you weren’t going to keep allowing every mention of Shidduchim to be usurped by the same two people continuing their arguments and discussions on every shidduch thread. Can’t we just keep that going on the other thread and allow this thread to veer in another direction?February 12, 2010 8:24 pm at 8:24 pm #681115
AZ: The shadchan generally would’t know whether a potential shidduch candidate will be giving him a super payment if successful or will only pay the requisite amount. So there is no way the shadchan will act accordingly on that. (Especially if it is for the first shidduch amongst siblings. Even if there are married siblings, the other shidduchs could have been done non-“professionally” and hence no record of previous shadchanim payments. Even if there were previous shadchanim it may not be known how much was paid. In short, in the vast majority of times a shadchan will not “know” how much to expect from a parent.)
So what you must mean is that professional shadchanim will act for rich parents and more or less ignore poor parents.
Who needs such shysters.
Another reason to avoid professional shadchanim and stick to the old fashioned tried and true method of using persona family, friends and networking where the party is not in it for the cash.
P.S. to mods: I agree with aries2756 that the same one or two cadre of posters should not be allowed to hijack every shidduch thread with the same off-topic discussion that they constantly steer it to. Let them use one dedicated thread.February 14, 2010 1:41 am at 1:41 am #681117
Volvie and areis2756:
The OP asked me directly for real solutions to the shidduch crisis and my post did just that both on the Macro and the Micro level. Please explain how that is hijacking a thread.
As for you commnet re: “super payment” I do not know what you are referring to. I offered simple advice to parents of individual girls that informing shadchanim that they will be fairly compensated for any quality shidduch they propose (i.e. gets to 3 dates) will work wonders for their daughters.
Those that don’t want to take advantage of the suggestion don’t have to.February 14, 2010 4:28 am at 4:28 am #681118chasid-of-HashemMember
I agree with AZ on all of his points. I especially advocate the boys starting the dating process earlier. By that I mean going to Eretz Yisroel earlier and returning earlier and starting to date shortly thereafter, or, depending on the boy, not going at all or going after the wedding.
As for the girls, can someone out there please elucidate why a girl would get a “no” based on age alone? I am refering to a single,female family member who just turned 23 two months ago. She has gotten “rejected” because of her ripe old age.
And we wonder why we have a crises!February 14, 2010 5:26 am at 5:26 am #681119
AZ, actually the poster didn’t ask you. The poster specifically said that enough was said on the subject!February 14, 2010 2:11 pm at 2:11 pm #681120
Arie2756: “If you have a “solution,” fine,”.
Sounds like he was interested and I obliged.
chasid-of-Hashem: ThanksFebruary 14, 2010 4:21 pm at 4:21 pm #681121
AZ: Every thread with the word shidduchim in it, you immediately pop in with the same repetitive age gap mantra. The CR got the message. Saying the same thing over and over and over in every single shidduch thread is redundant.
Especially since even the OP here told you specifically he already knows of the age gap solution you keep posting and doesn’t need to have it “just go in circles” again and again.February 14, 2010 5:07 pm at 5:07 pm #681122
volvie: This is the first time I posted a comprehensive list of effective solutions presently BEING WORKED on as well as suggestions for individual girls and their families. I would think that after all this time people would be thrilled that real progress is being made and would love to help further ease the crisis.February 14, 2010 6:16 pm at 6:16 pm #681124
And I would like to apologize for prolonging the agony myself.
There are two things that frost me:
– when people are mevazeh the gedolim
– when the proposed solutions seem profoundly counterproductive to producing a healthy generation ready to create healthy homes.February 14, 2010 6:24 pm at 6:24 pm #681125
Tzippi: Feel free to discuss your concerns with the R”Y who are working on implementing the list above.February 14, 2010 6:47 pm at 6:47 pm #681126
AZ, this is the last response I plan to make (bli neder) regarding the age issue. A girl who is 23 does NOT belong with a guy who is 8 years older, most of the time. So to tell her that at age 23 she should date guys as if she were four years older, is not only ludicrous, but poor judgment. Most 23 year old girls would be inappropriate for a man of 30 or more, while a 27 year old girl, would probably do VERY well with a guy that age. So unless I seriously misread what you wrote (it could happen), or YOU seriously miswrote, I could not disagree with you more.February 14, 2010 6:48 pm at 6:48 pm #681127
You make some good points but I don’t agree with a lot of them. Paying a shadchan once it comes to a third date will make more problems than what exists now. Whereas now if one is not completely sure if someone is their bashert or not they will go out again to make sure, paying the shadchan will likely lean someone towards saying no even though the person could possibly be the right one for them. Furthermore, this will be terrible for people who can’t afford it. As you said shadchanim will likely redd shidduchim more to people where they would get paid by a third date. Your statement “NO one is insisting that peoplle have to pay. I just statet the obvious,” is such a not Jewish concept it’s sad. Don’t you care at all about the poorer people? By implementing your suggestion they will suffer – unnecessarily. As someone stated on a different thread, the shadchan is like a broker – they get paid once the deal is done. You are correct, however, in stating that money pushes people which is why paying shadchanus is very important but constantly paying a shadchan when it gets a little serious is extreme and a lot of people simply can’t afford it.
As for solutions to the Macro issue re: the communal Age Gap problem serious work is being done and progress is being made
here is a very very serios game plan
We know that we need to accomplish 3 things
1. Encourage boys to date girls their own age
2. Encourage boys to start dating slightly earlier
3. Encourage girls to start dating slightly later
I am not gonna argue on your first proposal because there is enough hype on it on all the other shidduchim threads you joined. Your second point is a good idea and I’m all for it. The third is just not practical. Try convincing any mother of a 19 year old girl to delay her daughter’s dating. Especially with people like you constantly talking about the age gap and statistics of older single girls, they are rushing to get their daughters married – many times without proper thought on the matter. As I wrote in my original post, girls just want to be removed from the pressure society is inflicting on them and unfortunately these marriages end up in divorce.
I am not in any way trying to challenge the roshei yeshiva of BMG but I personally do not understand the “freezer.” I was told that the idea behind it was to make sure the boy focuses on his learning for a few months without being distracted by dating. I have heard that these boys are in fact so worried about getting married and the fact that they can’t date is even more nerve-wracking. In my opinion, it should be gotten rid of completely (unlike AZ suggested, dating age 21+ girls by Tu B’Shvat, etc).
And one last point, AZ, as volvie says, enough with the age gap. This thread is NOT meant to discuss that. I appreciate your input on solutions but we are not getting on another age gap discussion here.February 14, 2010 7:26 pm at 7:26 pm #681128
oomis: you totally misread. I didn’t she should date a guy age wise appropriate as if she is 4 years older! (remember i’m into close in age shidduchim). The point was the kind of specifics that won’t be deal breakers if she was 27 shouldn’t be a deal breaker when she’s 24. Each individual accordning to their situation.
Be it family, background, and the numerous other issues that might be deal breakers at 19, it’s prudent (becuase of the numbers problem) to date at 24 with a +4 attitude.
1. the vast majority of girls date very few boys more than 3/4 times it is NOT expensive one does NOT have to be rich to do it, and is a very very smart investment to give yourself the best shot to get married.
2. I didn’t put any suggestions how to slow the girls down, for precisely the reasons you mentioned) I just stated the facts. By changing the freezer inevitably the younger girls will collectively be slowed down.
3. Your opinion/my opinion on the freezer really don’t matter. I just wrote that staggering the freezer is a extremely effective way of alleviating the age gap problem and is being worked on as we speak (blog).
Glad to see some discussion on the real issues.February 14, 2010 8:07 pm at 8:07 pm #681129
Thank you Az for clearing that up – I really did misunderstand what you wrote, though to be fair to me, I think you could have worded it a little more clearly. When you write that “Girls 23 and older should date like they are 4 yrs older then they are. Anything u would go for at 27 go for at 23… ” it sounded as though you were asking 23 year old girls to consider themselves as if they were 27, and therefore date guys appropriate for a 27 year old. Given your age-issue, it made no sense to me.February 14, 2010 8:10 pm at 8:10 pm #681130
1. You are right. It isn’t so common to go past 3/4 dates. However, one should be given the option without feeling any pressure of paying a shadchan. Contrary to what you say, I think for some families it’s an additional expense and worry that isn’t necessary.
2. I don’t think it’s a good thing for girls to be slowed down. If they are ready to get married, who are you to stop them?
3. Same argument as #2.
“Glad to see some discussion on the real issues.” – Same here although I hope we actually come up with solutions and not go in circles.February 14, 2010 8:25 pm at 8:25 pm #681131
No one should stop anyone from getting married, neither should anyone pressure someone to get married at a too-young age. What is right for one girl or boy, is not right for the next. The subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle pressure of making a girl at age 23 feel like an old maid, is abhorrent. If at 23 she is washed up, what is she at 25 and 30?February 14, 2010 8:43 pm at 8:43 pm #681132
Exactly my point oomis. The fact that society is making girls of 21 feel like old maids is sick and a major contributor of why girls at 19 are pressured. The fact that even at age 19 girls are given sympathetic smiles at vorts and weddings is crazy.February 15, 2010 12:42 am at 12:42 am #681133
what society does or doesn’t do is hard to control. What is clear is that at aprox. 24 years old the numbers (in the yeshivish community for sure) begin to dip seriously against the girls. Therefore it is their best interest to date with a +4 attitude. I wish it wasn’t so. However so long as we have not eradicated the age gap problem this is in their best interest.February 15, 2010 12:47 am at 12:47 am #681134
Firstly there is no inyan of paying a shadchan until it is a done deal. One must pay the shadchan before walking down to the chupah.
Secondly one of the largest problems today is that people don’t want to get involved. There are many HS’s and Seminaries that do not respond to inquiries about their students or give a pat answer “Do you know how many girls go through these doors, do you expect us to know all of them?” To that I say “Yes you should”. Every HS and Seminary should make it their business to have a liason for each and every graduate before graduation. They should keep a file on each one with a photo (not for public viewing) to remind them who they are talking about.
In addition Roshei Yeshivas should also appoint a liaison for the bochurim in their Bais Medrash. I have also spoken to many that each and every shul should have a shidduch committee to meet with potential prospects and have files to be able to redt shidduchim with other shul groups and also be available for information. Who knows these kids and families better than their own shul family who watched these kids grow up? Who are more vested in the success of these kids than their own kehilah?
It would be a good idea if representatives of various shuls met a few times a year to present their prospects. IMHO I don’t believe there are enough shadchanim around. More and more people have to get involved and do it the right way according to Torah guidelines and with the assistance of a Rav.February 15, 2010 12:48 am at 12:48 am #681135
AZ: Won’t your suggestion merely reshuffle the deck on the Titanic? Your advice how a girl should ensure she gets married, rather than stuck without a spouse, by being more compromising in who she will accept as a husband (i.e. your “+4 attitude”) will merely allow that first girl to get a husband but cause some other girl to lose out. No net changes.February 15, 2010 12:59 am at 12:59 am #681136
One more thing. I wish someone or some group would publish a proper way to let a boy or girl down easily without hurting their feelings when they get a “NO” for an answer. This is probably the hardest thing a person has to do ever, and that is why many people don’t want to get involved.
However, if there was a way to handle it that is universally acceptable and worded appropriately and that parents and kids would accept without taking it personally, more people would work on it. When you have to say “NO” to someone you are always reluctant to call back, so you wait a little then they call you and you try to think of a good response, sometimes fibbing. The truth is just because I think or someone else thinks someone is a good shidduch it certainly doesn’t mean that we are right and that either party will agree. We can only try. So when we have to return a negative answer it is so difficult when the party starts in with “tell me the truth THEY think we are not good enough right? They are looking for money? What’s wrong with my daughter and so on.” Or even worse when a prospect is redt some responses go like “That is who you are proposing for my child? Or sure it wasn’t good enough for so and so that is why you are bringing it to me.”
Honestly, there needs to be a handbook published to be given out at graduation to ALL PARENTS about the etiquette of handling shiducchim. Because someone is turned down it is not a negative on them, the other party has their reasons where they are reasonable or not, but it is their problem or issue if they don’t want to give you a chance. I look at it as “their loss”.
When I redt a shidduch if someone callously tells me “I will put her on my list” I tell them “No thank you, my girls are too good to go on anyone’s list. Put ME on your list and when you are ready call me back. I try not to give the girl’s name unless I see some interest, that way if they give me the stupid “list” answer they have no clue who I am speaking about.February 15, 2010 1:04 am at 1:04 am #681137
Incorrect: That 24 year old boy who the 23 year old girl is hesitant to seriously consider (for whatever reason) may well end up marrying a 19 year old. Meaning a 19 yaer old got married instead of a 23 year old. If that 23 year old girl would seriously consider the suggestion (because of the plus 4 advice) then she would potentially get married at that time instead of a 19 year old. THAT is NOT reshuffling the deck on the titanic.
In addition the suggestions to the individual girls had nothing to do with the problem at large. They would just proven suggestions to help individual girls. To help the larger problem we need to implement the suggestions that were mentioned previously and are presently being worked on.February 15, 2010 1:10 am at 1:10 am #681138
aries2756: The Most effective method of having more shadchanim around is letting them know that if they get to a third date they are a SUCCESS (compensate them). Success breed success. When they are made to feel like a failure despite having gotten to a third or forth date, that causes many potential future shadchanim to quit.
Step into the shoes of a relatively busy shadchan for a day or two. You have to be mad to take on the lifestyle. And you wonder why there aren’t more shadchanim around….
In addition more shadchanim alone without closing the age gap will help only minimally as the boys are getting married…..so someone is setting them up. But I don’t want to go down that road again.February 15, 2010 1:21 am at 1:21 am #681139Head in Kosher SandMember
I’m sorry that you don’t want to take part in the solution- finding process. Thats how human beings find solutions to supernatural problems. You must first bump into all the walls before finding the way through the maze. Its klal yisrael’s problem and i subscribe to that society.February 15, 2010 2:26 am at 2:26 am #681140
My son got to a third date (the shadchan was actually his friend and a friend of the girl). The girl had already decided NOT to go forward in the relationship, but she went out with him anyway, and she told him the next day that she had decided the previous night not to go out again if he were to ask her. Had a shadchan set them up professionally, I would not have felt it warranted compensation. The third date is not always a “third date,” but more of an easing into the mode of saying no to a fourth date, because some girls are not able to figure out how to handle the decision not to go out, so they go one more time, putting off the inevitable, because it’s uncomfortable.February 15, 2010 4:03 am at 4:03 am #681141JotharMember
I saw this article tonight, explaining why arranged marriages are much smarter than today’s system where people meet until they fall in love:
What if Shakespeare had it wrong about love in “Romeo and Juliet”? In fact, what if all of us have it wrong and our ideals of love and romance are hopelessly awry? Although we are supposed to be celebrating our love for that special someone on Valentine’s Day, perhaps the time has come to reconsider the concept of romantic love, at least as it has been conceived in Western societies.
As we busily track down red roses, the best chocolates and the finest champagnes, we need to ask whether, in the pursuit of the perfect romance, we haven’t declared war on true love. Cupid’s arrow does strike often, but with the U.S. divorce rate near 50%, one has to wonder whether the wound is particularly deep or long-lasting.
As I found when researching my book on the science of human attraction, our typical romantic beliefs are quite often wrong. For instance, even couples who are blissfully happy together can’t count on a happy ending. The PAIR project, a long-term academic study of couples, found that those most in love when they marry are also the most likely to get divorced.
And the chemical attraction that many people rely on to choose a partner has been found to fade “to neutrality” in two to three years. That’s right, neutrality, which might work well for Switzerland but is deadly for a marriage.
Perhaps most damning of all, I discovered that wife murderers tend to be strong subscribers to the romantic ideal. Take that, Romeo and Juliet.
Love and romance did not always rule the roost. As recently as the 1930s, American men ranked mutual attraction as only the fourth most important quality for a relationship, while women had it even lower, placing it fifth (in a 1956 survey, women dropped it all the way to sixth). But in recent decades, love has climbed to No. 1, accompanied by a rise in the importance of looks, which suggests that our romance with romance is long on style and short on substance.
I hate to sound unromantic on this day of all days, but perhaps it’s time to place less emphasis on romantic attraction as the key to finding a partner. What can shoulder some of the load? I would suggest that we rely a little more on what science has discovered about human attraction.
For instance, some researchers can now predict whether a couple will stay together with far more accuracy than the couple themselves. And it has less to do with the things we might think, such as fighting, and far more to do with the things we take for granted, such as asking your spouse about his or her day.
That doesn’t mean we need to jettison every aspect of chemical attraction. Several studies have found that for women, a man’s body odor is a helpful guide to finding a good genetic match (but only if the woman is not taking an oral contraceptive, which reverses her usual smell preferences). Body odor doesn’t sound very romantic, but perhaps the better question to ask is: How did our narrow ideal of romantic love come to hold such complete sway in the first place?
Imagine a dating world turned on its head, in which people were not given the freedom to opt into or out of a relationship — such as a culture that practices arranged marriages. What researchers have found will be shocking to Westerners weaned on the idea of romantic love.
According to a 1982 study by two Indian researchers, the level of self-reported love in arranged marriages increased over time until they surpassed the level of self-reported love in marriages that were freely chosen. Incredible as it sounds, people with a very limited say in choosing their own spouses eventually became happier with their relationships than people with the freedom to choose anyone they wanted.
Although we almost always read “Romeo and Juliet” as the quintessential story of love at first sight,Shakespeare actually offered his own sly critique of romantic love at the beginning of the play. Romeo is pining away for love — but not for Juliet. There is another fair damsel who has rejected Romeo’s advances, and he declares himself inconsolable. He disdains finding someone else and tells Benvolio, “Thou canst not teach me to forget” — which is, of course, precisely what happens a few scenes later when Romeo meets Juliet and realizes that he was completely wrong before and only now has discovered true love.
We never remember that part of the story, though, because if we think of “Romeo and Juliet” from that perspective, the whole play starts to skew in ways that contradict our usual romantic notions.
Perhaps the time has come for us to take a skeptical view of romance, particularly the over-the-top variety peddled so effectively on Valentine’s Day. We should throw off the shackles of our reigning romantic orthodoxy and realize that “Romeo and Juliet” and its many cultural offspring have led us astray. Shakespeare’s story may be transcendent entertainment, but it is disastrous dating advice.February 15, 2010 1:18 pm at 1:18 pm #681142speaktruthMember
The problem with doing it by number of dates is that ppl will pressure singles into continuing something even when it is not matiim. I have had shadchanim convince me to go on a 3rd date even when both of us were 100% sure that it was not the right one. It is very hard for singles when they have to differenciate btwn who really cares about them and who wants to see something finished and get $.
I agree that most shadchanim are not in it for the money but there is a big dif btwn a “proffesional” shadchan and the way they treat you vs someone who just wants to help.February 15, 2010 3:27 pm at 3:27 pm #681144jewish and working 22Member
A pamphlet on how to take rejection????? What else are we gonna do for my generation, have a robot that will literally spoon feed them??? A rejection is a sign of maturity on both sides. The boy/girl rejecting is showing her independence (if it truly is the single doing the rejection and not the parent) and the one getting the rejection is learning from a lesson in life that the world is not full of roses.
We might want to tell the singles that they will get rejected but hearing a “No” answer to a date is part of the dating life and experience.
Stop sheltering these singles! They will eventually have to grow up and mature and this will be one of the many rejections in life (dating, jobs, opportunities, etc.) that will come their way.
If they can’t handle a rejection than how do we expect them to handle other disappointments and hard decisions after they get married?February 15, 2010 6:24 pm at 6:24 pm #681145
JandW22 – I totally agree.
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