2023 What Helps and Doesn't Help Singles Part 1
Chananya Weissman

March 29, 2023

 

This entire article is a lengthy introduction to the article that will follow. It's unfortunate that this introduction is necessary, but so be it.

I generally discourage singles from publicly sharing bad-date stories – doing that is rule #17 in How to Not Get Married: Break these rules and you have a chance – but there is a time and place for judicious sharing.

Many years ago I was fixed up with a young lady – we'll call her Lana – by someone who was acquainted with me – we'll call her Sarah – and good friends with Lana. While it should be self-understood that being personally acquainted with both people (the more the better) should be a prerequisite for making an introduction, this minimal standard is rarely met in the shidduch world, where singles are introduced for purposes of marriage. You can try to rationalize this as much as you want, but it will never make sense.

Anyhow, I traveled from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to meet Lana. About fifteen minutes into the date I got the strong sense that she had “checked out” and was just going through the motions (I've developed a sharp radar for such things). For this and a couple of other reasons, I thanked Sarah for the effort, but said it wasn't a great match.

She wanted to know why. I shared my concerns, and she spoke with Lana. Here is part of what she replied:

I really don't want to offend you or make you upset- but there are a few things that Lana mentioned to me which are worrisome (from my point of view) and I think I would be doing you a disservice to sweep them under the rug (unless you actually want to remain single).

She said that you were correct that she shut off early on in the date. The reason being that you mentioned you wrote a book about dating. I hate to break it to you Chananya- but to most people it seems very bizarre and ironic for someone having trouble finding their mate to have written the book on it...Not surprisingly it was a major turn off. I would venture to say that most women would feel like that. Who wants to marry someone who thinks they know everything about which they actually know nothing???

There was more, and we had a spirited correspondence (which ended, surprisingly enough, with Sarah agreeing with me and apologizing), but this is what's relevant for now. Although her highness Lana was willing to “give me another chance” despite having nothing positive to say about me, and contributing nothing to the date (not even a thank-you for traveling three hours round trip to take her out), I had already started seeing someone else, and wasn't interested regardless.

I share this story because Lana's reaction to learning that I had written a book about dating (at that time only one) typifies much of what is wrong about the shidduch world, and the world at large. She assumed that because I was unmarried, I “knew nothing” about finding one's mate, and was totally unqualified to write about the subject. And her friend agreed! Even to the point of claiming that “most women” would share this sentiment!

(One wonders if these single women themselves believe they know a thing or two about dating, and, if so, what makes them more qualified. One also wonders why they would want to date any man, even if he is self-aware enough to acknowledge his complete ignorance of the subject. I can't imagine going on a date with someone who knows nothing about finding one's mate could be a positive or productive experience.)

(Another side point: women really need to stop telling men that “most women” or “all women” would think or feel a certain way about anything. There are billions of women in the world. They don't all think alike, and they didn't appoint any particular woman to speak on their behalf. It doesn't strengthen your case to pretend otherwise.)

As I explained to Sarah, “the bookstores are filled with books by married people and professionals who write utter nonsense about dating. No one seems to have a problem with this. Nor do they have a problem with editors who can't write, coaches who are fat and out of shape, mental health professionals who are crazier than the people they treat, nutritionists who are fat and unhealthy, or doctors who smoke. But a single person with many years of dating experience and a good head on his shoulders should keep his mouth shut because he hadn't yet met the right person? Give me a break.”

The truth is that, when evaluating a person's opinions, we should take into account their background, experience, and personal success. It's most sensible to learn from people who have already faced and overcome the same challenges we are facing, not those who are still stuck in the mud.

Then again, it's quite possible that someone who has yet to see personal success in a given area can still speak very intelligently about it. Many people who are struggling to get married, or make a living, or make the team, are just as capable and worthy as the next person, but they didn't catch a break. Even if we do everything right, our success or lack thereof is ultimately in the hands of God. As I've often said, if things worked out a little differently, many people who are married today would still be single, and many people who are single would be married.

Had I written a book on parenting, it would be more reasonable for people to be skeptical. (That said, it's quite possible that I learned some valuable insights about parenting without having personally experienced it, just as many parents are awful, and have no business giving advice to others.) But I didn't write a book about parenting; I wrote about what's wrong with the shidduch world and what needs to be done to fix it. A 19-year-old who married the first girl he dated is less qualified to write about this than someone who really experienced the shidduch world in all its glory.

Over the years many people have disparaged my worthiness to comment on the shidduch world, merely because of my personal status. That says a lot more about them than it does about me. I'm confident in saying that no one in our time has tackled the problems in the shidduch world more thoroughly, with a practical roadmap for addressing the root of what's wrong, not merely treating the symptoms. But because I don't fit some people's image of what an “expert” on the subject should look like, they are quick to dismiss whatever I have to offer. They ignore the substance and mock the person. It's the easy way out.

It's also a great way to prevent the many serious problems in the shidduch world from ever being addressed. If you're going to disparage feedback from the very people who are most directly affected by the shidduch world, who actually have to go through all the unpleasant dates, haphazard suggestions, insensitive, cruel remarks, and then be marginalized in the community for not being married, then you're not astute for rejecting their feedback – you're part of the problem.

Needless to say, the young lady from Tel Aviv didn't read my book before concluding that I knew nothing and being turned off by my initiative. Did I mention what she did for a living?

She was a midwife.

She spent her days guiding women through pregnancy, labor, and delivery, despite never having experienced any of it herself.

The irony alone made it all worth it.

In part two I will offer razor-sharp pointers on how you can help singles and what most definitely does not help them. That will conclude my series of articles in celebration of twenty years since I started EndTheMadness.

Maybe, just maybe, some people will be willing to listen, even to a know-nothing like me.

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