Opinion: The Cruel Dating Game

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two-glasses-of-sodaFrom an article by Sylvia Miner

I recently read on Aish.com the article by Rachel Davids, “Another Break Up.” Finally, after so many years of dating so many people, she thought she was on the verge of settling down and starting her own home. Then came the rejection. And now with this latest break-up, she is “trying to understand what God wants from me.”

That is, of course, the question everyone has to keep asking. But it seems to me that other questions need to be asked: Why is this happening to so many people? Must it happen? Is the community doing all it can to stop it?

Unable to face the prospect of further rejections, I simply blocked off that area of my life.Here’s where I am coming from. I am a woman for whom Rachel Davids’ worst fears came true. I am 68 years old, never married, and while people still urge me to keep trying, no one has any actual prospects for me. Actually I stopped trying at about 30. Unable to face the prospect of further rejections, I simply blocked off that area of my life.

As a young woman, I hated the dating game, which was cruel and phony. Sometimes I used to wish that my father, who was a professor, would just bring home a nice graduate student for me. But no one did things that way in our circles.

People should not be subjected to this. Those who are subjected to it have to try to face it with courage and faith. But we should all do some introspection about why this is happening.

Obviously there are many reasons. But I suspect that it is one manifestation of an underlying attitude about what makes for happiness — the idea that I will be happy if I get just what is perfectly suited to Me. Our society constantly promotes the idea that, among the available options, I owe it to Myself to obtain the optimal option.

This plays out at its ugliest in dating. Since, especially for young men, there are a dizzying number of options available, this makes it very difficult to be certain at any point when one has found “the best person for Me.”

The traditional belief that for every person there is a match who is “bashert” for them, has somehow uncannily morphed into this quest for the optimal mate. People forget that there is such a thing as destiny, that your ideal match may not be the person you fantasize about, but may become attached to your soul through any set of circumstances.

Looking for perfection is futile, because you will not find it. Nobody is perfect. The only way is to go for percentages, and with commitment you will find true happiness.

Being happy and getting what you want are not synonymous. Being happy and getting what you want are not synonymous. Rather, happiness comes from taking what comes to you and making the best of it. It means recognizing external constraints as expressions of the will of God, and trying to live well within them. And external constraints include the wishes and needs of others. A young man who dates a young woman, gets to know her, raises her hopes, and then shears off because he thinks he might be able to do a little better, is surely living in a selfish-filled illusion.

I hope Rachel Davids finds out what God wants from her. Better still, I hope she finds a good man soon. But I would ask the community: Are young men being taught emphatically enough to ask what God wants from them? The sense that every human being is precious? Are young people sufficiently educated with the tools to counteract the exploitive attitudes of the Western dating system?

People are suffering in varying degrees, both in the dating world and in all types of interpersonal relationships. I pray that a way may be found to armor the community against these attitudes, which threaten the Jewish people and the Jewish soul.


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  1. The more people harp on “Age Gap”, “Shidduch Crisis”, “10% girls will be Agunos”, etc. the problems will only grow. This reinforces in the minds of boys and their families that even if they went out six times and had a fantastic relationship, why not try someone else to see if you can get better.

    Stop the hype, stop calling on girls to settle, and stop demoralizing people into a crisis mode and MORE shidduchim will take place and the divorce rate will go LOWER as well.

  2. Maybe this kind of “game” is not what Hashem wants from us. Maybe he wants us to make shidduchim the old way – the parents seek out a match for their children and the children accept whom the parents have chosen for them.This was done for hundreds if not thousands of years and it worked. The “dating game” is a relatively modern phenomena and that why we have a shidduch crisis.

  3. One can feel the pain in this letter and I shed tears for Rachel.
    What we need to remember is that dating is made up of individuals just as the wold at large ,is.

    I dont think that anyone intends directly to hurt anyone, but yet everyone out there, boy and girl is out to cut the best deal they can for thmeselves.

    If a girl finds that she has an advantage in the dating market, belive me that she capitalizes on it, and milks it all the way , just as we accuse the boys of doing.

    While we know very little about Racehel and why the dating scene has not worked for her,we still need to acknowledge that the dating system does get many people married , and so far , no one has come up with a better system that single people would ascribe to.

  4. comment #3: I don’t think your method is as sound as you would like us to believe.

    You’re suggesting creating many stale marriages in an age where to be divorced is ‘hip’ and considering to a large degree most of the things religious jews do is based on peer pressure, this will only make things worse.

    There is a growing number of women in our community who rely on meds and alcohol to make it through the day. There is a growing number of men who are not happy in their marriages

    You may be fixing one problem in a single swipe of your hand, but you may also be creating a far greater can of worms

  5. I am from a chassidishe home where my parents brought me to meet a boy they thought was appropiate and we married soley on trust in our parents. We are B”H very happily married. Everyone is my circles gets married this way and I can hardly think of ONE divorced couple I know. I think the “dating world” has a lot to learn

  6. Why is everthing so over complicated?
    Check background is it someone your prepared to deal with?
    You date the guy see if you like him
    waite to hear if he wants to go on another date with you
    If so see if you guys have clicked on issues
    is he or she a good sport?
    When things get personal can they be toralant of each other
    if so keep on dating until proposal and wahlah you have a match!
    In my case i had the difficult desission to divorce because it became abusive… so much for the ‘hip’ divorce attitude.
    just ment that the background check on my things to do to get married wasnt well thought out.

  7. I cant stand the fact that this attitude towards divorce is prevelent in society. G-d forbid a marraige from contiuing if the couple are not working to make things better because it can in many cases turn a marrage into a nightmare but if your prepared to live in a nightmare so stay married. H-shem created the world for pleasure and if it means that people are free more so now than in the past to get divorce for various reason so let it be!Thank G-d we are Jews and that the Torah is our berometer not whatever!

  8. #5, are people happier (is the divorce rate lower) among those who ‘chose’ their bashert as oppose to the ones whose father ‘brings it home’ for them??? I don’t think the can of worms will be any greater, especially if like the letter above says, happiness comes from taking what comes to you and making the best of it!!!! Think about it!

  9. If it was more acceptable for men and women to get together – and not taboo, almost like it is now things would be better. Like in our parents time. All these new rules and restrictions and labels is killing us.

  10. To 7: I think I’m real with the background checking and what I’m looking for for my kids. But I had an interesting experience. I called all the people on the reference list (and yeah, it’s better to go off the list) and presumably the people ON the list will give glowing reports. I couldn’t figure out why no one wanted to touch this guy until I finally found out why he left yeshiva x. Stuff goes on, and parents HAVE to do a minimum of checking and then, as always, leave it to Hashem. But we’ve got to do some checking.

  11. We all certainly feel the horrific pain of these two women: Miss. Rachel David and Miss. Sylvia Miner for this extreme horror they have gone through in their lives.

    Please see: http://matzav.com/a-reader-writes-shidduchim-the-best-is-not-always-the-best and the several comments there where I wrote a long article exactly about this phenomenon of boys wrongly rejecting good girls because they want something “better,” and how I related that I had been privileged to be at a shiur where Rav Pam, ZT’L, very strongly condemned this phenomenon. (It was further brought out in the comments there that it is the exact same problem when it is girls who are wrongly rejecting good boys or when it is parents who are wrongly rejecting good boys for their daughters or good girls for their sons.)

  12. Allow me to point out that the writer stopped dating, by her own choice, almost 40 years ago. It is difficult to get married if you “stop trying” as she says she did.

  13. Everyone needs to learn Gemarah Sota Daf Bes where Chazal teach that making a shiduch is more difficult than Krias Yam Suf. There is the perfect zivug rishon and then it goes on from there zivug sheni, shlishi, rivii and so on until the gaver eventually meets and marries. Chazal also say that a gaver is matched according to his madreigah. Shmoneh Esrei l’chupah is the best policy. Younger is better because as we read here, the longer we wait the harder it is to chose as we get more confused in life’s turmoil. May she find and all Bas Yisrael find their zivugim. Amen.

  14. My heart goes out for the women/girls AND men/boys

    One question though, why is it that young women seem not to be appreciating their marriages, failing to keep their responsabilties and then running to divorce… and then trying to hurt their exs/spouses through violance and blogging?

  15. #15

    When the husband and his family are abusive there is NO CHOICE. The quote “BEST” families are the best at covering their paths. Baruch Hashem their trash is being cleared up in public. If that’s what it takes, tavo aleihem bracha.

  16. There is a famous Shadchen in Crown Heights who has the couples that he sets up for dates come to his house prior to the set date. He then lets each go into a room where there is a full length mirror and tells them to take a good look at themselves from head to toe!!
    Rabbi Rietti,on one of his tapes on marriage says your busy looking at what your spouse looks like after a few years of marriage, take a look at yourself!
    No one is perfect!
    We are living in a generation where too many of us want to be like the “other” person.
    Before starting to complain find out the real life of the other person and maybe you’ll stay married.
    But it’s true that there are too many great girls that are not valued by what they are, which is sad.
    On the other hand a half good boy could very well luck it out.

  17. #6, I cannot begin to tell you how much ppl, got married in the “bishow” way that have terrible situations going on,(my mother deals with some of these unfortunate cases, and sadly plenty dont even obtaina divorce even though they ask). there is no specific right way to do a shidduch.(in fact there are some very interesting and shocking ma’areh mekomos on this topic in the gemarah). However I (la”d) believe that this type of lesson (as brought by the above letter) has to be drilled into the the heart of the dater, and we can only hope that he/she, will take it to heart and do what H’ expects from us

  18. To Mr. or Mrs. L’Chaim! in #3 and Mrs. Anonymous in #6:
    Of course, as I will, ImYirtza HaShem explain below, the best way to make a Shidduch is for the parents to find a good boy for their daughter or a good girl for their son. However, the issue here is not which method do we use, rather, the problem is people’s bad attitudes. As long as people have these attitudes of accepting only the extreme very best, no method is going to solve the problem. There can be two very wonderful parents who will find a really great girl for their son. If the son though, is one of these Mr. “I need even better” guys, and he thus flatly rejects her, there is nothing that the parents can do about it. There is a very famous saying: “You can lead a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink.”
    Furthermore, as I pointed out in the above comment #12, and another reader posted an article about it here on Matzav, there are many parents who themselves have these bad attitudes of accepting only the extreme very best. This certainly is the same problem as countless times they turn down and ruin what would have been very good shiddchim for their children — along with the totally unjustfied pain they cause the boys and girls they wrongly reject.

    We should not think for a moment that this problem is only in the frum world. On the contrary, as I elaborated in detail in my article at http://matzav.com/a-reader-writes-shidduchim-the-best-is-not-always-the-best, this phenomenon of wanting to get “the top of the line” is an understandable human trait that is used in all areas of living. Especially in the realm of Shidduchim, this trait is quite overused in the outside world. Every community has elderly men and women who never married because they were each waiting for Miss. “Perfect of Perfect” or Mr. “Perfect of Perfect” to come along. And every community has an elderly MISS. Smith who never married because every boy she brought home was never good enough for old Mrs. Smith.


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