Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Research: A Waste of Time, Or Useful?

I set out to write a post about research. I searched my drafts, and found this from almost 2 years ago! Updates have been made, but it is just sad how much things haven't changed.

I don't have much exposure to the MO community, but one thing I've noticed is that they don't research Shidduchim nearly as much as the yeshivish. Why?

I'm not even talking about the ridiculous questions, whether they use a plastic tablecloth on Shabbos, or if the wife comes to the table in a robe Friday night, or whether they stack dirty dishes at the table. I am hoping that questions like that are asked by just a tiny percentage, and tend to be repeated because they are so inane and simply meaningless.

I just mean the phone calls in general. When I go out with out-of-towners, and I used to beg my parents to at least make two phone calls, the guys got suspicious. The references are annoyed and don't understand why we call to ask about the guy, if I can just get to know him on a date.

The attitude among the MO is, "let the kids go out." They won't ask a million questions to make sure the couple is 100% compatible. I have mixed emotions about this practice.

I've done it; no research, just giving it a shot. Obviously, thus far it hasn't worked. Then again, I've done research, found out great things, only to find on the first date that it was a total load. So thus far, neither method has worked. I don't think either method particularly will lead to success; although some might contend that with less research, I'd be more inclined to date someone that I hadn't previously considered, and find out that he is my soulmate. (IY"H, when I am successful, I will bli neder let you know which method led me to it.)


The way it works among the Yeshivish is that conclusive research is conducted before their first date. So much research that the only thing left to find out is whether they get along, their personalities mesh, and whether they're attracted to one another. Well, as part of research, the boy's mother has already seen the girl in one way or another, and determined that her son will find her attractive. (In other words, she is pretty enough for her to proudly express, "This is my brand new daughter-in-law!" at the next neighborhood or family gathering.) So, basically, since the girl is not allowed to ask much about the guy's looks, they have to find out whether she is completely repulsed by him or not.

Sometimes you find things out on a first date that you couldn't have found out by asking information anyway.

One time, my mother agreed to make a phone call about a guy. He lived nearby, so she called a neighbor of his that she knew. His neighbor said to stay away. I called a guy I knew from college who learned in the same bais medrash as he did, and the consensus was to stay away. But that was once. Obviously the guy is some sort of freak show if everyone we asked about him didn't even do the phony "he's such a great guy" shpiel. In this case, research proved useful.

On other occasions, the guys sounded great on paper and turned out to be nothing like they were described. Their references described them a certain way, but I learned on the date that it wasn't accurate.

I've discussed ridiculous phone calls I've heeded in honor of my good friends. And many of them appalled me. "How does she dress?" "Why does she wear a ponytail?" "Why did she attend this high school?"

One person was turned down before a first date because of a reputation of being "quiet."

The problem is, let's say you've gone out twice, and decide, well now is the time for research. The couple has already built some sort of a relationship. Those are based on trust. Doing research at that stage shows a complete lack of trust. "I know we've met and everything, but I don't trust you, so I am gonna go call people to ask them about you." That'll go over well.

So? Research or no research?

12 Comments:

At 8/28/2008 2:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle:
Surely the point about the MO approach is that by leaving it to the couple themselves to meet and decide about each other, they can be more honest about their choice, since it would not be made for them. Additionally, the MO world is more sanguine about the fact that by and large, there are skeletons in the cupboards of virtually all families - if you look hard enough. However, if the couple are well suited, then that should be allowed to count highly, especially as they are the ones who will be looking to marry and be together - not the mechutonim and/or other relations.
May your shidduch dating days end soon - for the right reason!
Regards

Anon-613

 
At 8/28/2008 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion, the point of research is to screen dating partners in IMPORTANT areas such as goals, lifestyle, background etc. You don't have to kiss extra frogs before you meet the prince. I think that the more losers and toally off base dates you have, the harder you're making it for yourself. And there's no point in wasting both of your time if a simple phone call before a date can tell you that this guy/girl is totally not for you. The issues arise once we start delving into every single detail of a prospective date's life and thinking that we can know exactly what personality, family...is suitable for us. That gets kind of tricky. The idea is to ensure that you have common goals and that marriage is a positibility. Peripherally, some things like emotional disturbance may be hard to spot on a date, but can be found out if the right people are called. Ask many who were victims of abuse how they had no clue throughout the dating process and wish they had done more research (although this doesn't always come out with research either...)

 
At 8/28/2008 7:21 AM, Blogger SaraK said...

If I am going to go out with a guy, I basically just want to know if he is a nice guy and if we are somewhat for each other. So if the person suggesting the match knows me and knows the guy, then those criteria have been met. No additional phone calls would be needed. Once we started dating, I would probably want to speak to people who know him to confirm things that I see on the date, look out for red flags, that kind of thing. I disagree with you, Michelle, that it shows a lack of trust. When you do all the research before the date, how do you know what to ask? Once you meet a guy, you can ask someone to elaborate on what you have already seen. When someone says that a guy is "quiet" that can manifest itself in so many ways. You really have to see for yourself. Once you meet the guy you may find he isn't quiet with you, or there is something specific you see and you can ask a reference about it.

If a date suggestion is coming from someone who doesn't know me or doesn't know the guy, I would just make a phone call or 2 to find out if the guy is decent or if I should stay away.

In my opinion, the only real inof you can get before a date is very superficial stuff. Like if you are looking for a black hat, kollel for 10 years guy, you can ask someone and the answer will probably be pretty accurate. But once you pass the age of 20 and people start getting a little more complex, I feel you need to get to know a guy on your own.

 
At 8/28/2008 8:23 AM, Blogger halfshared said...

I've found that research helps with the facts. You just need to know how to ask. Personality questions and all the gray areas, will never be answered 100% honestly so it pays to go out and see for yourself. Easier said than done..but one date gives you so much more info than all your references. References tell you what you want to hear.

 
At 8/28/2008 11:39 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Anon 613 has good points. I might be mistaken, but from what I see, there is a lot less BS and drama involved on the MO shidduch scene. This is also helped by the fact that many couples meet on their own, or are highschool sweethearts.

Yes, pretty much everyone has skeletons, but each on his/her own level.

And, Amen :)

Anonymous also mentioned something that I almost went back in and added. This method can lead to more "dud" dates.

I have had phone calls after which I had made my decision. (Mostly the ones where they tell me how they cheated their way through college) but having that out to be able to say no after the first phone call will just add more pressure to the first phone call. So i went out, wasting time, true, but since it's not accepted, and the pressure thing, to dump a guy after a phone call, that was my only option.

 
At 8/28/2008 11:53 AM, Anonymous big bro #2 said...

What I always say about the shidduch system in general is this: Yes, it stinks, it has tons wrong with it, but until there are more viable ways of making shidduchim, we have to stick with this.

I, for one, am against the separation of the sexes throughout elementary and high school. But because Chareidim don't see it that way, meeting on their own ain't gonna happen.

 
At 8/28/2008 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The advantage of research is that it saves time. If I for instance want a girl who dresses relatively modest (no tight, white semi-see-through shirts), then this is something that research can uncover. Yes, the above did happen to me and as soon as I saw her I knew basically that it was a no.

(Actually in this case, my mother did some research but very little. And funny enough, I think she was told that this girl did dress modestly. Perhaps more research would have been helpful. Maybe not.)

So, I do think research is helpful for those things which mean very much to a person. But I agree that research is not foolproof and that both methods have advantages.

Oh, last thing: the advantage of someone you know well telling you about your prospective date is infinitely more valuable than a stranger doing so. Much more assuring too (assuming you get a glowing report).

 
At 8/29/2008 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the MO community, it is usually more common for the couple to date for a long period of time whereas in the Yeshivish community it isnt like that. You only have a short amount of time to decide if it will work or not so we try to get as much info as we can before.

 
At 9/01/2008 7:42 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Anon 2:36
I understand that. It seems to me that the research done in the yeshivish velt is mostly BS as well. Nobody's gonna say anything incriminating.

What kind of info are you "getting before"? I think most of that is huey (sp?). Like I heard that these guys were "Maschshiv Torah," and "has a chavrusa" but when I meet him, he tells me, "Yeah, technically I am supposed to be there 4 times a week; i never make it more than once or twice." Yes, I'm happy he's there once or twice, but tell me that to begin with!!! This "information" game has become a bunch of lies and exaggerations.

Besides, people, face the facts: when people get called for information about someone, they most of the time let the person know. I don't know if it's immaturity, excitement, or what, but that info is usually shared. And, in a certain way, extensive research shows a lack of trust. (But then again, you're dealing with a complete stranger, so i can understand that)

 
At 9/02/2008 8:23 PM, Blogger SemGirl said...

My take is that you need to do some basic resaerch, unless you have the time and patience to go out with tons of losers.

When I was dating, there was one Shadchan who kept sending me real 'prizes'. And like an idiot, I felt it was a waste of time to look into it first. After a while I told this Shadchan, why dont you just write my phone number on the men's room wall.

On the other hand, dont stress it, and do major CIA security clearance. Iyh, I hope to hear besuros Tovos from you very soon..

 
At 9/12/2008 7:09 AM, Blogger Kaila said...

michelle,

i went both ways. i dated a couple of yeshivish guys. i don't think the moms checked me out to see if i was attractive enough for their sons. i found that even in yeshivish circles there was only so much you could find out before meeting the guy. really. i think the most honestly answered question was "is he a smoker."

basically, i went to each date knowing that people said he had good middos and wanted to do xyz with his life in location a or b, preferably a.

then i dated some guys i would not necessarily refer to as MO but i assume others would. i did my research and went into the dates no less and no more prepared than with the yeshivish guys.

one of the guys in the non-yeshivish group is now my husband. not only did we talk on the phone between dates, we dumped the shadchan on the second date. there is much less red tape to go through if you just date the guy and deal with him directly. if you're old enough to get married, you better be mature enough to be able to tell someone you don't want to marry him. i think going through shadchanim is a defense mechanism used by those who don't really feel comfortable dealing with those of the opposite gender.

i think the shidduch process would be easier if there weren't so many interfering members of the older generation. but perhaps you could write a long post about that?

 
At 2/05/2009 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the issue with the comments left on this issues, and this blog in general- is that it's a biased sample- most people reading it are not typical yeshiva people, so you're really not getting their opinion on the matter.

 

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