Monday, January 29, 2007

The "Rules"

I am constantly learning that [fortunately] I do not officially follow the unwritten "Shidduch Rules," so, I am fully aware that some things I write might be inaccurate. Also, bear in mind that these rules apply more to the "learning boy" community which is supposedly vast, and might vary from one community to another. Feel free to clear any misconceptions.

I recently received a phone call for a reference about one of my dearest friends, and it seemed that this woman followed practically every rule. So, in sequential order, I will try to inform the public of the unofficially official Shidduch Rules, From the "redd" to the dating.
  • The Shidduch must be "redd" to the boy's side first. If one "mentions" a boy to the girl's side, no name is allowed. They just say, "I might have someone for you, so give me your information..." But it ALWAYS goes to the boy first.
  • If the boy's mother approves of the family's background (yichus is a plus--and a requirement for some), all the schools and camps the girl has attended, and of course, all the previous Machatanim if there are any, she either attends weddings she is not invited to, or spies on the girl at work to make sure that she is good looking enough for her son. A woman once called me to ask when my teacher taught her last class, and which exit she uses(as if I'd know), so she can catch a glimpse of her.
  • The boy's mother must anonymously call the references on the girl's "resume". She proceeds to ask questions that may or may not make sense. Nobody knows who she is, so she can ask whatever she wants, right? The mother calls people in the nieghborhood about the family, and the girl's friends so that they can say that she's bubbly, and pretty, and smart. Even if she isn't.
  • If all that information proves "good enough for my son," the parents run it by the boy, and if the girl is fortunate enough, she is put on some sort of "list." He is always "busy."
  • They must wait for the boys to come out of the "freezer."
  • If the boy doesn't get engaged by the time it is up to this girl, she is given the option to go out with him. She does some quick checking, and learns that he is the top boy in his Yeshiva (like every other young man).
  • She must get back to the Shadchan right away before another bubbly Bais Yaakov girl gets to marry him. "Don't sit on it," they say.
  • The shadchan is in charge of arranging the date. S/he calls the boy, and calls the girl, and tries to arrange a date. Repeat. Repeat. They finally pick a day that they're both available.
  • The day of the date arrives, and the girl must primp. She gets a manicure, eyebrow wax, lip wax, cakes on the make-up, irons her hair, and dresses in her Shabbos finest. The boy showers and dresses in a suit and hat. After all, this is Shabbos, isn't it?
  • There must be cake, candy, and seltzer on the table when the boy arrives.
  • The boy is not permitted to touch the items on the table, even if they are for him.
  • The father of the girl sits him down, and gives him a farher.
  • When they leave, the girl is not allowed to bring along a handbag or cell phone, because that might convey distrust. And, what will they need while out on a date anyway?
  • The couple heads to a lounge, where they chat over water or soda, and observe the other Shidduch dates, and hope they don't meet their friends.
  • When the girl returns, she contemplates the decision, and gives a second courtesy date, dreading it.
  • The girl is not allowed to meet young men on her own, as she will be considered a "bum." She would never dream of talking to a boy anyway, since they've been Assur all this time. So she must depend on others to set her up with people they might have just met a few times.
Is it me, or does this seems lightly backwards?

36 Comments:

At 1/29/2007 7:16 PM, Anonymous Hesh said...

Ok first of all the learning boy catagory definately is very vast. From what you are describing it sounds like more of a Modern Chasidish family then a Yeshivish black hat type thing. Maybe its my chofetz chaim roots but most of my friends who plan on being in Kollel did not get to go through such a thing with the father. Most of them just picked the girl up and left- sometimes going to the "lounge" at the top of the Marriot Marquie in Midtown but just as many went to a coffee shop or restaurant.

The rules are also in the process of changing due to the ongoing and slowly building shidduch crisis- of which I devote a good portion of my blog to.

I am not a learning guy- but the status quo of the whole makeup and nails thing is BS I tell all of my dates to come dressed casual so their preperations do not take up so much of their time when unfairly the guy takes 3 minutes to dres up

 
At 1/30/2007 12:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle, if this is your experience I'm wondering if you're in the right Shidduch market.
From the way you sound in your posts you come across as the type who'd be more comfortable with the guy in the knit yarmulke and sports shirt, than the bochur in the black hat whose idea of a good time is sitting in kollel.

Ichabod Chrain

 
At 1/30/2007 10:01 AM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

truthfully.. im jealous..
i wish i had someone doing all that for me and all i had to do was wax my eyebrows and pick an outfit..

 
At 1/30/2007 10:09 AM, Anonymous Gabi said...

Michelle,
I went on a similar type of date you are talking about a few weeks ago. I’m not from the black hat world and I was very surprised by all of the formality. When the father invited me in he asked me to sit down and he offered me cookies and a drink. I refused. I didn’t know that was expected it just seemed weird to me to eat when I was about to go out to eat. Anyway everything was pretty much as you describe (except my parents didn’t do any checking up on the girl, it was mostly the girls side checking up on me). The only thing that was different then what you describe is that when I wanted to go out again with the girl it took me over a week to get an answer from her family and finally I just quit and said forget about it.

The entire thing is crazy like your saying. People are putting way to much pressure on the whole thing. The “shidduch crises” I think is being caused by people having unreal expectations about who their kids are even allowed to date let alone marry. They make accidents, essential. Who cares if the guy eats a cookie? Who cares what camps he went to as a kid? I really wonder if Avraham aveinu could get a shidduch these days? What yichus did he have? He was the son of an idolater. Shkoyach on speaking up about this.

 
At 1/30/2007 12:07 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

gabi-gr8 points
hesh--that's considerate. I ask the guy myself if he doesn't. I'm not dressing more formally for a guy than I do for G-d on Shabbos
Ichabod-hit it on the money
anonym00kie--you raise a good point. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side--thank you for bringing that in

 
At 1/30/2007 1:28 PM, Anonymous Ike said...

good post - a few points:

1) get the heck out of Brooklyn. Immediately.

2) what would be a viable alternative approach? Anonymookie makes a good point about how the current system makes many aspects of finding a mate easier for the girl.

I think the system itself is fine, just the people involved kill it with their stupid questions, dumb rules, etc.

If someone's stupid enough to judge a guy based upon whether he ate the cookie or not, then I'd want nothing to do with such a family.

2a) You say these rules you mentioned are prevalent in the "learning boy" community. These guys are not approaching a girl on their own. Not after years in single-sex yeshivos. So them meeting girls on their own is very unlikely in most cases. I don't consider that to be a viable alternative.

3) Considering the number of engagements posted every night on onlysimchas, i find it hard to believe the "system" is a disaster. It seems to be pretty successful. Again, no system will be perfect.
And I think it's about the people, not the system.

 
At 1/30/2007 4:01 PM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

i wasnt referring to it being easier for the girl - i meant its easier when you dont have to do all the work on your own. when you have parents, friends.. involved, people who care and look out for you. i was referring to dating in the frum world with that support system.

 
At 1/30/2007 4:43 PM, Anonymous Ike said...

poor choice of words on my part - I didnt mean "the girl" as opposed to a guy; i just meant it generally, with your point in mind.

 
At 1/31/2007 10:44 AM, Blogger Zvika said...

Michelle, you've given me the final reason I need to stay out the shidduch dating world...craziness like this makes me sick to my stomach...good post!

 
At 1/31/2007 2:21 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Ike-some engagements on Only Simchas involve couples who DID meet on their own as well, and some that are so far from the learning category that they touch even in the picture!

 
At 1/31/2007 4:10 PM, Anonymous Ike said...

Then again, many in the "learning" community are on there (I never said every shidduch on onlysimchas is from those circles); plus, the more yeshivish ones might not wanna post on only simchas - so there many engagements that we don't even know about.

Additionally, the Yated lists many engagements every week in their "mazel tovs" section.

 
At 1/31/2007 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

michelle-

these "rules" are not universal. most of the guys i dated did not follow them, and the one time i got a manicure my mother forced me to. she felt this guy needed to be impressed. i never went for an eyebrow wax, never ironed my hair, and wore minimal makeup and jewelry. this is how i am, and i would feel odd any other way. b"h i am now happily married to the man who accepted the seltzer from my parents, barely spoke to my father on the first date, and had no issue with my:

a) eating fettucine alfredo on a date (spaghetti type pasta is to be avoided, it is too messy. unwritten rule #58.)

B) making walrus faces with chopsticks,

c)leaving over food and taking a doggie bag (unwritten rules # 37 and 89)

d)wearing flats even though i'm a head shorter than him

e)going on a shabbos walk before engagement or discussion on engagement

f) not wearing makeup for said shabbos walks

g)not wearing makeup to meet his parents

h)wearing denim...

the list goes on. i admit i was shocked when my mother told me an old acquaintance reprimanded her for pushing a shopping cart to go shopping (bad for shidduchim #42)
and at 17 i was given a speech and a collection of makeup by my neighbor, who feared i would be single forever if i didn't wear it everyday. but you must admit, there is a certain humor in these situations. don't you feel bad for the people who seriously care about these things? do you think these boys are going to live normal married lives, or will they be in constant fear of ruining their future children's shidduchim because they *gasp* still wear a stetson hat instead of whichever brand is yeshivish now. their wives will drive two blocks to do their shopping because a bubby cart is a no-no. they'll build up gas bills, phone bills, all kind of bills to impress people. do not think the system is crazy. it is the people in the system who are crazy, and it seems to me you went out with one crazy guy too many. (though occasionally their mothers are the only one who are truly loco.)

i wish you much happiness and the ability to laugh after a date with one of these guys. may you find someone who's willing to break all the rules.

 
At 1/31/2007 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand what the deal is with makeup. I always liked the natural look, so I could see what she really looked like. If there was paint, that was an out and out deal breaker because it shows that she's trying to be manipulative. (Clear stuff for complexion is a different issue altogether.)

Don't kmow how many guys are like that, but there's probably a lot more than women think there are.

 
At 2/01/2007 2:18 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Anon 4:18--I think I know who you are-did we meet at a Shabbos Kallah?
Anyway, I congratulate you on your success, and respect your willingness to "break the rules."
I'm not the type to wear no make-up, although my usual routine is about 3 minutes if I really take my time.
As far as my hair, I'm too lazy to iron it most of the time, and prefer to wear it curly because it seems more fun-loving. I do have that choice because my hair is wavy so I can do either one.

I hate lounges.

I hate restaurants--and I took a doggy bag once,too.

Going for Shabbos walks--I'd LOVE that. I'd rather walk around the neighborhood on a first date than drive to Manhattan to a fancy-schmancy restaurant. I once did that because the guy got into a car accident as we were driving to the date. It was so much better that way.

The way I see it--if someone thinks I'm getting engaged tomorrow, and I'm not, they'll feel stupid.

 
At 2/01/2007 10:25 PM, Blogger Semgirl said...

Michelle, Im really not trying to hurt your feelings. But you are always going to Brooklyn College, as opposed to Touro or not going to college at all, hence a 'kalya', so the type of boy and girl these rules apply sort of kind of dont apply to you.

 
At 2/01/2007 10:39 PM, Blogger Lost said...

Semgirl! I beg to differ. Brooklyn College is just a university, not a particular derech of dating. Girls from all types of backgrounds attend college. Lubav, Ashkenaz, there are even some outta towners. Ah Shanda.

As for all these rules, weren't rules meant to be broken? These are quite laughable.

 
At 2/06/2007 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

michelle-

yes, you met me at a shabbos kallah.

I think you are having the wrong people set you up based on what you're saying. It's not just the boys, it's the shadchanim who make the rules as well.

anon 4:18

 
At 2/06/2007 3:17 PM, Anonymous a junior said...

um semgirl, you are so flippin anoying. u think all the prospect girls who go to brookyln dont shidduch date in that way? sum do sum dont. dont generalize. and certainly dont say i dont mean to hurt ur feelings, are u implying it might? if u have to start by telling michelle not to take it that way thats a good enuff reason not to say it.

 
At 2/08/2007 8:12 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

a junior-you go girl-thanks :-)

I certainly feel that the wrong people are setting me up for the most part. I do get some out of town people setting me up, and with out of town guys--those are usually the better ones.

As far as BC, what's a "Kalya"? pardon my ignorance. And BC is not a dating method. You try finding a decent guy in the caf, Semgirl.

 
At 2/28/2007 6:34 PM, Blogger Jacob Da Jew said...

"I hate lounges."

Me too! So dumb, what are you supposed to do the whole time???

 
At 8/07/2007 11:29 AM, Blogger Yehoshua Mordechai said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8/07/2007 11:32 AM, Blogger Yehoshua Mordechai said...

Michelle,

I've been thoroughly enjoying your posts (I'm rather new to the Jewish blogging world -- on a side note, I'm particularly impressed to finally find a frum Jewish blogger using proper spelling, grammar and punctuation!).

Anyway, I'm a "latecomer" who's just getting into the shidduch scene. Apparently the rules are a little different for us since there seems to be an unwritten rule that we can only get set up with other latecomers or their children. You're right that every girl is bubbly and smart and pretty and tall even if they're the opposite (and I presume that all the guys are handsome and great learners despite reality).

I recognize that there are serious problems with this system but I have no idea how to fix it. Back in my previous life, I'd generally meet girls in class or school organizations or through friends. Obviously, those aren't options anymore, but it was nice to be able to meet a girl without each person knowing that they're talking only to figure out if they should get married. I still can't get used to the blind date shidduch (especially the pressure!) though I've been out on a few.

So Michelle, you seem to be intelligent and well-acquainted with this system and its merits and flaws; do you propose any solutions?

 
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