I spoke to two young men recently and asked them to describe what they were looking for in a wife. Actually, in one case I spoke to the young man himself; in the other case I spoke to his parents. (And no, I’m not a professional shadchan, but if I can keep people in mind, I’m happy to.)
In both cases, the answer was something like, “Reasonably attractive girl with good middos.”
“What type of middos are particularly important to you/him?” I asked.
Silence. “Just… good middos.”
“Well, yes, all-around good middos are important, but everyone is a little different in their focus. Is chesed particularly important to you to see – or honesty, say?”
“We don’t want to be picky. As long as she’s a good girl.”
“You know, it’s sometimes easier for shadchanim to set people up when they have a clearer picture of who you/your son is and what he’s looking for. When it’s very vague, it’s harder to see a match.”
I wasn’t getting through.
While I would love to think of a match for these two young men, it’s unlikely I ever will. I know how much I hated getting irrelevant suggestions or dates when I was dating – suggestions that were basically the equivalent of “he’s a nice boy and you’re a nice girl and you seem to be in the same hashkafic range.”
Going out on a date is a time investment and an emotional investment. Why would I put someone through that if I don’t have a really strong feeling that they would go well together?
So I appreciate that you’re trying “not to be picky,” but you’re making it more difficult for most shadchanim (professional or not) who care about making relevant matches to set you up.
Picture this conversation: you go and tell a real estate agent, “I want a house.”
“What are you looking for?”
“You know, a basically functional house. Roof shouldn’t leak, plumbing should work – just a nice house.”
“What area? How many bedrooms? What price range? Any other features that are important to you?”
“No… I don’t want to be picky. Just a nice house.”
The real estate agent is either going to give up, because the likelihood of him rationally finding something which you will be satisfied with (despite your lack of “pickiness”) at any point in the near future is small – or he’ll take the chance and suggest you house after house after house, most of which you’ll end up turning down because they won’t fit your unstated but real needs.
I’m not talking about a grocery list of needs and wants and fantasies all jumbled together. I’m talking about knowing that if you have 10 children, a two-bedroom house just isn’t going to cut it. And if you need to commute to work and don’t have a car, the house needs to be reasonably close to the right public transportation system. And if lack of sunlight seriously affects your mood, you need to let the real estate agent know to avoid showing you any houses where you’ll need to turn on artificial lighting even when it’s a bright, sunny day outside.
Don’t be picky – but do be specific. It will likely get you closer to the date who really is the right one for you.
I’m sure with a little bit of thought you can do this on your own, but one book I found useful in outlining a process by which you can come to the details which are specific and relevant is Dating Secrets: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Spouse, by Shaindy Marks and Leah Jacobs.
You’re an individual. Your needs are individual. Figure out what you really need – and let those who are trying to help you know.