There have been many suggestions to help alleviate the Shidduch Crisis. Many well meaning people have spent a lot of time and money to help. Almost everybody has some opinion on how to solve it. Well, short of using a shotgun, I don't really have a solution. But I haven't fully discounted the shotgun yet.
What I do have are some thoughts that I have accumulated over the years of being a parent and having married off a few kids (and some more to go, B'ezras/t Hashem) that might help some people with the dating process. Perhaps a few people will agree with them and it will help. Some are for the younger crowd, some for the older, some for the more yeshivish and some for the modern. Enough unsolicited advice for everyone. I'm not ready to hang up a "dating/life coach" shingle but the fact that we have people doing this is an indication that some things and/or people need some fixing. So let's begin.
For a few years, as my oldest boy was nearing the dating age, there were discussions about how the system works. A while back, at least in the Yeshivish crowd, it became the proper etiquette for the boy to not call the girl directly for the first date and maybe more. The shadchan would play telephone tag with the young man and young lady to find a mutually acceptable date and time. This seemed quite absurd to me and certainly not very efficient. I used to debate this with my son. How is it that these two people are old enough to date and get married yet not mature enough to talk on the phone? It's not like the boy has to call the girl and ask her IF she would please go out with him. It's already arranged! My son and daughter would reply that it's not tznius'dik to talk on the phone. To which I would answer with what I considered blatantly obvious. Isn't talking in person more personal than talking on the phone. This went on for a while. Then my son finally spoke to one of his Roshei Ha'Yeshiva about dating and asked him this question. You've got to sit down before you hear his reply. "Do you know why boys don't call - because they are chickens!"
Needless to say, my son was shocked. But he had the sense to see the humor in it and how this was another example of frumkeit replacing menshlechkeit. Some just assumed that if a Rosh Ha'Yeshivah suggested for one particular boy that the shadchan arrange the date, there must be some frum reason behind it. And, then it went from there. Everyone had to jump on the frum bandwagon.
I never got around to having him speak with his Rosh HaYeshiva about just maybe trying to turn these chickens into men. Even mice would be an improvement for some. But why do we keep lowering the bar? If they aren't ready to talk to a young lady, let them prepare. Let them practice. Let them write it down. Just like any other important interview you will eventually have in life. I'll help. Here is a short sample conversation between a fictitious bochur named Chaim and his potential match named Sara. You can cut this out and keep it in your wallet.
Chaim: "Hello, this is Chaim. May I please speak with Sara?"
(if house phone: "One moment, I will see if she is available") but eventually, "This is Sara".
Chaim: "Good evening, Sara, (repeat "this is Chaim" if she did not answer the phone). I hope you had a good day. Is this a good time to speak?"
Chaim: "Thank you very much for agreeing to go out with me. I would like to find a mutually agreeable time for our date. My schedule is very flexible as the Yeshiva allows me to date and miss seder whenever I want. Do you have such flexibility?"
Sara: "No, I have a real job. It would be best if we can go out over the weekend because sometimes I am tired after a long work day and commute and I would like to be at my best for our date."
Chaim: "I see. I guess I can try to fit you into my dating schedule. I just wish the shadchan would have told me about this 'work' thing. Is Motzei Shabbos at 7pm acceptable?"
Sara: "Well, I think I might need more than 15 minutes after Shabbos to get ready."
Chaim: "Oh, how about 7:15?"
Sara: "Maybe 8pm would be best."
Chaim: "Ok, thank you. Looking forward to meeting you."
Sara: "Likewise, have a good night and a Good Shabbos"
Chaim: "To you too. Good night".
Wasn't that easy? I could draw up a flowchart for different responses, but that would have to be for a follow up article. And if you really need such a flowchart, please make sure the shadchan sets you up with the 'mother' type. But that's another topic.
What do you think?
(coming next - conversing on your shidduch date)