Singles don’t need pity or unsolicited advice. But they do need your thought.
By: Ahuva Parnes
Five years ago, when I got engaged at 25 years old, the principal of the school I taught in called me into her office and said, “I’m thrilled for you but I’m even happier for your parents.”
“Waiting for a shidduch is difficult,” she said. “But watching someone we love wait is heart-wrenching.”
When my younger sisters suffered through their own shidduchim sagas, I got a glimpse of what she meant.
We all know girls who are ‘in shidduchim.’
It could be your daughter, your neighbor, your cousin, your niece, your friend, or the girl you meet at the gym. Maybe you know her well and care for her deeply or perhaps she’s a passing acquaintance who sticks in your mind.
She could be 20, 22, 25, 30 or older. She might be the oldest in her family but she just as likely could be the youngest. She could have a promising career or work at a dead-end job. One thing is certain though, she is ‘in shidduchim,’ and it isn’t easy.
Your heart clenches every time her name comes up. You wonder why she is still single and what you can do and how is it that so much time just zoomed by since the last time you thought about her?
I get it—from the other side of the fence. When I got married, I had reached the end of my endurance. I had spent seven long years in shidduchim, and some of my classmates are still single. That’s 12 years. And there are those who wait longer.
None of us know the reason why. For every reason one could point to why a particular girl waits longer than her friends or sisters, others can think of 15 girls with the same issue who are happily married.
There is only one answer to why a girl isn’t married and that is: Hashem doesn’t want her to be married, yet.
Still, the wait is a long, frightening journey, for those who wait and for those who care.
What does it feel like to be ‘in shidduchim?’ To be waiting while people ‘look into you’
—scrutinize your every action, ask the most probing questions, tear away scabs as they investigate parts of your life that you just wish stayed covered and then say ‘no.’
It feels vulnerable, scary, sometimes desperate. It pushes you to discover strength you never knew you had – to push past barriers of I’ll never be able to handle that, because when that happens, you do handle it.
It makes you a greater person, a stronger person, a baalas emunah.
But it’s hard. It’s lonely and painful.
And there are things singles wish you knew—all of you who care—because maybe, this will help you understand:
- We’re not singles as in a mass of people with one body, one heart, one predicament. We are individuals. We may still be single, but we are not just single. That title doesn’t define us. We are so much more than that title we never asked for.
- We are happy. We are sad. We are hopeful. We are down. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. and we never really know just how we’re going to feel at any given moment. Bear with us as we figure all of this out.
- Our lives are not on hold. We live our lives fully every day, just like any other woman. We have ideas, perspectives, dreams and goals. We won’t and shouldn’t make decisions under the umbrella of will it look good for shidduchim? We want to live the lives that we want to live.
- Be sensitive – with care. Pity is awful but disregard can hurt even more. We understand that it’s a fine line for people to walk, but please try to walk it. Don’t wring your hands or put on a pained face when you see us. Don’t make every simcha about our pain. We’re staying strong and we need your strength to keep us going. If you know us well and you have a good chizuk line, share it. If not, smile, schmooze and treat us like you’d treat anyone else.
- Daven for us. Network for us. Please don’t forget about us. Each of us only needs one guy – maybe your phone call will be the one.
Ahuva Parnes is the author of The Single Files – a true journal of her journey through shidduchim. She shares her innermost fears, her greatest triumphs, and her funniest shidduchim stories. Are you a mother watching your daughter suffer and wishing you could understand more? Are you a single girl who wants to nod along and say ‘So I’m not the only one!’? Do you want the honest truth about dating and life as a single? She can be reached at [email protected]