[In the last installment of my column, I wrote about a single woman who attended a 10 week relationship workshop which I facilitated at a Manhattan shul. We spent an entire session on this brave woman's difficulty with fear of rejection which was crippling her attempt to find a marriage partner. She would sabotage dates and fail to accurately convey to matchmakers who she was or needed. We had gotten to the point at which she had just come to recognize that she was emotionally paralyzed by fear of rejection, lack of self-appreciation and the ability to present herself, her needs and personality to dates or to shadchanim. We continue now with the rest of the session.]
She was emotional, speaking slowly, like a stutterer. I asked the men, "What does she have that she can offer to a man, that a man would want enough and value enough so that he would give her what she needs?" One fellow said, "She's sincere." Another said, "I bet she keeps her word." Another said, "She seems very thoughtful and responsible."
At about this point, Rachel was picking her head slowly up and the beginning of a heartfelt smile was forming on the previously forlorn countenance. I asked her if she realized these things about herself. She wavered and shook her head with a slow, hesitant "no." Then I asked her, do the shadchanim who set you up realize these things about you?" The "No" this time was rapid. I asked, "How can they set you up with what you need if you don't tell them? What do you think you could actively do to direct them into giving you valid set ups?"
She hesitated again. I asked Yitzchok, "What do you think?"
"The man has to be sincere, real, reliable, caring and able to make her emotionally secure."
I asked her, "Anything wrong with that?"
"Do you have any more idea now what to tell a shadchan about how to set you up?"
"What do you still have to work on, that it's only 'some?'" I asked.
"Self-definition and inner strength."
"Is that all you need to have good dates with good matches?"
"What do you mean?"
I replied, "The inner awareness and strength necessary to make sure shadchanim give you what you need. In other words, always make sure to strongly, though politely, say what is important about you in order to be able to have a relationship and what you need in the guy. If the shadchan isn't receptive to your reality, that's not your shadchan. Have the strength and courage to respect yourself and to be respected by the shadchan. If the shadchan has something valid to say, be open and mature. You owe the shadchan respect too. But if the shadchan doesn't take to heart who you are and need, don't be afraid to leave and don't be insecure. Stay dignified, but articulate what counts, and only use shadchanim who you are comfortable with and who are responsive and on-target, so you can try your hand at a relationship that stands a chance, with a guy who can give you what you need, and with whom you can bring your best selves out."
Rachel still has work to do on building her inner self up as well as the security with which to trust, select, allow, form, and maintain a serious relationship.
With the constructive, supportive environment of my workshop series, she obtained some of the insight, feedback, encouragement and inner strength with which she could expand her horizons, options and opportunities. As the series proceeded, she gradually became stronger, more relaxed and secure.