Wednesday, November 16, 2011

No Questions, Please

A friend of mine, a listed reference, was called by the mother of a boy. 

"Does she have a television?"

My friend, hesitant, decided not to whitewash anything and replied that I did. 

"Oh, good. She's normal."

My point here is not regarding normalcy (those without televisions, of course, can qualify as "normal"). My issue here is the concept of "references."

My family has long been with the "shidduch system." My siblings, my parents, my grandparents all met for the most part via a third party, be it family or friend or acquaintance. But this concept of resume/profile/rap sheet is a new being, along with "references." 

When my sister was dating twenty years ago, there were no references. If my mother happened to know someone in the same neighborhood, then she would call them to casually ask for some filler info. Often my sister went out no matter what was said. 

To be a reference is a lot of pressure. For instance, if my friend has decided to lie or stretch the truth, thinking that was what this woman wanted to hear, that wouldn't have been good (although, I'm not sure if I ever ended up going out with that guy). In the end, references don't know what information the other side wants to hear, and may say the wrong thing despite a true desire to say otherwise. 

I, personally, do not bother with references. I've gone out with guys who were supposedly "nice" and "wonderful" and "I wanted him for a brother-in-law," and they were actually affirmations that chivalry is not only dead, it suffered miserably on the way out. 

Then, I have gone out with guys that didn't get ringing endorsements and I found them perfectly pleasant. 

Maybe I don't know how or what to ask. But if the guy lives close enough and meeting up isn't complicated, it's just easier for me to put on some makeup and find out what he's like by myself.


Mystery Woman said...

I had a something similar once. A mother of a boy called my daughter's friend and asked whether or not my daughter would be ok with something. Her friend had no idea, but made assumptions about what the woman wanted to hear, and answered accordingly. Wrong answer.

Anonymous said...

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Keep up the great work.

Princess Lea said...

MW: I know that at least a few times because someone said wasn't truthful or too truthful axed a date. I'm for banning this concept of references. One guy called practically everyone I ever came in contact with. The date itself would have taken less effort.

Anon: Matte? Anytime I hear "matte" I whip out my wallet - and the colors are so beautiful! Thanks for the recommendation! I have to check that out.

Anonymous said...

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Princess Lea said...

It is a beautiful shade! I love colors that enhance the lip.

Elisheva said...

Haha, it's so true that calling references can be more effort than the date is worth. One guy called me as a reference for one of my best friends. He spent 45 minutes of my time asking ridiculous questions like "What is your friend's worst middah?". After that conversation, he proved to me that he wasn't at all for the friend in question!

Princess Lea said...

45 minutes is half a date! He could have asked her all those questions in person, but from the sound of things she was spared a particularly painful evening.

Anonymous said...

This post brought this op-ed to mind:

Yedid Nefesh said...

I'm with you on that one, and it gets awkward, you dont know what the other person wants to hear

Princess Lea said...

Prof: Wow, conversation is different when one is chassidish. I got kind of lost.

Tzvi said...

Wow, we both did Shidduch posts on the same day. Imagine that. But I do totally agree with you here, it's better to just take the time to find out for yourself

Shades of Grey said...

I would like to add that I went on several dates without doing much research/calling references, and they were usually quite pleasant. In all these cases, the shadchan was very forthcoming and honest, I took their word on the girl as true - and they were right.

I also recall several instances (especially with YU connects) where I did a TON of research after accepting a girl - waiting for her to also accept me - only to waste my time when she turned me down.

So yes, we need to achieve some healthy medium of research and reference calling. For example, if more people suggested their ex-dates to friends (when it simply didn't work out, not because they were a psycho), the friend should be able to go out with that guy/girl without the need to resort to extensive phone calling. This would not only smooth out the process, it would help the "shiduch crisis" and prevent unwarranted discrimination against particular guys or girls because "my friend went out with him/her and it didn't work, so why should I go out with him/her?"

Shades of Grey said...

Incidentally, the way you describe yourself in this post, it sounds like you're the perfect person to try out my proposed Shidduch App:

Princess Lea said...

The premise is cute one, I'll grant you; meet up without any hysteria beforehand, in a Starbucks or something. She'll look naturally disheveled without having hours beforehand to primp, which takes its own emotional toll; he won't have to kill himself over transportation.

We'll just have to wait for the "but" to show up, as it usually does.