"You may think that in 'real life,'" she said grandly, "but this is the 'shidduch world.' And there are rules."
I didn't have the heart to tell her. She isn't in the "shidduch world"; her oldest is not yet of age. But I'm the ten-year veteran, cookie, and here's a little tip:
There are no rules in the "shidduch world." The "shidduch world" is CHAOS.
A rule would be, say, "Shidduchim must be redt first to the boy." That was an old-world one that went out of style along with doo-wop. Most suggestions are casually chucked at me first, followed by the chirping-cricket silence of the dropped ball or refusal.
There are, however, hundreds of self-styled "shadchanim" who, sadly, exploit their false standing to tyrannize singles. My current un-favorite: They want more pictures.
"Your pictures don't do you justice."
"Really? I think they do. They passed, with flying colors, the Hungarian parent panel, which is no simple matter. Plus, I'm not on the search for someone who's only interested in how I photograph. If a guy won't go out with me because my photo isn't stunning 'enough,' he's not for me. I'm uncomfortable in the first place with giving out pictures—rather untznius, don't you think?—so just redt it already, thank you."
"This is the shidduch world—"
No, it's not the "shidduch world," it's your own bochsvuras, your personal opinion, which is quite another matter—and does not apply to the entirely of singlekind.
The so-called "shidduch world" does not have the power to negate Jewish values and Jewish law. Not fashaming people is an actual rule in black and white. Being hurtfully "honest" is verboten. The Eibishter makes matches, not humans. Everyone, everyone, has someone for them, who will find their quirks adorable (at least initially).
Whenever I hear of an engagement, the first thing I ask is "How did they meet?" Very, very rarely (if ever?) do I hear "a shadchan with a database." Most often it is friend, sibling, uncle, aunt, Babi, cousin. The people who know us, love us, and sell us, without embarrassment, manipulation, or threats.
If we refuse to let the "shidduch world" to dictate bad behavior, it would get with the program. I don't negotiate with terrorists, and I'm keeping my dignity.