Dear matchmaker: Long distance, politics and unauthorized profiles

A weekly column of questions and answers for the Magazine Matchmaker

Jerusalem: The center of world Jewry (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
Jerusalem: The center of world Jewry
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
 Navigating the dating world can be exciting, but it can also be frustrating and confusing. Who can I turn to with my questions? How do I handle different situations? How can I put my best foot forward? 
There are so many questions. We hope to be able to help you with the answers and provide guidance on how to navigate situations that confuse YOU. 
We welcome you to submit your questions about dating, online profiles, dating etiquette, relationships and more. Real matchmakers will answer your questions, providing their perspectives (which may sometimes differ greatly) on the dating process.
In this edition we meet David, who is used to thinking globally but must now act locally; Baruch, who is perplexed by the intricacies of dating vis-à-vis politics; and “Upset,” who is insistent on clarity about the person who put up a potential date’s profile.
Dear Matchmaker, 
I have always been open to meeting someone long distance, even people visiting from a different country, but now with the pandemic having shut down most travel, I’m not sure what I should do. I haven’t been getting many suggestions locally, but I don’t know how or when either side will be able to travel to meet. Do you have any advice? 
– David, Jerusalem
Dear David,
The pandemic has taken us all by surprise and has forced us to live very differently than we did before. To some, the pandemic has proven very fruitful. For others, it has necessitated taking new and innovative measures to live a relatively “normal” life. Zoom has become a great method of adaptation, helping industries to continue with teamwork, enabling families to keep in touch, and giving singles the blessing of being able to “date.” 
On Zoom, it is irrelevant if the person you are dating is living next door or overseas, and I have heard that Zoom dating simulates pre-corona dating life, with couples ordering in food and a bottle of wine and dining “together” via Zoom as if they were in a restaurant. If you are reluctant to date in such a radically new fashion, please remember what is helping us all survive this most unwelcome of pandemics: adapting to the new world and not letting our lives get shadowed by what can be overcome! 
I wish you much success in what I hope is our soon-to-be pandemic-free world, but until then, happy dating by Zoom!
– Suzi Zettel has a master’s degree in social work and has been a matchmaker on JretroMatch.com and SeeYouInIsrael.com for more than 15 years.
Way to bury the lede, David! I thought your hometown was going to be way off the Jewish map, since you asked about traveling to date. But you live in Jerusalem, Israel, the center of worldwide Jewry! Sounds like you should be asking, “Why aren’t I getting more Israel-based matches?” Forget the pandemic and try to figure that out.
– Rabbi Yisroel Bernath, known as “The Love Rabbi,” has extensive experience with counseling couples. He starred in the CBC documentary Kosher Love and is the founder of Jmontreal.com.
You mention that you haven’t been getting local suggestions, yet you live in Jerusalem, which is one of the headquarters for Jewish dating. You may want to broaden your network of people who are suggesting potential match ideas for you. Many matchmakers are happily meeting singles via Zoom or phone. You can ask your friends for referrals of matchmakers who they have been successful with. Additionally, you can take a leap and try out some dating websites that you might not have previously considered. 
Websites such as YUConnects.com and SawYouAtSinai.com are matchmaker-driven; other sites allow singles to search for ideas themselves. Many organizations are now running Zoom events in which you can meet a nice girl right from your own home. If you are comfortable with a longer-term relationship, then Zoom dating can be used as an opportunity to introduce yourself to girls from other countries. 
Keep in mind though that these are unprecedented times, and we cannot predict when international travel will be safe again. The pandemic has taught us all new ways of doing things. You never know!
– Malky Galler is the Long Island regional coordinator of YUConnects. She has made over 30 successful matches.
Dear Matchmaker, 
Today’s politics seem so polarized. How important is it to find a spouse (or at least someone to date) who is similar to me politically? Is it possible to be in a successful relationship with someone who is very different from me politically? 
– Baruch, NYC
Dear Baruch, 
I’ll never forget the email that said, He’s a great guy but we can’t continue; he’s a Republican.” That made me sad. Look, you don’t have to be in full agreement with a spouse on all your values, but we all have a value that is the focus of our lives. For example: If you’re very religious, then the religion of the other person is going to matter to you. If you’re only slightly religious, then the difference won’t matter at all. So I suppose for some very political people out there, this does matter. But feel free to cross the aisle – with someone who’ll meet you halfway.
– Rabbi Yisroel Bernath
The US is currently seeing its most politically charged time since the 1960s. One of my couples recently broke up because they just could not reconcile their feelings about who the other voted for in the November election. During every single date there were political jabs and sarcastic comments. I think the best advice I can give is: For any relationship to succeed, you must be able to agree to respectfully disagree with one another. If you can do that, your relationship will withstand the differences, political or otherwise. 
It may also depend on how much you want things to work out with the person you are dating. If you find someone you truly click with, you will likely not let political differences get in the way. It may also depend on how important politics are to you overall. If you work in politics or just come from a family of extremes, you might not be able to afford to be “spotted” dating someone who has publicly (social media) professed their allegiance to the opposite political party, no matter how much you personally want the relationship to work out. 
As with everything else in dating and life, take it one day at a time, one person at a time. You never know who or what will really matter to you or to the person you are dating until you meet and truly get to know one another.
– Lori Salkin is a dating coach who focuses on the needs of traditional to Orthodox clients. She volunteers as a matchmaker on SawYouAtSinai.com and maintains a dating advice blog The Matchmaker Diaries.
Certainly, many people with different political sympathies are happily married. So I would not consider shared politics a prerequisite for a happy match. However, as with so many other issues, it would likely depend on just how big the gap is, and how strongly each person feels.
– Dr. Yocheved Engelberg Cohen has been successfully making matches for over 15 years on SawYouAtSinai.com.
Dear Matchmaker,
I contacted a woman through a dating site, but then found that she hadn’t put up her profile but that her sister and brother-in-law had. I was told not to say where I found her profile, as she did not know her profile was online. I insisted that the woman be told about the profile before I got in touch. 
Is it considered unethical for a matchmaker/facilitator to ask me not to disclose how the contact was made?
– Upset in Jerusalem
Dear Upset,
Well, I am not sure that I would consider it unethical, but it is certainly wrong-headed and inadvisable. And if I were the woman in question, I would definitely be upset with the people who posted my profile, as they clearly overstepped a boundary. Additionally, at some point the truth is bound to come out, and that could undermine the couple’s relationship and shake the woman’s trust in her new partner (as well as in her family). It is time for the sister and brother-in-law to confess and hope to be forgiven for their well-intentioned meddling. 
– Dr. Yocheved Engelberg Cohen has been successfully making matches for more than 15 years on SawYouAtSinai.com.
The case you discuss is not so unusual. There are plenty of people who want to “do the best” for a single relative or friend by creating profiles on social media for them. Sometimes this works, such as if the single enjoys someone taking on the administrative task. For others it is a complete disaster, especially if the single has abstained from social media for personal reasons, and therefore the whole process is clouded by deception, fabricated stories and secrecy. 
I agree that you should not be persuaded to make up a story about your initial connection, especially when you had created a valid dating profile for yourself and assumed the person you messaged was also genuinely active on the site. It is actually quite soul-destroying to think that you have been corresponding with an “imposter” and not the person with whom you originally intended. The success of online dating is based on a sense of safety, security and confidentiality, and as much as these relatives had this lady’s best interest at heart, it ultimately didn’t do anybody any good.
– Suzi Zette 
Please send us your questions and may we merit to help you. Write to: matchmakerquestions@gmail.com.

The writer is a professional matchmaker and coaches matchmakers from a variety of matchmaking organizations.