Jewish singles: In search of a soul mate

Is there a problem?

Two Hearts Puzzle (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Two Hearts Puzzle
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Today’s Jewish singles who are looking for soul mates have more opportunities than ever to find them.
Consider the growth of the online dating industry, estimated to be a $2.4 billion business. A very popular Israeli site for 20-something religious and traditional singles is Shlish Gan Eden, whose membership numbers close to 142,000 singles.
Many young people also meet at weddings, parties, or at friends’ Shabbat dinner tables. Others meet through friends who fix them up. Singles frequently check each other out on Facebook.
Nevertheless, what happens to those who have difficulty meeting one another? This could be for a variety of reasons – lack of skills, shyness, anxiety, fear, or an emotional issue that blocks them from finding someone and/or sustaining a relationship.
Pressure mounts for these Jewish singles as they approach their 30s and upward.
Often these singles experience a feeling of despair or a sense of feeling incomplete because of their unmarried status, especially when parents, relatives or family friends ask the proverbial question, “So, meet anyone yet?” In the religious community, shidduch committees (modern-day matchmakers) have organized to help singles to meet. I interviewed a few of these committee volunteers.
They are very special people who deeply care about the people they are trying to help. These volunteers face many frustrations with setting up people and state that the success rate is low.
“It is particularly tough for women,” one volunteer noted, “since there are fewer men available and often those men are looking for the perfect ‘trophy’ wife.”
There were many complaints and frustrations, and it was in this context that one of the volunteers asked me to write an article on the subject.
Bari Lyman, the author of Meet to Marry: A Dating Revelation for the Marriage- Minded (2011), wrote in an email: “Singles are not connecting and everyone is trying to help them – by putting more and more of them together. However, it is not working. While things may look good on the outside, there are actually things beneath the surface that are keeping singles from the love they want and deserve. In spite of ‘doing’ many things like hiring shadchanim [matchmakers], attending events, shabbatons and introductions, singles are simply not connecting.”
Lyman stated that singles are looking for the wrong things – external, superficial things (e.g., “his mother uses the wrong brand of salt or he wears the wrong kippa,” or “there are so many pretty young women, who will want me”) – singles aren’t seeing themselves or potential matches in a realistic, healthy light, with an open and clear perspective that creates a healthy lifetime partnership.”
Lyman stated that often singles have a list, but it is the wrong list. “They may say that they just want to meet someone nice, Jewish with good character traits who wants a family.... ‘Is that too much to look for?’ they ask.” Lyman confidently answered this question, “They are really not looking for enough of the right things that matter most when seeking to find your bashert [soul mate].”
What are the right things to look for? Lyman believes that for many singles who fail to find the right person, it is because their real true self is hidden beneath layers of emotional blockages and blind spots. What she is speaking about are the subconscious emotional issues that unknowingly repel instead of attract true, healthy love and partnership.
She writes that if you have fear or lack of clarity about what is really driving you to seek out the wrong people repeatedly, then this pattern will be hard to overcome. Understanding these hidden emotional blockages is the first step in changing their influence on your dating behavior.
Several young singles I spoke to could not agree more with Lyman. One man, a 26-year-old graduate student, noted that everyone has emotional baggage, some more than others, and when need be, it is worth seeing a psychotherapist to work on your problems.
However, he added that from his perspective, the trials and tribulations of dating are a natural thing, a self-discovery process with its own intrinsic value.
He said, “It is a life passage that young adults go through, and one should develop the right attitude about it.” He called it a period of life that is “trial and error.” Each failed relationship, he stated, tells you something more about yourself.
In Part 2, I will describe some of the techniques that can help singles find their soul mates.
The writer is a marital, child and adult cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist, with offices in Jerusalem and Ra’anana. He also provides online videoconferencing psychotherapy.,