Shidduch Dating: Formal

10 Mar

Hello one and all, and welcome back to the Dating Styles series. On our last episode we delved into the world of meeting on your own in high school. Today, we will explore an entirely different approach. Yes my friends, though they both fall under the category of dating, they are entirely different beasts with vastly different mannerisms. It’s like spinach and quinoa; only science would put them in the same group.

In general, shidduch dating is only for the most serious of daters. Good at 20 Questions? Then shidduch dating is right up your alley. The Formal Shidduch system is the ultimate game of 20 Questions. The more creative, the better. I’m telling you, that’s how the tablecloth question came about. No one originally cared about the color. One mother decided it was time to step up her sons game and show she’s a thinking fellow. No wait. Something is wrong with that sentence.

Anyhow, Shidduch dating can be done formally or informally. The more formal one is, the more the Official Shidduch Rules, and the tools which come along with them will apply. They told you shidduch dating was supposed to make your quest for your zivug easier? It could may or may not be true, but either way,  no on ever said dating is  going to be easy, no matter how you slice it.

Note to Reader: All rules mentioned have been obtained from highly reliable sources such as distinguished rabbis, shadchanim, seminary teachers, “The Art of the Date” and various other kosher dating books.

Tools Needed:

(At least) 1 doting, devoted, passionately proactive parent

1-6 shadchanim

1 outstandingly sterling shidduch resume

2-5 references

1 proof of yichus

1 or more photographs (required only of females)

The Rules:

1) One must follow the rules of their shadchan. Though it may seem like they’re all the same variant of  the same pleasantly plump middle aged balabusta, they aren’t all the same inside. There are even male shadchanim as well. There’s no one stopping any particular person from deciding they are destined to match up anxiously hopeful bnei and bnos yisrael, so choose yours carefully.

2) One must be fluent in the distinct shidduch verbiage. Assuming one is not a newbie to the frum world, she has already been exposed to such dictum in high school, seminary, by older siblings and at challah baking parties. Some of the more popular ones are– being redt a shidduch, being in or out of the parsha, understanding the new meaning of “busy” and for the Lakewooders, “in the Freezer.” If one is unfamiliar with the lingo, it is highly advisable that they pick up the newest edition of Shidduchim for Dummies.

3) When a shidduch is officially redt, it is the boy’s duty and privilege to greet the girl by the door. He is to shmooze with the parents until the girl is “ready” to come down. No, the food is not for eating.

4) The girl must wait in her room whether she has completed her pampering process or not. Looking out the window is discouraged (one can easily detect his arrival by noticing  his car’s headlights through the blinds). Now is the time to say Tehillim.

5) A first date last no longer than two hours. Timing is everything and is most certainly of essence in the formal shidduch process.

6) Boy’s behavior should be amiable yet reserved. It is his duty to guide the conversation. Where should his hat be….I don’t know. You’re going to have to go to an expert on that one.

7) Girl’s behavior should reflect their pnimius. This means speaking in a soft tone, nodding intently as he speaks and laughing at his jokes in a sweet, bashful manner.

8 ) Neither party calls each other unless the relationship becomes serious.

9) The wedding hall must be booked prior to engagement.

The above is just an overview of all the rules. Now on to…

The Bright Side

There happen to be a lot of pluses to the Formal Shidduch system. Its aims to cut out the shtus that taking it slow may breed, and it does so very successfully. This route is not for game players. If you’re not interested in getting married, the system will chew you up and spit you out, similar to the way an MLB player treats tobacco. Tachlis comes first, personal connection comes second, and I’ve always admired that. It’s serious. It doesn’t kid around. See if the stats match up. See if you are going in the same direction. Then talk about your favorite childhood memories, how you both secretly read blogs and prefer KD over The Crowne Plaza lobby any day. And well, if you don’t have anything in common, or don’t find them attractive in person, it’s not your job to break the news. MAJOR plus right there.

The Not So Bright Side

The system has its own wealth of shtus. So there’s no angst over who’s turn it is to call, but no other dating system asks if your Grandmother covered her hair with a tichel or a sheitel. No other system cares how you stack the plates or if you wear velcro or laces. Do people really use that as an indicator of another person’s personality? It’s a smart system. Unfortunately it’s been blown so grossly out of proportion that now, every time I open The Jewish Press I see yet another add for a conference calling to solve “The Shidduch Crisis.” What’s our issue? Have we become so obsessively analytical that we can’t even appreciate that each in human being is intricately complex? Just because someone is born into a righteous family, it is not guaranteed that he is a stellar talmud torah and baal midos…and just because someone has some pimples in their past, it doesn’t mean they are subpar individuals.There are people who have become so intoxicated by and dependent on the rules that they forget the essence of a person can never be expressed by a few sentences on a resume. You know what you want? Good. Go get it, but don’t be so eager to find it that you skip over what could be a truly remarkable person.


The Formal Shidduch system has its share of pluses and minuses, as does any of its sister systems. Dating is nutso, there’s nothing we can do to change that. Plenty of people have found their spouses through this system so it is certainly not my place to bash it. In my opinion (which is really all I can give), it is theoretically the best system out there. It looks to prevent heartache and unnecessary emotional attachment. But it only works if one makes a conscious effort to stay in the Tachlis Zone. Every human enjoys someone else’s undivided attention. Every human being gets their hopes up every now and then. Every person silently prays that this will be the end of their search. Overall, there’s only one guarantee:

At the end of it all, you’ll be a 20 Questions champ.


18 Responses to “Shidduch Dating: Formal”

  1. FrumJewInYU March 10, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    Isn’t it redt? (Otherwise, good post! Especially the quinoa line.)

    • coralcap March 10, 2010 at 7:19 am #

      I’ve seen it a rhett as well, but I do . stand corrected. The kind of rhet I’ve been writing about belongs in Gone with the Wind. Thanks for the comment :).

  2. Bored Jewish Guy March 10, 2010 at 2:41 am #

    Good post, now I’m curious to know which dating style mine is. I don’t have all the necessary tools and I don’t follow the rules so definitely not formal.

    • coralcap March 10, 2010 at 7:26 am #

      You’re style is probably Shidduch: Informal if you use the formal setup as a frame of reference but have you own rules, tools and resources. That’s definitely my style. I’ll be covering it soon.

  3. Princess Lea March 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    The problem is, the “rules” you’ve dictated were not the original rules. After all, how many photos of girls were being circulated in one horse towns in Europe?

    These “rules” is new stupidities invented by those who enjoy a little hysteria. I mean, your Bobby, the shadchan, did she abide by any of these “rules”?

    • coralcap March 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

      These are definitely not the rules my grandmother bode by, but that’s b/c she went about dating in the “modern” way.

      What were the original European rules? I’m very curious to know.

      I tried the formal route and ran out screaming. Not for me.

      • Princess Lea March 11, 2010 at 9:44 am #

        It was based on the premise that the girl’s feelings be as cushioned as possible. So the guy was ALWAYS asked first, and such.

        But keep in mind in Europe (my mother grew up there) it was a much LONGER process. A letter was written. A reply received. Another letter. Then one had to wait until spring to travel, to see the girl. That in itself could take a year, if not two.

        I double checked with my mother. Her mother got married for the first time in her late 20’s. Her sister was married in her early 20’s, but only because she married her uncle, so no traveling or redding was needed.

        So having to be married at 20 and 3 minutes is a modern mishagas too.

        When you say your Savti went about it the “modern” way, how do you mean? I, too, am curious.

        The “formal” route, you mean the current shidduch system?

  4. coralcap March 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    In the Olden Days, people understood what it meant to be patient. These days, people can barely wait until the 3rd date to see if they have chemistry or not. It’s the big misconception that you’ll “just know.” Some people do. That’s great. Our grandmother also married b/c they “just knew”– they just knew that if they wanted to have a family of their own and a source of income, they had to get married. Today we are lucky in the sense that we marry for the purpose of enriching our lives rather than mainly for financial purposes.

    My Savti dated in the 60’s times were much different than when your grandmother dated in Europe. The modern route which she took was “meeting on your own.”

    The formal route is specifically going through professional shadchanim. Informal is when you network through friends, neighbors, cousin’s friend’s roommates and brother’s-in-law. When going through an informal third party, the formal shidduch rules tend to get blurred which may or may not be something a dater appreciates.

  5. FrumJewInYU March 12, 2010 at 12:47 am #

    I guess I’m informal. Or, I will be when I actually start.

  6. Princess Lea March 12, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    In my parents day, meeting beloveds on one’s own was the common route. But how it turned out by them was a shidduch date, set up by a relative. Many of her peers met on their own. She could’ve herself, maybe. But that’s not how it turned out.

    So many things get out of hand by the current system. I don’t check out a guy very well, usually; as long as he doesn’t have a juvie record, I’m good to go. If someone you know calls you up with a recommendation, why does there have to be an investigation to rival the CIA?

    • coralcap March 14, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

      I don’t have an issue with the shidduch route if people didn’t get so wrapped up in the unimportant details.

      Meeting on one’s own is a nice way to go, however, in most circles, meeting on one’s on today involves a third party. I find this especially helpful b/c as a girl, I don’t have to worry about “convincing” a guy to ask me out or being flat out rejected. Some may call this wimpy, I call it respectful toward the sensitivities of both parties.

  7. Bored Jewish Guy March 14, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    “as long as he doesn’t have a juvie record, I’m good to go”

    Would it really bother you if the guy did some bad stuff when he was younger? I don’t have a juvie record, not for lack of trying though. I’ve been well behaved for the last 8 years, so I would hope that stuff wouldn’t be held against me.

  8. coralcap March 14, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    BJG brings up a very interesting topic which I should really cover– people’s pasts. My short version is:

    1) It depends what the “stuff” is and if a prospective shidduch for this person is okay with him/her having this in their past.

    2) The person has really left it in the past.

    • Bored Jewish Guy March 14, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

      If you’re interested in doing a post on the subject, I’m ok with sharing my story, it was so long ago that I don’t think it affects my life anymore and it made me a better person.

      • coralcap March 15, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

        E-mail me the story. With this particular topic, I may be picky with what examples I use, but having your story and perspective could give me better perspective.

  9. Princess Lea March 15, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    A juvie record would merely mean research, whereas otherwise I’d just say yes.

    I like having a third party simply because I don’t want to have to tell anyone no.

  10. Bored Jewish Guy March 15, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    Coralcap: I just emailed you, use it if you wish, if not, that’s fine.


  1. Shidduch Dating: Informal « In Search of the Real Deal - May 26, 2010

    […] Note: This post is part of a series I began at the genesis of my blogging career. If you would like to catch yourself up, take a look at this method and this method. […]

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