Shidduch Dating: Informal

26 May

I have been meaning to write his post for a very long time, but with the harried nature of my life in the past few weeks, I haven’t gotten around to it. However, this post is of utmost importance, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun because in this post I will describe to you…The Other Side of shidduch dating.

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.

Tired of resumes? Fed up with waiting for shadchans to get back to you or are you just plain old irate at The System? Well, I have a way, another way to go about shidduch dating. For the hardcore Formal daters, this might not sound much like a shidduch date to you, but what I am about to present is a fairly new version of shidduch dating. It has standards, it has rules, but the strategy is a whole different game. There are plenty of guides out there to weather the winds of the Formal Shidduch date, but no one has taken on the task of guiding those on the Informal Shidduch date. My goal today is to present a guide, an explanation for the Other Side of shidduch dating.

Let’s get one thing straight: Shidduch dating is for daters who are looking to get married. The terms may be more laid back with the Informal route, but rule #1 is the same as it is for Formal shidduchim– you’re going to the chuppah and you’re gonna get married. If you’re looking for anything else, you are not in the right dating pool. If you are in the pool, get out, get your towel and wait until you are ready. It’s almost summer, get a tan, read a book, but leave the serious daters alone. Shidduch daters, whether Formal or Informal aren’t in the mood for petty shtus. If you are looking to make new friends and have a good time then go on a cruise.

If however, you are looking to get married but you aren’t so into the Formal route, then give the Informal Route a try. Some people just aren’t into the rigidness of the Formal route. They want to see beyond the Mariott Marquise and the dimly lit aura of Starbucks. They want to taste more than the fizzling of a diet Coke. They want to take a different approach. It’s not about the Formal route being too frum, but rather, wanting to open up other horizons for themselves. Why can’t a guy and girl meet in a casual

Tools Needed

A good network of people.

2-4 references.

Nice clothes (and other items necessary for a put-together look).

A siddur (because no matter what route you’re taking, you need G-d to guide you).

A Positive, Patient Outlook.

The Rules for Getting a Date

1) You have to be proactive. Getting good grade and making friends might have come easy to you, but finding a suitable partner is not something to assume will just come to you. While the Formal route requires varying degrees of parental involvement, the Informal route does not. Mom and Dad could get involved if you want them to, but for the most part, you’re on your own. Mom doesn’t have to be up ’til all hours of the night on the phone trying to get you a date; it’s really up to you. Don’t be afraid to go after what you want. Doing the asking yourself isn’t fun, it never will be, but once you’ve found the right person you’ll be glad you did.

2a) Network. Though all areas of dating require some sort of networking, the Informal route is founded on this skill. Be aware of the people around you. There’s another Jewish girl in your speech class? Get to know her a bit. Maybe she knows someone for you. Have you been meaning to set up a chavruta but just haven’t yet? Get to it, you never know who knows who. Be amiable to your parents friends and the secretary at the doctor’s office. Go to shiurim, to go fundraisers, go to your roommate’s cousin’s vort. Now is the time in your life to be a little more friendly than you are used to because you never know. Besides for this building you people skills, it will potentially open opportunities you never imagined.

2b) Network through an USBG (or two if you are ambitious). I have used the term Unofficial Shidduch Breeding Ground a few times in the past, but I haven’t really explained it. In short, a USBG is some sort of organization that calls for males and females to work together. While a professional workplace calls for stricter protocols,  a USBG thrives on a “chilled”, casual atmosphere. NCSY, Yachad, Camp Mesorah, Morasha, HASC and maybe even The Purple Pear are all examples of USBG’s. Everyone is there on a mission (i.e. Kiruv, including those with special needs in the community, giving campers a great summer, making great food, etc.) there is an unspoken understanding that getting involved in such a mission might just get you a shidduch as well. Counselors/advisors/workers have the chance to get to know each other in a casual, laidback setting without the pressure of having to decide if a person is for you in a couple of meetings. You’re not interested in anyone there? Fine, you’re involved in a great organization, but if you are interested in someone…adhere to the next set of rules.

3) Have a Go-To person. A Go-To Person is someone who can act as a 3rd party in the making of a shidduch. Make sure it is someone who does not see you as a shidduch-stealing threat. With this being the case, it is best for your Go-To Person to not be single, but single friends can be good GTP’s as well. If you see someone you like, go to your GTP. Ask all necessary questions (i.e. Is he single? Is he looking? What is he doing? To get a better idea of this process here is a personal account of it), and see where it goes from there.

4) Have your friends look out for you and look out for your friends. Sometimes friends have great ideas, sometimes not. Either way, you’ll never know if it is a good idea or not until you look into it. There is an inherent trait of being skeptical of other people. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s more than okay, it’s encouraged (it is your future on the line after all). However, don’t be so quick to rule out potential prospects. Get a sense of who the person is and then make a decision because if you keep saying “no,” eventually your friend will stop asking you.

Look out for your friends. Why? What goes around comes around.

5) Facebook stalking is allowed. If you don’t want strangers seeing your profile picture, put it on private or simply don’t have a Facebook. The fact is, Facebook has given us the ability to find out more about our date before we go out with them such as what they look like and what they s/he is a fan of. For those of you without Facebook, disregard this message. And kol hakavod, for finding a way to stay socially in sync without joining the Cyber Vortex.

The Bright Side

The world is in your palm, baby! As willing as you are to go out there and find your RD is as fructuous as you will be in finding prospects. If you get involved in your community, make an effort to speak to fellow shul-goers during Kiddush and network with the right people, the odds of you finding dates (and thus finding your RD) are pretty good. If you get involved with an USBG, you get to know the person as they are in a non-date setting. They are probably on their best behavior, but there are many opportunities to see how they treat others and what is important to them (their job/their mission/their friends/schmoozing and noshing etc). If you are actually interested in someone, all you have to do is go over to a GTP and find out what the story is. You have a 3rd party involved so that there is a structured framework for the start of the relationship, and when you decide there is no longer a need for the 3rd party, bye-bye. They will want you to keep them in the loop but they are no longer privy to every detail of your relationship. The Informal route is dependent on the balance of sensitivity toward others and Halacha and the understanding that comfort around one another is prime to making a relationship.

The Not So Bright Side

Though I set out a slew of rules, the truth is, these are not the rules everyone in the Informal pool may go by. With informality comes a gray haze of uncertainty. Is it okay for the girl to call? If so, at one point? Does he expect her to call? Would he be insulted if she didn’t? Must a third party really be involved? Maybe a guy should just ask out the girl on his own, but would she reject him if he did that? These are just few questions that might come up.

With this gray haze also comes what might be the hottest topic in Modern Orthodox Yeshiva high schools– can guys and girl be “just friends?” When one decides that they do speak to the opposite gender outside of dating, they might form the much debated “platonic relationship.” That is a whole ‘nother discussion in itself, but in short, no matter how sure you are that “nothing is there,” there is always a chance that something is there and it’s not so unlikely. What’s wrong with a platonic relationship? I don’t see it as a matter of wrong and right but rather if it’s possible or not. Is it really possible for a guy and girl to be friends and never wonder if they could be more? This can be a serious issue in a USBG. Girl might think that guy is totally interested in her, but in truth, he’s just a really friendly guy. Relationships issues can sometimes absorb all Guy and Girl’s thoughts and prevent them from doing their job optimally.

Lastly, as nice as it is for friends to set each other up, you have to wonder just how well they know the person they are setting you up with. It could be their neighbor who she’s known for many years, or it could be the guy who keeps asking her out and just wants to keep him off her case. My theory is, if you like him, then it doesn’t really mater if she’s trying to get rid off him, but more times than not, she’s simply trying to distract this guy so she doesn’t have to hear more from him.


This is probably the most vague and ambiguous dating method out there. There is no real way of knowing which rules are to be upheld and which ones fall to the wayside. The only way to be successful with this route is to try it out and see where it takes you. For some that might seem pointless or scary, and there is validity in such thoughts. However, if one is confident in who s/he is and know what they want, the resources which one can tap into on the Informal route are boundless. There is no knowing where the RD might come from and the truth is, no matter what route you decide to take, it just might be that small deterrence in your path that leads you to your RD.


3 Responses to “Shidduch Dating: Informal”

  1. Bored Jewish Guy May 26, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    Wow, you kept us waiting long enough 🙂
    I think I need to create a new system, I’m not a fan of formal or informal, I’ll have to work on it. I was going to say that the problem with all these systems is that there’s too many rules, but I think the problem is just that they’re not my rules 😛

  2. coralcap May 26, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    Yeah Formal is too many rules, Informal though it has rules is still quite loose…the only rule set in stone is that G-d is in control and will each bring us out zivug in the way He sees fit. Sometimes I wonder how ridiculous we actually look while trying to do our hishtadlus.

    What would your rules be if you could set the official rules for shidduch dating?

  3. Bored Jewish Guy May 26, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    I’ll have to think about it, maybe I’ll do a post on it, maybe not, idk 🙂
    Right now, the one rule I’m thinking there should be is that when researching a shidduch, there should be a time limit and you can only ask a question once, possibly with a follow up question.

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