click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

50 Things to Know about Being a Matchmaker

50 Things to Know about Being a Matchmaker

From Yenta to the Bachelor, being a matchmaker isn’t what you think.


If you think matchmaking is antiquated, it may be time to reboot your relationship barometer. While many people think of Fiddler on the Roof when they think of matchmaking, the reality is quite different. A simple Google search reveals a plethora of websites dedicated to finding a match, getting certified to make matches, and information on the history of matchmaking.

Setting up friends with other friends is a time tested way to create and build relationships. You don’t have to be a professional to be a matchmaker. You need flexibility, creativity, passion, and insight into other people. This is an awesome job (or hobby) that allows for flexible hours, lasting satisfaction, and the chance to use your people skills in a challenging and novel way.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Fiddler on the Roof , here are my top 50 things to know about being a matchmaker.

1. Being single is hard enough, so be nice to people. Seems obvious, but it isn’t.

2. People are naturally different, match couples based on similarities. Yes opposites attract, but not recommended. Much better to match based on the concept like attracts like.

3. Look for what someone tells you they want, not for what you think they need.

4. Don't advise ending a relationship too soon. When in doubt suggest they continue going out.

5. Don't say, "I know the perfect person for you.” You don’t know it’s perfect and you lose credibility if the match goes sour.

6. Do say, “I have someone in mind for you, would you like to hear about him/her?”

7. Get curious about the person you want to set up. Ask him/her open ended questions to learn about who he/she is before trying to set someone up.

8. Listen, listen, listen. (Close your mouth. Open your ears.)

9. Constructive criticism is still criticism, so be sensitive.

10. Don't talk with others about the person you are setting up. That's private information.

11. Don’t set up dating profiles, set up people. Try to meet someone in person before you set them up (in person is best, but skype will do).

12. “No, I don't want to be set up!” This means don't set them up. Find someone else for your matchmaking experiment.

13. Think before you act. That really goes for everything. Just sayin’.

14. Your tone of voice matters. Speak nicely (especially when someone declines your awesome date idea).

15. When your first (and second, and third…) couple gets married, celebrate your success. L’chaim!

16. Lead by example. Single or married, make sure you are a shining example and in a healthy relationship, or healthfully single.

17. You will fail more often than you succeed. Don’t let it get you down.

18. Keep trying! But don't quit your day job just yet to be a professional matchmaker.

19. Sometimes people will get upset with you for the suggestions you make. Expect this and you won't be disappointed.

20. Don't be a know-it-all (even if you do, in fact, know it all).

21. Be humble.

22. Work with someone who is relationship or marriage-minded rather than working with someone who is looking for a date.

23. Separated means married. Set up singles with other singles. Someone who is separated will likely cause someone heartache as they aren’t truly available. (Hot topic, I know, comment away.)

24. Respect boundaries. Some people want more guidance and support, others less. Help according to their need, not yours. And don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know what they want.

25. As Nike says, Just do it! Set people up!

26. People have tastes, preferences, and ideas that you will find weird. No judgment.

27. Confidentiality. (shhhh)

28. Setting up members of your family will be the hardest cases you work with. That means you need to respect them and their needs, even if you are still angry about the time he cut your ponytail off in your sleep. Be respectful or get out of the game.

29. Grow a thick skin and be okay with rejection. Your ideas will be rejected. It makes the ones that work even sweeter!

30. Keep your mind focused on the popular phrase “there is a lid for every pot.” Even if you don’t believe it.

31. Network - you never know who you will meet.

32. Don’t underestimate anyone. I just heard about a delivery man who made a match. Who would have guessed!

33. Remember the world is really small and soul mates are closer than you imagine.

34. Keep a running list of singles, not just in your mind, but on paper or your smartphone or favorite electronic device.

35. Help alleviate the burden of being single by being thoughtful. Remember small things like birthdays which can be challenging for someone who is marriage-minded. By relieving their burden you will enable them to be happier the next time you set them up. 

36. Read articles, books and blogs on relationships. Become a relationship expert.

37. Do your homework. Investigate your ideas before presenting to others.

38. Have patience with yourself and others.

39. Be persistent, not annoying. If you think you have a great idea, ask once. If you get turned down, ask a month later. If you get a second no, you can try a third time after another six months passes. If the person still isn’t open perhaps it isn’t a great idea.

40. Learn the art of persuasion. Use it only for the good to help people see the positive traits that you see.

41. Speak truthfully when empathizing. Don’t say I know how you feel, when you’ve never gone through what they have. Rather say, “I hear you.”

42. Change your thinking. Every so often make matches in your mind that are ridiculous. This is just an exercise to stretch your imagination and help you get out of your regular way of thinking. Sometimes the best matches don’t seem plausible at first.

43. Think before you speak. Some words can hurt more than you realize.

44. The best ideas come at inconvenient times. Keep a pen and paper by your bedside so you remember that great idea in the wee hours of the morning.

45. Ask friends if they have any match ideas that they haven’t yet pursued. If you concur, get involved and help set up their suggestion. (with their permission of course).

46. Follow up, follow up, follow up. Not all people will call you back. Make the effort, call again. Don’t assume they aren’t interested. No call back is not a rejection, it’s simply no call back. People do have a life other than dating.

47. Good looking is subjective. What you think is pretty or handsome someone else may not be attracted to. And vice versa.

48. A majority of people are looking for someone who has a “good sense of humor.” What they really mean is they are looking for someone with “their” sense of humor.

49. Matchmaking is hard work. It doesn’t end with you making a suggestion. That’s just the beginning. Guidance through the process is invaluable.

50. Add yours to the list in the comment section below. We all want to hear it!

May 31, 2014

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 10

(7) ginny, November 28, 2016 1:28 AM

Matchmaker! Matchmaker!

I just read an article about matchmaking the "Jewish" way in Israel Today. I thought it was thoughtful and helpful. The point that was made was that on line dating websites have disappointed a lot of people. I didn't know that. Also, I read some consumer reviews of dating websites and they were not good! I wish I had had a matchmaker when I was young! I am a very active widow, and thought "what if?"... Matchmaking would actually be more fun as a career. Do you know where someone could get training? Thanks for your article!

(6) G. Berry, June 23, 2014 8:00 PM

My success (thanks to HaShem)

I have made several successful shidduchim. I have two things that seem strange but really seem to work. Of course this is not a hard and fast rule, and it may even sound a little horrifying, but...
1. People tend to be attracted to people who look like themselves, or a parent they admire (there really is something to "boys marry their mothers and girls marry their fathers.") Unless they really hate themselves and/or had a very bad experience with a parent growing up, people do tend to be attracted to what they know/are most famliiar with. We look at our own faces every day in the mirror. It's probably not a coincidence that we are drawn to that which looks familiar.

2. If you ask people about their good qualities, most people sound pretty much alike: kind, thoughtful, polite, caring, interesting, sense of humor, etc. Once I get to know a person, I (secretly) concentrate on their BAD qualities. Since these qualities are (fortunately!) in the minority, i find it's much easier to match people up on what is wrong with them then what is right with them. For instance, I knew two super brilliant people who were caring, giving people, but they were very haughty about their successes. (ie yes, they volunteered a LOT, but they loved to brag about it). They've now been happily married for 10 years and have several children! In another case, there was a girl who was so modest and shy she couldn't look a person in the eye. She wanted a boy who only cared about learning Torah. I met a boy who fit that description, being so immersed in Torah that he completely shut out the rest of the world to quite an extreme. Personally, I would find it difficult to live with someone like that! The two of them were both nice people but very socially awkward. But they are very happy together (it's been 7 years now and several kids later).

These are just two examples. Perhaps it doesn't sound very nice - but it works!

PS: I also ask girls, "

Zelda, July 2, 2014 2:16 PM

not always...

I happen to not agree with the two points you made.
1) people date people who look similar to them. I may not be a shadchan, but any successful, strong marriage that I can think of features people who look quite different though they ARE alike in key viewpoints, priorities and values, etc.
2)matching people based on their BAD qualities-I have been a recipient of this match technique and first of all, you have to be aware that the use of this technique is immediately obvious and painful to both recipients. And yes, although we do all rattle off the same lists of qualities we are looking for in a mate, part of the art of being a shadchan is to read between the lines and understand what are the key qualities that they really treasure.
I think the points made in the article were excellent, and should be taken to heart by every shadchan.

(5) Moshe, June 12, 2014 6:41 AM

#50 Halachic knowledge and #51

A crucial one is missing in this list is:
#50 Knowledge of Sh'meras HaLoshon at a reasonable level.
So far I have seen many (and the percentage is rather large) shadchanim who were clueless, and one can even say, they were doing more damage than good as a result.
Another very important point:
#51 setting people up is a business transaction if match comes into being. Yes, a shadchan is entitled to be paid. Most shadchanim I have seen frowned upon this concept though
because they were doing it 'for the mitzvah'. Which is incorrect, yes, a shadchan can forfeit her 'fee', however, this relationship still
remains a business transaction. What do I mean? A person is your customer, so a shadchan has to offer what he/she is looking for, treat a client
with respect and be open to feedback.

(4) Mati, June 8, 2014 10:47 AM

Shadhaniot need not be an age discriminator

They need to reread sefer Rut. He was three times her age. Yet for some reason shadchaniot refuse to match an older guy with a child bearing woman.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment