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Stop Being So Picky!

Stop Being So Picky!

And other clichés to avoid using with singles.


Being there for a friend in pain can be a tough job. As with any other case when a person needs emotional support, knowing the right thing to say or do when a single friend is suffering through the hardships of long-term singlehood requires sensitivity, wisdom and a genuine desire to provide what the individual really needs in that moment. Sometimes it can be tricky to discern the best way to lend your support. Having previously been a single woman in need of support, I understand these issues well. And today, as a married person, I try to provide it to others.

Supporting singles (or anyone else for that matter) requires a keen awareness of how your ideas and opinions are being translated by the listener. We need to be careful not to inadvertently insult, hurt or degrade our friends. Here are some common pieces of dating advice comparing the intended message to the perceived message.

1. What we say: “You’ve got to put yourself out there!”

What they hear: “Your natural, daily efforts to interact with co-workers, socialize with peers and engage in a normal amount of social activity are simply not enough. You’ve got to actually throw yourself full-force into the lion’s den of matchmakers (even if they are overly critical) and date any single man/woman who comes your way. Don’t spend much time alone or with existing friends, since overexposure is the key. Otherwise, you will never get married!”

The reality: While a reasonable amount of social interaction should be gently encouraged, don’t try to make your single friends do things “in the interest of getting married” that you yourself wouldn’t want to do! (Plenty of introverts have gotten married!) Keeping God in the picture is key!

2. What you say: “Stop being so picky!”

What they hear: “You aren’t deserving of a loving relationship, so you should settle for the next person who comes along that’s willing to go out with you.”

The reality: While some people have unrealistically high standards for a marriage partner, many others are simply not meeting the type of person who would make a good spouse. It is unfair to accuse someone who may likely be seeking someone with basic, good character traits of being “too selective for their own good.”

3. What you say: “Why aren’t you married yet?”

What they hear: “Who you are right now isn’t good enough. Being single means you are flawed or defective in some way. What is it that you’re doing wrong to have landed yourself in this predicament?”

The reality: Would you ask the same question to someone who was laid off from their job, or whose home had a flood from a leaky roof? Quite often, people are not at fault for their own life situations, and to try to tell them otherwise is painful and cruel. Instead of blaming others, let’s try your best to help them feel ready to find the right one.

4. What you say: “There are just too many older singles not settling down.”

What they hear: “I am doomed. My fate is sealed. I may not have a future like the one I envisioned for myself, which includes marriage and a family.”

The reality: Your perception of older singles not settling down may not reflect the reason for any one person’s behavior. Your single friends may only feel disheartened and think they are less marriageable by hearing they are at fault for their single status.

So what CAN we say to our single friends? Often, the best thing you can say to a single man or woman has nothing to do with their dating status. Warm and empathetic messages that help assuage a person’s fears and improve their self-worth typically go much farther in helping them get married than any “advice” will ever do.

We cannot create a climate of love and support, which singles crave, through criticism and judgment. We need to ensure that our words are uplifting and empowering instead of demeaning and disempowering.

May we merit to help our single friends forge their own paths with confidence, and attain the meaningful, committed relationship they’ve been yearning for.

April 9, 2016

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Visitor Comments: 6

(3) Scott, April 17, 2016 4:59 AM

What I learned selling shoes

I was a pretty good shoe salesman. It was a great college job. But you had to use your time wisely and get the customers that were there to buy. So I learned to tell the buyers from the shoppers. The best tell? If a woman walked into the shoe department with a dress bag. That woman was looking for shoes for the dress she bought. Match the dress and you win. Real quick. Can I see the dress ma'am? What kind of heel are you looking for? Let me suggest a few. Hey you got the one with heels You wanna get some flats too? How bout some keds to match so you you can be kind to the heels and your feet on the way to work? Then its just cash or charge and you made a sale. See a woman with ten shoes in her hand, none of them the same color? Dive for the back until someone else takes her...shes shopping and is a waste of your time. She's entertaining herself. She doesn't need shoes and isn't buying anything. When I started dating for marriage I was looking for the woman with the dress bag. The woman who needed a pair of shoes. The woman who was serious about wanting to get married. But most women were simply shopping for fun with ten shoes in their hand not interested in what was really in the store. They were looking for the man unicorn because they didn't need to be married. Their lives were fulfilling and satisfying. A husband wasn't a necessity today...he was an extra. Which is valid. But unfortunately shoes and singles-both genders- sometimes go out of fashion if they stay on the rack too long. As soon as I realized this I moved on looking for a woman with a dress bag. I found one and been happily married for while now. The girls with ten shoes in their hands? They're the ones still single. There the ones that you have to watch your words around cause unfortunately the shoe salesmen are all busy with other customers and these girls are frustrated.

B, April 20, 2016 2:22 AM


Good story and comment!

Moishe, June 2, 2016 3:17 PM


Insightful and clever; well done!

(2) Bitachon, April 15, 2016 1:16 PM

"You've got to put yourself out there"....

I have an amazing, outgoing, accomplished 24 year old daughter who works, full time, as a job coach for individuals on the autism spectrum. She lives at home in a very Jewish area of New York. It has been very difficult for her to find a modern orthodox, centrist, young man. It seems that everyone has moved toward the extreme right or is not observant at all. People have told her that she has to move away to another city or "move more toward the right" or she won't find anybody.

Sarah, August 30, 2016 8:35 PM


Everyone considers themselves centrist. I don't consider myself right wing, despite my husband wearing a black hat and belonging to a yeshiva community. And I don't consider myself more modern, despite the fact that unlike most men here, my husband is working not learning.
Centrist is relative. And we are all measuring according to ourselves. So we all consider ourselves centrist- the old addage is "those left of me are heretics, those right of me are fanatics".
I hope your daughter has defined her hashkafa more clearly that centrist and you are just simplifying for the sake of brevity because I see this as a big problem in shidduchim. People have not defined themselves and where they want to be and end up dating people they would never want to marry.

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