As a matchmaker and dating coach, I hear the same questions practically every day. From women:
“How did a girl like that get a guy like him?”
“Ziva! I know her. She’s so self-centered. What does he see in her?”
And from men:
“How did he land such a gorgeous, cool girl?”
“He’s walking down the aisle with that amazing woman and I’m still single?”
A lot of the men and women I meet think there’s no method to the madness. And it makes them mad! I understand their frustration, but after years of matchmaking, I’ve learned that there’s usually a lot more to a person than meets the eye.
My response to the complaints? “Don’t judge so quickly. You probably don’t have all of the information.”
Anne’s story is a perfect example. She was one of the most sought-after girls on the singles scene. She had a beautiful smile and a positive attitude, and men often proposed to her after only a few dates. But her co-workers (several of whom I was trying to match) couldn’t stand her. They thought she was aloof and obnoxious. As evidence, they said that when the rest of the office would eat lunch together every afternoon, Anne would disappear. She thought she was too good for them, her co-workers claimed. They also complained that she refused to help plan events, that she arrived to work events late so that she wouldn’t have to help set up, and left early so that she wouldn’t have to pitch in on the cleaning.
To explain the attention Anne got from men, one of her co-workers shrugged and said, “Men like the chase. She makes herself unattainable. It drives men wild, but makes her terrible to work with. If any guy ever caught her, he’d see how selfish she is.”
Then Anne got engaged to one of the most giving, wonderful men around, and her co-workers couldn’t believe it. How was this possible?
Anne’s mother called me. She wanted to see me and insisted that the meeting take place at her home. I explained to her that I was busy. I didn’t have time to run around town, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“Please,” she said. “I’ll pay for your taxi. I’ll even pay for your time.”
After everything I’d heard about Anne, I admit I was turned off. Her mother seemed selfish, so maybe Anne was selfish, too. But I was curious. I wanted to know the story from Anne’s and her mother’s side. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. So I agreed to go.
When I arrived and rang the doorbell, the woman who opened the door beamed up at me from her wheelchair, and ushered me warmly into her home.
As it turned out, Anne’s whole family had been in a car accident when Anne was a child. Anne’s father and two siblings had been killed, and she and her mother were the only survivors. Ever since, Anne had been responsible for tending to her mother’s many physical needs.
As we talked, Anne’s mother welled up telling me about how selfless and devoted her daughter was. She even left work to check up on her mother several times a day.
And suddenly the puzzle pieces started fitting together. Anne wasn’t the selfish, irresponsible woman her co-workers thought she was. Quite the opposite!
Her mother told me, “Anne’s considering breaking off her engagement. That’s why I had to meet with you. She thinks she won’t be able to care for me as well once she’s married, and nothing I say convinces her otherwise! You have to talk to her. I want her to move on with her life.”
Of course she did. She, too, was a selfless woman. And she had raised a selfless child.
“I really will be fine,” Anne’s mother told me. “A woman comes every day to assist me and I can manage without Anne’s help.”
Her words broke my heart. How painful this situation must have been for Anne. How difficult it must have been to consider no longer looking after her severely disabled mother. Yet, how amazing Anne was for never becoming bitter, for never complaining to her co-workers, for shouldering this enormous burden alone. I felt nothing but awe for these two women. Thinking of how misjudged Anne was brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me what a huge mistake it is to pass judgment on others without knowing the whole story. Our subjective vision often leads us to erroneous conclusions.
I thought of the prophet Shmuel, who was asked to anoint the king of Israel. He assumed that Yishai’s first-born, the tallest and most handsome son, was destined to rule. But he was mistaken. One of the less assuming, less noticeable sons was more qualified. Hashem told him, “A person sees only through his eyes, whereas God sees [what transpires in] one’s heart!” (Shmuel 1, 17:7).
Matchmaking has made me frequent witness to mistaken impressions. We all do it all the time, but I am ceaselessly amazed by how wrong people’s analyses of others can be.
So if you ever find yourself asking, “What’s so great about her? What’s so great about him?” I suggest you stop looking for answers, and instead ask a different question: “What can I do to become a better person?”
And here’s the answer: Start by judging others favorably! Our sages teach that one who judges favorably is judged favorably (by Hashem). And if Hashem sees you favorably, perhaps you will be the next happy person walking down the aisle.
*Anne’s name has been changed.
About Contributing Writers:
Through a partnership between SawYouAtSinai and the Orthodox Union, informative and interesting articles are submitted and reviewed by our joint team. We are committed to helping singles of all ages find the bashert.
Ziva Kramer: Ziva has been a matchmaker, dating coach and spiritual advisor for professional singles in New York City for many years. She gives seminars all over the country and she is well known for her inspiring, standing-room-only seminars and her “no-nonsense” approach to the art of romantic fulfillment. Her witty, enthusiastic, dynamic, funny, controversial and extremely entertaining delivery tells it like it really is. She makes her audience laugh and cry, leaving them with a newfound clarity. With her sensitive and unique approach she devoted her life to help as many people as she can, becoming one of the most popular leaders on the New York City singles circuit.
SawYouAtSinai.com, with over 30,000 members and over 1,200 engaged members since 2004, is the largest Jewish matchmaking site and is impacting the lives Jewish singles worldwide. This Jewish Matchmaking site adds the personal touch of a matchmaker to facilitate each member’s unique personality & needs. Matchmakers pre-screen, select and send matches to members, and with profiles only accessible to compatible singles, privacy and discretion is maintained. With 300+ experienced matchmakers, SawYouAtSinai.com serves Traditional, Conservative, Orthodox and Yeshivish singles from Jewish communities all around the world. People can sign up today at www.SawYouAtSinai.com
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.