Monday, January 10, 2011

Why You (& I) are Still Single

Why are you and I still single? Let me tell you the one and only reason why. We are single because Hashem decided that it should be that way. If Hashem decides the time is right for you to get married, then you will, and if He decides that it is not the right time, then you won’t. It is as simple as that, and no one can ever know for sure more than that. That is the only reason why someone who wants to get married is not married.

“But,” you might protest, “That is not true. I know why certain people are not married.” All “reasons” that people give for why a person is not married are not valid. And they are all wrong for the same reason: I can find a case to counter that suggestion. Here are some reasons that people give, which I have heard people say.

“He/she is still single because:”

• Not attractive/overweight
• Lacking social skills
• Too picky/ looking for someone perfect that is not realistic
• Too short/too tall/other reason relating to appearance
• Not putting in enough effort
• Not davening hard enough/not enough Tefillot
• Not really ready to get married
• Don’t have a good family/divorced parents etc.
• Too smart/ lacking intellect

If you think about it, none of these really make any sense. Not attractive? I can name plenty of people who are not particularly attractive, who are too short, too tall, overweight, you name it, who are married. Hashem created a soul mate for everyone, and it doesn’t matter how obese a person is, that is not the reason they are not married. I know people who are socially awkward, who are weird, others who are nerds, geeks, those who are so smart that no one understand them, and people from all of those categories have managed to find their partner in life. Those are the easy reasons to refute.

What about someone who is too picky? What about someone who is not ready to get married? That doesn’t seem to stop Hashem. Picky is relative, but picky people get married. Not ready to get married? Not enough effort? What about those people who meet their future spouses in high school? Or even younger than that? They didn’t put in any effort, and they might not be ready to get married, but they have already met the right person. I’m not saying that a person shouldn’t put in effort, of course Hishtadlus is crucial, but there are people who haven’t put in any effort and they find the right person. Additionally, there are those who have put in every ounce of effort that can possibly be expected, who have gone above and beyond what a normal person does, and they still haven’t found the right one.

People with divorced parents get married. People who are divorced, remarry. Those who spend years davening and crying and pouring their hearts out to Hashem, still aren’t married, and those who have barely spoken to G-d find the right one. No one knows why someone is not married, and no one can tell you why you are not married. Only Hashem knows. “Because Hashem said so,” is the only reason. That conclusion might be hard to accept. Why?

I think the reason we like to find reasons why people are not married is that if we can pinpoint it on something, and we don’t have that characteristic, then *phew!* We’re safe. So if she is not married because she is overweight, and we are skinny, then we don’t have to worry that we’ll end up like that. And if she is still single because she is too picky, and we accept every guy we’re suggested, then there is nothing to worry about. If he is not married because he’s socially awkward, then if we’re the coolest person on the planet, we’re safe. If he is still single because he’s doesn’t go to minyan every day or set time to learn, then if we do those things, we are different. There is something separating us from that fate. The feeling of, “Wait, that person is just like me…I could be that person who is still single in x amount of years,” is scary. So we try to avoid it by identifying reasons why that is not true.

Additionally, not knowing why is really difficult. If the problem is unidentified, then there is no way to solve it. If I am not married because I am overweight, then I need to lose weight, and then I’ll get married. If I am still single because I’m not frum enough, then I just need to be more frum, and I’ll be set. That is a dangerous attitude because what if you lose weight or gain social skills or whatever it is, and then you still don’t find the right person? We long so desperately to be in control, but the bottom line is that we’re not. Let me repeat. We long so desperately to be in control, but the bottom line is that we’re not. Ultimately, only Hashem is in control.

However, that does not mean that we have NO control, and that does NOT mean things are hopeless and that there is nothing at all that we can do. We still need to try our best. We need to identify our faults and work on them, and try to grow. We need to put in the effort, and do as much as we can. Why bother if ultimately our actions are not what causes the results? This relates to Hishtadlus in general and not just with shidduchim. A person can try to make money and try to make money, and still never be rich. It is in Hashem’s hands. Why try if it is all up to Hashem.

The answer to this is a quote I once heard: “Without G-d I can’t, but without me G-d won’t.”

I once learned that Hashem designed the world so that we need to put in effort in order to see the results. Ultimately Hashem is the one behind the results, and the test is for us to recognize that things come from Hashem and not because of our own effort. It’s easiest to see Hashem when we put in the most amount of effort, but we don’t get the results we were looking for. If we did everything we could, then it is up to Hashem. When we do get the results, the reason is the same as it was when we don’t get the desired outcome: Hashem.

We have to do our best, but ultimately it is up to Hashem. We cannot judge why one person is married and one person is single, even if it makes us feel better to have a reason because we can separate ourselves from those who in our minds are doomed to be single forever, or even if it makes us feel that we are in control of our life. Knowing that it is all in Hashem’s hands is actually much more comforting, because Hashem loves us and knows what is best for us better than we know ourselves. Hashem’s mercy on us is greater than any human being, and He wants to give to us more than anyone. The fact that Hashem is the reason you and I are still single might be harder to accept because basically that means we don’t know the answer why. But the bottom line is that we don’t know why.

Feel free to disagree, I’m curious to hear other perspectives on this topic.



  1. This is probably the hardest facet of dating (and life) to face. The truth is,we don't know and never can. Hashem is in control. He has shown me this so many times in my own life and I'm very grateful because I know He's involved. Still it's hard to accept that no matter how much hishtadlus I put in, I don't have control over the outcome. I think the hardest part of shidduchim besides sustaining bitachon/patience is being ready for anything. Sometimes the best things in life come in a split second, and we have to be open and courageous enough to accept that.

  2. That's my dating philosophy: that I stay open, and Hashem will send me the right guy at the right time because that's how the world is set up. Hashem wants us to marry to bring about another generation. There is no crisis. It's all in your heads to validate single status ("It's not me, it's the universe!"). If it was a crisis, Only Simchas would be a ghost town.

    Calm down and be patient, people.

  3. I AGREE! wholeheartedly! its up to Him and no one else!

  4. coral- so true!

    Bookworm- you have a good philosophy. :) good point about OnlySimchas. But just because tons of people are getting engaged/married, doesn't mean that there aren't tons of people who are still single. Perhaps onlysimchas should have twice the number of simchas. I'm not saying there is a crisis or there is not, just that onlysimchas is not necessarily the best indicator.

    aminspiration- glad we're on the same page!

  5. I wasn't intending to use onlysimchas as a bulletproof raaya. More like a flip comment.

    You're not saying if there's a crisis or not? Then what is the above post saying, exactly? "You will marry when Hashem says it's time."

  6. It depends on how you use the term "shidduch crisis." Are there a lot of singles, more than there used to be, who are having a lot of trouble getting married? That does seem to be the case.

    On an individual level Hashem is involved with each person. But if a large amount of people are having difficulties getting married, we have to wonder if that is because Hashem wanted it to be that way, or whether something has to change in the community, be it an attitude/mentality, or a change with the shidduch system.

  7. Let's say there are too many singles - there can be perfectly simple explanations for that.

    They will marry - but not at 21. Some get to, some don't. Even in the old country no one married that young, at least not in my mother's town. If one puts aside the premise that spinster = girls over 23, then it's not a problem.

    You said one couldn't blame, say, divorced parents for being single. By that same premise, one can't blame the shidduch system.

    I have no issues with the shidduch system, even though I'm a "spinster." It's what I know (that's been my family's way for at least a century). I may not have pleasant thoughts about every aspect of it, but I'm not ready to blame it.

    If anything, this day and age simply has a "personality crisis." Not shidduch, agunah, tuition, chicken, wig, water, cheating the government, you name it, crises. We as Jews have to remember what it is to be one, and take personal responsibility. We should focus on hishtadlus, and then still look above.

  8. I appreciate your truthful words of faith and unconditional dependence on Hashem.

    I just have a question.

    What about the people who never get married?
    What about the women who are in their early forties, still single, leading a lonely life, lacking a spouse? Does Hashem have a bashert for every single person? Is every single Jew on this plant destined to get married at the end of the day? How does one know if he/she has completed his/her hishtadlus, and it simply is not the right time?

    I really liked your post, and I hope you don't consider this an antagonistic comment, this is just something I thought about as I read your post.

  9. Bookworm- In reponse to "If one puts aside the premise that spinster = girls over 23, then it's not a problem"
    I agree that it is a problem that people consider a large amount of 23-year old singles a "crisis" - that is ridiculous. We shouldn't force people to marry young, when they might not be ready. I think that when some people refer to "the shidduch crisis" they are referring to many singles who are closer to 30 or above.

    "You said one couldn't blame, say, divorced parents for being single. By that same premise, one can't blame the shidduch system."
    Perhaps fixing the shidduch system is a form of hishtadlus. We can't only rely on Hashem, we do need effort.

    tikva4eva- you ask the most difficult questions! I wish I had the answers. I don't consider your comment antagonistic at all- in fact, quite the opposite- I always hope my posts cause thoughts, and good thinking almost always involves questions.

    I don't know if Hashem has a bashert for everyone. It is true that some people never do get married, though I don't think I know anyone who never found the right person, though I do one know one couple that got married very late in life- in their 50's. For most people it is a matter of when/who.

    In terms of knowing whether you have completed your hishtadlus, I learned that you have to do everything that you think is reasonable, and for each person that might be different. For example, in order to do well on a test in school, one person might need to study 1 hour and another might need to study for 5. We can't expect Hashem to do miracles. If you're not sure, then you can always do a little more, while also trying to strengthen your belief that you have done what you could do and that a lot is up to Hashem.

  10. I just showed this post to my sister and she agreed with all of it, and really appreciated it. I am e-mailing it to her so that she can read it whenever she needs to.

    Thank you so much for sharing your well- thought out inspirational words.


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