I've seen a number of themes and patterns in the singles dilemma. With
one out of three American Jews of marriageable age unmarried, it's an
epidemic. It's not realistic to expect that a book can over-simplistically
pinpoint a few convenient causes for this widespread and complex crisis. But
increasing public awareness, sensitivity and capability will help in the
search for realistic, widespread and effective solutions.
Many of the attempts to address the singles situation to date are
ineffective - certainly on a percentage basis - and, often, downright miss
the point of the real underlying problems.
To be sure, there are many causes and there are many combinations of
causes. This is an individual "case by case" issue, that can be different for
each human being. The problems can vary from the relatively simple to the
massively deep and complex.
To start, I'll mention some of the less complex causes of widespread
singlehood (to demonstrate the range of issues I have seen) before getting
into some of the deeper issues which deserve attention and lengthier address.
A good number of single people are "put together," functional people who
just have not yet found the "right one."
Some people simply lack useful means for meeting other suitable singles.
The solutions would be to devise and implement more effective, sensible and
meaningful methods for getting eligible men and women to tastefully cross
Some people lack focus or direction in their lives. How can you assess
who your life partner should be when you don't know what your life should be?
or if you think your life definition is based on externals (career,
education, hobbies, etc.) instead of what you should be as a human being?
Human beings relate. Externals don't. These people need guidance and
direction in practical and spiritual areas from competent and communicative
Another cause is inept, superficial or destructive matchmaking by people
* have a sense of,
* take the time to get to know, or
* have enough respect for,
the singles. They don't have judgement or human skills. Their set-ups are
repeatedly pointless, frustrating, dull and demoralizing.
Often, matchmakers are very caring, insightful, sincere, dedicated
people. Often, however, matchmaker's are unqualified. They may know a
thousand singles, but that doesn't mean they are competent matchmakers. If
you know a thousand sick people does that make you a doctor? Some matchmakers
have there own agenda, e.g. they may want:
* you to go out with who they've got, not who you need;
* money (when they make matches for a fee - since some are driven after
money, they push singles to marry so they earn their fee - independent of who
you need in a match)
* a power trip (you are dependent on them - they can put you on hold for
twenty five minutes and if you complain they'll say you lack the maturity to
* a track record ("I made four million matches!" - but don't ask how many
Singles often complain that matchmakers are rude, condescending, shallow or
Some singles are plain selfish, immature and grandiose in their demands
or expectations. They are neither ready for responsibility to a lifelong
marriage nor deserving of a mate taking them for marriage. Although
matchmakers often criticize singles for this, some of the time it is their
ineptitude and unwillingness to work to make valid, compatible matches. Many
singles complain to me that they go out with people only because they are
afraid that the matchmakers will consider them too critical and impossible to
please. They are terrified of being "dropped" by the matchmaker. The singles'
own judgement is disparaged, when it is the singles' lives that are at stake.
Therefore, we must be careful to distinguish between when a single is truly
unrealistic or self-preoccupied vs. when an incompetent matchmaker wants to
rack up a scorecard of weddings (valid or not) or evade responsible, diligent
effort by projecting fault onto the single. Sometimes it is the matchmaker
who is arrogant and grandiose, sometimes it's the single. I know very
functional eligible singles who are repeatedly disparaged by matchmakers. I
know selfish, grasping, mean, arrogant or malcontent individuals who
literally have to rework themselves before they have any business expecting
another to want to live with them.
Another cause can be shyness, lack of relating skills, lack of
understanding of the opposite gender, or lack of attractive self-presentation.
More serious issues have to do with psychological and sociological causes
which actually injure the internal personality mechanisms within the single.
It is necessary for the inner person to be reasonably healthy to effectively
* judge and select a relating partner; and
* develop and maintain a successful, stable, lasting, compatible and
serious man-woman relationship.
If one or both parents of a single caused any emotional trauma, whether
through active abuse or passive neglect, the single may be damaged in those
areas of personality necessary for intimate and committed relating. This can
* when one or both of the parents have some form of dysfunction or
* when one or both of the parents are survivors who were psychologically
brutalized by the Nazis,
* when the parents have an indifferent or adversarial marriage,
* when the parents divorce (especially if the child is too young to
emotionally "process" the parents' incompatibility and, therefore interprets
the divorce to mean "I am bad, so my parents separated because of me"),
* when the single (as a child) was acculturated to emphasize external and
material values (avoiding or disparaging human qualities),
* when the parents failed to ingrain maturity, unselfishness,
responsibility, civility and good midos (character traits),
* when parents meddle in their child's relationships or choices,
and a whole host of varied and sundry causalities which effectively block
finding or keeping a soulmate.
Ironically, it is people who "marry for love" who often have the most
vicious, miserable or ill-fated marriages. Their quest for love is selfish.
When I plough beneath the surface in counseling and in workshops, they are
glad to TAKE love. They can talk in grandiose terms about giving love. But
their preoccupation is self-serving and only applies when things are on their
terms. They won't give anything near what they want to take nor what a
serious relationship requires. Neither the couple or their children can come
out of such an environment happy.
In my practical work experience, I have seen that often it is the issues
most hidden to the eye that most strongly cause blockage of singles finding
their mate. Often the problems are deep beneath the surface - and elude most
observers and, often, the singles themselves.
As these issues go by undetected, singles continue to grow older, suffer
mounting loneliness and embitterment as time marches on, see their prospects
for having children diminishing, risk falling into clandestine promiscuity
(as some grow progressively impatient, or lonely, or discouraged; and the
restraint and self-discipline necessary to keep the laws of yichud, negia,
mikva or tzniyuss - which prohibit pre-marital contact - break down), and
witness more and more friends return to singlehood after the disappointment
and heartbreak of another social crisis of epidemic proportions, divorce. [to