Dear Rabbi,

Help!  My beautiful 29-year-old daughter can't find her beshert, her soulmate. She's a social worker, living in New York City. She's tried a Jewish online dating service, but they were all jerks. All she wants is a good-looking professional who is real, traditional, and looking for marriage. Help!



Dear Mom,

First, let me say that I applaud you for taking an interest in your daughter’s dating life. I am discouraged by all the parents who think it isn’t their place to assist their children in finding proper marriage partners. Even if your daughter resists your input, as most singles today would do, it is incumbent upon you to tell her, diplomatically and without pressure, that while you won’t smother her, you will be keeping your eyes peeled for a prospective suitor.


Too many parents today believe that they have no right to "interfere" in their children’s adult decisions, as if our responsibility to our kids ends when they turn 18. I believe that even if our children resist our "meddling" when it comes to their dating partners, we must still try and find an inspirational and respectful means by which to influence them to make the right decisions when it comes to this, the most central aspect of their lives. We parents are more experienced, and usually wiser, than our children, and we must bring that wisdom to bear in steering our kids to find the right marital partner.


Pursuant to that, I'm sorry to hear that your daughter has not yet found her soulmate. There are many reasons why singles are not connecting today. One is the fact that women are encouraged to put career and professional life ahead of finding a spouse. In this, they basically make the same mistake that men have historically made, determining their self-worth more by what they do than by who they are.

Another problem facing singles today is that simply have too much choice. Look at the online dating services—you know in your mind that if you are with someone and it's not working out there are ten-thousand other possibilities just a click away. In that situation, why would one "settle?" Believe me, that word is one I hear all the time.

But I think the biggest reason singles have become immune to falling in love is that people who once looked as their dating selves as made of Velcro now see themselves as made of Teflon. In other words, singles today are not letting themselves get lonely. Allow me to explain.

Love is the cure to the disease of loneliness. When G-d created Adam, the Bible tells us that although he inhabited paradise, he still was miserable because he was lonely. He saw beautiful sunsets but he had no one with whom to share such beauty.   

The Bible then says "it is not good for men to be alone"; notice how this is the very first thing that is identified as "bad" in the Bible. Only when Adam had Eve did his existence change from living in a garden to living in Paradise.

So the prerequisite for really falling in love is first to feel lonely. That's what is supposed to happen to people as they grow older. As children, they bask in the adoration and love of their parents and then, as they become adults, they begin to feel lonely and crave and desire the unconditional love, plus the physical love, of an opposite who is equal. Namely, they yearn for a soulmate to marry.

But today, there is too much stimulation in popular culture, and people have replaced family with friends. Thus, there's no reason to be lonely. And if you don't get lonely, love is no longer a cure for a problem. It's like eating dinner. If you are hungry, you'll probably be happy with any decent restaurant. But if you never let yourself get hungry, you become very picky. You continue to send the food back to the kitchen. You're not addressing a need, you're just selecting a luxury.

You said that your daughter lives in the city, and that also explains why she's not married.
New York City is a great singles bastion. People don't get as lonely there because the city is "on" 24 hours a day. If you feel lonely, you go to a bar, you go to a restaurant, etc. When I counsel singles like your daughter, I tell them first to cut themselves off from their friends for three weeks. After three weeks, they'll really yearn and crave company. Then, they'll see a man as someone special instead of someone in whom they can find flaws. Second, I urge young people to observe the two-date rule: go on a second date no matter how bad the first date was. Don't dismiss people immediately, but instead learn to simply enjoy human company. It is usually those second dates that lead to real possibilities. 


Remember, you’re the mother. Sit with your daughter. Speak to her. Inspire her. Give her a real vision of what’s important in life. Talk to her about the blessings of marriage, of family life, of the intimate companionship that comes from a soul-mate. Talk to her about what a gentleman is, and how she should look for the guy with the big heart rather than the big wallet, however much that goes against the grain of Manhattan thinking.


Be gentle, be diplomatic, be loving. But be determined. When we have children, our responsibility to them does not end when they move out of the house.


I wish your daughter the very best. G-d bless.

Yours sincerely,
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

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