The situation: You are in virtually any social situation-- Shabbos meal, wedding, bris, kiddush, softball game, supermarket-- and you run into someone who can tell right away that you are “fresh meat.” You see it coming but you are helplessly at their mercy as they tell you that they have the perfect match for you. You try to avoid the conversation entirely, but this would-be matchmaker strategically corners you at the herring platter with a full plate of food and a filled cup so they know you have no room for an easy escape with a: “It was so nice to see you Mrs. Goldfarb–– I am going to get some soda now.” Mrs. Goldfarb is well aware that your cup is full of Shoprite’s finest discounted diet cola that your synagogue gets on sale and is tax deductible and you both see the bottle on this very table so there’s no need to travel across the room for a refill. And then it happens: “I’ve got the nicest guy/girl for you.” You know whomever they are talking about is not for you, but you have no idea how to get out of this without committing to something that you’d prefer not to, or getting out of it but coming off as rude or disinterested. No worries, my friend–– The Single is here to help you.
Do Not: Talk about how extreme your personality is or portray yourself as a complete moron in the hopes that they are too horrified to suggest this person to you. If this “shadchan” is already making the suggestion, she already made up her mind that the person she is suggesting to you is your bashert (soulmate) and will use everything you say to justify why it is so. “You’re all over the place? So is she!” Or, “You’re unable to commit to
anything ever? He’s the exact opposite and that’s great because, I don’t know if you ever heard this one before and I’ll let you in on an insight I developed over many years of matchmaking, pontificating, and cornering singles before they get a chance to grab a shot of scotch at the kiddush, but opposites attract. And in fact, my brother’s uncle’s stepsister brushes her teeth every day and her husband never does. When they first met, we all thought there was no way it would work out, but you know what? They met each other and just hit it off. They’ve been married for 20 years. So you should definitely go out with her.” Please don’t try the above tactic or you risk subjecting yourself to this speech.
Do: Thank them for bringing up this perfect match and allow them to talk about the person. This should allow you a few minutes to space out and chew on the stale crackers and dry herring, an important move, being that you may be stuck there for a few minutes. Don’t forget to say “wow” while scrunching your forehead and pressing your lips together in the “I am impressed” look at strategic moments during the monologue such as 1) “and she is in law school at Johns Hopkins,” 2) “and he is full of ambition,” 3) “and she is stunning,” and 4) “he is one of the funniest, most charming people I know” (don’t get fatigued now–– continue doing that look or run the risk of a fifth item on the laundry list just to make sure you are impressed).
After they (finally) finish, it’s your time to take over. Don’t stutter. You say that she sounds like an amazing girl but you 1) were actually suggested to someone else and 2) are busy at the moment. These are not lies, I mean, who hasn’t ever been “suggested” to someone, and who isn’t busy? In fact, you are busy right now trying to get out of this interaction and hit the alcohol table before the old guy from hashkama (early minyan) who likes to stick around for every kiddush finishes the rest of the good scotch and you are left with the black label that is brought out every week and never gets touched. Just say you’d love to receive her information and see if perhaps you may think of any friends for her. Now, it would be nice if you do try to set this individual up, but that’s up to you.
Pro Tip: Like any good poker player, never show your cards. Don’t confirm you are available and don’t just say no, either. It’s always important to provide context; for example, you in the middle of considering a few options, or are slated to be introduced to someone by a friend. Leave some gray area. The moment you reveal that you are totally free, you’ve given away your position and they feel fully empowered to go on the offensive. Don’t blame me when you get stuck going out with that individual they have been trying to set up for six years. Don’t blame me if you find yourself stuck in a difficult situation–– you did it to yourself by giving up your defense–– just enjoy those three hours at Starbucks during the playoffs, wondering how you can get out of this fast enough so that you can catch the end of the fourth quarter. I’m sorry my friend, but we’ll save a seat for you on the couch when you get back… as long as we don’t have to hear you mope about how terrible it was. After all, you did it to yourself by not following my guidelines. No sympathy!