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February 17, 2011 4:41 pm

Death of the Matchmaker

avatar by Dovid Efune

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Matchmakers have taken on various forms through the ages. Photo: moaches.

Although not by any means my area of expertise, some recent conversations about the pros and cons of the matchmaker with some single secular friends, prompted me to put some thoughts into writing.

Made famous by a prominent character in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and even more so by contemporary culture with various TV shows like ‘Millionaire Matchmaker,’ the matchmaker character has long had a place in relationship lore. For some completely irrelevant, for others in more orthodox communities, essential, but for most, whether in person or internet based form, the possibility of involving a third party in the search for a significant other has certainly been considered.

Matchmakers have taken on various forms through the ages, and today the function is largely served online, as the internet dating business is worth as much as 4 billion dollars. Websites are often specifically targeted to ethnic groups and even within those groups they come very specialized. In the Jewish world, while JDate is perhaps the most prominent, websites catering to a number of individual communities have sprung up recently.

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With the rise of social media influence and its widespread use, it seems that the role of the matchmaker is rapidly shifting. Whereby originally acting as a point of access and introduction, the role has now taken a step in the direction of facilitator. Even in Orthodox Jewish communities where dating is exclusively orchestrated with the assistance of a third party, the matchmaker is less the starting point for young singles looking for a partner, and more a source of information and coordination.

However for those who have marriage in mind, or think that they might have marriage in mind if the dating goes well, it can only benefit the search to keep in mind that the role of the matchmaker is as much a concept as a profession. In fact the matchmaker concept, that has been a staple in observant Jewish communities since time immemorial, is gaining traction in mainstream society as many young searchers strive for more meaningful relationships.

Although there are many elements to the matchmaking process one of the primary components is the pre screening. For a serious long term relationship to have the best chance of success there are fundamentals that need to be determined to ensure that the perspective couple are on the same page. for example , do they wish to have  children, are they prepared to live in the same locale and do they have compatible values or goals. Determining the answer to these questions will confirm the logical compatibility of any relationship.

Of course there is also the aspect of emotional connection that in most cases develops over some time. What seems to be the downfall of many relationships is when these two components come in the wrong order. Once a couple meet and the relationship takes off, the fundamental logical aspects of compatibility are usually left to be discussed at a later stage if at all, by this point, the emotions can easily tempt the parties to ignore glaring differences. Emerging at a later stage, they can often be the cause for divorce or much conflict and resentment.

The innovation and modern relevance of the matchmaker concept is largely that it provides those involved with the opportunity to find out important background information in advance and make relevant decisions based on that knowledge.

Although the matchmaker is in decline, in an age where there is much disillusionment with the marriage institution due to peaking divorce rates perhaps the growing popularity of the matchmaker concept will help reverse the trend.

The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com .

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