You’ve been dating someone for a few times. You’ve both shared about yourselves and know quite a bit about each other. And then you determine that this person is not for you, and you want to end the relationship. Remember, this is a vulnerable time for both of you. How you end the relationship should be done with dignity and respect – for both of your sakes.
Don’t needlessly prolong
If you are clear that this shidduch is not going to work out, it is best to bring it to a close without delay. Keeping the other person on a date for another couple of hours “in order to be nice” is inappropriate. You have made up your mind that it is going to end, so now you are just wasting someone else’s time, and you are misleading them into thinking that you are at least open to the possibility. In reality, you are clear that it is not going forward, so you need to say so and not drag the other person along any further.
Of course, it is vital that you behave with the utmost courtesy and consideration – and we will address this shortly – but continuing to take someone’s time when you are certain in your mind that it is over is not any more courteous and is actually a lack of consideration. Would you want to continue dating someone who has already decided to discontinue? If the person you are dating asks to meet you again to “gain closure,” this is something that you should discuss with suitable advisors. It is often not the right thing to do. For sure, you should not be going on another date after you have decided to end it, just so that “she doesn’t feel rejected.” The illogic in this is obvious.
Who should inform?
This is not about you – it’s about the receiver. What would make the other person feel best?
There are different perspectives about how to end the shidduch. Consider which is most fitting to the situation. Either you can tell the person directly, or the shadchan should let them know.
If it is early in the process, it is okay if the shadchan delivers the message. But if you met several times and have therefore shared personal information and created some sort of relationship, then you owe them a conversation, even if it makes you uncomfortable. As applicable, you might give a heads-up that you have something important you want to discuss. This is too important to share via text.
This is a general rule, but some people may find delivering the bad news too overwhelming. If you feel you will either not cope with, or may mishandle, the situation, take suitable advice.
Act like a mensch
You invited another person to date you, and dating is inherently a very personal business. That person shared a great deal of information about themselves, including (most likely) quite personal insights into their life. Now that the door has been closed on them, they are likely to feel vulnerable. Additionally, if the dating has gone on for a while it is most possible that the other person feels they have developed a relationship of sorts with you, and unwinding that could be an emotionally difficult thing to do.
You therefore have a duty of care to do your utmost to lessen the impact. If highly personal information was shared, it is important that they are assured that it will remain strictly confidential. If you have had differences of opinion, it is important that you clearly convey your respect for the other person. It is important that they know that you value their good qualities and that you are grateful for the opportunity to get to know them.
How much to say?
Many people complain that when a shidduch ends, they are not given any explanation. Most people want to understand, as they can learn something from the experience and gain closure. If you feel able to offer some feedback, this is usually welcomed.
You could ask the shadchan to simply say “It is just not going to work out. Two wonderful people – just not for each other.” No reasons given. Sometimes, there really is no meaningful reason; it just didn’t click. Or it may be that the real reason is likely to cause offense, and you judge that remaining silent is the most sensitive course of action. Or you are embarrassed by your reason, and feel that saying what it is will make you look bad.
But if there is a reason that you feel could be helpful to the other person, or will at least provide some clarity – in general it is best to be open. It is obviously painful to have a shidduch discontinued, and nothing you will say will change that. Still, if you handle the situation well, it can still provide some benefit to the other person.
Firstly, if you provide useful feedback, this can be considered for future dates. For example, if you feel that he spoke way too much about his work – it could be helpful to know this going forward. If you feel that she seemed too distracted and disinterested, she can try to work out why that was and make some changes next time around.
Secondly, sharing your reason removes a cloud that may otherwise hang over the matter. If you withhold the reason, then the other person may make inaccurate assumptions. And they might make some decisions based on those faulty assumptions.
Keep it short
It is best to keep your remarks brief. In these situations, people are liable to say way more than they intended and than is productive. It is quite possible that you would say things you later regret. It is therefore important to prepare your words and stick to what you had in mind. Don’t get drawn into a lengthy discussion that you had not planned.
Here are some key points to consider:
- You do not have to share the details about how you came to that decision.
- Choose words that leave the other with their dignity.
- Reassure that you won’t share anything that you spoke about or did.
- State clearly that you respect them and appreciate their good qualities.
- Sincerely wish them well for the future.
Do not leave the situation open. Don’t say something that gives the impression that you may revisit it. If you are still open to the idea, why are you breaking it off? If you are doing so because you have questions or doubts, then speak to people who can help you gain clarity. If you are calling off the shidduch because you are convinced that it won’t work, then do not make vague references to the possibility of revisiting it in the future. It risks holding both of you back from moving on, which is extremely unhelpful.
Here is an example of what you might say:
“This is not easy for me to say, and perhaps it won’t be easy for you to hear. We’ve had some great conversations and I really enjoy your company. Despite each of our strengths and interests, I simply think we don’t match well enough for marriage. I am looking for someone who would also be a good friend, and I feel we are too different for that to happen.”
“You are a good person and I wish nothing but the best for you. And I assure you that anything that you have shared with me, I will not share; I very much live by the principle that it is your story and not mine to share.”
Location – It is best to find a location that is close by. The drive home will most likely be difficult. Choose somewhere quiet and discreet. Ending a shidduch is a sensitive moment, and is not best suited for a public space.
Reactions – Understand that the person receiving the news may not react well. They may become tearful or defensive. You must accept that, and not take offense. Stay calm and composed.
Pressure – Be prepared to feel under pressure to lessen the upset. Don’t promise to reconsider or keep an open mind, if you genuinely have decided it’s over. Respect their view, but also respect your own decision.
Persuasion – Your date may want to give you their reasons why they think the dating should continue. Within reason, you should honor their request. If you are actually talked around to continue dating, that is fine. If not, you need to stay focused and clear.
Ending a shidduch may bring relief, but it usually comes with some degree of sadness or disappointment. This cannot be entirely avoided, but it should not be made any worse than it has to be. At this sensitive time, act with sensitivity and consideration.