April 13, 2024
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Is There a Shidduch Crisis or a Bad Behavior Crisis?

Is there a shidduch crisis or a bad behavior crisis? People often suggest the reason there are so many singles (usually women) is that there literally are more women than men, meaning the population is not 50/50. There is another reason that needs to be explored: bad behavior.

Bad behavior affects first-time singles as well as those single again; just look at the increase in divorce in the Orthodox community. When a neighbor’s daughter was still in the dating phase, she went on a date with a young man who had phenomenal references from top rabbis. But when he yelled at a parking garage attendant, she felt unsafe. Obviously, there was no second date. Another friend’s daughter was on a date with a supposedly “good yeshiva boy” who tried, repeatedly, to touch her without her consent. She was so rattled by the experience she didn’t date at all for several months.

Then there are too many women, like Fraidy (Unchained At Last), who are the survivors of domestic abuse.

And no, men are not the only perpetrators of abuse and other bad behavior.

Why are we seeing these patterns of behavior? Why are people getting to adulthood without learning to behave better?

Is it poor parenting? Poor education? Poor management of mental health concerns? Yes. Yes. And yes.

The frum community often discourages interaction between males and females until dating.

The frum community also has a history of encouraging secrecy around domestic abuse and mental health concerns. Let’s also remember that domestic abuse is often repeated by subsequent generations without intervention to stop it and provide counseling.

This helps no one. It makes it far less likely that someone who needs help gets it. It also makes it far more likely that they take their “issues” into a relationship, potentially to the detriment of their partner.

Men and women need to learn to communicate effectively. There is absolutely no way to have a healthy relationship without effective communication. They also need to learn respect, how to compromise and how to be a supportive partner. And, perhaps, they need to work on their own mental health before living with another person.

And then there’s sex. Why is there an expectation that two people who met as recently as a few weeks ago will have a successful sexual experience? Kallah teachers often instruct young women that they cannot refuse their husbands’ sexual advances. And the young men get similar messages in their chosson classes. What happened to consent? And is pleasure even mentioned? Sure, having sex is a mitzvah, but there’s also an obligation for a man to pleasure his wife! Certainly, that starts with consent. What happened to teaching people to communicate what feels good or hurts, about foreplay, so the encounter is more enjoyable for both? Why are we not teaching about mental health concerns and domestic violence so that young adults know when something isn’t right? And if young adults learn that women don’t have the right to say no to sex, shouldn’t we expect that they will be exploited by their husbands in other ways?

Let us take singles into the future in a healthier way.

Let’s de-stigmatize addressing mental health concerns and encourage people to seek therapy.

Let’s start, in preschool, teaching children to be kind to everyone so that when they are adults they treat parking garage attendants with respect—as well as their spouses.

Let’s teach communication skills. Teach people to listen and to speak kindly and thoughtfully.

Let’s provide sex education so people know how to have sex for pleasure, not just out of obligation or to achieve a pregnancy.

Let’s teach about the realities of domestic abuse and stop making excuses and covering it up.

Let’s teach the next generation of adults to behave better in order to have more successful relationships.

And, finally, let’s not wait; let’s work on ourselves, and help each other become better people.


Sorah Stein, PhD, BCBA-D, CSE, CSES is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator and Supervisor. She is the owner of Partnership for Behavior Change. You can connect with her on LinkedIn

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