What affects the millennial’s mind? How does today’s young adult population decide whom to date? With the prevalence of online dating apps, abundant social activities and the ability to access more names than ever before, match suggestions come in from sources both far and near. YUConnects, the popular matchmaking program serving as the Orthodox Jewish world’s educational and dating resource, recently surveyed its membership to further assess dating trends in the 18- to 35-year-old age group.
One of the most significant sociological findings dealt with “decision-making” by online daters. Fully 54% of the respondents purported to make a decision about a potential date within 10 minutes of reading their online profile. However, when undecided, the process the members take coincided with contemporary norms of the millennial and “Generation Z” age groups. While only 19% discuss the idea with their matchmaker, 34% call references, 41% discuss with their parents but almost 46% talk over the potential date with friends. Most interestingly, a whopping 89% “Google” or access social media to collect further information about their future dating prospect.
“That doesn’t really surprise me at all,” says Mindy Eisenman, YUConnects Staff Connector, about the findings. “Before someone dates they often tell me that they check out names on Facebook or other social media outlets.” In fact, the staff at YUConnects often counsel their members to carefully review their own online posts or photos, as they are often scrutinized by others. “For better or for worse, people are frequently treating this like they are part of an HR department in job recruitment where prospective dates want to glean as much information as possible before they step out the door,” concurred Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects. Especially in the close-knit Orthodox Jewish circles, knowing friends of future matches aids in the decision-making process; doing a quick Facebook search of someone’s friends often is an important factor in whether to accept the dating idea.
Dr. Jean Kim, M.D., in a recent “Psychology Today” article on online dating, also feels that “it is reasonable to conduct some form of a background search via Google, Facebook and other sites, and to keep one’s ears open for inconsistencies and vagueness.” She points out that we are often swept away by superficial idealizations about the perfect person, which makes people more vulnerable to deceptions that can occur online. Dr. Kim recommends trusting one’s own gut, in addition to vetting people online. She further comments that “hopefully, the worst secret a person is keeping from you is that a favorite movie they listed on their profile isn’t actually their favorite.”
In general, YUConnects staff point out that the personal Connectors (matchmakers) on their website can be the best allies to their members as they offer guidance and act as mentors. “Our volunteer matchmakers are specially trained and are happy to assist their members in all sorts of ways,” offered Mrs. Eisenman. “I always recommend that when undecided, a guy or girl should turn to their Connector for advice. This mentorship is an underutilized resource that can be extremely helpful.”
Marjorie Glatt, the special projects coordinator at YUConnects, points out that YUConnects is currently running a limited-time promotion that allows new enrollees to get a free one-month trial of “gold” upgraded membership. With two personal matchmakers making targeted suggestions and offering guidance, this upgrade is especially beneficial. Use marketing code “chazaq” at the site’s checkout for the free promotion.
With 370 engagements, 80 volunteer Connectors and over 3,000 members of the YUConnects program, YUConnects continues to conduct academic research about the modern dating world. Housed at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, it is a self-funded program open to the entire Jewish community. In addition to its targeted matchmaking, the program runs unique social events and educational forums. Its friendly office welcomes comments, visits and inquiries on any dating matter. For more information visit www.yuconnects.com, call 646-592-4259 or email [email protected].
By Marjorie Glatt