Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shidduch System vs. Job Market

Nobody likes uncertain and disorderly systems. Humans are known to be risk averse, and people generally prefer one bird in the hand to two birds in the bush. However, when engaging in any sort of matching process, a sizable amount of nondeterministic randomness inevitably results. Although people tend to avoid situations that must lead to disorganized matching processes, such situations are unavoidable as they present themselves in the shidduch system and the job markets. It is the underlying nondeterminism in both of these processes which causes them to be such painful experiences for those who must endure them.

The purpose of the shidduch is to match an appropriate man with an appropriate women in order to hopefully lead to a successful marriage. There are many different venues for finding men and women of marriageable age, and many different kinds of matching techniques. After using the proper methods it is hoped that a match will result. Many people enter the process full of optimism, and they put their faith in their particular form of shidduch system. However, after months and years of failed attempts at finding a proper spouse, it is quite common to become disenchanted with shidduch methods. It is very normal to lambaste "the shidduch system" as a complete failure, and more often than not one will put forward a whole plethora of patches and tweaks that would likely be of benefit to the flawed process. Sometimes these supposedly constructive measures are carried out, but in most situations the disgruntled shidduch dater will just continue to moan for the duration of the process.

What ends up happening to the long-term shidduch daters? Of course those who are married within a few months of dating are considered great successes. In fact, those people don't give much thought to "the shidduch system" altogether, and they go about there daily lives pondering their next milestones. However, those who remain in the system too long become bitter and dejected, and they begin to loathe shidduchim in general. The longer they remain single the longer they ponder the ills of the system.

This process continues until some solution occurs. The first solution occurs when the person eventually finds his or her long awaited lifelong partner. At this point an interesting transformation takes place in the persons mind. Whether the system remains a soar memory of torture or if the system becomes a fond memory of character building, the shidduch system in the end of the day transforms into nothing more than an interesting memory. Given a few months, the topic will no longer enter the conscious mind. Another more pitiful solution occurs when the individual leaves the shidduch market. A decision is made that marriage is not worth the bother, and single life is a fine alternative to life as a couple. People such as these may become abject and crestfallen, or they may truly find comfort in their life altering choice. Either way, they will continue to display an antipathy for shidduchim, and will encourage people to find comfort in what on the outside seems to be a failure of a life. Given enough time, everyone exits the system and gives no more thought to how it can be improved. Passion moves on to the next agenda.

Although shidduch matching may seem like a very unique kind of process, it shows a striking resemblance to the job market. Like shidduchim, most people have an optimistic outlook while entering the employment search. A job resume is constructed in the same way a shidduch profile is created. And much like shidduchim the job market can take a serious toll on the mental health of job seekers. There are always those people who find jobs right out of college, and such people give little thought to the whole concept of employment search. But most people find themselves searching for months for the right job. Over time, the unemployed begin to lose hope in finding employment. Many people become depressed about the situation of the economy, and some even put forward methods for fixing the system.

What ends up happening with the unemployed? People who are unemployed for a long time become less and less convinced of ever finding a job. The longer they wait the more they detest the job market. But in the end of the day almost all of the unemployed become employed. Some people eventually find their dream job. To these people the job market rapidly becomes a distant memory. Other people take sub par jobs and continue to detest the job market. Still other people go back to school and develop new skills in order to find a new job. It is common to settle for a pay cut and lower one's standard of living as well. When all is said and done, the options are employment, disability, or death. Most people end up choosing employment from that short list of options.

The shidduch system and the job market are similar in a very fundamental way. Both of these systems represent a matching process. A direct result of this is nondeterministic randomness. This is a large source of anguish to human beings. We would prefer to see clear results from actions taken. But in both the shidduch system and the job market it is very common to find two people with identical resumes yielding completely different outcomes. This fundamental nature of these systems cannot be changed and no tweak in the system will make it fair. Those who succeed can either praise the system or ignore it, and those who fail will criticize the methods and occupy their minds with the topic. But there can be no fix to either of these nondeterministic random systems.

What can one do to prevent failure in the shidduch system? It seems that the situation is quite bleak for those who find themselves single at an older age. Many think they have a solution for the system, and others eventually give up trying altogether. However, the solution to the problem involves the main difference between the shidduch system and the job market. When a person fails in finding a shidduch he or she frequently blames the system, but when someone can't find a job he or she works on improving the probabilities. The solution to a personal shidduch crisis seems to be a matter of mathematics and probability. The people that find shidduchim within the first month of dating are very eligible shidduch material. They are usually normal people that may easily be set up with an equally normal mate. In theory, those who are most normal are compatible with the most people and will have the easiest time finding a shidduch. However, those who are unique for better of for worse will have a hard time finding an equally unique individual. There just happen to be fewer people that would be compatible with such a person. Similarly, in the job market there are people with marketable skills and there are people with very specific skills. Those who have the most marketable skills find a job the fastest while those with the more specific kind find themselves searching in a niche market.

Both the shidduch dater and the job seeker can increase their chances of finding what they want by becoming more marketable and less specific. The unemployed typically go back to school or settle for sub par work until they have what it takes to find a proper job. Those who have obsolete skills must learn new ones, and those with specific skills must learn some more universal ones. In this manner job seekers will almost always eventually find a job. A shidduch dater should be doing the same thing if he or she hopes to reduce the amount of time necessary to find a match. Becoming more marketable may mean improving ones appearance, social skills, or financial position to the point where they have reached the realm of normal people, or it may entail mingling with the lowly folks, eating fatty food, watching sports, or drinking beer in an attempt to lower ones self to the realm of normal people. Of course, the latter would involve a compromise comparable to those who settle for a sub par job. It may be necessary to give shidduch profiles to those who you would rather not ask for help from in the same way job seekers ask for job assistance from people they are normally uncomfortable approaching. Sometimes sacrifices must be made if one would like to increase the probabilities of successfully navigating through the shidduch system in a timely manner.

While such sacrifices are frequently made in the job market, people rarely feel like taking such measures while involved with shidduchim. People feel better blaming "the system" and not working on solving the problem. In the end of the day everyone needs food, and that is why people make the job market work. Although the same measures may be taken regarding the shidduch market, too many people see a single life as a plausible option, and they therefore choose the easy way out.

The shidduch system and the job market both suffer from the same fundamental problem. Any fix to the system would do nothing to change the underlying nature of the nondeterministic random process. Unique individuals, for better of for worse, will have a hard time finding an appropriate match. These people can spend a long time searching until they find the object of their dreams. However, both shidduch daters and job seekers have the opportunity of becoming more marketable individuals, and by doing that they can potentially decrease the amount of time in the matching market.


  1. In addition to being marketable, one ought to also consider expectations of others, If the desired match is for someone who doesn't exist, its also going to be difficult. Same idea mentioned above apply. One last point, and that is that in addition to being marketable, one must, also engage in marketing. No good having a skill, or being the right person, if you don't get out there and let others know about it.

  2. I think you make a really great analogy throughout this post and especially about the niche market. If only people were more mature about conceding they need for more "marketable skills" in shidduchim... I think people like bashing the system even more than they like bashing the economy (guess having to go back to school is less offensive an idea than mellowing ones personality to conform to the market demand).

    "Although the same measures may be taken regarding the shidduch market, too many people see a single life as a plausible option, and they therefore choose the easy way out."

    This line only hit me on the my 2nd time around reading the post. Do you mean single-life as a temporary option or permanent solution? Because if it's the latter I disagree with you.

    Again, great thoughts.

  3. I guess we can agree to disagree.