Fixing the “Shidduch Crisis” in the General Anglosaxon NYC Community

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Community
Tags: , ,

Here’s an article I ran into in today’s edition of the NYtimes…eerily similar to the idea of paying the Shadchan 2k for matchmaking…

I was in the cafe at Borders last month when a homeless man asked to sit next to me. He cast several glances my way before offering me two sandwiches from his plastic Conway bag. If I hadn’t already had dinner plans, I might have taken him up on his tuna fish.

After an exhausting decade of dating in New York, I was grateful for any offer that came my way. My once lofty list of must-haves had been whittled down to: “clean; ability to hold conversation a plus.” Once I realized the man was hitting on me (either that, or he thought I was also homeless, which, being between apartments, I technically was), I, too, sized him up. He had a good frame under the layers of coats, and after a shave, a shower and some laundered clothes, he could pass for a handsomer Quentin Tarantino. I found myself lamenting the man’s unrealized potential as well as the rigidity of my two-item list.

It is hard for single women to hack it in this city. According to the 2009 American Community Survey (pdf), there are 131,548 more unmarried and divorced women than men in greater New York and (if you include the widowed, that figure jumps to more than 700,000). So those of us in the struggling majority are forced to revise our desires to accommodate the existing supply of men, even though evolution scripted it to be the other way around.

Take a brief survey of the single ladies you know in New York: so many attractive, smart and successful women are unattached not by choice, but by lack of options. We compete with one another in the dating race, and in so doing unwittingly raise the aesthetic standards for women. Which means we have to log many miles on the treadmill before shoving our tired feet into sky-high stilettos, just to maintain the market average. Therein lies the prisoner’s dilemma.

But is it really unsolvable? I may have a simple solution to this predicament — a kind of Valentine’s gift to all the women of New York who suffer from heartache and hammertoes.

Last year, I was on a Fulbright grant in Seoul, South Korea, a country with such a shortage of women that the men import brides from Thailand and Vietnam and, more recently, matchmaking agencies pair South Korean men with North Korean female defectors. My experience there gave me a new appreciation for the barter system.

While some dating and marital arrangements may border on human trafficking, a less murky option for New York would be an incentives program for both single women leaving the city and incoming single men. For the women, “departure packages” would include a moving bonus, a Lonely Planet guidebook and a one-way ticket to Incheon, South Korea, or maybe Moose Pass, Alaska. For the men: rent cuts, which landlords could write off as tax abatements, and coupons to bars and bistros, where they could wine and dine potential romantic partners, chosen from the women who decided to stay put. Think of the boon to our flailing economy, not to mention workplace productivity.

So to all the single ladies: There’s a whole world of men out there waiting to put a ring on it. They’re just not in New York (yet).

Patricia Park, a native of Douglaston, Queens, is spending the semester in Seoul, South Korea, where she is teaching English literature and dating an American who is not from New York; she blogs at

  1. SJ says:

    It seems to me there is a shidduch crisis because the orthodox pressures people too much into marrying. Let people date and marry when they are ready and magically watch crisis disappear.

    The thing is, pressuring people to date and marry is a service more to the religion that needs to procreate ASAP ASAP ASAP than to the individual practitioners who will procreate when they are ready.

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