It may seem challenging to match up those you love most based on the say-so of 5 strangers. Yet, by and
large, the method works. How does it work, and how do we ask the most appropriate and pertinent

Let’s remind ourselves of the difference between secular dating and observant dating to better
understand what “checking references” is all about.

The secular dating process progresses from hand to heart to head. First, I see if I’m physically attracted to
my date, then whether I can connect emotionally. If both of those check out I begin to think about if our
life goals line up. If so, congratulations!!!

Observant dating says, let’s work backward from head to heart to hand. Let’s focus on what I NEED first
as opposed to what I WANT.

You should identify the top 5 qualities that are most important to you in a relationship before you begin
dating. What kind of person is most compatible with who I am and who will provide the best balance to
my personality? What type of home do I want to build? Who can help me fulfill my life goals and
aspirations and what do I want out of a relationship?

This avoids building a deeper connection with a good person who may be wrong for us. We never want
to “FALL” in love, we may bang our head. We want to be a proactive participant in this process, and not
be swayed by emotional or physical influences.

That said, what research questions should be asked? More importantly, how should we listen so that
we’re best processing responses?

Below is a list of commonly asked questions and tips for shidduch research. Make sure to tailor these to
the individual.

You can check any prospective match until you’ve gone crazy. What’s critical is that you have enough
comfort to meet this person for 1 date.

  1. Make sure the information you’ve been given about family, job, community, personality etc. is
    factually correct.
  2. Always listen for enthusiasm/positivity or it’s opposite. Listen for what is NOT being said. “I think he
    goes to minyan” or “He is the first one at shachris each morning”
  3. Ask for examples when told how “amazing” or “special” this person is. The more details the better.
  4. What type of hashkafa or level of observance do they currently maintain?
  5. What type of home does this person see themselves building? Ask for examples and details.
  6. Can you describe 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses of this individual?
  7. What type of home did this individual grow up in? Note: Coming from an unhealthy home should not
    be a disqualifier if they’ve dealt with it in a healthy way.
  8. Any specific needs you believe are critical for you. Ex: “How intelligent are they?” “What type of
    intelligence: social intelligence, book smarts, street smarts?”
  9. What goals and values, such as integrity, community, an open home, idealism, etc., do they hold
  10. Are they a happy person? What makes them happy?
  11. Do they want children?
  12. What is their level of materialistic needs?
    You can check any prospective match until you’ve gone crazy. What’s critical is that you have enough
    comfort to meet this person for 1 date. After that one meeting, you can do more research. If there’s no
    attraction or chemistry, the match is over and additional research is a waste.
    With this system in place, we can secure relationships that are not only meaningful and connective but
    have the potential for a long-lasting future. Just remember that dating should be the shortest route to
    your longest relationship.

By Rachel Burnham