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Q. My son is starting shidduchim right after Pesach, and I’d love to hear your take as a therapist: What are the most important things to ask when we call references on girls’ resumes? What are some red flags to look out for? How do we read between the lines to get real information? 


A. Take a deep breath. Before diving into the world of shidduchim it is important to remember to try and not let the process overwhelm you. What an exciting new chapter in your life! 

When calling references on girls’ resumes, consider asking the following questions. They include areas such as character and growth, as well interests, personality, and hashkafah. 

  • How do people perceive her? What are the first things that come to mind when they describe her?
  • What are her real values? 
  • What is her biggest strength (middah)? 
  • What are some challenges she faced and how did she handle them? 
  • Is she working on self-improvement in a specific area? 
  • Is she warm and/or giving?
  • Is she reserved or outgoing? 
  • Who are her friends? 
  • What is her attitude towards money? Is she a spender or more budget conscious? 
  • What is her relationship like with her parents?
  • Assess her sense of responsibility. Does she help others? In what way?
  • How does she use the internet and smartphones? Does she use social media? In what capacity? 
  • What was she like as a student? How does she dress (perhaps in terms of tznius)?
  • What kind of boy is she looking for?
  • Are there any physical or mental health issues to be aware of? 


  • What does she do in her free time? 

While character traits are crucial, knowing about her hobbies, music preferences, and interests can be helpful.  Remember that references listed by the prospect may be biased, so consider cross-referencing with other sources. Who is the reference? Consider their relationship with the girl. A close friend’s opinion differs from a casual acquaintance’s.

Reading between the lines becomes an artform when it comes to this! Here are some subtle cues and strategies to uncover deeper insights and pick up on potential red flags: 

  • Listen attentively. Sometimes what’s not said is as important as what is. Listen for emotional undertones in the tone and emphasis. Silence or hesitation may (not always!) indicate hidden reservations. 
  • Ask open-ended questions, such as, “Tell me about her relationship with her family,” instead of yes/no questions. Encourage references to share stories and anecdotes. These narratives often reveal character traits. When a reference says, “She’s nice,” ask, “What specifically makes her nice?” or “Can you share an instance where she demonstrated kindness?”
  • Read between the positives. If a reference lists positive traits, consider what’s missing. At the same time, remember that no one is perfect, and acknowledging imperfections is honest. A reference who acknowledges both strengths and weaknesses is more credible. 
  • Trust your intuition and your gut. Sometimes your instincts pick up on subtle cues. If something feels off, explore further. Check for patterns and consistency by gathering multiple opinions. Look for patterns across different references. If several people highlight the same trait, it’s likely accurate.

As with everything in life, the first thing to do is daven to Hashem to help guide you in this new parashah. Before you make a call, say, “Hashem, please help me in this conversation.” Have siyatta diShmaya that you will get the right information to assist you in helping your child find his bashert. Wishing you lots of luck!


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