Is asking for a picture right? Moralistic? Fair?
Sefardi Gal left the following comment on one of my posts, so I decided to turn it into a post of its own:
Jug, I've been thinking of doing it-
but I'm not sure how.
1) Does the shadchan send him my picture and then send me the guy's picture?
2) What if he's just not photogenic? I know that I'm not; I either look GREAT in pictures (to the point that I'm barely recognizable) or ugly/fatter/weird. There's a certain "chein"/charm that many people have in real life, but they lack it in photos.
3) Looks can grow. Someone can be just OK and turn into ridiculously handsome in my eyes if he has great middot and personality. Also, quite the oppositve can happen if he's ridiculously attractive but has a bland or obnoxious personality.
4) People can have expectations based on photos -- for better or for worse.
5) It's hurtful to reject someone solely based on looks. Understandable, but still hurtful.
1) It's up to you how the picture is obtained. I've asked shadchanim straight out. I've been offered a picture. There were a few times when i met the girl prior to going out. Also, it doesn't need to be reciprocated. It's possible that only one side needs a picture. The other side may not ask for one.
2) Unless there was some sort of incredibly obvious problem in the looks department, I never rejected a girl outright because of a picture. I was once handed a picture that was taken in a very professionally posed position with a ton of make-up and the girl was still quite unattractive. There, i said "no."
3) That's true. I had two instances (actually back to back) where looks grew. However, it is not a guarantee and it is not a common to happen as you think.
4) The photo is not for expectation purposes. It is to see if it is worth pursuing. If you go into a date expecting a girl (or in your case a guy) to look like he or she does in a picture, you missed what the picture is all about. Do not judge based on the picture. Use it to get a basic understanding of whether or not there's a chance of going out.
5) This question is the main point I would like to make and I am going to break it into two parts.
a. Nobody is owed an explanation of not wanting to go out anymore until at least the third date. Until the end of the third date, nobody has a right to ask for a reason. Nobody should be expected to give a reason. If you don't want to go out with someone because of their looks, that's your prerogative and that reasoning should remain unknown to anyone but you. This is done to avoid hurting someone. If they hear "he/she is not interested" without an explanation, they can't be hurt.
b. Having said that, it is straight out dumb to believe that you will go through a dating career (let's face it, that's what it is) without hurting people. It will happen. When I first started dating, a friend's wife told me that I better be prepared "to hurt and be hurt" because that's going to happen. Dating is a selfish concept in our world. You are in it for yourself. You need to do what you think is best for you. You can't worry about other people's feelings.
Hypothetically, if you go out with someone who you are just not attracted to, but that person has a great personality and that person is exactly what you are looking for except that you're not attracted to him/her, you may end up in a situation that you can't get out of. You will keep dating this person, hoping that you can look past this fact, but you just can't. You will start questioning yourself as to whether or not you are a good person because you can't seem to get this idea out of your head. You will continue to date this person, growing in your relationship and all the while wishing that you weren't in it. Eventually, you will come to the realization that all along you were hoping that this wouldn't be the person you will be marrying and you will have no choice but to hrt someone. That's what emotions can do to a person.
I'm not saying that asking for a picture is mandatory. As a matter of fact, I would discourage it. It's not for everyone. I didn't begin it until after speaking with my Rebbe about it and we came to the conclusion that it was the best thing for me (for reasons which I will not disclose at this time- maybe later). Asking for a picture is not as simple as it sounds and it could really damage a relationship from the beginning if you're not careful how you go about doing it. Make sure that you know exactly what you are looking for when looking at a picture. Don't just look for whether or not this person is simply attractive. Use it only to weed out blatantly obvious nos.
Here's the bottom line: It took me while to learn that it's not a bad thing to ask for a picture. Most people take it as a normal request. Some even take it as a sign that your honest with yourself. Do not be embarrassed about requesting a picture. Do not try to qualify it or explain why you have to see one. Ask for it as a normal request, as if there is nothing wrong with it - because there isn't.