DEAR ROSIE & SHERRY:

I'm a 33-year-old professional woman who seems to have it all: a prestigious job, a six-figure income, plenty of investments, my own condominium, a beautiful wardrobe, yada yada yada.I have a few good friends and get along well with my family. I love my job, which is challenging and gives me an opportunity to travel and interact with many interesting people. Most of the time, I think I'm pretty lucky.

Only one thing has eluded me. A man! That's probably because I rarely date. My job is so demanding that I don't have a lot of time for a social life. And besides, most of the men I meet are either married (no thank you!) or not so interesting.

Now my dilemma: Should I slow down my climb up the corporate ladder and start dating seriously now? Or can I put it off a few more years? I'm concerned that I will look at myself a few years down the road and wonder why I'm alone.

What do you say?

DEAR RACHEL:

Well, let's start with some cold, hard facts. The older a woman gets, the more difficult it is for her to find suitable men to date. Until modern medicine has perfected a way of slowing down our biological clocks, this will continue to be the case. In addition, as we age, many of us increase our expectations and become more difficult to satisfy.

So if you begin marriage-oriented dating now, we can't guarantee that you will find "Mr. Right," but you certainly will have an easier time now than if you begin a few years later.

The real question you need to ask yourself is what place marriage and family have on your list of long-term priorities. Personally, we are dismayed with the American cult of near-total devotion to work in the pursuit of wealth and corporate success. Like you, tens of thousands of men and women will someday take stock of their lives and realize that they've missed out on a personal life.

The American cult of near-total devotion to work dismays us.

So... if you want to carve a personal life for yourself, you must make room in your life before you fill your day with work-related obligations. You'll have to set aside time to meet suitable dating partners through social activities and networking (friends, relatives, rabbis, singles groups, matchmakers). Will this slow your ascent up the ladder of corporate success? Probably. Is it worth it? Only you can decide.

If you choose to start dating now, bear in mind that the skills that earn you a promotion at the office (competitive urge, ability to shut out distractions, ruthless negotiating techniques) are often detrimental to interpersonal relations.Take some time to explore other aspects of your personality that make you a good friend and confidante (a caring nature, sincerity, the ability to share your time and talents, loyalty, a sense of humor) and emphasize these qualities in your interpersonal relationships. Similarly, think of similar "non-corporate" personal qualities that you would like to see in others, and look for dating partners who possess these qualities.

One more thing: It's common for a strong woman like you to want to be paired with a strong man, someone you can "respect as an equal." But be careful: Don't use material or corporate achievement to measure strength, or you'll set yourself up for a competitive relationship. Instead, look for someone who enjoys his work and takes pride in doing it well -- regardless of whether he's a professor, a carpenter or a caterer.

Let us know how things turn out, and don't forget to send us a wedding invitation...

Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, Esq., are co-authors of "Talking Tachlis," a guide to successful dating.