Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I read your advice to Mitchell, regarding "The Bookworm Quandary" (Dating Maze #58). It really struck a chord for me because I, too, am a bookworm and am concerned about finding my intellectual partner in marriage.

All the Jewish men I meet and date seem to fall into one of two categories, either: A) I can have wonderful conversations with them and feel that they are my intellectual equal, or B) I find them physically attractive. These groups seem to be mutually exclusive! I keep pursuing both "types" because I still dream that I will eventually find a man who falls into both categories and is Jewish.

I'm 36 now and feel my biological clock ticking. I would like to raise children in a Jewish home and therefore am very reluctant to start considering non-Jewish men to expand my "dating pool." But I'm also afraid that if I keep waiting for Mr. A+B, I'll still be single when my child-bearing years come to an end!

I should mention that I don't categorize myself as a female "geek." I go out frequently, am physically active, and in great shape. Most of the men I date who are as physically fit as I am are not very well-read, like to watch TV (I never do), and are quite unintellectual.

On the other hand, I am an avid reader, keep up with politics and world issues, teach a foreign language and study others, and am your typical perpetual student. The men with whom I can have very interesting conversations on a variety of topics and really experience a "meeting of the minds," tend to be overweight, inactive physically, quite unattractive and can't understand why I swim a mile every day.

I'm afraid that if I end up marrying someone from group A, I will always long for a man with whom I could have real physical chemistry, and will eventually feel repelled by physical intimacy with my husband. I was married briefly when I was very young, to an intellectual, and the marriage ended for this very reason!

Then again, how can I choose group B and marry a man whom I don't even want to talk to?! The "old wise people" always say that marriage is ultimately a long conversation, so choose your partner carefully.

Help!

Nanci

Dear Nanci,

The two types of men you describe are not mutually exclusive. There are many fine Jewish men who have a mix of qualities, and we know for a fact that they are not all taken!

At the same time, it may be helpful for you to review the qualities you feel are important in a mate and see if the categories you have established aren't too numerous or rigid. For example, while you definitely need to respect the intelligence of your partner, you are making a mistake that many highly educated people make. They focus on finding someone whose intellectual interests are the same as theirs, instead of looking for an intelligent person.

A spouse doesn't have to fill your every need. You can obtain intellectual stimulation from friends and work colleagues, too. We don't know any married couples who do everything together and who share all the same interests. The two of you should be able to communicate well with each other, but you can have stimulating and interesting conversations that are not necessarily "intellectual" in nature.

We know that physical attraction is important in a relationship. However, that doesn't mean that you need an athletic husband. Have you tried focusing on non-athletic physical attributes, such as a man's eyes and his smile? You don't have to have a spouse who will swim with you each day or play tennis once a week. We know from personal and professional experience, of many happily married couples in which one spouse is very physically active and the other only moderately so. We think that you would be happier loosening the criteria in this category so that you emphasize finding someone you can relate to.

We're not suggesting that by modifying your criteria you will be "settling." However, you don't need a super-athlete or a super-intellectual to find a good marriage partner. In fact, there are many more vital qualities in marriage that you didn't mention in your letter -- the inner qualities of kindness, compassion, etc. If you focus more on these, rather than intellectualism or physical fitness, you might find a well-rounded man who makes you much more happy.

Rosie & Sherry