Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 31-year-old female who has recently become Jewishly observant. Now I have decided to date only for marriage. The problem is that I have dated so many men over the years that I am feeling incredibly burned out from dating.

I've met and dated a lot of people, and I want to find the right one already. Why is it so difficult to meet someone? What am I doing wrong? Where do I begin to change things for myself?

There are women I know getting married all around me; I did not even know they were seriously dating, and now they are planning a wedding!

I do not like the guys I am meeting. I just want to move on to the next stage of my life.

Men I have dated are getting married, so it must be me, right? Any advice will be helpful.

Hillary

Dear Hillary,

As we see it, you've having trouble right now because you are processing your relatively new form of marriage-oriented dating rather than casual dating. At the same time, with your relatively new Torah observance, there is a lot going on beneath the surface, perhaps more than you are aware of. We usually recommend that people who become observant give themselves time to "land" -- to get a better understanding of their new lifestyle and value system, and clarify the way they want to grow.

Understandably, someone in her 30s doesn't want to spend too much time doing this, but it might be a good idea for you to take a step back for a while and gain some clarity about yourself before you date. You need to ask yourself questions about more than just how you want to observe Shabbat and Jewish holidays and what standard of keeping kosher you want to follow.

You also have to re-examine your world view and your expectations about marriage, career, family, the way you like to spend your free time, what you would like to accomplish in the immediate and more distant future, what stimulates you creatively and intellectually, how you relate to your family... All of these go far beyond the lifestyle changes you've made and the Jewish knowledge you've begun to acquire.

This "time-out" doesn't have to last for long, maybe just a few months. Many of the exercises in our book, Talking Tachlis, might help you gain a clearer picture of your "new" self and where you are headed. When you acquire that clarity, you'll be better able to "see" the men you are dating and recognize the right person.

This time out should involve more than just introspection. Tap into your creative side. Do something fun or enriching that you've not made time for in the past. Begin a regular exercise program that you'll enjoy (a dance class, swimming, handball, biking) and that will help you feel more energetic as it does wonders for your body and your mood.

You'll be surprised how you can recharge your batteries and learn about yourself during this time-out, and that you'll be more optimistic and refreshed when you resume your dating life.

And when you do find the right man to marry at the right time in your life, the reasons for your "wait" will become apparent: you may have needed to grow more in your understanding of yourself, or grow more religiously, or he may have had to do the same. Perhaps one of you had to relocate, or go through a life experience to make you a better spouse or parent.

We have one more piece of advice that we believe is vital for you: Find a happily-married person that you trust -- to be your guide, mentor, and sounding board. We can't overemphasize how helpful such a person can be.

We hope these suggestions will help you get a fresh start on dating, and that you will soon meet the right one for you.

Rosie & Sherry