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Dating Maze #221 - Help! Part Two
Dating Advice 221

Dating Maze #221 - Help! Part Two

Here we go again: He patiently goes through the courtship process, and then things get stuck.


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

You provided some wonderful advice to me in 2005, which was published as Dating Maze #186. I used your advice to good advantage to weed out wonderful people, who were simply not looking to get married.

A year ago, I met someone very special. I really liked her and followed your instructions and made sure she was interested in marriage. We both agreed that nine to twelve months would be a good amount of time to get to know each other. In that time we met each other's families and friends, and spent quality time together. "This is the one," I said to myself.

So when I raised the topic of getting engaged, she became very upset and angry. Not exactly what I expected. She said that she wants to marry me, but that she needs another year to get her "sense of self" worked out. Also she says that she now feels pressured and would like a year of dating without pressure.

I cannot imagine enduring another year of dating! We're both not getting any younger, and I feel like this is putting me at risk. She might request another dating "extension" next year!

Of course, she is very special and we do have a year history. But I've been burned before. And I get a sense that I'm being made to be the bad guy.

So my question: Should I wait the year?


Dear Mike,

We sense the frustration that prompted you to write us a second time: being ready for marriage, finding someone who seems to be "the one," and then discovering that in spite of your belief that she is also ready, that's not the case. And this, after making a concerted effort to date someone who is as marriage-minded as you are!

It seems to us that most daters express one of the following five approaches:

1) "I'm not thinking of marriage. Dating is a social outlet for me."

2) "I'm not thinking of marriage, but I'd like to be in a relationship. I just don't want a long-term commitment or a family at this stage in my life. "

3) "I'm not thinking of marriage right now, but if the right person comes along I'll be open to thinking about it."

4) "I'd like to get married, but I don't know if I'm really ready. Maybe when I meet the right person, I'll realize I'm ready."

5) "I'd like to get married and I am ready to look for someone who's right for me and build a relationship that will progress to marriage."

The short analysis of your situation is: She's a 4 and you're a 5.

It's true that unlike many women you dated in the past, your current dating partner is at least thinking about the possibility of marriage. But thinking about marriage and getting married are very different. As we wrote to you last year, "You cannot even assume that when they tell you they want to wait a year or two to get engaged, they will actually be ready to make a commitment at that point in time. What they may be doing is pushing off something they are not yet ready to do."

We're not going to tell you that there's no chance the woman you are dating will be ready and willing to get married in the foreseeable future. She might, for example, tell you that she is determined to address any barriers she may have to moving forward (fear of commitment, for example), or to discover the personal issues that might be causing her self-doubt (such as concerns about knowing how to be a good marriage partner, or repeating the mistakes she saw in her parent's marriage).

Therapy is the best way for her to discover those barriers and work on removing them. If she chooses to work with a therapist who uses a goal-oriented approach, she may make a great deal of progress in a matter of several sessions, or in a matter of several months. Because of her determination, you might be willing to wait for her to go through the therapeutic process, even though there is no guarantee she will decide that she wants to marry you when her therapy concludes.

We're much less optimistic when someone who has been dating for a while asks for more time and expects to work things out on their own. In our experience, if she's come this far in a courtship and hasn't discovered or resolved the issues that are holding her back, she won't be able to do so without guidance.

There's another scenario that we've seen a number of times: someone is "pretty sure" the person she's dating is right for her, but is bothered by some aspect of his personality, background, value system, or way of relating to her that she's never been able to accept. Event though she may hope that in time, she will be able to work through the issue, another year or two usually does not make a difference. Experience has shown us that when an individual cannot come to terms with significant issues such as these during the early stage of a courtship, she never will.

You're now standing at a crossroads, with three different paths to choose from. Before you make a choice, we suggest that you have a talk with the woman you are dating. Ask her to clarify the type of issues she believes she must resolve, and whether she has decided to do so with the guidance of a therapist. Here are your possibilities:

1) Wait the year (or more) that she feels she needs to sort things through. We expect this will be very difficult for you without putting your dating partner under "pressure" to come to a decision. In addition, there is a strong likelihood that the relationship between you will start to deteriorate after a few months, as you tire of waiting because you are ready to move to the next level and she isn't. Furthermore, what happens if a year from now she announces that she's still "not ready," or comes to realize that she has been spinning her wheels trying to make something work that really wasn't right for her?

2) You muster the patience to wait because she is determined to try to resolve her issues with the help of a therapist. Because you know she is making a concerted effort, it may be easier for you to not pressure her about making a decision. If you make this choice, both of you should be mindful of the fact that while she will try to resolve her issues in a short period of time, no one can set an arbitrary time frame for the process. Both of you should also understand that even though you may be very supportive of her efforts, there may come a time that you tire of waiting and decide to move on.

3. You break up with her, give yourself time to heal, and move forward. If you do so, we suggest you close the door, lock it, and leave the key with someone. In other words, cut off your ties with each other and move on without looking back and without hoping that she'll decide she is ready and ask to revisit the courtship. If this happens at some time in the future, and you're not involved with someone, you can at that time consider whether you want to re-start things.

If you make choice number three and begin dating other people, we have the following suggestion to avoid a misunderstanding in the future: When you reach the point in your courtship that you are ready to let your dating partner know that you are dating solely in order to find the right person to marry (i.e. sometime between the first and fourth date), ask her the following:

  • When two people come to the realization that they're right for each other, how long do you think they should wait before getting engaged?
  • How long should the engagement be?
  • Is this a time frame you are comfortable with for yourself?

Anyone who is dating for marriage should be ready to follow the momentum of a promising relationship through engagement and marriage. As things develop, the daters should be able to clarify their separate and mutual goals and expectations, reach a consensus about major differences of opinion, and feel they agree about the paths they'd like their lives to take, how fast they want to travel, and how they believe they can resolve any bumps they may encounter.

Even though many people seem to think that they need to date for a year or more before they will be able to make a decision about marriage, our experience has shown us that most couples who are focused on building a relationship that will lead to marriage can do so in substantially less time.

Once two people decide that they want to marry, we recommend they have a short engagement. Engagement is a time to plan a wedding, make any logistical changes that are needed for the couple to be able to set up a home together, and set up that home. It isn't a time to work out issues that should have been addressed before engagement. While we've seen some "older" engaged couples plan their weddings in a month or less because they were concerned "cold feet" would derail a longer engagement, there's seldom a reason why two people cannot plan a wedding and set up a home in four to six months.

We hope that this discussion has helped you gain the clarity to make a decision. And, in the not-too-distant future, we hope to receive a letter from you that joyfully announces your marriage to Ms. Right, whomever she may be.

Rosie & Sherry

December 16, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Anonymous, December 29, 2006 5:00 PM

Hope from Above

Hey,I AM thanking Haschem for encouraging me with what you wrote in this article. Specifically about breaking up,cutting ties, locking the door, giving someone else the key, without even thinking or hoping of getting back together. Then after some time if you are not involved with someone, you can think if you want to re-start things. I feel a certain amount of healing from these words because that is exactly what happened to me by a man who had expressed such interest in me. At the time i was in an abusive marriage with a manic depressive bi-polar who had tried to choke me to death more than once. I just moved out, and am in desperate need of dating advice. A number of things you pointed out in the article gave me pause and hope as i just typed a prayer into the Wall/Kotel asking Haschem to tell me what to do...already someone i just met wants to date me and i feel i need time to heal to learn about myself so I AM ready able willing not to make the same mistakes the same errors in judgement as before. I feel pressure if i don't give in and start dating anyone who expresses interest, i might lose the opportunity of having a loving relationship forever. Your words showed me that Haschem is in control and there is alway a possibility of a future without someone i tell I AM not ready right now for a serious commitment, but i want to be and i will be in the near future. THANKS SO MUCH!!!!!

(3) Gisele, December 26, 2006 3:11 PM

I feel like this poor guy is being lead on!

I truly feel that this poor guy is being lead on! If after this long term relationship she is still not sure he is "the one", they both should break up for good, before more hurt takes place. The worse thing is to give nyone false hope. A former boyfriend lead me on for 10 months three years ago- promising dozen of times to marry me, and then broke it off on the phone three yrs. ago, and the wounds still run deep. if he had any doubts during the 10 month relationship/ this was second marriages for us both- he was a widower, and I am divorced many years. If he felt I was not the one- he should have not lead me on for 10 months making me fall madly in love with him, which today I still love him, and have a very hard time getting over him! So my advice is to this guy- break it off- she is never going to want to marry you. And the problem is her not you- and why force her to do something she does not want to do?
If you force a relationship, it will only bring misery down the line. Please take it from me/"been there done that! Good luck to this guy, and I hope he finds a woman who will love him unconditionally, and with a clear heart!Much mazel to him!
Kol Tov:

(2) Shaul, December 20, 2006 4:48 PM

Your Time Is More Valuable


I am appalled that still another woman is playing games with you and giving you the runaround. You are dating not for its own sake but in order to get married RIGHT NOW, and should only be meeting women with similar motives.

To give Rosie and Sherry the benefit of the doubt, I should say to their credit that they usually do not make decisions for people who ask their advice, but rather present the different options available and let you decide yourself. In your case, I think it is obvious from they way they presented them which option you should choose.

Rosie and Sherry have a long list of matchmakers on their site. There is also no lack of Shidduch sites. It should accordingly not be that much of a problem to find the kind of woman you are looking for, wherever you live.

In order to remove any possible doubt, I would advise asking Rosie and Sherry's questions in option (3) even before you even meet if at all possible, such as through the matchmaker or other person who introduces you, to make sure that the woman you meet is as highly motivated to get married as you are.

At your age, each passing day just increases the risk of burnout and the danger of getting used to being single. Many single women, by the time they reach their 30's, have already lost their motivation to get married and are more intent on their own self-realization. This is why you should not lose any more time with women who are not prepared to get married without further ado.

I also believe that you can considerably shorten the dating time. Current Rabbinical guidance recommends at most very roughly 2 or 3 months, or 10 to 15 dates, as sufficient time to get to know each other. You can save considerable time by doing a reference check. I would also recommend very highly a book such as Gila Manolson's "Heart To Heart", or Rosie and Sherry's "Talking Tachlis", in order to focus better on just who you are and just what salient qualities you are looking for in your marriage partner.

Our Rabbis said in Pirkei Avot that the path one should choose in life can be summed up as "a good heart". The very fact that you have asked Rosie and Sherry twice for guidance shows that you have a good heart yourself, since it shows that you are able to relate and listen to others. I think this is the quality you should be looking for in a woman too – someone who can listen to and accommodate you. It should not be difficult to identify this frame of mind in women whom you meet.

Once you find someone who is reasonably attractive and has a compatible mindset, and similar values and life goals to yours, it should be easy to move forward to engagement and marriage, IY"H, without any more heartbreaking delays.

All the best!

(1) Gisele, December 20, 2006 8:24 AM

Trouble is we want perfection and not a person

we want perfection not reality in a spouse, and that is why we have too much divorce, and a large number of unhappy, and lonely singles out there. we must look for middot in a shidduch not materalism. than we will be better off the above ques. is trivial do what is right for you, and look at character traits, and not nonsense.
chag someach chanukah and nachat.

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