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Dating Maze #379: Marriage or Career?
Dating Advice 379

Dating Maze #379: Marriage or Career?

Do I need to slow my climb up the corporate ladder in order to get married?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I’ve been reading Cheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” and thinking how it applies to me. I’m a 31-year-old professional woman who seems to have everything most people strive for – a prestigious job, 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.

Only one thing has eluded me. I have never been in any sort of a relationship with a man. I rarely date, for two reasons – first, my job is so demanding that I don’t have much time for a social life. And second, most of the men I meet are married, and the offers I get are usually single guys who don’t sound so interesting. So while my life is very fulfilling now, I am concerned that a few years down the road I will wonder why I’m alone.

I've got a real dilemma. Should I slow down the pace of my work (as well as my ascent up the administrative "ladder" in my company) and start dating now, or can I put it off a few more years? I know that as I get older it’s going to be harder for me to find Mr. Right. I also worry that if my professional success intimidates some men, I might have trouble finding someone whom I can respect as an equal.

I know that it’s up to me to resolve this dilemma, but I'd really appreciate your insight.


Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

Rosie and Sherry's Answer:

Dear Susan,

You're right – only you can establish the priorities that will help determine the direction your life will take. We hope that our response can help you sort out those priorities.

It’s true that the older a woman gets, the more difficult it is to find suitable men to date. Until modern medicine can perfect a way of slowing down our biological clocks, this will continue to be the case. In addition, as we age, we often increase our expectations and become more difficult to satisfy.

If you begin marriage-oriented dating now, we can't guarantee how things will play out, but you certainly will have an easier time now than if you begin a few years later.

The question is: What place does marriage, as well as family, have in your own long-term goals, and how high is it on your list of priorities?

Personally, we are dismayed with the American cult of near-total devotion to work as the route to wealth and success. Like you, tens of thousands of men and women take stock of their lives and realize they may have been missing out on some very key elements that help constitute a happy and fulfilling life.

Some skills that make a successful "fast track" employee may also make interpersonal relations more challenging.

If you want to carve out a personal life for yourself, which includes giving yourself time to date effectively, you must make room in your life before filling your day with work-related obligations. You’ll want to begin scheduling in time to work on meeting suitable dating partners through networking (friends, relatives, rabbis, singles groups, matchmakers) and through social activities.

Will this slow your ascent up the ladder of corporate success? Probably. Is it worth it? That's for you to decide.

If you choose to start dating now, bear in mind that some of the skills that make you a successful "fast track" corporate employee (aggressive, efficiency, single-minded focus) may earn you workplace promotions, but may also make your interpersonal relations more challenging.

Take some time to explore and nurture 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. 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.

You write of wanting someone whom you can "respect as an equal." It is common for a strong woman to want to be paired with a strong man, and you should look for strengths that compliment your own. But be careful not to 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 vocation (it shouldn't matter if he's a professor, a carpenter or a caterer) or his avocation (such as dedication to a community group or charity) and takes pride in doing his job well.

We wish you success in navigating the dating maze,

Rosie & Sherry

April 20, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 12

(11) Diane, June 9, 2013 1:32 AM

You Can Have it All But not necessarily All at Once

When I was in Graduate school getting my MBA I used to say the above phrase all the time. I was already married and had worked for several years at 29 years old. I have a bachelors in Engineering. I expected to have children and just take some time off. Now that I am 55 years old with a daughter just finishing college and still married, I can give some advice. When I was in college I had 5 marriage proposals. Every guy I dated started talking marriage right away. When I said yes to my husband I had stars in my eyes. His mom was a former Miss Arizona. His parents were so crazy about me I did not have critical enough eyes. So, the guy you marry should be as smart as you are in mulitple ways. Emotional intelligence is as important as IQ. But, check out the immediate family and make sure they share your values and idea of proper behavior. (Gossipy, prejudice, politcally polarized people who "hate" lots of things are really exhausting). Someone who wants to do things that you both like is super important. I love to travel and my husband will not leave North America. Also, your spouse should respect your career and think that it is as important as his. Open your heart to the idea of being in Love. Meeting someone who is doing similar things that you enjoy and find important will result in the best match.

(10) Anonymous, April 28, 2013 3:27 PM

Thinking too much

I got married at 25 after completing a masters in Int'l affairs and landing a great position in a prestigious bank. I gave it up to marry what I knew was my soul mate - we had language and communication gaps and marrying him meant moving overseas to a country whose language I could not speak. I currently work part time in an investment research earning what I would've paid in taxes 10 years ago. Thursday I gave birth to my 4th child, shabboss my husband farmed out the kids and stayed with me in the hospital even though I told him it wasn't necessary. My friends pitied me when I married what they considered beneath me, a former boyfriend recently called to tell me he met with my father recently and doesn't think my father hates my husband anymore. I am in love with my husband and blessed by god with the most beautiful family. I always considered myself an intellectual and yes it bothered that my husband took to life simply, but this shabboss we spent hours talking something we haven't done in a very long time and I realized 2 things - marry someone who can deal with you - and believe me the more complicated you or your outlook is the more you need someone with a simple outlook and the second marry someone you can deal with - when life situations get out of hand it's that I can be refocused. My single friends in their mid- thirties are stuck because they now have to marry superman. Superman is a myth. You getting what you need physically and emotionally in a relationship is more important even if others can not see it. Not every woman is geared to be a wife and mother but just make sure you know what you are giving up for a designer handbag. I spent more than 3 weeks in the hospital pre birth and was slowly losing my mind but as I look at my beautiful little girl I know how blessed I am. I used to shop in Saks and Nordstrom now I go to outlet centers - there isn't a thing I would change. May God bless you with wisdom to make the right choice for you.

(9) Anonymous, April 28, 2013 1:39 AM

great tone

I really enjoy the wise and sensitively worded answers to these complex questions. They are not dogmatic; they honor the need for the choice to be that of the individual, while gently pointing out some important angles to consider. Just a technical comment: compliment means to offer words of praise, while complement means to complete by supplementing what is missing. Common error. Otherwise, really well-written message, thanks.

(8) Anonymous, April 26, 2013 1:04 AM

wake upnow!!

Dear Susan:I was on your track and barely made it out in time!!!
thank hashem I woke up! I now have a wonderful husband and by true miracles great kids-and I'm even retiring early and making priorties are now ones I'm happy with and so more important than a leather seated BMW!!!

(7) Anonymous, April 25, 2013 10:23 PM

Be careful also not to leave it too late for a very practical reason, the chances of your child born with a life long Special Needs such as Downs syndrome and other conditions increases with age. Although you will love the child with all your heart, you will also live with grief and crushing heart ache for the rest of your (and your husband's) life.
Take it from someone who has experience in this, my achievements in my former career/profession/money means nothing now, and I will give it all away if I could turn the clock back. Don't delay marriage and child birth for too long.

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