click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Emotionally Fried… & Single

Emotionally Fried… & Single

A less emotional and more practical approach to dating may yield great results.


Once upon a time we were full of hope. The future was bright before us and everything was possible.

We went on a date super-charged with optimism. We were invincible. Then, as the reality of the person sitting in front of us clashed so severely with our expectations, aspirations and dreams, disillusionment set in. But not for long. Soon we were off on our next exploits, our dreams rekindled, our hopes renewed. But yet again, our aspirations were dashed. And then again, and again.

After a few years, our get-up-and-go definitely got up and went.

So it went. By the time we'd been through a few years of this, we were thoroughly drained and exhausted. Our get-up-and-go definitely got up and went. Where it once took a small flame to ignite a great fire within us, now it takes a great fire to ignite even a small flicker. We're bruised, we're despondent. We are utterly emotionally fried.

Reluctantly we step up to the plate once again. We arrive dressed for the part, a faint glimmer of hope in our eyes, but we can't feign that spark, that hope, that idealism. We watch across the table just waiting for the other person to disappoint us. Often, it doesn't take very long. Without our rose-colored glasses, the world looks awfully stark.

It's not like we don't have a life. Life is coming at us in a big way from every direction. With work, our social life, our families, our text messaging frenzy. In fact, it often takes a lot of energy just to clear away all of the distractions and remember that we're not doing much toward our goal of getting married. It falls to the bottom of our to do list, not just because it's hard to figure out what to do next, but even more importantly, because it's so painful to even go there. Who needs it right in our face when we've got a perfectly wonderful life, sort of?

So how can we scrape off all the barnacles from years of searching? How do we get back that enthusiasm, that bounce in our step, after all we've been through?

Check Your Emotions at the Door

There is one booming message we must learn from the school of hard knocks: check your emotions at the door.

During the folly of youth we run after our emotions like a dog chasing its tail: clockwise, counter-clockwise, round and round, with no doubt that at any moment we'll catch it. We end up crashed on the floor, panting wildly for every breath, too beat to even walk over to the water bowl.

As we become more mature, we begin to use our intellect to make decisions. We still enjoy a heaping bowl of ice-cream, but we refrain from adding a half dozen cookies and a milkshake to the meal. We have learned that all actions have consequences and we begin to live our life with goals and purpose. This allows us to produce fabulous results in our life, and we have much to be proud of.

But when it comes to finding a spouse, we may pay lip service to using strict criteria. Secretly, we fantasize that we will be swept off our feet and will live happily ever after like a Hollywood fairytale. Do we notice that they always show the couple walking off into the sunset, but they never show the next day when the guy leaves his smelly socks on the couch pillow? Reality is never a part of the equation.

So date using your head, not your heart.

Our heart can trick us into writing off a potentially great guy or marrying someone who will make us miserable. It can lull us into complacency so that we fail to see someone's integrity and well developed character; or conversely, it can make us overlook some serious red flags. It can make us see someone in such a positive, brilliant light, that we won't notice the daggers heading our way from this horribly angry person; with whom Mr. or Mrs. Right couldn't possibly compete. Our heart may swoon at the beginning, but the tears aren't long in coming.

Use Your Head

So how do we avoid the frightening prospect of missing out on the real Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful and falling in love with someone that is totally wrong for us?

By making a Top Ten list of exactly what we need in a spouse. That's our reality check. That's using our head not our heart. Being conscious of who we are looking for is the only way to protect ourselves from waking up one day wondering how we ended up with the wrong person. We need to know what character traits we need in a spouse. If they have at least half of these traits, they deserve our positive attitude and another date to explore the relationship's potential. Having met our basic criteria, then, and only then, should we allow ourselves to ‘fall in love' with them.

The List

To make the list, include only needs, not wants. Take off any media influenced criteria or items that contradict each other. Include character traits, not personality traits. For example, if our spouse has the character traits of generous, compassionate, trustworthy, or forgiving, our life will be improved beyond measure. If we waste our time looking for the personality traits of neatness, humorous, or timely, which are external and dependent on circumstance, we will certainly lose focus on what is truly most important.

You'd be surprised at the extraordinary amount of love and chemistry that grows when someone is meeting your true needs.

Work hard on honing your list, limit it to ten items, and then prioritize it. As you date people, stick to your list no matter what. If your heart tells you one thing and your list tells you another, listen to your list. That is your litmus test to determine if you are on the right track or not.

After a date, sit down with your list to see if your date has at least half of the items on your list. If they don't, they are not for you. If they do, go out again. Simple as that. You'd be surprised at the extraordinary amount of love, devotion, and chemistry that grows when someone is meeting your true, deep needs -- even if in the beginning there is minimal attraction.

We may be emotionally fried, but it shouldn't make any difference. Our emotions just get in the way of making a smart decision anyway. Once we're happily married our emotions can soar, but while we're looking, they just hinder our ability to discern if someone is right for us or not.

Making a list gives us the best possible chance of having a healthy, happy, stable relationship because it helps us to focus on what's real and not a rose-colored fantasy. A renewed bounce in our step must come from clarity of vision, not our heart pulling us in a dozen different directions. With that clarity, our future is bright before us and everything is possible.

September 1, 2007

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 21

(21) Elisheva, January 13, 2010 4:21 AM

It depends on the person... the book helped me!

I see that this article was written a few years ago, but I just came across it... Anyway, I happened to read the book and I decided to follow it and make my top ten list (okay, i couldnt get it lower than 15 :) and it very much helped me to stay focused through dating my husband. Every time I started to get all emotional and cold feet, I would whip out that list and say to myself, "check, check, check, check... if he meets the criteria I decided are most important to me, then I'm crazy to give him up! what am I looking for anyway? maybe something better won't come up and I'd be giving up a very big treasure either way" Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you, because I credit this book for helping me stay focused and recognizing my husband!

(20) Alan, December 19, 2007 10:33 AM

I agree - but not 100%

I agree with the author, but not 100%. Checking emotions at the door is a little harsh. I'm not a professional, but it would seem to me that most people can't really fully detach and look at a date dispassionately emotional connection is something important (duh) and can't be discounted. The challenge that needs to be met is to listen to one's heard AND head, and see what balance the two strike.

(19) Ze'ev, October 5, 2007 11:28 AM

I respectfully disagree

I think the worst thing a person can do is to check their emotions at the door. You don't want to come across as cold and aloof. If you're emotionally fried, then take a break, regroup, do some personal work, restore your optimism. Love always has and will always have an emotional component (not 100%, but it's the magic-thank G-d) You have to put yourself out there and sometimes take your lumps. Sure it's great to have a list of attributes you want in a partner but this is not a job interview, it's a connection with another person. If you feel like one of the walking wounded the best thing is to take a break, do some personal work, get distracted and try again later. Don't mask it with something else. People can spot it a mile away go running in the the other direction.

(18) Anonymous, September 19, 2007 7:26 AM

It has been my experience that it is best to

always follow one's head not one's heart in seeking one's Bashert. When i let my heart lead me, than I made the wrong choices. I let Chemistry guide me when I met my ex husband in college over 20 year ago, and that choice lead me to a very unhappy marriage, and today when I look at him, I can't see any reason why I fell in love with him in the first place. I then let myseld not choose a better choice in a husband because I did not find him attractive, and listend to my heart that said this man does not make my heart pound, well many years later when I was divorced and he was widowered, we tried to make the realtrionship work, my head said that he was the right one, and his lifestyle issues drove us apart, but I knew in my head in other ways he was right for me, but his kids could not accept me, and my son, and the fact that our lifestyle living in the city, and that adjusting to suburb life would be a hardship for us and that his kids could not deal with a step mom and steo brother drove us apart. But a day does not go by where my head does not tell me that I should have married him instend of my ex husband. So use your head and not your heart in searchin for a Bashert. And base decisions on the very important stuff not petty matters. There is not a day in my life that I don't miss my former Chassan, and I never Miss My Ex Husband at all! But I accept that Hashem did not want me with my former Chassan, and I accept it and still it hurts that he married another, and I am still single missing him a great deal.
I want to wish all of you much success, mazel and all the best in searching for your Basherts.
And a Sweet New Year, and a Lovely Yom Hanorim to one and all.Thanks for printing these insighful articles on single life, and to give us a chance to share our views here as well.
Kol Tov:
A Friend.

(17) Anonymous, September 18, 2007 5:13 PM

People aren't specimens that will abide by a list if that's the law. If your heart tells you something- listen! Many things may sound great on paper- even if it's a paper you wrote- but will be totally incompatible in reality and spirit. No-one should be left with a nagging feeling that he/she compromised big time in order to find their bashert.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment