Life Advice



Single File: The Second Look

Susan Dietz on

Admit it. You've been bowled over by the good looks and smooth manner of someone who shall remain nameless. Who among us hasn't been?! But the last time your eyes locked with his/hers, it just wasn't the same celebration; sparks refused to fly. And there you were, in the middle of a perfectly scrumptious fantasy, when that old devil Reality came to call and doused the glowing embers.

In my life, anyway, it's always been the second look/conversation/dance that gives the more solid verdict. (Just why that is l can't seem to pin down; it probably has something to do with soaring hopes taking over your sense of reason.) So all we can do is rip apart (ever so gently) what happens on the first date to create this euphoria. Was it pure fiction or too-high hopes born of a zillion disappointments? That his/her shirt has more than one soiled spot discovered the second time is a letdown and could be a major disqualifying factor, yes, but ... not necessarily the final count. After all, the vibes between you two feel warm and friendly. And there could be perfectly valid reasons for the spots.

Making a case for suspended judgement isn't as easy as I anticipated. But I know in my bones it's the right call to make after a magical first meeting. (Ten years ago, I probably would have advised someone to cut and run, but age and experience serve -- wisely, I think -- as brakes on impulses.) So for the moment, withhold judgement. The third meeting is probably make-or-break time, quite possibly the moment to tenderly rewrap your dreams and realize they're being stored for safe keeping, pure and unsullied for the next time romance seems to appear.

It's possibilities -- love among them -- that make single life so full of promise. On your own, accountable to no one but yourself and tethered to no one love object, singleness can make you a free spirit, able to circulate freely in your own sphere. Waking each day can be the start of a journey that ends you know not where. And during those travels, thoughts and opinions are being formed that make themselves known when relationships (romantic ones among them) are chosen. They are the stuff of which we are made, the backbone of personhood; singleness is an ideal time to learn and strengthen your core values.


Because each new date demands a judgement call, it's crucial to temper each one with kindness. The Golden Rule certainly should be remembered in this exchange of hopes and pain, where it's practically guaranteed one partner slinks home to nurse painful wounds. Inner fortitude and a strong sense of self are required armor for the subtle and not-so-subtle single scene. It's no place for the timid.

More about the dating world next time.

We've uncovered another treasure trove of "Single File" paperbacks - in perfect condition, signed by Susan, ready to enjoy. Send $15 and your address: Susan Deitz, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at



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