Life Advice



Single File: Expectations

Susan Dietz on

DEAR SUSAN: I'm a flop at love. I've always been unlucky with the opposite sex. Even in a relationship that seems to be going OK, suddenly, I become the enemy and she's out of there. All I have to remember her by is a sour stomach and an empty date book. Am I cursed -- or a flop?

DEAR BLOGGER: Truth to tell, you're neither. The bad-boy labels were probably hung around your neck very early on and left there out of inertia, becoming the low self-image you lug around. Well, I'm here to help lift that load by setting the record straight. First off, my hunch is you haven't had a chance to get to know women as friends -- better yet, as helpmeets. And so, I strongly recommend meeting women in a nondating setting. (Sounds radical, but hear me out.) For example, your local United Way is an ideal place to meet women with real values, women who want to help their community. Under that umbrella, sharing effort and conversation with people who share a goal with you, the old man-woman stuff (aka romance) takes a back seat to a common purpose. See what I'm driving at? Put yourself in a nonsocial, nonthreatening group where the real you can emerge -- the good guy behind that outdated loser image. This minute, as you read this, I bet you can think of a few other places/groups/causes that are meaningful to you and probably also to women you'd like to know better. Showing up at causes that mean something to you will not only widen your world and your view of women but also -- not incidentally -- the way you see yourself. Just do it.

DEAR SUSAN: Thank you so much for promptly sending the Declaration of Undependence. It's now framed and hung prominently as a reminder of the "bigger picture" of my life. With appreciation ...

DEAR BLOGGER: I am truly touched by your earnest appreciation of the Declaration of Undependence. It was born in the dark days of a new widowhood. My husband's sudden death left me with a young son and a psyche brimming with fear. Overprotected and underdeveloped, I had been catapulted into a life that called for independence -- and my psyche was not exactly brimming with the stuff. It took a chance remark from a married friend to put me on the path to self-determination. When asked to explain the success of her long and happy marriage, the answer was swift and certain: "Whenever I find myself starting to cling, I take myself out to dinner or to a movie. I do my single-person exercise, and I feel a lot better for it!" The words made me realize that independence wasn't a gift from heaven or genetic blessing but a hard-won skill acquired by flexing one's singleness muscles. I had the epiphany that single or coupled, the individuality in all of us must find expression -- insight that produced The Declaration of Undependence. I am proud and happy that it has found a home with you.



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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