Life Advice

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Health

Single File: Devalued

Susan Dietz on

DEAR SUSAN: I had plans to go to a film with my BFF and was really looking forward to dishing with her over a meal afterward. But this afternoon, she phoned and canceled. Why? Because some new man in her life wants to see her tonight. What am I, chopped liver? -- From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Ouch. It hurts to be told your company is considered second-rate, (distant) runner-up to the male. Even an unknown commodity -- which this new man certainly is -- gets preferential treatment when it comes to scheduling time. Not only are you, her best friend, given basement status but also the substitution came at the last minute, with little or no explanation or regrets. You certainly have a right to feel devalued as a person and as a same-sex buddy. Your BFF just announced that time with a same-sex friend is cheap, simply a filler until a man enters the picture. Like your best friend, many women devalue every form of companionship while waiting for The Man Who Isn't There. Because they consider themselves alone if they share time with someone other than a "live one," they almost turn cartwheels to share their time with a man. You are correct in feeling like an also-ran, because that's how you rank in your BFF's mind. (Incidentally, you might consider changing her title to BFUUM, best friend until and unless a man comes along.) By the way, chopped liver is considered by some to be a gourmet delicacy.

DEAR SUSAN: A good friend suggested I take a meditation course, and you know what? I panicked at the thought of making a commitment to go to the four-night course. Has living alone done me in? Will I still be able to make a love commitment when the real thing shows up? -- From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Slip-sliding away from promises is part of living single. Without a mate (or anyone else) to account to, many unmarried people become quite adept at gently bending their promises. (This isn't a built-in character flaw; it is acquired, the dark side of flexibility.) What I mean is that solo life can lead to an increased ability to sidle out of commitments and a decreased ability to follow through. (As in, "I'll call you soon, and we'll do lunch.) Every year of solo life compounds the fear of commitment.

Toning the commitment muscles takes time, patience and gentleness with yourself. So when you begin your commitment campaign, center the first few battles around nonemotional issues. For instance, arrange with a friend to exercise together on a schedule (every other day, if at all possible) and to pay a "fine" (e.g., dinner out with wine) every time you show up late or cancel. That should keep you diligent. Another thought: Subscribe to a series of concerts, films or lectures. The nature of the series is secondary to the fact that it's ongoing -- and the tickets are paid for in advance. Unless illness strikes, be there. (Note: If a one-ticket outlay is better for you, do so. But the more money paid the higher the chances that you will honor your commitment.)

 

The point of this exercise isn't lost on you, I am certain. Strengthen your follow-through in ways only you know are necessary -- and don't quit to follow the lure of an impulse! The payoff? You'll respect yourself for doing what you said you'd do. That has got to be one of the best feelings you can feed yourself.

If commitment is an issue for you, how on earth can you expect your love to follow through without a qualm? And how can you be certain you are not choosing partners with commitment phobias so that you can wriggle off the hook when crunchtime comes?! If you yourself are having trouble honoring commitments, think how dicey it will be to inspire a beloved to honor his!

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Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at susan@single-file.com. 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 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

 

 

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