Life Advice



Single File: Interests

Susan Dietz on

DEAR SUSAN: What can I do to make life entail more than dating and work? Is there an actual plan? There must be more than this to single life. -- From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: There is, indeed, much more to being single -- when you take time to make a plan. Nothing too complicated, for sure, but it does take some thinking. If you're up for it, start by answering these questions: What are your favorite sports? What do you do on weekends? How do you express your creativity? Consider this List 1.

For List 2, imagine all the things you would like to do. This may take some time, so feel free to dream a little -- here and now. And remember that this is a wish list only, not necessarily realistic. You may not have a month to lavish on your favorite activity, but it just might make you realize how hungry you are to get back to it.

Which list is longer? This is when you make notes to yourself. How much time do you have available for your interests? Are you spending too much time on same-old stuff when you'd rather be developing new interests? Maybe now you'll stop frittering away golden hours with time-wasting people and projects.

You've got to realize that living single has changed you. Let's hope that this plan motivates you to probe and experiment. Now that you're thinking along these lines, ask yourself what to do to make your first list look more like the second one. Aha! Now you're on your way.

DEAR SUSAN: I've been thinking about the people I know and how few of them really mean something in my life. You're always telling us readers questions to ask ourselves. What should I be asking myself about my circle of acquaintances to find out which ones are real friends? -- From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Here are some gems from the queen of questions, moi, about the part you play in this amazing thing called friendship. First, ask yourself: Do I choose my friends deliberately, or do I let people choose me? Do I learn a lot from my friends? Do I respect their opinions? Do I allow them to influence my thinking and change my opinions? Do I try to change theirs? Do I consider myself richer for having known my friends? Do I trust them? Am I always there for them? Do I praise my friends? Do I frequently find fault with them? Do I deliberately try to make a contribution to their lives?


Now, friend, please know this isn't a quiz and there is no score. The questions are designed to help you start thinking about friendship and the kinds of friends you have. (Sounds elementary, but I promise this will be an eye-opener.) If your BFF makes you feel valuable and special, there's not much to say -- and you'll probably be friends for life. But if there's someone in your life who triggers anxiety or has a consistently "down" opinion of people and themselves, better rethink the reason for the relationship and whether it is adding anything to your life. If it's not, promise yourself to phase out the acquaintanceship.

For more surprises, list friends who have passed through -- and out of -- your life. Why are they not part of the present? Put asterisks next to the ones you'd like to see again; they might be worth a lunch to reexamine the chemistry between you and put a fresh face on an old friendship.

Good friendship is a rare and beautiful thing, not to be discarded blithely. And, may I remind you, romantic love -- the real thing -- often begins as nothing more than friendship. When it builds on deep liking, it can become love of the deepest kind. May it happen to you.


Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at 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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