Life Advice



Single File: Men as Friends

Susan Dietz on

Men as friends? It's not only possible but also healthy. For a full, satisfying existence here on planet Earth, it's beneficial to have ongoing interaction with men. So I've suggested practice sessions for you to incorporate into your life, because the more often you are around men in low-stress settings the sooner you'll be able to show grace under higher tension -- as in romance.

Naturally, some men you'll like more than others, just as with women. But the main payoff is you'll no longer see the male as alien -- and enemy. In fact, after you've walked in their size 10s for a while, you'll probably feel greater compassion for the gender expected to always make the first move. (Ahem.) And you'll be more of a woman because you do.

Hint: This exercise has the potential for targeting some pretty exciting growth on your part.

Your confidence in initiating will grow as you keep practicing, and not all of it will be centered around a man. You'll probably begin to prod yourself out of lethargy at group meetings, on your child's school committee, in your house of worship. You probably won't become a mover and shaker overnight (you are, after all, the product of long-term conditioning), but in time you will develop into a more effective person.

Be patient with yourself -- but be careful not to accept too many excuses from yourself. Being tired or headachy can stop you once or twice, but the third time, your superego must step in to play taskmaster and insist. Funny thing, after a while you'll relish being effective; you'll actually feel exhilarated making things happen!

So many readers complain that romance is dead. But I don't agree. It's simply overstressed from all those years of one-sidedness. And it's my sense that women are ready to breathe new life into the situation, ready to assume the responsibility that comes with being an equal in an enormously important relationship. The safety net you are weaving as a single woman can prove to be the linchpin of your transition into that loving partnership. You'll see.


But for now, I want you to ask a male co-worker to lunch. No setting could be less romantic or threatening than a workday meal in broad daylight. Both of you will appreciate the lack of sexual overtones and man-woman expectations, so you can relax. Avoid sexist remarks, angry quips about male oppression and flirtatious actions. Treat him like your sister -- not to diminish his maleness but to eliminate the defensiveness so common in the man-woman mentality. What to talk about? Your biggest mutual common interest, of course -- work. And build friendliness from there. When you listen closely, you'll learn a lot. And I don't mean office gossip! This is a rare opportunity to hear the male take on women, dating and relationships. When you're with him, be in the moment. Do your analyzing later, alone in the tub -- a better place to mentally replay the lunch.

When the conversation turns to women and dating, as it must, I guarantee you'll learn a lot about the male mind, even if this man is married. So forget everything else for the moment and soak up one man's opinion of gender warfare. It could change you forever. Make this kind of invitation on a regular basis, with men you'd like to know better. It will feel awkward at first, but that only means you're moving out of your (dis)comfort zone -- and growing.


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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