Life Advice



Single File: The Only One?

Susan Dietz on

DEAR SUSAN: I am about to break up with my partner of 17 years, but we are quite sure we will continue to live together. I feel as if we're the only ones who've ever done such a thing. Are we? -- From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: If you are indeed the only person ever to remain under the same roof with a former lover -- and my best guess is you're not -- I'm bedrock certain there are millions of partners (both genders) who see fit to wish it regularly. Most are too ashamed to verbalize it -- even to a close friend -- but you can bet your sweet bippy (whatever that is) it's on their 2023 wish list.

But just what is this delicious private yearning? To be with their dearly beloved as it's always been but to also be from time to time a free-range single. How they manage it is a private matter, details not forthcoming. And yes, there must be those times when that old black magic they create as lovers sneaks up and, creatures of habit, they succumb. Yet even those yummy moments from the past feel better, stronger, reflecting the new spaces in their togetherness.

You and I, dear letter writer, may be a small minority sensitive to this new type of togetherness, but the truth is we are on the vanguard of a new take on the old 24-hour immersion. Spaced togetherness is taking its rightful place in the unmarried world. Let him who is without boredom cast the first nay.

DEAR SUSAN: I often hear that the best way for a single person to find someone who might be a good match is to seek out clubs, organizations and activities that are of interest to her. But I feel this advice is biased toward those singles without children -- and with a lot of free time to actively pursue dating. As you can guess, I'm a single mother of a small child, unable to run out and join that pottery class or go to activities that interest me, where children are unwelcome. After nearly five years of sitting in parks and child-centered activities, I have yet to meet an unmarried father -- or, for that matter, another single mother to befriend. I know I'm not the only single parent in this town, but sometimes it feels as if I am. -- From the "Single File" blog


DEAR BLOGGER: It's not simple or easy (I know because I've been there), but the focus of your life needs to be shifted. Not wholly, of course, but enough to fill your child's needs -- without skimping on your own. Yes, there is a middle road between obsessive parenting and neglect. And as your child is out of the infant stage, where the mother is the moon and the sun, you're entitled to start thinking about your own life and ways to spark it up. After all, a bored/lonely mom isn't fun company -- for her child or herself.

You need to get yourself a steady, reliable babysitter, perhaps a grandmotherly type who takes a real interest in you and your child. And then what? Show up at a weeknight meeting of the local Parents Without Partners. Yes, you read me correctly. Instead of dashing off to an exciting pottery class (yawn), go to a place where other single moms and dads commune and enrich their lives -- while sharing interesting activities with their and other people's children. Look them up for a local phone number, and just go! PWP insists on parenthood for membership, so you can be sure that nice man sitting near you in the meeting is a single dad. (That much I can guarantee. The rest of the evening is up to the two of you.) But it's a start, a way of meeting your child's needs without skimping on your own. This new chapter begins with a reliable sitter. At 5, your child needs to widen his world, too.


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.