Life Advice



Single File: Turning Back Time

Susan Dietz on

DEAR SUSAN: I broke up with my boyfriend of six months two days ago. There wasn't any specific reason or something he did wrong. On the contrary, he's a wonderful man who has shown love for me in every way possible. He's dealing admirably with the breakup, but I'm taking it much harder. Normally, I'd imagine this means I was wrong in breaking up, but this is the fifth time -- yes, the fifth -- we've gone through this. In the past, it lasted no more than one day; I'd see the "error of my ways," and we'd patch things up. I know it's horrible to put him through this over and over, but I love him so much I can't bear to be away from him. What should I do? I wish we could turn back time and I could meet him again for the first time. Then I would take things a lot more slowly and do many things differently, but it's too late. I haven't eaten or slept, trying to figure things out. I have read "Single File" and know you give very good advice. Please help. Am I wrong to break up with him if I feel so distraught? Is there any way I can fix the rift I've caused? -- From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: You know these one-day vacations are wrong and weakening your relationship with this fellow, and you can't bear to be away from him. Yet you bring the togetherness to crisis mode five times in six months. Can you make sense of this? I sure can't. It reminds me of the old Jimmy Durante line, "Did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go when you still had the feeling that you wanted to stay?" Guaranteed to bring a laugh in vaudeville, but not in this drama. You seem to be testing this nice boy and, in the process, torturing yourself with dark thoughts and indecision. You know you can't turn back time, and you know regrets are useless. Life only goes forward, so the way to make sense of our actions is to review them -- and then edit them for the next time.

You're not going to like my suggestion, but you asked, so here goes: Stop making yourself a yo-yo and explain to your boyfriend that you are going into non-dating mode because you've decided to find out what's going on. Not with him but with yourself. After all, the sooner you talk about your deep feelings the sooner you'll be able to form a calm, happy relationship. And that can only be good news for him. He can only admire your brave decision and respect you so much more for it. The more you learn why you do the things you do the more quickly you'll return to the world of dating, only this time you'll be a together young woman. And what man wouldn't want that?

DEAR SUSAN: I'm in a situation I bet you never heard before. I'm a 43-year-old bachelor with a very busy social life. (Until I was 27, things in that part of my life were very slow, but since then -- wow!) I've met many lovely, delightful women, and the problem is I enjoy them all! There are currently six women in my life and a few others who I know would like to be in my life. I would truly like to settle down with one woman and start a family, but how does one choose? Many of these women have qualities lacking in the others. If I could put them together in one woman, I'd have perfection! I know I shouldn't complain. What should I do? -- From the "Single File" blog


DEAR BLOGGER: For openers, I am left wondering what happened at age 27 that changed your social life so very dramatically. Did you have an epiphany about yourself -- or the other gender? Anyway, it was dramatic enough to change your social life for the better, so let's leave that alone (at least for now). You need to find a woman who embodies all the virtues -- and beauties -- in one delicious, graceful female. Well, my first suggestion is to write (for your eyes only) the traits you want in a live-in lifetime partner. Take your time. Think about it; dream about it; roll it over in your mind for a week or so. Then -- and only then -- pick up a pencil to write down each one. One after the other, no holds barred -- no editing, no erasures. Let the list stay unchanged for a few days; don't even peek at it. Then, after a few days pass, go down the list, pen in hand, and give each trait an M ("must-have") or an O ("optional"). Let the items marinate a few days, and then go back for final review. (You should have whittled the "must-haves" to, at most, five.) At this juncture, I will leave you and defer to your close family and/or friends for a frank discussion. You're on your own now, with your heart and good sense as guides. They'll help lead you to your life partner -- the real one, not fantasy. I wish you both the very best.


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.