Life Advice



Single File: Entanglements

Susan Dietz on

DEAR SUSAN: It's hard to believe I'm actually writing this letter! I live in a tight community, and it seems as if there's no one to honestly communicate with regarding my predicament -- so here I am, asking for your advice. I'm 17, but through various twists of life, I've always been part of organizations and communities that have people twice my age. Mensa member, working musician and recipient of various titles that indicate some sort of vague superiority (blah, blah, blah).

I often act and appear much older, and I do enjoy the company of older people. My closest friends are about my age, but I find fellow orchestra members and teachers more interesting to talk with than I do most of my "peers." Yet I haven't even started the dating game. I don't act like a snob -- and I don't think I'm better than everyone else. My mother jokes that I scare the men away with my test scores, but I don't think so.

Maybe I just have to be more open about the man-woman thing. For about a year now, I've been friendly with an older person; he has played the game, even has a current girlfriend. (She's an older friend of mine.) They're both such sweet, caring people; I wouldn't want to bring distress to either of them. Both of them are getting to be really close friends of mine, and though I love being around them, it's hard to take. I know I should just avoid being around him, but I can't, and anyway, I wouldn't want to. He has never indicated an inclination toward anything improper, of course. He treats me like an equal, unlike some of my associates, who can't stop asking after my parents or college plans. I thoroughly enjoy talking to him and sharing the ups and downs of this past year.

Susan, I know you always advise against these kinds of entanglements, but I need someone to tell me what to do. Should I speak to him about this and get it out of my system? Keeping it bottled up inside is torture. I would love to go to someone I know personally for advice, but my parents would find out, and that can't happen. -- From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: After a long, hot shower and some musing, I feel I have your dilemma in hand. (At the least, I've come up with a reading that sits comfortably in my gut.) As I see it, you're very intelligent and still quite young, a promising but complicated plight. Its complexity puts you into limbo when it comes to the male animal and dating and all that, and it's those layers of emotion you need to work through and resolve in your own fine mind.

The fellow in question is with an older friend of yours, with whom he shares a strong bond in music. But they have another tie, one you cannot share. So I suggest a bit of retrenching on your part, a few steps backward. Take yourself out of the picture until you can handle the situation coolly. It makes absolutely no sense to hang around someone you desire, a someone involved with another woman. She's more appropriate for him only because of her age, as far as I can tell, but that single factor is huge in the scheme of things.


The man of your desiring certainly sees you as the terrific person you are, but not as romantic potential. So no, I advise against pouring your heart out to him. That might get it out of your system (temporarily), but your relationship with him (and his girlfriend) would be forever altered -- and not positively.

What I do suggest is sitting down and leisurely writing down every dream, fantasy and longing you have for (and about) him and for you two as a couple. And then read it again. And tear the paper to shreds -- a far better fate for that paper than for your young heartstrings. Imagine the joyous relief of ripping your words to shreds and getting on with the life that befits your age, mentality and cultural interests.

I'm sure some of my readers are, as we speak, writing you their suggestions for making the most of the opportunities that lie ahead. But until those letters arrive, some words of advice: I, too, have known the heartache of hankering for the impossible; staying with it only wastes the time available to you and makes rubbish out of the rich potential you could claim as yours. Your time of womanhood will come, as will love and the man of your heart. But you've got to be a woman to recognize all of that. Your mother knows that, and though she seems outmoded right now, my counsel is to stay close to this woman; you are flesh of her flesh. She knows you best and wants only good things for you. Just be careful not to misuse your fine mind feeling better than people. As for me, well, my role is to turn you outward, into the future and away from entanglements that only waste time. I wish you what you wish for yourself.


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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