Life Advice



Single File: Letting Off Steam

Susan Dietz on

Whenever someone learns what I do for a living, out pours a torrent of past dating slights. For the first years -- "Single File" is in its 40th year -- I absorbed the slings and arrows, and certain people learned to live with my branch of journalism (and their dating woes), but that was not to be. Yes, there have been a few periods of relative calm, when I could go about my work quite easily and put undiluted time into the population who interests me the most. But now that you and I are talking down and dirty, singles are a restless bunch.

Take, for instance, the man who entered my life two weeks ago. A nice enough fellow, he came to pick up a package I was sending his son, who had confided that his widowed father had been single for 10 years. (That I was widowed was probably part of the plot but discreetly not mentioned.) And on second thought, he may have had hopes/expectations (I realized after he had gone). But sitting in my living room, he was polite and quite interested in what I do. Then came his sorry tales.

One woman (whom he saw for five years) drank too much and too often, ordering a bottle for each course when they ate out. Another talked too much. A third woman was much too quiet. I asked where he met these women. He said, "Online, where everyone meets."

(Deep inhale on my part.) I suggested meeting through an interest -- golf class, cooking class, drawing class, French class. "But everyone meets online," he said. Losing some of my cool, I shot back: "But it's not working for you! Why not try something else, joining a group doing something that interests you? Even if there's no one there who interests you romantically, you're still with a group doing something you enjoy." He had no reply, short or long. Instead, he stood up quickly, thanked me as I handed him the package for his son and quickly walked to my front door, probably never to be seen again.

Oh, the slings and arrows of being an advice columnist!


Later that night, I mused, when someone asks what I do, maybe I should say I'm a book editor. Not as interesting, perhaps, but a lot safer. Comments??


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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