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Losing Independence DEAR SUSAN: After all I've been through making a name and a life, I am honestly scared — truly spooked — by the thought of merging my life with my lover. Many other women and I want love but are scared to death of losing what we've …Read more. Are You Angry at Men? (Part 2 of 2) DEAR READERS: As promised, here is the second batch of questions to get to the heart of the reasons you could be angry at men. Let's get to it: —Was your father an abusive man? An alcoholic? —Are you afraid in your heart of hearts that a …Read more. Are You Angry at Men? (Part 1 of 2) DEAR SUSAN: Lately, you've been writing about women's anger toward men. It's making me wonder whether I am guilty. Sure, I've had my share of disappointments with men, but how can I tell whether I'm really a man hater? I've been wondering about this …Read more. Male-bashing DEAR SUSAN: I can't stand it. My best girlfriends are turning out to be man haters — and when we get together for some fun, the talk turns to men and what beasts they are. I don't agree, but I don't want to drop these friends. Help. — …Read more.
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Healthy Brainwashing

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DEAR SUSAN: I would like to believe what you say about being whole (undependent) before meeting the love of your life. But my mind is racing for things to say when I'm with someone I like, and I do and say silly things. How can I control my mind? — From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: By stepping up and taking control of what goes into it. Habits such as watching the televised fables of marriages gone sour and violent people doing violent things to one another have to be shelved — permanently. At any stage, it's not too late to put yourself on a diet of healthy relating and respectful interactions. Sounds corny, I know. But being careful about the images and words you feed your mind is a sign of respect for self. Try some healthy brainwashing, out of respect for me. And then tell me whether you still do and say silly things when you least want to.

Let's start by setting aside 10 minutes a day to be alone, quiet and still. Each day, choose one belief ("I am a capable woman" or "I am building a full life"), and repeat it aloud or think it to yourself over and over, until it resonates in your mind. Breathe slowly, and form the words as you exhale. (Remember to keep your phone on silent and the windows closed. This is quiet time.) Repeat the phrases as you drift off to sleep, on your way to work, as you walk the supermarket aisles. (They're especially valuable when you're feeling blue.) Learn them as you would a new language, and with repetition, your thoughts will mimic the words, and then you will feel more self-assured, energized, unburdened.

Yes, it's brainwashing.

But it's healthy, a nutrient for your mind. Give yourself the time to soak up this new thought pattern; don't rush it. While you're growing comfortable with a more disciplined mind, look around your world for examples of the kind of relationship you and I talk about, a mutual and reciprocal love. I wish it for you.

DEAR SUSAN: My man is a good guy to me, but in the crunch moments (your words), he squashes me into a version of himself. Sometimes I can't even breathe; he's so dominant. But I do love him. — From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Is he friend or foe? Reading your description, I am turned off. Relating to men in friendship is the only way to go. (Forgive me for being dogmatic, but there's no middle ground when it comes to love. Either it's good for you or it isn't. Period.) If you believe that men and women must be friends in genuine liking, then neither one is asked by the other to surrender selfhood in the name of love. A man who really regards women as people rather than sex objects will actually invite their selfhood to bloom and blossom. That is the new criterion that is beginning to replace the old chemical reaction we have exalted for so long. Physical attraction as a guide to a soul mate has been disappointing. So now, stronger in our independence and surer of our womanly potency, women need to tune in to the enormous payoff of love partnership based on mutual enrichment. My emphasis for you, dear reader, is on the M-word: mutual. Do I hear a loud groan?

Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at susan@single-file.com.

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