Busted Chops DEAR SUSAN: Your response to the woman whose boyfriend enjoys living alone (after two divorces) suggests that you're talking out of both sides of your mouth. On the one hand, you've been saying all along how singleness has increasingly become the …Read more. Man-Masks DEAR SUSAN: I loved your advice regarding playing games to keep a man; you couldn't have said it better! This issue reminds me of the novel "The Other Boleyn Girl," in which the young girls must spend their whole existence fighting for the …Read more. Alchemy DEAR SUSAN: I absolutely believe that former lovers can be friends. (Nearly every one of my former boyfriends is a dear friend of mine.) If you're willing to be someone's lover, you should first be his friend — and that means that even after …Read more. Being Married DEAR SUSAN: You were wondering about the advantages of being married. Even in these "concept of marriage as outdated" times, its advantages are overwhelming — most importantly, the legalities involved. Children — their custody, …Read more.more articles
DEAR SUSAN: You write a lot about "undependence." Personally, I have trouble grasping this notion. I'd like to meet the person who has achieved this perfect equilibrium between self-awareness and understanding others around them. Granted, it's very appealing, but it isn't a concept that can be achieved in our time here on earth.
That's my two cents' worth. — Gavin H., Long island, N.Y.
DEAR GAVIN: Well, here's mine. Undependence is a state of wholeness that comes from actively using one's inner resources. It is poise, balance and a middle ground between isolation and dependence. You can spot undependent people because they are quite content to be with themselves. They've learned that when you know yourself and like yourself, one is company enough. (Many people rush out of their homes to be with company, almost any sort of company, because they cannot stand to be alone.) Because an undependent person has nurtured an adult relationship with him or herself and is comfortable with who they are, they are not desperate for a bodyguard. They don't equate aloneness with loneliness — but they're not loners; they cultivate a circle of good friends. And they certainly want a love partnership, although they don't live their lives on 24-hour alert. And when they fall in love, it's not from need. They're doing very well on their own, but there is always the possibility of meeting one's true love. Because they have made their singleness full and interesting, a healthy, wholesome love partnership is possible. Theirs is the mating of eagles, two whole people standing close to one another but not in each other's shadows. Gavin, I wish it to you.
COMMITMENT PHOBIA. Without a mate, often without on-premises children or family to keep them accountable, many single people become quite adept at "slip-sliding away."
I remember when the man in my life asked me to enroll in a meditation course that required me to show up at the school on four consecutive nights.
Every year of living solo compounds the fear of commitment. And toning the muscles involved in committing takes time, patience and much gentleness with yourself. I suggest starting a commitment campaign, centering the first few forays on non-emotional issues:
Arrange with a friend to exercise together on a schedule (every other day, if at all possible) and to pay a "fine" ($10 or dinner out) every time you show up late — or not at all. That should keep you diligent.
Listen to your words when you make your next promise. Whatever it deals with — a phone call or a meeting — write down the specifics and make no other plans for that time. It's reserved. No backing out for any reason except a dire emergency, of course. This is a big project. It goes to the very core of your character.
Subscribe to a series of concerts, films or lectures. (The nature of the series is secondary to the fact that it's ongoing and the money is advanced.) And unless major illness strikes, be there. Every time.
ALTERNATIVE: If a one-ticket outlay is more convenient and a one-time commitment easier to swallow, that's better than no commitment at all. So buy the one ticket and show up. You'll build up financial and emotional reserves in small steps like these. That's a promise.
Write to Susan Deitz c/o this newspaper. She will answer all letters that come with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Or, you may e-mail her at email@example.com.
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