Flying Solo DEAR SUSAN: I've been divorced for nearly 20 years. I've had a few longer-term relationships during that time, but none evolved into marriage. (I know many unhappily married people and never again want to be one of them.) I've met men online, at …Read more. Cougar Chat DEAR SUSAN: As something of a cougar myself, I must say that men my age tend to be desperate and/or bitter. Being neither, all I want is to enjoy good company and good sex with an appealing partner. And I find this tends to happen more easily with …Read more. The Prayer DEAR READERS: The following is a prayer I created for Sundays and recently expanded, at a reader's request, to include the holidays, most especially Thanksgiving. The goal is to blur age and religious differences so that everyone — reading or …Read more. Casual Sex Casualties DEAR SUSAN: You often write about the casualties of casual sex. But I have my own questions on the subject: How do you define casual sex? Why do you believe people engage in it? Does it have different consequences for women and men? And are there …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.
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