Single FileĀ® from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 10 Aug 2020 23:08:02 -0700 Single FileĀ® from Creators Syndicate 6da3107d11e94f04c9bba95ab6cb3e1c Renewable Virginity for 08/05/2020 Wed, 05 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Odds are your first sexual experience wasn't what you thought it would be. Who knew what to expect &#8212; and what you'd be thinking afterward? Odds are you didn't have the foggiest notion of what sex was about. I certainly didn't! And I can sense there are many heads out in Readerland nodding in agreement, not all of them female. </p> <p>If the end of your virginity was anything like mine, that initiation was a letdown, painful for the flesh but even more so for the psyche. The next few days were consumed in deep thinking that was jumbled and repetitive and led to no conclusion. Again and again, I would wonder whether this deeply unsatisfying event was what made the entire world revolve on its axis! I can remember thinking that this is one rite of passage I could easily forgo. We parted on amiable terms, sex and I, but not without a large helping of disappointment. A week later, I was eagerly anticipating drama lessons, this whole sex thing pushed into not-so-dim memory.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 05, 2020</p> d79319827d6f8c350786ed7a8bcda933 Letting Off Steam for 07/29/2020 Wed, 29 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Whenever someone learns what I do for a living, out pours a torrent of past dating slights. For the first years &#8212; "Single File" is in its 40th year &#8212; 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. </p> <p>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.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 29, 2020</p> 0e06db7edf00226a013826d28b04dbb7 Think in Many Tenses for 07/22/2020 Wed, 22 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It's complicated, this single life. On your own, shunning both dependency and isolation, after a while, you adjust and learn to live in the present moment. Sleepless nights have taught you not to voyage into the future (what will be) too often and not to dwell in the past (what might have been). The fancy footwork needed to balance that triangle takes conscious effort &#8212; and gobs of discipline. Still, it's the only way to be certain your singleness is complete. In plain talk (before this concept gets tangled in its own verbiage), this is your great chance to build an interesting life for yourself. </p> <p>You must think in all the tenses: staying current while honoring both the lessons of the past and your dreams for what is to come. True, we must all find our balance on that tightrope, single and married, but it's imperative that the unmarried person be more aware of their choices, since, in the final analysis, they alone are responsible for the quality of their life. And its outcome. True, none of us have a clear road map to tomorrow. All we have going for us is our gray matter and our instincts. But what we're exploring here is the possibility that those two God-given gifts &#8212; combined with awareness of the past and the present &#8212; can be more than adequate to shape a fruitful life. We all agree on the wisdom from past lessons (if we care to rehash them) and the fun of visualizing &#8212; with anticipation &#8212; what can be just over the hill. <p>Updated: Wed Jul 22, 2020</p> 15b457496915b8bc589230ec96386d08 Two-Handed Love for 07/15/2020 Wed, 15 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Zen teaching includes a lesson about the sound of one hand clapping. For Buddhists, that leads to deep and provocative wisdom, instructive as a life lesson but not exactly where we're going here. In the less lofty world, where give-and-take is the name of the game, both partners must be active in shaping their love partnership. If you feel like a one-man band (or worse, silent partner) in any phase of your romantic relationship, it's best to speak up &#8212; loudly. One half of the twosome cannot and should not be the whole enchilada!</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Reciprocity is the mantra of true love because it encompasses so much: respect, patience, cooperation, trust and kindness ... not particularly sexy but absolute bedrock to a love that endures.</span> For that depth of mutuality, walls must come down. Lovers must trust one another implicitly, be ready and willing to leave a warm bed in the middle of the night to buy medicine for a partner's bellyache (not exactly a romantic setting but one far more necessary to long-term togetherness). Intimate bistros are good incubators of romance, but the real testing comes from unplanned moments of need, when character trumps glamour. Every time. <p>Updated: Wed Jul 15, 2020</p> 34c38fc69a7159ec433a87df0ac91010 Clutter for 07/08/2020 Wed, 08 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: You write about clutter in our lives. Clutter people, things, projects. Isn't that a bit cruel? </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: (Sigh.) There are times in life &#8212; single life, especially &#8212; you must be "cruel" to be kind to yourself. The "c" word is in quotes because I really don't believe it's cruelty. The thing is there is only so much time in your life and energy in your body; both need to be conserved and spent wisely, given (much) thought and deliberation. Clutter people are there merely to fill the hours and keep you from being in your own company, aka (gasp) alone. These relationships add very little to your life &#8212; no interesting conversation, no deep feeling, no original thoughts to mull over. Consider them bodyguards, keeping watch on the space around you so that you don't come too close to (or familiar with) &#8212; you guessed it &#8212; YOU. The result of their watchfulness? Little time to do important things like putting your days in order, neatening your drawers, planning social and business togetherness. Clutter saps the time you have to organize your life and make plans. How else can you grow if not according to priorities? Only you have the power to visualize your dreams. <p>Updated: Wed Jul 08, 2020</p> b1b2e6bc201c706052fb864725185f24 Celebrate Your Singleness for 07/01/2020 Wed, 01 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Sounds a bit corny celebrating your own unmarried state, but trust me not to burden you with same-old, same-old stuff. We may not always agree on things, you and moi, but it's a safe bet we'll learn something from each other most of the time. Take, for example, trumpeting your own singleness. At first reading, it may sound like outsize weirdity (is that a word?), a columnist's fantasy on steroids. But stay with me; read on; and keep an open mind.</p> <p>Why not celebrate your singleness? You've done everything else: apologized for it, denied it, hated it, wished it away. Well, this is the moment you make a 180-degree spin and actually praise your marital status (!) Repeat this a few times and feel yourself smile. Maybe, just maybe, it's not so terrible to have total control over your money, your time, your energies ... and your choices. Maybe this column will prove to be your rite of passage from a conflicted singleness into more confidence. If getting from here to there looks impossible, have faith. This is the moment you and I are going to break a few traditions, and have fun doing it. <p>Updated: Wed Jul 01, 2020</p> a53f9e08905c97796e838490c446459a That Age Thing, Reversed for 06/24/2020 Wed, 24 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: Here's the thing about older women with younger lovers: He's as much a predator as she is! He wants her to teach him the ways of sex. He wants her to teach him what a younger woman probably can't. But then, when he's learned her sexual technique, he most likely will go on to marry someone more appropriate &#8212; a younger woman. So, actually, the cougar is also being used and discarded. She borrows his youthful stamina for a while, but he is learning sex skills for use with a younger partner.</p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: Use and be used &#8212; the wheel goes 'round and 'round. Where it stops, no one can predict. But every once in a while, the wheel lands on a lucky spot, and then all sorts of good things can happen. An older woman and a younger man, at first out for a good time and sex education, could then find themselves in a tailspin, surprised by deep emotions never before felt. That kind of pairing makes great sense because the female matures sexually around 30, the male at 18! And while good sex isn't enough to sustain a relationship for the long haul, the compatibility that develops between partners can, at times, lead to an overarching ease in other parts of their lives. When the sex is between friends, such an evolution is possible, a progression to be devoutly wished (sigh). <p>Updated: Wed Jun 24, 2020</p> d02b8bae8842cf8eec4c28c0791e78d8 Unavailable for 06/17/2020 Wed, 17 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: I agree with your reader that idealizing and pining for an unavailable someone is the time-honored way to avoid having to face one's own fears of falling in love. But why do we do that?</p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: Every problem forces a choice between tackling it head-on or telling ourselves it doesn't exist (aka deluding ourselves into thinking things are just dandy). In psychological terms, the response is either "fight" or "flight." (Just between us, while no one's listening, how did you handle your most recent problem?) Big or small, the problem's size isn't nearly as important as your handling of it. Did you face the music and tackle the problem? Or did you deny its importance and sweep it under the rug? Think about it a while, and then you might have a greater understanding of those who choose to hide from their fears about The Real Thing (it is intimidating, granted) by choosing an impossible love object. Their hiding place? Within the deepest caverns of their psyche. That denial mechanism has probably been used so often since childhood that in adulthood, they can muster a convincing argument that leaves no lingering doubts in their minds. Their idol, this unavailable fantasy person, is their one and only love object; they must have that person or no one. So they end up alone, never challenged by (or relishing the fruits of) the Real Thing. And that's the way they (unknowingly) want it to be. Sighworthy, no? <p>Updated: Wed Jun 17, 2020</p> 7276867bf021538ada827ef8d9af3a0a Gaspworthy for 06/10/2020 Wed, 10 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: Maybe I've mistaken the point of "Single File" &#8212; which I imagined was about people who are single, not in a long-term, committed relationship! In the past, I've commented on your blog that you seem hung up on the notion that most people "lose themselves" when they enter a relationship. Some certainly do, but just as many do not. I can only assume that attempts to make your expertise include maintaining one's identity while being part of a couple is really about reaching a wider audience, one that includes people in committed relationships as well as those who are truly single. That's fine, but please don't pretend I don't understand the difference between being single &#8212; which, to nearly everyone on this planet, means someone not in a committed, long-term relationship &#8212; and being in such a relationship yet healthy enough to retain one's identity. Aside: That it is healthy to keep one's identity in a committed, long-term relationship is not gaspworthy in 2020. </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: Whether or not you're the blogger mentioned, your rather limited and outmoded understanding of singleness shows you to be a newcomer to this corner of singleworld. That said, let's have at it. Fact is, the widowhood that lured me into a life work led to the realization that each of us has a single core, our individuality, that needs expression and recognition in every form of relationship. I truly hope, friend, that you begin to understand that my focus on singleness goes beyond &#8212; way beyond &#8212; marital status and always has been a broader interpretation of "single." Each new generation needs to be reminded that their first responsibility is to themselves, and that no form of relationship must imperil their selfhood. Ever. Selfhood is the singleness that coexists seamlessly within any dyad, allowing it full and healthy expression. Now are you gasping for air? <p>Updated: Wed Jun 10, 2020</p> 027b2310c0fd517f5d9cd5f20acbb965 Love As Catalyst for 06/03/2020 Wed, 03 Jun 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Once we fall in love, we tend to believe it's that other person, our beloved, who makes us feel complete because he or she fills in the element that was missing while we hungered for love. We tend to look for the man who makes us feel like a "real woman" at the zenith of our femininity. </p> <p>If that sounds (all too) familiar, it's time to clear up that misconception. <p>Updated: Wed Jun 03, 2020</p> 82fafc00cbe18a7488561e7f73a7b66a Wondering for 05/27/2020 Wed, 27 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Even if you yourself are snugly married, you probably have many single friends who love to pass along their tales of woe, stories of meeting and greeting the undead at bars, and contrived single minglings. The honest ones will admit being relieved when they go home alone, kicking off their shoes and dropping into a warm bed. Their lips are still twitching from forced smiles and unnaturally parched from hours of overtalking. Time and time again, they vow never to try again &#8212; until the next barren Friday night creeps up. These days, discouraged but still unbowed, they are paying dating apps to do the preliminary matching for them. To married folk, it's kind of shocking and impersonal to turn your love life over to a third party charging hefty fees from both hopefuls. I sit smack in the middle between rapturous bliss often punctured by downcast sighs of rejection. <span class="column--highlighted-text">What's all the fuss about this strange go-between, these dating apps? </span>Why are they so popular? Why aren't people in the dating game finding love the usual ways &#8212; through friends or family, or at work? Is there something wrong with singles these days?</p> <p>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 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at<p>Updated: Wed May 27, 2020</p> a56e2c4e28120315f70342d908f93e69 Bed Gratitude for 05/20/2020 Wed, 20 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Her phone call startled me. The distraught woman on the other end spoke in rapid-fire sentences, most of them half-finished. Every word was confused, jumbled. But after some time, it became clear that her husband of 30 years was leaving the marriage. He wanted to live alone. In a way, he had already gone; they hadn't had sex in a year, and the times she made the first move, he couldn't perform. So they were living like roommates, their children's rooms, now empty, echoing the silence. She asked if I knew a good sex therapist. I didn't and suggested she find a generic therapist, because the root of marital problems is rarely sexual. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">From all I know, a couple's sex life is simply the vehicle through which difficulties are expressed. </span>(Sex therapy comes into its own when a loving couple is having difficulty with the biological facet of their beddings &#8212; positions, etc.). But in 99% of relationships, it's the breakdown of the intimacy involved in sexual relations that sends a frantic SOS for wise counsel from a relationship professional, with ongoing input from the couple themselves. <p>Updated: Wed May 20, 2020</p> 2692012f88024c3a9d4cfdeda7c1c29c Friendship With Benefits for 05/13/2020 Wed, 13 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: There's something between casual sex and sex between committed partners. I don't know what to call it, but I do know it exists. I read that the French have a term for it: "less than lovers, more than friends." It's certainly possible for two people who care about each other as friends to have a sexual relationship. Neither partner is expecting or hoping for more from the relationship; they accept it for what it is. It's far better when one is feeling lonely (or in need of affection or physical satisfaction) to connect with someone you know and are fond of (as a friend) than to seek satisfaction from a stranger. </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: Yes, there is a middle ground in our American singleworld, a relationship that falls somewhere between committed love partners and casualty sex. In our youthful exuberance, we gave it the term "friendship with benefits." Sounded good &#8212; like something that seems to fill a need in single life. So I tentatively bought into the new French import &#8212; until female casualties began to share tales of exploitation. And as time passed, I realized that the American singleworld is contorting F with B, using the term to cover sexual exploitation. The term certainly doesn't apply to every platonic friendship but is misused often enough to merit serious deliberation when considering adding sexuality to an already warm and close friendship. One more time, as a cautionary tale: In our American singleworld, "friendship with benefits" has at times been cruelly exploited for the purpose of enjoying pleasure without assuming responsibility. Think about it. <p>Updated: Wed May 13, 2020</p> 88e81fc707d156a702bbf321350caaf8 Rubber Banded for 05/06/2020 Wed, 06 May 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: About the man you dated who kept a thick rubber band around his wallet. It dates back to an old law enforcement trick: It makes picking the wallet from a pocket much more difficult, if not impossible. Being someone who secures his money tightly, I am usually the first to grab a check, to never hesitate to pay and to pay for a date (despite some very nice women). And I have never been called stingy. When I was married, I was one of the men who turned their paycheck over to his wife, because I trusted her participation in our marriage. Our divorce was not (primarily) about money but about work. It was amicable, and we are still amicable. So, Susan, please don't judge everyone with an elastic around his wallet by one stingy guy.</p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: Thanks for reminding me to keep away from stereotyping, BUT, this man's wallet was so tightly bound &#8212; and so seldom opened &#8212; that a moth flew out (an exaggeration but pretty close to the truth)! He was so tight and so controlling that when he put his arm around me, it felt like a vise (shudder). He told me that he had ripped up his wife's will when she died, because all her money had come from him &#8212; this from the mouth of an attorney! Another gem: At a Sunday brunch when he was first meeting my brother, he was so starved for something to say that he started to read from a card pulled from his wallet (yes, the same one that housed a moth). So it takes more negatives than a rubber-banded wallet for this columnist to turn thumbs down. <span class="column--highlighted-text">This man was as stingy with his love and kindness as he was with the contents of his rubber-banded wallet.</span> There are many more examples of his undesirability, but you get the point. <p>Updated: Wed May 06, 2020</p> 3d520b397e56a697e5b3fb92fa79d251 Love Addiction for 04/29/2020 Wed, 29 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: You write about love addiction as if it's a bad thing to be in love. What is it, and is it so very bad?</p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: Being in love is wonderful: exalting, mellowing, shifting one's entire outlook on life into Upbeat and Forgiving. How could something that good be bad? The thing is, though, I'm not talking about love when I put the words "love" and "addiction" side by side. (And I hope it never infects you!) No, this malady is insidious &#8212; creeping into a relationship and destroying it from the inside. Its core is something we politely call jealousy. But it's more than that, a lot more, a possessiveness often mistaken for intense love. At first it's a bit bothersome but also flattering in a way. To be wanted so deeply must be a good thing, we tell ourselves. But it grows from there and deepens into ownership. And no one wants to be a piece of property. Pretty soon outsiders are discouraged from entering the twosome, made to feel unwelcome. The couple get the message pretty soon. But still, it feels good to be wanted so badly that the whole world is shut out. Right? So very wrong! Soon one of the duo realizes he/she feels like a shut-in, caged-like-a-pet possession, only this cage is terminal and unloving. Both partners &#8212; can't call them lovers &#8212; sink into the mire of exclusiveness gone wrong. Ownership. Relationship made ill. Oh, how wrong this addiction makes life. Where the partners in a healthy relationship stand back to back, facing out into the world, this travesty keeps the world far away. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Here's to healthy love that welcomes the world beyond its borders.</span> <p>Updated: Wed Apr 29, 2020</p> 0220be8d3d20fcb0791e2ef610432913 What? Me Marry? for 04/22/2020 Wed, 22 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Yes. You! It just might happen that you meet someone you can't get out of your mind, a Wonderful One whose chemistry seems to mesh perfectly with yours. The mere thought of the person makes you grin with a happy secret between you and ... well, you. In other words, for the very first time in a long time, you're floored. And private time spent with this Candidate In Question only seems to make you more certain this relationship could very well be IT. And yet ... there are those early-morning hours that rumble you upright in your bed to begin the questioning. </p> <p>&#8212; Is this person in my corner, on my side, an ally? Is he FOR me? <p>Updated: Wed Apr 22, 2020</p> 895bb51dfb38f70f77e441e504ca11bb Old Maidism: A (Gentle) Rant for 04/15/2020 Wed, 15 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>This is definitely equal-opportunity advice, since thinking/acting like an old maid is a personality trait that can be acquired by either gender. You're familiar with the signs: Rigidity with a capital R, dogmatic refusal to consider another solution to a problem. Simply put, it's their way or the highway. Sometimes it takes some time to recognize the trait in an acquaintance, but once you do, the final scene is scripted. Old Maids &#8212; male and female &#8212; must have even the smallest detail met with their approval. (Recognize anyone in your own universe?) Such people make the people around them edgy, unsure of themselves. And so the Old Maids are ultimately left alone to stew in their own discontent ... a pathetic tale, tearfully told by repenting Old Maids of both genders. </p> <p>If the subject of my rant seems similar to you or anyone you care about, let's stop the merry-go-round and look a bit closer &#8212; and (perhaps) get more personal. (Ahem) If you &#8212; yes, you &#8212; hesitate handing over the television remote or (gulp) use a booming voice to dominate what was to be a friendly discussion, it may be time you realized your odds of getting close to a beloved are almost nonexistent &#8212; unless, of course, you catch a whiff of recognition from these words and make yourself a binding oath to change the way you view the world of people. Because in love, the real thing, you must relinquish some individual power to gain the fellowship of a dyad. Yes, it's a trade-off of the most deserving sort. I heartily suggest swallowing hard before giving that nugget of wisdom your contemplation. And that you do so often. Through some twists and turns of mind and mood, I myself have come down hard on the side of sharing. Yes, there are old wounds that take their toll, sad and soulful memories that resurface to have their moment in the sun. But the sweetness of welcoming embrace always, always resurfaces and wins the day. And the heart. <p>Updated: Wed Apr 15, 2020</p> c23523af8e71409efbcf7526adcdf5c6 Tidbits for 04/08/2020 Wed, 08 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>&#8212; Keep the child support check and visits from your kids' father distinct and separate in your mind &#8212; and heart. Your children must see for themselves that their dad didn't divorce them.</p> <p>&#8212; Imagine what you'd do with your time if you were to only have six months to live. I'd bet my new scanner that nowhere on your list would be anything that deals with dating or marriage, and that more than once you'd promise to show your fellow man more love. Well, why not do it today?<p>Updated: Wed Apr 08, 2020</p> 49c70d9f4564f8966cf229ef42197d24 Apartnership for 04/01/2020 Wed, 01 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Dear Readers: Yes, this column is a rerun. But because the concept (and the reality) is very much on our minds today (and rightfully so), it deserves another go-around. So here's the letter as it was written, and your reactions are mightily welcome. (For obvious reasons, the writer's name is omitted.) She's a thoughtful reader whose musings may or may not resonate with yours, but please give it another read.</p> <p>"I've been lucky enough to have shared some personally productive relationships since my marriage ended two years ago. Right now I'm dating a lovely man who has the strength of character to be himself with me, and we're having a wonderful time. But as much as I like him, I still cannot imagine any other person, however beloved, in my space, in my finances or in my material assets. Maybe this will change. The relationship is a young one, and there is far to go &#8212; emotionally and practically. But for now, perhaps I'm just not ready to remarry, as I still may equate 'marriage' with what I had with my ex-husband, something that fails. However rationally, I know that if I find someone with whom my goals, visions and values align, he and I together will establish our own unique marital relationship. <p>Updated: Wed Apr 01, 2020</p> e4023064a42faa8beb79578eaf3de323 The End of Love for 03/25/2020 Wed, 25 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The last scene of once-wondrous love isn't pretty. The anguish of that finale is pain I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Yes, I was dumped by a man who had brilliantly envisioned my career but did me dirty in the realm of love. Looking back, I realize the necessary role he played in reopening my heart after the dramatic loss of my young husband ... insight that came only after years of self-inquiry and a psychic that left me roiling. But however it's rationalized, the memory will be a permanent resident of my memory bank.</p> <p>If you're still hurting from your own memories, you probably can't believe there's a way to minimize the emotional meltdown we women are susceptible to. It's certainly not to stop following your heart! As I see it, the solution &#8212; the only one I consider reliable enough to pass along &#8212; is to maintain your own spheres of interest, your own friends, your own identity, even when &#8212; especially when! &#8212; there's a very good person vowing true love forever. Holding tightly to your selfhood is a way to make sure your personal universe doesn't eddy down a black hole if/when love ends. That counterbalance is crucial to keeping your emotional equilibrium in love. Not wrapping your whole life around the other person (stored in the female DNA?) is crucial to fighting the tendency to surrender your very soul in the heat of togetherness. <p>Updated: Wed Mar 25, 2020</p>