Single FileĀ® from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 21 Sep 2018 22:50:44 -0700 Single FileĀ® from Creators Syndicate 538db84def27fb396224d53857516db7 Autonomy and Cookies (Part 2) for 09/19/2018 Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Now, today, start thinking about how much togetherness you require and how much me time you want &#8212; combined in one relationship. The starting point is to look within yourself &#8212; you don't want to kid your best buddy, do you? &#8212; and come up with an honest answer. Remember, this exercise is strictly between you and you. No one else is entitled to a peek or an opinion. (You might just be surprised at your own musings.) Thing is, I promise you this tiny exercise will influence your thinking on the people you've been dating, your contentment quotient, the talks you have with friends and family. I also promise that you won't have a moment's peace until you take the first step.</p> <p>Some learned philosopher called the issue a tug of war between sovereignty and fellowship. After years of counseling couples, he realized that most internal conflicts between partners are mini-wars about whose will should prevail. And he realized that each partner needs to become part of a dance, a back-and-forth rhythm of asserting alternating with surrendering, for the greater good of the relationship. Most of us want to be part of the dance. Nobody wants to be a wallflower, on the sidelines being passed over and left on one's own. It's not that we don't feel the back-and-forth rhythm of loving relatedness. We do. Trouble is, we expect to feel it from the first instant we look into someone's eyes, and it doesn't happen that way. Solid relationships are the result of time and effort. Not hard work exactly but most definitely some amount of thought and awareness. Quitters don't win.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 19, 2018</p> 86492cd8ce6bfb031acd930f49429d9e Autonomy and Cookies (Part 1) for 09/12/2018 Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In my life of reader mail, some letters leave a strong impression because they're food for thought. Right now, I'm recalling a 30-something reader, male by gender, divorced by choice. He was one of 1,900 single men and women who took part in my nationwide survey, willing (and eager) to answer nearly 100 questions tackling issues of sexuality and relationships. Along with his completed questionnaire came this message: "I'm recently divorced and happy to be. Now at least I can eat cookies in bed without being nagged about the crumbs. I'm glad about that part of my single life. But what makes me sad is there's no one who cares about those crumbs, no one who does anything when they start to pile up."</p> <p>There's the dilemma of all singles, in a nutshell. (Or should I say chocolate chip cookie?) We all want the freedom of being on our own. <span class="column--highlighted-text">We love the fact that no one is breathing down our necks asking why we did or didn't do something. It's a relief, especially coming out of a restrictive marriage. But it's no fun when you begin to realize no one cares about your actions or choices.</span> Janis Joplin said it: "Freedom's just another word for 'nothing left to lose.'" And that's what this divorced man realized. It seems to me that we all must decide whether we want to eat our cookies in bed (total freedom) or whether we want someone alongside in our bed &#8212; even if the person doesn't approve of our getting crumbs all over the sheets!<p>Updated: Wed Sep 12, 2018</p> 1f81071a26015d103a9d33a771b6a549 Damaged Femininity (Part 1) for 09/05/2018 Wed, 05 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Furniture gets nicked. Plates get chipped. But femininity damaged? That was the complaint I was hearing the other day from a man very dear to me &#8212; my son, Scott. He was saying that so many women he's meeting are not very feminine. His words echoed many letters in my inbox these days. Out of respect for both sources, these thoughts:</p> <p>Women have been movemented up to the eyeballs, yet not one social upheaval came with handling instructions. We've been liberated from more evils than we can name, but none of the new territories we're moving into has helped us navigate the terrain. Just exactly what is our correct behavior in the workplace, now chaired by both genders? Ask any man and he'll just shake his head in bewilderment &#8212; and fear. We've made men frightened of offending us in the slightest way.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 05, 2018</p> b99b8a3b11c66522baf4bd6ba19eccc8 Keep It Light for 08/29/2018 Wed, 29 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>"She makes me laugh. We have fun together." "Just being with him is fun." It's more than possible that the same person who brings a smile to your lips has soul mate potential. Let that thought percolate awhile and my hunch is that pretty soon you'll be nodding in agreement. Thing is, finding humor in the same things could be an important common denominator for building long-term partnership. (Not the only one, of course, but a key indicator of a shared worldview.) As human connection goes, that sort of harmony is nothing to laugh at. (Sorry. Couldn't resist the pun.) Seriously, though, when you can laugh with (yes, and sometimes at) each other, not much can come between you.</p> <p>Please note that this sort of humor is a world apart from contrived one-liners on Comedy Central. I'm reminded of a years-ago brunch meant to introduce a beau to my brother and his wife, a meal that became two-hour captivity, turning the three of us into mute, glassy-eyed hostages to this chap reading from a typewritten list of stale, tasteless puns and jokes. (He didn't last long in my world &#8212; not because of his social deficiency but because he turned out to be a miserly, controlling meanie with a viselike grip and two rubber bands around his wallet. I kid you not!)<p>Updated: Wed Aug 29, 2018</p> ce25f839ec43d89d11ba10261fed6959 Family Councils (Part 2) for 08/22/2018 Wed, 22 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>All the planning and anticipation is paying off. The council is tonight. Phones turned off, young minds definitely turned on, there are questions to ask, comments to make. Is there anything more wonderful for a parent than being with the next generation of oneself?! (Relax. Smile. And get ready to listen hard to the people who will make the best of the future, bringing your genes with them.) You may be a bit antsy at first, but remind yourself that the people sitting with you are flesh of your flesh. Between us, this is a rare chance to come off the mom pedestal and own up to your humanness &#8212; warts and all. They'll remember these councils and your gutsiness for a long time. (They'll probably hold them with their own children.) So be sure your answers are plain, easy to understand &#8212; oh, and 100 percent honest. No one sniffs out duplicity like the young.</p> <p>During the council, suggest making these meetings a regular, planned part of the family's routine. And explain the importance of airing gripes before they're set in cement. Ask everyone to keep a running list of issues and questions to bring up at these get-togethers. They can be anything at all, small and large. (The idea may meet with groans at first because it sounds like homework, but pretty soon those lists will be appreciated. You'll see.)<p>Updated: Wed Aug 22, 2018</p> cee7f28c3c6c7c31eeeb47b138b31996 Family Councils (Part 1) for 08/15/2018 Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Catapulted into young widowhood with a small son to raise, I was totally unprepared to be a single parent. During my eight-year marriage, I had been a cheerleader, on the sidelines applauding my young husband. It was his role to make all the big decisions. After all, he was head of our family, right? Hmm. So <span class="column--highlighted-text">when I found myself on my own, a cosmos with a small satellite to nourish and protect, I had real difficulty thinking of my little household as a family</span>. Families had two adults, didn't they?</p> <p>Then someone I respected pointed out that although small, ours was indeed a family. That revelation touched a nerve &#8212; and helped mightily to change the routine of our tiny household. Almost daily, we'd go for a walk after supper and have a heart-to-heart about the day's happenings &#8212; what happened in his school that day, his after-school group's doings and (if I could get a word in sideways) his assignments. On weekends, we had long talks in the nearby park, between throwing and catching the ball. My memories of those days still give me much joy, and I hope you take the hint and put in place some regularly scheduled (and uninterrupted) time for you to commune with your beloved family. Take as many pictures as you can. And remember to date the back of each one to help you jog your memory in later years.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 15, 2018</p> 423a7fc03d6f9c6763a3e38d611728e9 Men and Undependence for 08/08/2018 Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>There I was, sitting in the middle of a good-sized amphitheater, guest guru for a large Seattle group of singles assembled for a local television show. The young host had me on the hot seat. I was the central focus for questions from the audience. All was going smoothly, when from the back row came a plaintive cry: "My wife died last month, and there's no one to do my laundry!" The 50ish man was close to tears. I was mute, paralyzed by the suddenness of his outburst. The host quickly jumped in with some nondescript response, and I eventually regained my composure and my voice. But the plane trip home was, for this single maven, a meditation on male dependency/neediness &#8212; an issue that hadn't fully registered in my psyche until that bereft widower framed it.</p> <p>The truth is that men need to learn undependence as much as &#8212; or maybe more than &#8212; women. They've been brainwashed for generations into believing that emotions are solely female terrain, that it just isn't manly to have your eyes well up with tears. Be a man. Suck it up. Bear quietly with whatever hurts. The result? The deepest feelings get stuffed back into the male psyche, where they fester. They don't go away because they're never brought out into the open and expressed. Disuse only makes them more powerful when they finally do burst out.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 08, 2018</p> e052c1dca6f91ddfbea16c20a1d93f50 Bitterness (Part 2) for 08/01/2018 Wed, 01 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If you've been musing on the power of bitterness and the awfulness it can play in a life, that's a step in the right direction. It tells me your complacency has been a bit rattled by my words and you may just be considering (for the first time?) your role in shaping the unpleasant endings in your life. Knowing this is just between you and me, look in the mirror at your best friend and admit your part in them. Don't take full responsibility, but do resolve to do better next time. At stake is a lifetime of positive outcomes.</p> <p>Bitter people are always talking about "what might have been." "Life is unfair" is their favorite rationalization. They feel they've been robbed. Life has given riches and fame and happiness to others, but it has overlooked them. But odds are that digging deeper into their lives, you'll find missed opportunity after missed opportunity. Maybe fear is what has kept them chained to the familiar &#8212; fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of failing and maybe, just maybe, the greatest fear of all: fear of succeeding. Think about it.<p>Updated: Wed Aug 01, 2018</p> 741e5f7e12910b4106d42a70d185b8d8 Bitterness (Part 1) for 07/25/2018 Wed, 25 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Of all the aftershocks of love's endings, bitterness does the most damage because it's sneaky. While it clouds perception, it silently fulfills its own prophecy, which is that people will stay away. Potential friends and lovers keep their distance from an embittered person, which only serves to confirm his/her sour view of life, completing the circle of cynicism. (Deep sigh.)</p> <p>But when people are content with life and with themselves, they, for the most part, view life's downturns fairly, placing blame where deserved while (ahem) shouldering the rightful share of responsibility for mistakes, which are almost inevitable in a full life. So what'll it be, bitter or optimistic? Take your choice. I kid you not, my friend; it is indeed a conscious choice. There are ways to remain hopeful, even when life tosses you a world-class curve.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 25, 2018</p> 174e130d626c9e46410d89f621c0e8d0 Love as Catalyst for 07/18/2018 Wed, 18 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Once we fall in love, we tend to think it's the other person &#8212; the beloved &#8212; who is filling in the missing part of our emotional neediness and making us feel complete. Both sexes fall into that abyss and never fully recover. Sadly, we tend to look for a person who will make us feel like a real woman/man, totally fulfilled and whole. Well, truth be told, it just isn't so, my friend. What actually happens in love is that the act of loving puts us in touch with our ability to express lovingness, and that ability is the missing part we've craved. <span class="column--highlighted-text">By inspiring us to express lovingness, our beloved connects us with the missing element of ourselves.</span> It isn't that the other person fills you up and makes you whole and you're all jagged edges without him or her. The object of your affection is a catalyst, not a missing piece. No person other than you has the ability to make you whole.</p> <p>Keeping that gem in mind, you probably won't be so quick to look to love (or a love object) for salvation. Using that fact as a mantra, you'll stop waiting for Eros to come along and instead start today to build your other sources of satisfaction &#8212; friends, family, work, interests &#8212; and become your own savior. And besides saving yourself, you'll be liberating your future object from having to be all things to you. And while you're musing on that tidbit, please pay attention to the issue of healthy brainwashing. I kid you not.<p>Updated: Wed Jul 18, 2018</p> 4e1ba147efdb4aa43acf4294801cd066 Bed Gratitude for 07/11/2018 Wed, 11 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Sex being a clear barometer of relatedness between partners (i.e., the state of their entire relationship), let's you and I look at the positive side of the concept. The bedroom seems (to me, at least) to be an ideal setting for broadcasting one's appreciation for his or her partner's tender loving care in the rest of their shared life. Sadly, quite the opposite message is the one loudly vented in most sex therapists' offices: A partner's anger is being shown through withholding sex. So &#8212; for a change of scene &#8212; let's imagine a harmonious bedding that expresses gratitude within the bedroom for the rest of the togetherness, beyond its walls. (The phenomenon gets precious little ink in the papers, but this is one of those rare media moments when it's not only discussed but encouraged.) Need a glass of water right now?</p> <p>Ask any sex therapist about the bed as arena for deeper feelings and odds are you'll collide headfirst with the issue respectfully examined here. (When I first mentioned bed gratitude to a certain television host, she hooted and howled. But the next day, she phoned to say she planned to build a whole show around it!)<p>Updated: Wed Jul 11, 2018</p> 098aa99957b3a6e7ce4dedf26e5d52b2 Sexual Bill of Rights for 07/04/2018 Wed, 04 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Sexual expression is part of mental and physical well-being. On that we agree. But being unmarried, you also know how difficult it is to find caring and commitment from a partner. Sexual union has the potential to be spiritual communion, but only when it joins soul mates can it even come close to expressing that high level of togetherness and deliver on its promise to blend souls. (Anyone who's known the farce of loveless gymnastics can attest to that!) But it takes a bit of doing to make sense of the overchoice offered in single life, in which "romantic" situations occur with some regularity. So this Sexual Bill of Rights aims to help you gain insight into your sexual self &#8212; your personal morals and ethics &#8212; and help you gain the confidence of knowing what you want (and don't) without pained explanations or inner confusion.</p> <p>As your gaze meanders down the page, turn your thoughts to other ways you can express your loving feelings. In this hectic life, it's all too easy to forget emotions such as gratitude, appreciation and friendship &#8212; and muffle them in the quest of meeting a busy schedule. That makes this a good opportunity to honor them. Make a visit to the local kennel, filled with love-starved animals badly in need of human affection. Write a loving letter to your parents, those well-meaning people who want only good things for you. Shepherd a group of newly arrived foreign students to a film or museum of their choice. Volunteer at the local hospital to read "Watership Down" to a group of hospitalized children. Share your gentleness by cuddling a newborn at the local orphanage. This world is full of people who need people, and sometimes all it takes to start an avalanche of kindness is one person. (Ahem.) Is this any way to have a sex life? When the alternative is junk sex, you bet it is!<p>Updated: Wed Jul 04, 2018</p> 640fe9a9da0e7d41430c0130f80bbcc0 Still More Summer Tips for 06/27/2018 Wed, 27 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Should a woman pop the question? Darn right she should. And now you know why men wait and wait and wait &#8212; until they're 100 percent sure they'll get a "yes" answer. And you? I bet you'll have a headache and a touch of queasiness just thinking about it, but make something happen! You will feel really good about making the first move. Promise.</p> <p>There are blues &#8212; and then there are the BLUES. For the biggies, you know my advocacy for talking it over with a caring, skilled therapist. But for the smaller mood swings, smaller remedies will usually do: a brisk walk, a phone call to the folks, a home-based chore that has needed to be done for ages. This is a good time to put on your favorite music while you're fixing up the old homestead. Or maybe write a love letter to your dreamboat. (Don't mail it!)<p>Updated: Wed Jun 27, 2018</p> dd64d0d09dd0660357928e921810d80d More Summer Tips for 06/20/2018 Wed, 20 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If only we women could be more secure about our age (and our wrinkles) and get comfortable with the idea of being with a younger man. Europeans have been onto the arrangement (unashamedly) for years. When will we get the message? After all, young men have vitality, enthusiasm, passion and a far more flexible viewpoint toward the female gender. They're not ruled by shoulds and should-nots, gender roles and propriety. Think about it, ladies.</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Friendships are the bulwark of a successful single life.</span> The good feelings that flow between two people on the same wavelength provide emotional nourishment and a dependable safety net in times of need. And oddly, the more friendship you give to those around you the more comes pouring back into your life. (But hoarding only reduces the inventory, in an interesting twist.) Make your circle of friends wide and inclusive, a rich mixture of ages and occupations.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 20, 2018</p> a741c86eb157a1f066273b69e05eeeef Summer Tips for 06/13/2018 Wed, 13 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Ask yourself when love comes to a halt: What can I do to nourish myself, to fill the emptiness? Has my life changed so totally that I need to figure things out again? Or is there something I postponed for the sake of being coupled? And is this the perfect time to get it done, with no excuses accepted? Am I a little wiser for the next romantic go-round? Did I expect too much from the person &#8212; and from myself? Did I expect too much from love itself? Oh, my friend, only you know the answer to that.</p> <p>Next time you're at a playground, stop and take a look &#8212; a close look &#8212; at the children playing. The way I see it, they're the model of true single fulfillment &#8212; living in the present moment, totally engrossed. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Remember them as you work toward whatever it is you want from your life, because they are the ideal, not a bit self-conscious that they're solo.</span> They are who they are, and they came to be part of what's going on. It seems to me that's the only commonality needed. Think about it.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 13, 2018</p> c895b216e1e684422d62423c8e3019d3 Epilogue for 06/06/2018 Wed, 06 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>It's that time again, that magic season of change and rebirth. And it's in that spirit that I offer you the words of my son, Scott, the amazing next generation of my gene pool. You are about to digest his words exactly as he wrote them, unchanged and unedited, when he offered to pen the closing pages of my book on living single. I claim no credit for any part of this epilogue; it's all his. (I do, however, take great pride in the fact that he is my son.) Without further verbiage, then, Scott's musings:</p> <p>"It is quite unusual for the son of an author to write the epilogue for a book, especially this kind of a book, but when that author (my mother) and I were talking recently, it became clear that I was in a unique position to offer comments, and that my epilogue might be a good way to cap this work. I've known her as mother and columnist, as single woman, single parent, and as friend, and I've seen the many stages that led to the completion of this book.</p> <p>"From my close vantage point I see how she has lived this material before setting it down in print, how she has brought herself from feelings of helplessness and self-pity to the pride and self-affirmation that come from an inspired creative process. I've watched her grow as a person and as a parent, taking control of her life and developing self-determination while building a marriage. All of this enables her to be a much better mother, and our relationship has strengthened. I can affirm the value of the ideas embodied in this book because I've seen them put to the test and provide sure guidance to a life.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 06, 2018</p> c56bebf551754cf7932ed0dc8dcba764 Sexual Bill of Rights for 05/30/2018 Wed, 30 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Sexual expression is part of mental and physical well-being. On that we probably agree. And being unmarried, you know how difficult it is to find a caring and committed partner. It's well worth waiting for, because when soul mates join spirit and flesh, their union can approach spiritual communion. Once that's experienced, anything less is out of the question. But to aspire to that height, you must first make sense of the sexual overchoice too readily offered in single life. And so my Sexual Bill of Rights evolved, to encourage you to think through your emotions and reactions in the calm comfort of your reasoning now, well before you're faced with the real-life emotionally charged moment. It's my way of helping you settle what can be an enormously important decision here &#8212; now, today &#8212; and the printed page is a relatively safe place. The Sexual Bill of Rights can help you gain insight into yourself &#8212; your personal morals and ethics &#8212; so that you gain the confidence that comes from knowing what you want and don't want, without pained explanation and confusion.</p> <p>As your eye meanders down the page, give a thought to the other ways you can express your loving feelings. When you put your mind to it, life has many: adopting a pet, phoning your favorite niece, devoting Sunday mornings to helping at the local soup kitchen. How about volunteering to be a love channel at your local animal shelter? How about treating your folks to Sunday brunch, a gesture that would mean so much to them? Think about the young children in hospital beds, who'd be thrilled to have a young visitor (you) play checkers with them. And imagine the warm glow you'd have after a few hours of cuddling a motherless foundling in the local orphanage. Is this any way to have a sex life? When the alternative is junk sex, you bet it is! And now, for your eyes only:<p>Updated: Wed May 30, 2018</p> 64a3103f4b1b1c5cac35b07212254f54 Force of Nature for 05/23/2018 Wed, 23 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The unmarried are in a global revolution, largely unheralded by our media, that has &#8212; without fanfare but with unerring grace and dignity &#8212; moved most of the world's developed countries to adopt laws giving them broad rights and protection. It is a sad irony that America, known for its pioneering spirit and respect for human rights, is still woefully behind the curve in granting recognition to the population on the vanguard of a historic population shift. It's an even greater irony that those men and women, having achieved majority status, for the most part continue to remain outside the laws of this land that was founded on righteous uprising.</p> <p>France is one example of a country that has already enacted protective laws for its unmarried population. There, civil solidarity pacts allow same- and opposite-sex couples to join lives outside of marriage. These pacts extend rights in areas of social security, inheritance, taxation and next-of-kin notification. Many other countries in Europe have enacted laws recognizing unmarried couples and granting legal protection. Even China, an unlikely nation to accommodate changing trends in its population, shows clear signs of later marriage and an increasing shift to singlehood. The government's response? More relaxed marriage laws. And the contagion continues to evolve. Growing youth movements worldwide are relentlessly prodding their governments for legal recognition.<p>Updated: Wed May 23, 2018</p> cfcd83d977652143eb694f5576618fc6 Meeting Blues for 05/16/2018 Wed, 16 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: As a heterosexual man, I found that very little of your columns titled "Feelings Inventory" rang true for me. But I admit I do have trouble meeting decent, stable women. At age 56, I'm a bit worried for my romantic future.</p> <p>Please let the good woman out there know I'm trying to find her, but if she's always with a big group, how do I ever get to talk to her? And if she's desperate and clingy and tries to get me to take her home that night, ick! On the other hand, she shouldn't let anything stop her from sharing her phone number so we can talk later.<p>Updated: Wed May 16, 2018</p> 38f0a64868bdb3037945efc52c5d8d3a How Do You Spell Success? for 05/09/2018 Wed, 09 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The following are classic definitions of success. Number them 1 to 10 &#8212; No. 1 being the most important to you. And do feel free to add some of your own!</p> <p>&#8212;Money.<p>Updated: Wed May 09, 2018</p>