Single FileĀ® from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 14 May 2021 02:14:50 -0700 Single FileĀ® from Creators Syndicate 181b8e466e5205f2cd64a66119740a9a Career as Connection for 05/12/2021 Wed, 12 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Goal-oriented, ongoing, meaningful work is the ultimate connection, the taproot into the world around you. By its very nature, it places you in the middle of a varied support group &#8212; from the bank clerk who cashes your check to the salesperson who sells you clothes for the office to the people who work beside you. The routine of work itself is a bridge to the outside world, pulling you out of self-absorption and prodding you to compare your thoughts with others' thoughts and your opinions with others' opinions, and to discover alternative ways of structuring your reality and making a life. </p> <p>I'm not talking about "just a job" whose sale satisfaction is a paycheck but about a (gasp) career, which implies the sort of in-depth knowledge that can only be accumulated through dedication and focus. It needn't be in a field as esoteric as molecular biology; you may decide to become a potter or a farmer, a bus driver or a store manager. But you do have to sort through your strengths and interests and commit yourself to tracking a long-term career path with one of them. <span class="column--highlighted-text">The key is to become good at something you love and then specialize in it. </span>That kind of deep dedication requires pinpointed attention and inevitably results in stability and cohesion. <p>Updated: Wed May 12, 2021</p> 584b5da2a25712271201968aa064249f Autonomy and Cookies for 05/05/2021 Wed, 05 May 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Today, start thinking about how much togetherness you require and how much on-your-own-time you want 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.) I promise you this tiny exercise will influence your thinking on the people you've been dating, your contentment quotient, and the talks you have with friends and family. I also promise 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 most internal conflicts between partners were miniwars about whose will would prevail. And he realized that <span class="column--highlighted-text">each partner needed to become part of a dance, a back-and-forth rhythm of alternating and surrendering, for the greater good of the relationship</span>. 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 &#8212; not hard work, exactly, but most definitely some amount of thought and awareness. Quitters don't win. <p>Updated: Wed May 05, 2021</p> 259049760393133b8eb64c0f75444a2a Quiz for Those Never Married for 04/28/2021 Wed, 28 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR READERS: For your reading pleasure, I offer a quiz. As always, <span class="column--highlighted-text">the purpose is not to judge yourself as giving a right or wrong response. It's to hold up a mirror to yourself and search within for the current truth.</span> Yes, our feelings change, and our opinions change (or should) as we become more knowing about this life we've been given. This particular quiz is aimed at the never-married &#8212; or, if you prefer, the always-single. But enough preamble ...</p> <p>&#8212; Have you chosen not to marry because you want to grow? Do you think it's possible to grow as an individual within a marriage? <p>Updated: Wed Apr 28, 2021</p> bbbb7ecfeea5e036259edac0b01c10cf Generic Blues for 04/21/2021 Wed, 21 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: I feel down in the dumps. No special reason, just a lot of nothingness in my life. I never write to advice columnists, but you and "Single File" seem to have some good ideas. Do you have any for me? </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: The way I see them, some low feelings are perennial; they crop up no matter how many times you think you've weeded them out of your secret garden. These are generic blues: a vague, unspecified unease. Yet low-grade as they are, they make an ideal breeding ground for bona fide troubles and can escalate a simple problem into a full-blown case of self-pity. So, it's important to deal with them at the first sign. ere 'm not dealing with If But But answering your letter takes me into the realm of the shortcut, the simple and effective way to deal with momentary difficulties. The habitual ones require second and third opinions, and sometimes professional intervention. (If you've been hanging around this column for a while, you know how deeply I endorse therapy.) <p>Updated: Wed Apr 21, 2021</p> 6b8975832ecce00349acc439938424c1 Bending for 04/14/2021 Wed, 14 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>No, dear readers, this has nothing to do with exercises. At least not the physical kind. This has to do with attitude and making a relationship (of any kind) run smoothly, with very (very) few flare-ups. That's got to be of interest, since this is a world of many voices and too little calm, rational compromise. </p> <p>That C word used to bring terror to women in those heady days of bra burning. All men were the Enemy, and the slightest amount of give-and-take with one of Them was to wave the white flag, thereby saying farewell to our long-slumbering dream of equality/personhood/independence. To show men our seriousness, we took the pads from our bras and put them into what was to be our workday uniform: severely tailored suits designed to suppress the best of us ... again! Here we were, doing all we could to take a stand for equality, and what was the outcome? We were doing all we could to become a clone, a sexless cardboard image of the very gender we were accusing of standing between us and primary personhood. In our rush to equality, we were trampling on the very best parts of us. Self-defeating, I'd say. And not well reasoned.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 14, 2021</p> 8d04747be440af40da70dd587c4ea2bc What? Me, Marry? for 04/07/2021 Wed, 07 Apr 2021 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 &#8212; 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, and yet ... there are those early-morning hours that rumble you upright in your bed and 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 07, 2021</p> caefb4ee7cdec6067c296bfa0f21491a Support System for 03/31/2021 Wed, 31 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: Face it. Being singular is a trip. It's not necessarily exotic; it's not always fun. But when you take Susan's advice and strengthen your singleness with savvy people willing to supply you with the information or services you need &#8212; when you need it &#8212; single life gets much easier. And things go much more smoothly, the way they should in a carefully planned life. I'm starting to sound like Susan's press agent, so I'll sign off now. But I'm speaking from my own experience when I say her advice is worth a listen. </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: I know the impact of my words, because I've lived each one, with my experiences as a single woman and single mom. These experiences brought me from confusion and passivity to the security of knowing I can &#8212; with a strong support system behind me &#8212; make my most personal dreams reality. <span class="column--highlighted-text">That support system becomes a pillar of strength as you whittle down the negatives of singleness and build on its positives.</span> Yes, I've lived my message, so I can bring it to you with total conviction: YOU alone can make your life the way you want it to be. (Please read that again, for emphasis) And you know me better than to think I'm talking magic wands and potions. Not at all. Getting what you want from your life is a daily process of making choices based on your life plan. (Ahem.) So choose your support system carefully, speaking to each person honestly, asking how their expertise can mesh with your needs &#8212; bank officer, physician, attorney, insurance agent, pizza delivery person and so on. Get a pen and begin now making your list of necessary people and services. The basic support, of course, comes from your family, your friends, your BFF, your spiritual leader. Organize this single file your way, to suit your needs. (It's a perfect project for a rainy day, a creepy mood, a slow weekend.) Any doubts or questions? I'm here.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 31, 2021</p> f43e2f8d3b8cf1d9fde6b418c4f3b270 The Greens for 03/24/2021 Wed, 24 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: My friend is so jealous; she tries to outdo me in every way. But we like each other and would be BFF (we've known each other since ninth grade) if it weren't for her envy. What to do? </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: (Sigh.) Our gender is forever being brainwashed in a zillion ways to believe that looking better and being more clever than the next woman (in this case, you) will win you the prize &#8212; which is, you guessed it, Mr. Wonderful. By seeing you as competitor, your erstwhile friend is perpetuating old ways of relating that do nothing but keep her (and all women) frazzled and less than excited about woman-to-woman relating. She's turned her life into a race, forgetting that she (and all of us) is one-of-a-kind and desirable. Comparing herself to you &#8212; or any other woman &#8212; is an exercise in futility, and that's one exercise I don't recommend! One day, when you're feeling sorry for her, you might tell her that boosting her personal strength and building on them will bring much more gratification than envying yours. And since self-development has no finish line, a life lived true to its credo won't have time to worry about rivals. There are none; it's between you and your goals. Period. Still, if she thrives on competition, suggest she compete with herself, hold an inner Olympics and be gentle with the runner-up. Or, you could suggest that she learn from the things about you she envies. But most of all, she should keep on piling up life experiences, because interesting people are rarities!<p>Updated: Wed Mar 24, 2021</p> 8067bfa504b21f64addd79c020da5410 Sweet Payback for 03/17/2021 Wed, 17 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: It may sound strange, but I've found my own version of prayer to be a huge comfort in my low moments. It isn't always the same prayer; I change the words to fit my mood. But praying to a higher power gives me peace. Do other readers tell you something similar? </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: Yes, <span class="column--highlighted-text">readers have shared their personal prayers over the years. And because they are so very private and personal, I have shaped my own version. </span>For obvious reasons, it's without names or personal references in my life &#8212; so you're invited to mention people and personal blessings in your own life. Here's a sampling of my personal prayer, "Sweet Payback": <p>Updated: Wed Mar 17, 2021</p> 589649a6cb7aaf3f234317e6520468c1 Bitterness for 03/10/2021 Wed, 10 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: My romance just ended with a bang. He had said he was 40. He's really 63. He swore he was unattached. I discovered he's actually married &#8212; with three children. It was all fairy tale stuff that his wife knew nothing about. I swore if he were to ever contact me again, I'd tell her, so that should keep him away. But still, I keep crying myself to sleep every night, angry at myself for being such a gullible fool and at him for wasting so much of my time. Believe me, no man will ever creep into my heart again. I intend to stay away from men. </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: And you can bet they will return the favor. <span class="column--highlighted-text">Men are quick to sense a misanthrope in the fair sex, and (wisely) they want no part of her and the grudge-bag she carries. </span>There's no fun in her view of the world, so she's in quarantine, segregated from people with a more forgiving view of life. A bitter person is an awful companion, spreading gloom and doom wherever they go. If you cultivate a hatred of males, you will attract like-minded females &#8212; who will only diminish all men, the good and the bad. I hope my words reach you in time, before your anti-male campaign gets going, before it builds steam, before it hardens into a wall around you that keeps you away from the good men who, like you, dream of love. At this early stage, there's still a chance it won't gain traction and will disappear on its own volition. Stay open to good people, and be wise enough not to judge all men by one sour lemon. <p>Updated: Wed Mar 10, 2021</p> af973b6e5075686b8353310e87b73f47 Love Addiction for 03/03/2021 Wed, 03 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: My shrink told me I'm in a sick relationship and that I won't be healthy unless I leave it. But my girl and I have been a couple forever. She'd wither and die if I ever left, she said. But she's so possessive she won't let anyone else near us, so we have no friends. And frankly, it's a bit boring &#8212; just her and me, two against the world, no one allowed to enter our love nest. We own each other. Why is it sick?</p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: When so-called love turns into ownership, it morphs into something else: addiction. Possessive, shutting-out-the-world stuff &#8212; love addiction &#8212; is an unhealthy intake of another's very being. Partners lose their identity. Anyone who tries to enter the twosome is turned away. Love addiction is never fully satisfied, never completely sure. But now that you're exposing the relationship to the sunlight of therapy, use this time for all it's worth. Imagine how nice it would be to partner with a self-confident, healthy woman who welcomes the outside world to share the love you two have nurtured, who is wise enough to befriend good people and welcome them into the healthy relationship she is building with you. Think two years into the future and imagine how stultified your present relationship will be if this addiction is allowed to fester and deepen. The fact that you are working with a therapist is a clear sign of health. Please continue your journey, with my blessing. <p>Updated: Wed Mar 03, 2021</p> fc4bdb852829052db2aff948f185a757 Augmenter or Diminisher? for 02/24/2021 Wed, 24 Feb 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: I'm writing to you because I can't understand something about me and my girlfriend, and it's getting to me. I think I love her. But my friends keep reminding me that when I'm with her, she makes me feel small, like a poor excuse for a man. She's always saying things like that, and I guess I'm used to it. Whenever I tell my friends that I love her, they remind me that she belittles me in front of them. Is this the real thing? </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: It is, if you want to spend your life apologizing and feeling worthless. You probably saw your parents interact like this, so it doesn't sound the warning bell it should. But <span class="column--highlighted-text">your buddies see the danger head on and pull no punches.</span> They tell it like it is; they care enough about your friendship to warn you away from a bad situation &#8212; and this woman is a bad situation. Every time you feel sentimental and dream of proposing to her, they are there to tell it like it is and remind you of the way she makes you feel. She is a Diminisher, someone who doesn't feel so good about herself and needs to bring people down to her level. She will make you feel small, unimportant &#8212; what she herself feels. In this, the most important choice of your emotional life, be very sure to partner with an Augmenter, someone who feels good about themselves and will lift you to their high level of self-acceptance. Keep looking. <p>Updated: Wed Feb 24, 2021</p> 3b04096249b7a41bb18d0b130cf09be3 Expectations for 02/17/2021 Wed, 17 Feb 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: I'm a flop at love. I've always been unlucky with the opposite sex. Even in a relationship that seems to be going OK, suddenly, I become the enemy and she's out of there. All I have to remember her by is a sour stomach and an empty date book. Am I cursed &#8212; or a flop? </p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: Truth to tell, you're neither. <span class="column--highlighted-text">The bad-boy labels were probably hung around your neck very early on and left there out of inertia, becoming the low self-image you lug around. </span>Well, I'm here to help lift that load by setting the record straight. First off, my hunch is you haven't had a chance to get to know women as friends &#8212; better yet, as helpmeets. And so, I strongly recommend meeting women in a nondating setting. (Sounds radical, but hear me out.) For example, your local United Way is an ideal place to meet women with real values, women who want to help their community. Under that umbrella, sharing effort and conversation with people who share a goal with you, the old man-woman stuff (aka romance) takes a back seat to a common purpose. See what I'm driving at? Put yourself in a nonsocial, nonthreatening group where the real you can emerge &#8212; the good guy behind that outdated loser image. This minute, as you read this, I bet you can think of a few other places/groups/causes that are meaningful to you and probably also to women you'd like to know better. Showing up at causes that mean something to you will not only widen your world and your view of women but also &#8212; not incidentally &#8212; the way you see yourself. Just do it. <p>Updated: Wed Feb 17, 2021</p> c9a4409125a3b856af393bf0f44c09e0 At Long Last (Sigh) for 02/10/2021 Wed, 10 Feb 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>No longer financial runners-up, women have earned the delight of replacing financial clout as a top must-have before investing serious interest in a man. Yes, I realize we're still a long way from financial wholeness, still stuck under the glass ceiling in many corporations and still earning substantially less for equal work, but our ambitions are no longer trivialized &#8212; money matters are no longer considered a man's work. Those shifts, while not yet giving total parity in the workplace, are significant enough to bring broader horizons to the search for a love partner. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">And indeed, partnership is blowing in the wind.</span> Mr. Right today must respect the woman's individuality and actively nurture her personhood. If today's woman doesn't find a Mr. Wonderful who meets those needs, she'll stay as she is: single and optimistic. Want proof? The Census Bureau recently reported an increase in the number of Americans who have never been married. Something to think about, no? <p>Updated: Wed Feb 10, 2021</p> 7c25ab62583caa53ac870ca1c8a89132 Joy and Sorrow for 02/03/2021 Wed, 03 Feb 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: I've been thinking too much lately, so I have very few laughs in my life. It's work, work and more of the same, with a few nanoseconds of senseless joy sprinkled on top &#8212; to keep me from going mad with my sorrow. I bet Doctor Deitz has a remedy for the blahs. Do you?</p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: <span class="column--highlighted-text">In my medicine bag, thinking is the best path to a solution.</span> Rarely are the little gray cells responsible for a humdrum life. True, one can overthink a problem and allow fear to range free; but in the final analysis, our mind has all the answers. (So, I doubt your connection between thinking and a paltry amount of joy.) But consider the words of the ancient Lebanese American poet Kahlil Gibran, who says it best: "Your joy is your sorrow unmasked/ ... The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain/ ... Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy/ ... Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed/ ... Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced." Joy and sorrow are inseparable. Those words can make or break your mood, your joy of living. Think about them. <p>Updated: Wed Feb 03, 2021</p> f5b2012ac48db6f96bf0c65b416ae690 Sleepover Lovers for 01/27/2021 Wed, 27 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: I'm the single daddy of amazing twin girls. I have them on the weekends, an arrangement that works fine for their mother but not so well for yours truly. Come Friday night, I want some lovin' and am itching to arrange a sleepover with my favorite femme. You say no to the itch. Why?</p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: <span class="column--highlighted-text">Bringing in a sleepover sex kitten is introducing trouble and confusion to your little ones. </span>Why, you ask? I throw the question back, suggesting you do the thinking with me. The biggie is, of course, that your playmate &#8212; the adult female they see with you &#8212; is not their mom. That reason alone can be the cause of much confusion in young minds. (Why is she with Daddy in our house? Where is our mom? (Does Mommy know about this lady who sleeps with Daddy in Mommy's bed?) The questions in small minds are spurred by super-sized imaginations. Feelings of torn loyalty can lead to crying, stuttering and bad dreams. Your playmate could be the most wonderful friend to your girls, playing Chinese checkers with them and fixing their hair, but she is not their mom. And come 10 o-clock that night, if she is seen by all three of you going home, end of questions, end of confusion. (Fingers crossed.) <p>Updated: Wed Jan 27, 2021</p> 53643e1c5c834a7cd1fd3e86e42ed93d Oxymoron for 01/20/2021 Wed, 20 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: Last weekend, I had sex with a girl who's just a friend. (She and I laughed and said it was friendship with benefits.) But now she's calling me regularly, asking when I'm coming to see her again. I feel so guilty. It was purely platonic on my part. She's a nice girl, but honestly, it meant nothing. What should I do?</p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: <span class="column--highlighted-text">It might have meant nothing to you, but it could have unlocked some hopes in her.</span> (Deep sigh.) That's the tricky part of this misnomer &#8212; it's supposedly casual but rarely so. The hurtful part of the rutting we've come to label "casual" is that one of the partners usually brings into the bed a secret hope. They don't dare express it, fearing their lover will fly the coop. They play the game, pretending the passion is shared, but what lies beneath is a yearning for the real thing. And if you suspect the pretender is usually female, you are correct. And so, the path of casual sex is littered with feminine yearning. The female of the species is the one who proves that "casual sex" is an oxymoron. How can the joining of pulsing flesh be ho-hum casual? Think about it. Then call her and apologize. <p>Updated: Wed Jan 20, 2021</p> 4c0fb58b748ab891b88e62ca6a4843d6 The Declaration of Undependence for 01/13/2021 Wed, 13 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>More than 100 million strong &#8212; and soon to gain majority status in America &#8212; the unmarried community affirms its undependence with this Declaration of Undependence. </p> <p>I RESOLVE to think for myself in all situations rather than allow anyone (even "experts") to make important decisions regarding the course of my life. While I will remain open to wise counsel, <span class="column--highlighted-text">I alone will make the final decision in matters affecting my life</span>. And when there are shared decisions to be made, I will make myself heard, always vigilant not to be disagreeable when disagreeing. <p>Updated: Wed Jan 13, 2021</p> 8968dec60237312edb73a2c2bc3f32c4 Emancipation Proclamation for 01/06/2021 Wed, 06 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The unmarried are in the middle of a global revolution, largely unheralded by our media, that has, with unerring grace and dignity, moved most of the world's developed countries to adopt laws giving them broad protection and rights. It is sad irony that America, heralded for its pioneering spirit and respect for human rights, is still woefully behind the curve in granting legal recognition to a way of life that has imprinted our culture with a new morality. </p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">Most developed countries have already enacted protective laws for their unmarried.</span> France has the civil solidarity pact, known as PACS, for same- and opposite-sex couples joining lives outside of formalized marriage. The pact extends rights in the areas of taxation, inheritance and next-of-kin notification. Portugal, likewise. Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries have enacted laws legally recognizing unmarried couples, granting them protection and rights. Even China, not known to accommodate changing trends, is showing signs of later marriage and an increasing shift to singlehood. And the contagion widens into Eastern Europe, where a growing youth culture is prodding government for greater legal recognition. <p>Updated: Wed Jan 06, 2021</p> c6234a4ce9d14a7f095f23c62da98aa6 Abstinence for 12/30/2020 Wed, 30 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>DEAR SUSAN: You seem to have strong opinions about abstinence. It's important, but does it deserve so much attention?</p> <p>DEAR BLOGGER: In a word, yes. Abstinence is in the same league as virginity (which can be renewable, but that's for another column). Both issues are intimate, exquisitely sensitive. Recognizing its importance in the single life, I designed a research project that shattered archaic myths (stereotypes, really) and brought to light the true attitudes of the unmarried. <span class="column--highlighted-text">The first surprise? The "swinging single" is a myth.</span> Bedroom boredom and a sense of being "owned" can spur married couples to find variety in their sex life. Irony of ironies, it turns out that much of the sexual swapping involves the married. I found that 55% of respondents were having sex once a month &#8212; or less. Not exactly the swinging single stereotype. And while you're mulling over that tidbit, consider this one: Nearly half the women surveyed reported feeling closer (!) to their men when their togetherness did not include sexual activity. The bottom line? A full 80% of the unmarried community has been celibate for months, and in some cases, years. The threat of sexually transmitted disease is partly responsible, of course, but even in situations with clear erotic possibility, there doesn't seem to be the frenetic rush to bedding that's so stereotypically (and wrongly) associated with the single scene. My reading of the no-sex policy? Singles feel freer and more confident to reject meaningless sex because they are more in touch with themselves and their own worth &#8212; a confidence that bodes well for lower divorce rates and happier children. So, yes, dear reader, abstinence deserves all the newsprint it can get. (Feel free to send me your dissenting words on the subject; I'd love to hear your take on this thorny topic.) <p>Updated: Wed Dec 30, 2020</p>