Single FileĀ® from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sat, 17 Nov 2018 12:01:08 -0800 Single FileĀ® from Creators Syndicate bfb358a8c2d26c6a62520c53f3939a73 The Joy of Flow for 11/14/2018 Wed, 14 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>When we're happy, everything seems to fall into place. We're in sync with the universe. Irritants shrink to manageable sizes. The fog of self-absorption gives way to the inner joy we're meant to know all the time. But somehow, it never seems to last very long; pretty soon, the old ways return and dim our vision with the familiar, the routine, the same-old.</p> <p>Yes, there are snatches of happiness in our life, though, enough of them to keep hope alive. They occur when we're shopping and our hunt for the perfect dress is rewarded, when our hole-in-one gets to be the talk of our crowd and when we meet that perfect someone whose very presence makes us glow. Ah, at last, true happiness. But (sigh) even the best of loves will be seen in the light of day, flaws and all. If the current runs deep, the union will survive the jolt and continue to thrive, perhaps in a more realistic key. Temporary insanity is the psychoanalytic definition of romantic love, but for some of us, the mania doesn't die but simply eases off, giving way to a more sustainable, quieter heartbeat.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 14, 2018</p> ac238fc1cc4671dba2b879f28ca00308 One and Only You for 11/07/2018 Wed, 07 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Single life is a series of challenges. But the one that leaves me breathless even as I write this is the supersize twin dare to be undependent (aka whole) during unpartnered phases and to keep that sense of self while coupled. And no, that's not an impossible dream. Radical, yes, but eminently doable. What it takes is conscious &#8212; and constant &#8212; vigilance.</p> <p>The payoff? Huge. Long-term lovers know that individuality keeps the spark alive, nourishing mutual respect and adding to the joy of togetherness. And frankly, I can't imagine a more thrilling game plan! Here you are, definitely not a blob, when you meet someone who fills a very special niche in your life. Yet in the midst of your joyous discovery, there is the nagging question of how to keep this going for a very long time. The angel on your shoulder whispers, "Game playing absolutely prohibited." The savvy single listens hard &#8212; and hears.</p> <p>It's so easy to slip into old ways, taking for granted this precious wish fulfilled. We've all been with couples whose line of communication consists of barbs, a form of guerrilla warfare that makes everyone present more than a little uncomfortable. A male friend of mine long ago warned me to be <i> careful </i> with a beloved, and that word stays with me still. It's the one-word formula for lasting love because it includes so much: respect, friendship, serene loving. Sounds great. But can it be sustained?<p>Updated: Wed Nov 07, 2018</p> 2502a4586fddeaac9f7398d0c0c20f4f Be Good to Yourself for 10/31/2018 Wed, 31 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>I just happened to be reading my book ("Single File," for you in Readerland who haven't yet done the same) and found myself lingering on the "Be Good to Yourself" pages. This is an issue dear to my heart because, to this day, the stereotype lingers of the unmarried as utterly selfish and navel-watching. To be sure, there's much unraveling of old-school and totally incorrect thinking to be accomplished.</p> <p>If you agree that happiness &#8212; the long-lasting, heartwarming visceral glow &#8212; is the result of positive actions and is neither a gift nor a blessing for the very few, you're hereby invited to linger on this page and discover for yourself my take on being good to oneself. You'll no doubt disagree sometimes, but I hope you'll add some of your own thoughts to the conversation here. Let's begin. Be good to yourself...<p>Updated: Wed Oct 31, 2018</p> 8b17ef6777ceebf3fd432b3cc5e3a7bb Male-Bashing for 10/24/2018 Wed, 24 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Some misguided women believe that putting down the males of our species makes them look better, stronger, more independent. Well, ladies, if it takes one of your own gender to blow the whistle on this gem of mindlessness, consider yours truly the ideal candidate. (Deep bow from the waist.) I've been dumped, stood up and lied to, yet I have known bliss with male partners who were secure enough to reveal their craving for a soft touch. But enough about me. What's your story? Why the anti-male offensive? Whatever the tale you're about to relate, before you spill the beans, please read the following &#8212; with an open mind:</p> <p>Are you angry at men? Do you find yourself using the cause of feminism to cover your basic antagonism toward men? Was your father reluctant to show you his love/emotional support? Did your elder brother leave you out of things? Was he the preferred child in your family? Were you badly burned by a teenage crush? Do men usually make you feel like a sex object? Do they make you feel inadequate as a person? Do men make promises they fail to keep? Did you see your father hurt your mother physically or emotionally? Does she often complain to you about your father or about men in general? Has a man abused you in any way?<p>Updated: Wed Oct 24, 2018</p> 63c34b0e84afe5850bac752d396831d7 Looking to the Future for 10/17/2018 Wed, 17 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>In any successful business, key people anticipate the future and make their plans accordingly. As chairman of the board of your life (not a bad way to see things), you're faced with the same challenge/opportunity &#8212; which means, of course, looking at the numbers dealing with your odds of marrying. Those numbers were so startling when first published that they made screaming headlines. But here, in a calmer setting, you and I can delve into their meaning minus the emotional charge. Here we go:</p> <p>&#8212;The possibilities: You will marry soon, or you will marry later &#8212; probably later than you expected &#8212; or you won't marry at all (or again), or (and I wish it to you) you will marry and live to your last day with your partner, or you will marry and ultimately be divorced.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 17, 2018</p> 9b4b17db2a28fb4fb113933ec7f4963f Postponing Undependence for 10/10/2018 Wed, 10 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Here are some common flimsy excuses for postponing one's undependence:</p> <p>&#8212;Men don't like independence in women.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 10, 2018</p> 3c7a9a9be629e839b74a40ef103eb11c What, Me Marry? for 10/03/2018 Wed, 03 Oct 2018 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 this person makes you grin with a happy secret between you and &#8212; well, you. In other words, for the first time in a long time, you're floored. And private time spent with this candidate-in-question only seems to make you think even more that this relationship could very well be it. 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 or she <i> for </i> me?<p>Updated: Wed Oct 03, 2018</p> 0388bb0a29275f11f7a82608604aca38 Singleness as Adventure for 09/26/2018 Wed, 26 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>It's true that being single isn't all fun and dream dates; on-your-own-ness can feel downright lonely. (And my reminder that marrieds also have their down times doesn't always break the mood.) Single life may have become the majority lifestyle here in America, but that fact doesn't help when you're trudging to the corner coffee shop for Saturday dinner. Alone. Believe me, I know. Which is why I'm suggesting my one-word cure for the blues: adventure.</p> <p>Consider today's column a pep talk to see the diamond in each day, the opportunity embedded in your waking hours, the goodness waiting for you. Agreed, it takes imagination and a tuned-in you to recognize it, but think of the payoff! You'll have a more interesting life and many more chances to be at your best. Look at it this way: What would you say to an unexpected gift, something coming out of the blue without a price tag? What would you say to an open-ended series of opportunities arriving gift-wrapped?<p>Updated: Wed Sep 26, 2018</p> 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>