DEAR SUSAN: I have read your column about apartners, which you define as partners who put their relationship on pause to re-evaluate things, and thought I'd add my two cents. I've been lucky enough to share some personally productive relationships since my marriage ended two years ago, and currently I'm dating a lovely man who has the strength of character to be himself with me. We're having a wonderful time. But as much as I care for him, I still cannot imagine him or anyone else in my space in my finances or in my material assets. The idea of giving someone access to not only my heart but also my home, my assets and my future — in other words, giving away my emotional and financial independence — remains beyond me. So it makes sense to me that couples who care deeply about each other might not want to share the multitude of "unromantic" aspects of their love and instead save just the best of life to celebrate together. As for this nice man and me, perhaps we will discover someday that together, we've created something greater than each of us that will sustain us should love ebb and flow. — From the "Single File" blog
DEAR BLOGGER: You can bet your bippy that love will ebb and flow, as part of the dynamism of life itself. Those love feelings take their strength from many different sources and can have the innate strength to withstand the most terrible of life's unplanned events. But there's another factor tugging at our souls, each and every one of us, and that's the personhood of both partners. (For men, it's not such a critical issue as it is for women, who have traditionally given up our individuality as the cost of our man's love. Sigh.) Our selfhood is our very core, our female essence, and for too long it has been a trading commodity when vows are taken. No, these times are changing all that. Both genders now recognize the urgency for individuality to be very much a part of love. Yes, it's a challenge, but we women are accustomed to moving society toward reason. We've stood firm on so many other social issues. This time, we're challenging our ability to love with all our hearts while remaining distinctly our own person.
The concept is still radical, drawing gasps from many women. But if long-term love is to thrive, that duality must be recognized and given nourishment by both partners. Yes, it takes strength, but I'm up for it. How about you?
DEAR SUSAN: I am amazed to read how many men have had the misfortune to meet so many shallow and superficial women. These bitter men describe themselves as nice guys rejected for not having a lot of money or a prestigious job and for being too nice. They remind me of a man I knew who had the very same complaints. I knew him for some time and was, for a brief time, romantically involved with him.
Here are some "nice" things he did for me: He badgered a close friend of mine for a date — in my presence. He openly ogled other women when we were out in public and emphasized that he hadn't been listening to what I was saying. He criticized my clothing and advised me about stores that sold sexier things. He gave me flowers he had originally bought for someone else. He accepted my invitation to go to a bookstore and then became enraged when he discovered I actually wanted to go there instead of going to his place for sex. He produced a dress he kept expressly for his lady friends to wear when they were with him. The very night I told him I didn't feel comfortable having sex with him, he became enraged when I declined his advances and said maybe he should just rape me.
Well, Susan, I can only conclude that the "superficial and shallow" women who rejected him were women of amazingly deep perception. I wish I had been! — From the "Single File" blog
DEAR BLOGGER: Agreed, some "nice" people are totally blind when it comes to their personal flaws and failings. But for a long time now, I've been (gently) reminding nice guys that there have to be other qualities in addition to their niceness to put a female pulse into overdrive. Being courteous and mannerly is definitely estimable, but if gentility is all that's on the menu, well — (yawn). Next to the sex appeal of the bad boy, niceness doesn't stand a chance. So it's fallen to me to tutor the nice guy in being interesting. Bone up on politics, news events, your favorite hobby. Nothing phony, mind you, just awareness of the topics that stimulate good talk between the sexes. The off-putting fellow in your letter wasn't nice by any stretch of the imagination. I maintain that there's a third category: interesting good guy. Comments?
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