Somewhere along the way, you may find one man you like better than the others. He may not look like Hugh Jackman, but there will be something about his sense of humor or the way he sees life that hits home. This is the moment the real challenge presents itself: to continue treating a man like your best buddy when you care about him romantically. (Ironically, pretending he's a female friend is a way to make sure he'll become your best male friend!)
If he gets promoted or has a birthday coming up, be sure to send a card. Make very clear that you are befriending, not pursuing. (Ahem!) If you're naturally flirtatious, that means keeping the lid on more tightly than ever. Yes, there's a chance this will lead to something more than platonic friendship, and you may be hoping it does, but your mission at this point (should you choose to accept it) is to keep in mind that anything more than friendship is just a plus, not at all the object of this exercise. Yes, I know that's a lot to ask, but then, there's a lot at stake here. So bear with me.
In fact, even if this man does eventually become special in your life/heart, your goal is still ahead of you. Continue asking other men to casual events — practice sessions in your plan. The more often you are around men in low-stress settings the sooner you'll be able to show grace under higher tension, as in romance. Naturally, some men you will like more than others, just as with women. But the main payoff is you'll no longer see the male as alien and enemy. As you walk in their size 10s for a while, you'll probably feel greater compassion for the gender expected to always make the first move. And you'll be more of a woman because you do. (This exercise has the potential for triggering some pretty exciting growth on your part.) Your confidence in initiating will increase as you keep practicing. Remember to prod yourself out of lethargy at group meetings, on your child's school committee, in your house of worship, in your family clan. You'll not blossom into a mover and shaker overnight, but you will become more effective and pleased with the way people react to you. That's a promise.
So many readers complain that romance is dead. I don't agree. I think it's just greatly overstressed from too many years of one-sidedness. And it's my sense that women are preparing to breathe new life into the male-female situation, readying to assume the responsibility(!) that comes with being an equal in an enormously important relationship. The safety net you're weaving into your life as a single woman will prove to be the linchpin of your transition into that loving partnership. You'll see.
DEAR READERS: We've uncovered a treasure-trove of "Single File" paperbacks — in perfect condition, ready to read. Send $15 and your address to: Susan Deitz, C/O Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. I'll send you a signed copy.
Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected]