Relax your body before you start this questionnaire. It's important you start this with shoulders loose and mind clear. Don't rush through the following questions, because chances are they'll lead to still more probing. (For now, jot down those additional questions on a separate sheet of paper for future reference.) The best way to do these justice is to read them through in one sitting, let them "marinate" awhile and then reread them and give your answers. Some of them may trigger an immediate response; others take more thought. Please don't give a fast pat answer; the whole point of this exercise is to search deeper for your real belief.
—How do you feel about sex outside marriage? Does your religion, upbringing or personal morality make it out of bounds? Would denying those controls upset you so much that you wouldn't enjoy yourself if you did become sexually active?
—If you can enjoy sex outside marriage, how do you feel about sex outside caring?
—Can you imagine having sex on the first date? If you can, what sort of "ingredients" would have to be present? If not, when do you feel is a reasonable time to begin sexual involvement?
—Would you get involved with someone even if you knew it was to be for a very short time — perhaps only for one night? Under what circumstances?
—Can you imagine having a married lover? Why or why not?
—Would you consider having a sexual relationship with more than one person at the same time? (This question deals with plural ongoing relationships, not with group sex.)
—Ideally, how often would you like to have sex? How long can you go without sex?
—Do you enjoy periods of celibacy? For how long can you remain celibate? Are you ever concerned about losing your sex drive?
—What are your thoughts about giving yourself pleasure? Masturbation is still a taboo issue, but your own thoughts on the subject should be very clear because of the episodic nature of sex as a single person.
—If you are sexually active, have you settled on a safe and effective method of contraception? If you answered "no" or are unsure of your answer, are you clear about the range of options open to you and which one is best for you?
—Do you know enough about sexually transmitted diseases — such as AIDS and herpes — to protect yourself? If not, do you know how to get information about them?
—Do you/would you ask a new partner about his or her history of sexually transmitted disease before becoming intimate, even though it might be awkward?
—How do you plan to handle pressure from a date or partner to have sex when you'd rather not?
—If you're a single parent, are you clear about having sleepover lovers when your children are home? Are you clear about separating your personal needs from your parental role? How honestly do you speak with your children about your sexual relationships?
—What do you appreciate most about sex? What makes it wonderful for you?
—Do you feel comfortable speaking with your partner about your likes and dislikes in lovemaking? Is your partner comfortable talking with you about them?
—How strongly do you feel about the answers you've given here?
—What, if anything, would make you change your mind about them?
—Do you have an idea about handling your sex life if you were to be unmarried for a lifetime?
—Do you feel you could adapt your sexual attitudes to make yourself, as a single person, more comfortable? If yes, how would you accomplish this?
What other questions can you ask yourself now that you're thinking along these lines? If you've come up with more of them, write and answer them. Remember, please, there are no rights or wrongs here — only clear thinking on some murky issues. Best to clarify them now rather than be faced with that murkiness totally unprepared and therefore most vulnerable.
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]