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."
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. 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. 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 — even if the person doesn't approve of our getting crumbs all over the sheets!
My hotline of reader mail tells me the vast majority of people want someone close, someone to come home to, someone who cares. Trouble is, we also want our freedom. And we're not at all certain we can have both in one relationship.
Well, Deitz wisdom says we can and will have both. But — you knew this was coming — it takes effort and will and conscious thought to have both with the same partner. Still, I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't believe it possible — more than possible — if done right. If we could turn back the hands of time and know in our formative mind what we now know about our own needs, we probably could make the migration from single to coupled with greater ease. Seeing as that's not possible, the next best thing is to come to grips with the issue of autonomy/cookies now, today, before you choose a partner.
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]