DEAR SUSAN: You seem to have strong opinions about abstinence. It's important, but does it deserve so much attention?
DEAR BLOGGER: In a word, yes. Abstinence is in the same league as virginity (which can be renewable, but that's for another column). Both issues are intimate, exquisitely sensitive. Recognizing its importance in the single life, I designed a research project that shattered archaic myths (stereotypes, really) and brought to light the true attitudes of the unmarried. The first surprise? The "swinging single" is a myth. Bedroom boredom and a sense of being "owned" can spur married couples to find variety in their sex life. Irony of ironies, it turns out that much of the sexual swapping involves the married. I found that 55% of respondents were having sex once a month — or less. Not exactly the swinging single stereotype. And while you're mulling over that tidbit, consider this one: Nearly half the women surveyed reported feeling closer (!) to their men when their togetherness did not include sexual activity. The bottom line? A full 80% of the unmarried community has been celibate for months, and in some cases, years. The threat of sexually transmitted disease is partly responsible, of course, but even in situations with clear erotic possibility, there doesn't seem to be the frenetic rush to bedding that's so stereotypically (and wrongly) associated with the single scene. My reading of the no-sex policy? Singles feel freer and more confident to reject meaningless sex because they are more in touch with themselves and their own worth — a confidence that bodes well for lower divorce rates and happier children. So, yes, dear reader, abstinence deserves all the newsprint it can get. (Feel free to send me your dissenting words on the subject; I'd love to hear your take on this thorny topic.)
DEAR SUSAN: I'm curious (nosey, actually) about your Exercises in Singleness. What are they, and how did you come to create them?
DEAR BLOGGER: So glad you asked! These exercises are my favorite because, like situps, they tone and firm the middle core. The difference is that the middle core they strengthen is our essential personhood, our individuality. Like any other muscle, those "single" muscles need regular exercise if they are to be useful when needed. Realizing that, Exercises in Singleness came to be — certainly necessary when on one's own but absolutely essential when a woman is cozily snuggled in a love partnership. Why? Because women are particularly prone to allowing/encouraging identity theft by their well-meaning Other. As soon as men show more interest than usual, we women are too prone to run up the white flag and surrender the very traits that interested them in the first place. (I know.) The goal in exercising one's singleness is a stronger self-image, a clearer picture of one's strengths (and one's qualities that need a bit of work) and a renewed sense of self. They target the muscles of undependence, reminding oneself of the ability to stand without leaning and to continue working on one's goals. Best of all, a stronger you will be able to voice your need for undependence, be better equipped to give a love partner space for their individuality. Amazing what a little exercise can do.
We've uncovered another treasure trove of "Single File" paperbacks — in perfect condition, signed by Susan, ready to enjoy. Send $15 and your address: Susan Deitz, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected]
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