DEAR SUSAN: You write about being a hermit. Well, I think I’m one of them. I like my food arranged just so in my fridge, and when I made my holiday/party list, I realized I’m running on empty. I’ve been alone too long, I suppose. Give me some ideas, please. — From the “Single File” blog
DEAR BLOGGER: Friendship is easily the most important part of being unmarried. And hey, it’s almost as crucial when you’re happily married! To put up on your fridge door (ahem), my thinking on the subject:
Each and every day, make a conscious effort to begin at least one conversation with someone you know only slightly (or not at all, for the lionhearted). You can do it in the elevator at work (“Don’t you work on the 17th floor?”), in the dentist’s waiting room, (“I’m done with this magazine. Want to look at it?”), at the grocery checkout line (“I see you’ve bought eggplants, too. Don’t they look scrumptious?!”) or at the gym (“Do you like the instructor in the low-impact aerobics class?”).
You don’t have to be witty or terribly clever; simply be open and truly interested. This is a strategy somewhat like the one you probably used back in your “unenlightened” days. The difference is that now you’re using techniques to meet all sorts of people, with friendship more than romance in mind. You take the first step, and you prove to yourself that this world is a friendly (but shy) place and that you have the power to make it friendlier. In your way, you become a cross-pollinator. Try it; you might like the role.
DEAR SUSAN: I can’t make up my mind about being independent. I’m on my own, not married (yet), but every day, I wrestle with myself, asking, “Should I or should I not enjoy this time of my life even though I’m not with a partner?” Inspire me, Susan. — From the “Single File” blog
DEAR BLOGGER: It’s a deal, dear reader mine. I supply the reasons for not making the most of your unmarried life; you think long and hard about them. The main excuse women tell themselves — yes, this seems to be a gender issue — for not digging into single life in a serious way? “Men don’t like independent women.” On the heels of that foolishness comes the fiction, “I can’t afford to be on my own.” Hey, lady, can you afford NOT to be on your own? Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Next golden oldie: “I’m only happy when a man is in love with me.” That’s followed by: “I don’t feel like a woman when I’m not with a man.” (Groan.)
Some more: “I’m not a whole person until I’m a wife.” (Deep, deep sigh.) “If I make single life interesting, I’ll never get married.” (What can I say when the opposite is the truth?) “Other women will envy me, so I’ll have no friends.” (A Lulu, that.) “I’ll make a mess of it.” (Um.) “I’ll have no dates if I get too successful at my job.” (Think Barbara Walters, and grin.)
“I’m not the type” (whatever that means) and “I’m too shy” are runners-up to the most amusing — and terrifying — of them all: “I’ll get wrinkles.”
If, dear reader, any of those self-imposed roadblocks sound familiar, you’ve got some homework to do; those fictional products of fear are blocking your way to an interesting and rewarding singleness. Any comments?
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