DEAR SUSAN: OK. Being single is OK, but it means giving up a whole bunch of time waiting for the guy to phone. When he doesn’t, I cry into my pillow. When he does, it’s not much better; there usually isn’t a second date. So here I sit, with lots of free time but not much doing. Any suggestions? — From the “Single File” blog
DEAR BLOGGER: You’re getting no sobs from this corner. Making a date the center of your universe is a flimsy way to structure your waking hours. For a change, girl, make some daring choices.
I dare you to plan your free time without leaving spaces for possible “dates.”
I dare you to regard Saturday night — that holy of holies — as merely one-seventh of the week.
I dare you to plan the week ahead as a unit. Pencil in at least two nights a week to stay at home, in your nest, and build bookcases, pay bills, paint your toenails or do anything else that feels like self-improvement. Save a couple of evenings for friends and maybe one night a week for work, if you’re involved in a big project at work.
I dare you to phone friends, male and female, and plan an assortment of potluck suppers and brunches with the same equanimity as weeknight dinners.
I dare you to invite your mom for Saturday night dinner. Plan it just for the two of you, at the very best restaurant you can afford. (Yes, you’re going to reach for the check and insist on paying.) Imagine the fun of flaunting your mom in front of the coupled geese who are too intimidated to show themselves in public on a dateless weekend.
When you’ve broken the tyranny of Saturday night, time expands. You realize that the weekend has seven segments for you to enjoy (Friday night, three on Saturday, three on Sunday), all of them equally important. Think of it: No more “getting through” a Saturday night date and no sour aftertaste on Sunday morning. All of a sudden, you’re a whole person, with a life and a mind of your own. You’re liberated in the best sense — and you did it yourself. Imagine: No more bowing down to weekend insanity. You’re feeling like a whole person again, free of the dating mind and its absurdity.
But it takes time to buck convention, so don’t expect too much of yourself right away. Step by step, one weekend at a time, the process of letting go will continue. Pretty soon, you’ll be planning two-day trips to nearby sites, meeting new people and getting a whole new slant on being single, making the most of its mobility. In fact, one of your New Year’s resolutions will be to never again make a “date” the sum and substance of your weekend. Or your life.
DEAR SUSAN: Some girlfriends last night made male-bashing their evening’s fun. I, for one, was too ashamed to walk out on it, but I wasn’t going along with their bad-mouthing. I was ashamed for them, too, because they should have known better than to get down in the gutter. What’s your opinion? — From the “Single File” blog
DEAR BLOGGER: I’ve always found that people who denigrate one group will turn around (when you’re not looking) and bash you, their dearest friend(!). As you move away from needing men as saviors, the male sex looks better and better, like the good guys that most men are. The resentment caused by your dependency diminishes, so you can see men as friends. You know, men are pretty angry with us, too, for real — and unreal — reasons. But you can only change yourself, because the urge to change must come from inside. My sense is that men take their cues from women, and if we soften, they will follow. Gratuitous anger is a huge roadblock to gender reconciliation, so we must do all we can to befriend our men. Whatever its source, anger is nothing to ignore; like the hiccups, it keeps coming back until it is confronted and resolved. Are you up for it?
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