DEAR SUSAN: The “titillating fact” in a recent “Single File” is that unmarried individuals are doing immense amounts of family work, with 1 in 4 American workers spending seven hours or more each week caring for an aging parent. Say what? Do you enjoy stoking the fires of the argument of whether singles or marrieds are more selfish? As a working wife and mother of three children, I would argue with you if I had the time and energy. I usually enjoy reading your column, but honestly, I took offense to that subtle jab. — From the “Single File” blog
DEAR BLOGGER: Thanks for speaking up. Your honesty keeps me nimble — and helps me gauge readers’ interpretation of the column. Its “titillating fact” was in fact a tidbit given to me by the dedicated organization called the Alternatives to Marriage Project, which is aimed at eradicating the fiction that single people are selfish and not interested in being part of the world around them. From the heart, an apology is due if my words felt like a subtle jab at the married world. (No harpoon intended, subtle or otherwise.) The thing is that most people want to help their families and communities. Marital status has little to do with a helping instinct. Except, of course, when a spouse, assorted children and full-time employment add their necessities to the family. Every kudo to you and yours. (Not a hint of a jab intended.)
DEAR SUSAN: I finally worked my way up the corporate ladder and am earning a hefty salary, but where are the men? My friends and I call ourselves the “sob sisters” when we meet for dinner Thursday night — with no dates scheduled for the weekend. — From the “Single File” blog
DEAR BLOGGER: Ready for a bit of fancy footwork? We women have almost (not quite) mastered the first-move fear when it comes to the “meeting” part of a relationship, but the follow-through has us stymied. How to make him feel comfortable with a gold-card woman in his life? Face it, ladies. We’ve done quite well in the work world, but we still feel clumsy and uncomfortable when it comes to men-and-money. It’s a dance step we’ve yet to master.
Still, it does not mean we should be quiet and content about our work skills. Some tips? Never use your credit abilities (aka gold card) to diminish a man. Be proud of your earning power, but don’t push it. Like your single status, let it be simply another facet of your life, important but incidental. Learn to become comfortable with your earning power by using your card wisely so that you aren’t flustered when the check is given to you and not the good man you asked to share an informal dinner. (This takes practice; you may want to enlist your brother or son for a trial run.) Show him that your higher salary isn’t important by making him dinner at home (yours) and handing him the theater tickets and car keys.
Yes, there are some men who will be intimidated. But there are others, earning less but fulfilled in their work and happy with themselves, who will remain open to the possibility of a relationship with you. Then there is a smaller group (that dwindles as your earning power rises) who will be undaunted because their earning power exceeds yours. Face it; the chances of marrying up dwindle as your earning power rises. But if you keep your eye on his goodness and compatibility instead of his tax return, you’ll have access to many more of the good men who do indeed exist — because you’ve liberated yourself from the income needs that have been restricting your choice. Solvency is a many-sided freedom, and this is one of its best aspects.
Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected] 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 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.