DEAR SUSAN: Reading a letter to you about anger towards men, I started thinking about men I’d like to be friends with, men from a long time ago. Just how do I do this? How can I start? — From the “Single File’ Blog
DEAR BLOGGER: The next time you begin to blame all men because one doesn’t phone as he promised, think again. Settle down and think the mini-crisis through — coolly, rationally. Then phone him.
If you work mainly with women, get involved in a community project or church group where you’ll meet some men; they can be of any age or stage for this to work. The purpose here isn’t to get a date, but to put you in close quarters with men, so that you can observe their humanness.
The next time you find yourself at a hen party where men are being ridiculed, speak up in their defense — or conspicuously leave the room.
Look through your address book (and your heart) for men you used to be involved with, who were once special to you. Isn’t at least one of them worth resurrecting as a friend? Getting the relationship started again won’t be easy at first, but once he learns to trust you as a friend, former lovers can make very, very good friends. Make an overture by sending a funny card, or phone him to say hello. Then test the waters by asking him to lunch — or dinner. (Make it clear that this is your treat.) Make it clear you aren’t trying to reignite a romance, simply reinstate a good friendship. ONE WORD OF CAUTION: Unless it’s been a while, don’t phone a man who suffered because you broke up with him. Be sensitive to his healing process. It may be too soon for him to be anything but a former lover to you. It takes time to move from love to friendship, and not every man can make the shift. But it is critical that you continue to grow in your understanding of men. And that takes practice. (Ahem)
DEAR SUSAN: What, in your judgment, are the reasons to decide to partner up? The weak ones and the solid ones that have good odds of leading to happiness. I’ve been wondering about this a long time. — From the ‘Single File’ Blog
DEAR BLOGGER: Like walking off a moving escalator, you won’t miss a step as you leave your singleness; if you spent this unmarried phase building self-reliance and self-acceptance, you will make the transition to partnered life quite smoothly. Becoming half of a couple can be an extension of the lessons learned during the single phase — with one joyful addition: romantic love. That said, onward to reasons, good and bad. The most common one is, of course, loneliness. Many people enter into (and stay in) relationships simply to avoid being alone. (Sigh.) More about that another time … Onward to reasons flimsy and healthy. Flimsy ones first: To make the future secure; to prove you’re desirable; to gain life experience; to forget a loss or rejection; to enter the coupled world; to make other people envious; to have a baby; to please your family; to spite your family; to win society’s approval; to get the material possessions you crave; to enter the world of couples; to solve your problems; to give your child a father; to show your parents/the world your independence. As for solid reasons: to share your dreams; to demonstrate your love; to make a sacred commitment to this person; to show that you want this person above all others; to share the future; to add a special kind of fulfillment to an already fulfilling life. (!) As you build on an already interesting life, it is almost inevitable that you will form a loving relationship. But it is vital that you not be so involved in self-improvement that you forget to notice the people you meet along the way — which is, after all, a primary motivation behind your effort. I rest my case.
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