Susan Deitz

DEAR SUSAN: The other day, someone called me an old maid. Hey, I have been married -- briefly -- and hope to repeat the experience someday. What made this person say that about me?

From the "Single File" blogDEAR BLOGGER: Being an old maid has nothing to do with how many times you've been a bridesmaid or missed catching the bridal bouquet. It's a matter of attitude. You yourself probably know some married old maids, women who get so used to doing things their way that they can't share any part of their lives, even when they have a mate. Needing to run the whole show is the hallmark of being an old maid. If you can't share what you have and get along with someone under the same roof, you could wind up rigid.

The truth is that you'll never be really close with someone unless you can yield a portion of your sovereignty. But there are things you can do right now to fight rigidity. For instance, ask a friend over for the weekend. She will make a bit of disorder and do things you don't agree with, but so what? Her messiness is a sign of life, proof your just-so nest is shared, not yours alone. Same goes for a pet, which might be a good way to begin sharing your home. Deliberately mess up your fridge, putting milk and juices in unusual spots, to keep your neatness from becoming extreme. Only you know the small things you do daily to keep order in your home, little things you can (and will!) change to stay flexible. I'm here to encourage you to be mindful of them. No old maidism for you, thank you very much. Great going!

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DEAR SUSAN: Although married now, I was single for 10 years between marriages, having experienced the heartache you described in a recent column. Your words about maintaining your individuality in a relationship couldn't be truer. But I've noticed that partners will often oppose our efforts to maintain some individuality, so we must fight against our own tendency to surrender plus their pressure. But it's well worth the improved quality of the relationship when a partner realizes that he or she can't own you. Grandma was right; men (and women) love what they can't have!

From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Ah, sweet mystery. No, not game playing or double talk. Mystery is not telling all on a first -- or 20th -- date, leaving a little bit unsaid, unrevealed, unspoken. It has nothing whatsoever to do with falsifying records or lying deliberately. The mystery I'm all for is in simply editing your answers. That means not mentioning every little iota of your life, which can be boring for the listener. But -- and this is huge -- whatever you do say must be totally true. No hedging or whittling down the facts. Fudging facts, even once, makes everything after that questionable. Salome needed 1,001 nights to say it all. (She must have had a wise editor!) Why should you spill the beans in one night? Do I hear cheers from the male section and groans from the women?