Susan Deitz

DEAR SUSAN: Sometimes desperation doesn't begin as desperation. Time does that. Pursuing interests is what life is all about. It makes a person interesting. But after years of doing that while seeing others with someone, desperation probably sets in. I think some people end up with someone because they thought that's all there was and got locked in. I don't think someone who has needs or comes across as needy is necessarily a loser. A loser is someone who has nothing -- no ambition, no drive. If you are not a loser and yet have no one, desperation may have a shadow: shame. What say you?

From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Thinking this through under the shower -- a steady stream of mostly hot water -- I came up with a few thoughts, some from personal experience, some from readers' sage input. This is the result. Desperation comes from tunnel vision, focusing strongly on finding a mate with little else on your mind. And there is no turnoff quite like neediness, which becomes so intense it's likely to morph into desperation -- which feeds on itself and is self-fulfilling. In my own family, a close relative was widowed and pushed someone she knew only slightly to marry her. He fudged, saying his children would make things unlivable. They did, after the marriage took place, and in a matter of months a messy divorce followed. She confided to me that she had been so needy for a man in her life that she ignored her warning instincts. Desperation is a bad place to be if you sit and stew and do nothing about it. But if it pushes you to the therapist's office, you will begin a dazzling journey into self -- with a trusted guide. I can't imagine a more worthwhile investment.

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DEAR SUSAN: I don't imagine everyone feels as you do about loveless sex. The way I see it, there need not be any self-recrimination when two available, consenting adults choose to engage in a mutually satisfying sexual encounter that doesn't include love or even the possibility of a long-term relationship leading to love. And certainly, such things need not be tawdry. Never mind the medical evidence that regular sexual activity can be good for your health, whether or not love is involved. Of course, it's not right for everyone. But I don't see anything wrong with the statement that "meaningless sex events" are "better than nothing" for many people. To me, the harm would be if the meaningless sex events became an impediment to finding love, assuming that someone wanted a long-term love relationship. But if the MSEs aren't preventing someone from looking for a long-term love relationship and are simply a way to handle sexual needs until such a relationship comes along, there needn't be anything shameful at all. In fact, it seems a fairly common occurrence for many people.

From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: "Fairly common occurrence"? Not in my world, where casual sex casualties litter the path to healthy loving because very often, one of the partners (usually, of course, the woman) is hiding desires for a more loving, exclusive, permanent relationship. (Sigh.) Few women -- and not many men, I'd venture -- really are up for a faceless, meaningless romp. Not only that but being part of MSEs absolutely does preclude finding the true love you're seeking. When a need is filled, it's filled. That it's only partially or temporarily or halfway filled by your MSEs does indeed impact the searching for a truer or more permanent love object. Far better to go about your life hungry for the real thing, because you stand a better chance of finding it as an empty vessel.