Susan Deitz

DEAR SUSAN: "Men don't realize the hurt and disillusionment that come with waiting for the call that never comes." I beg to differ. A woman answered my online personal ad, and we spoke for more than two hours in our first talk. We had many things in common and shared similar views. After that, I left her two voice messages, but neither was returned. She finally picked up one of my calls and told me that she was tired from a busy day at work but that she would call me in a few hours. I sat by the phone and waited, but it was in vain. Susan, some men do know the hurt and disillusionment of an empty promise.

From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: In my heart of hearts, I don't for one minute believe that my gender has a lock on the hurt of rejection. Men have the outdated macho image to contend with, but most of the men I've known have revealed great sensitivity in clutch moments, which has only made my heart beat faster. (A man's sensitivity can be the greatest proof of masculinity, proving him fearless to reveal his feminine side.) Of course you were hurt and bewildered when the promised call didn't come. Why the woman spoke for two hours and then let you twist in the wind is puzzling. But don't waste energy wondering when you could be learning from the hurt.

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Next time, keep the introduction brief and use other ways to meet that give you a face-to-face beginning -- for example, an interest group, where conversation is about something that interests both of you and from the start you have common ground. (I still think the SPCA on a Saturday afternoon is one of the very best places for animal lovers to meet and greet, whereas online sites are a rough-and-tumble path.) You two have nothing in common (and nothing to talk about) except an empty datebook. So chalk this one up to a learning experience -- and get involved in something that really interests you. I have a hunch you'll find it easier to talk to the pretty girl beside you, because she shares that interest.

DEAR SUSAN: I'm a 57-year-old man who has never married. I've dated here and there over the past 15 years, but nothing has evolved into anything lasting more than a few months. (I haven't been in a real relationship since the late '90s.) Anyway, I started seeing a woman a few months ago, and a problem has arisen concerning my female platonic relationships. Without being disrespectful to my girlfriend and without cutting off those friendships, I'd appreciate some guidelines to use to navigate the situation.

From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Be prepared to act as middleman to both camps; your tact and respect will win them over and build bridges between them. To do that, consider hosting an informal gathering (in the afternoon, totally casual) to encourage the women to mingle with each other and defuse any possible "threat" posed by either camp. Before doing this, however, you'd do well to discuss your plans for the party with each woman separately, explaining your reasoning. Talking it over with each woman will defuse any jealousy or possessiveness by anyone. Of course, if your new partner puts the kibosh on the idea, it's a non-starter. (But her reaction might put her down a notch in your estimation, as insecure and possessive.) Your wanting to be respectful reassures me -- and just might ensure a positive outcome for your balancing act. Keep me posted.