DEAR SUSAN: My sister and I are close, age-wise (31 and 32) and emotionally. She'd like to marry and have a family, but the man she's been seeing for more than a year doesn't want to commit. (He's been honest with me about that.) I've told her that although he's a nice guy, she should go out and meet other men. She needs to expand her horizons. (I've even offered to pay for a dating service!) What do you think?
Robin G., Long IslandDEAR ROBIN: As close as you are to your sister, you aren't privy to her unspoken fears. She herself may not be aware of them on the conscious level. (Why else would she spend a year with a man who openly refuses to be part of her avowed life plan?) But her inner life is better explored in therapy than in newsprint, so let's fast-forward to your part in the dialogue.
Instead of subsidizing her social life - interests seem to be more fertile ground than dating services for honest relationships with compatible people - do what you can to move her out of her yearlong hibernation. Suggest a cruise, a trip, a weekend bus trip to a quaint town. Guide her to groups that share a passion she may have put on hold for the sake of this nowhere relationship. Suggest an evening class in cooking or golf or Chinese pottery. What the interest is means much less than that it quickens her pulse and brings her to new people. Do all you can without trampling on her privacy. What happens after that is not up to you.
DEAR SUSAN: I was reading your response to Justin S. quickly. He asked for a good venue to propose marriage, and I initially thought that the first phrase of your response ("Under the shower today") contained the suggestion. It would definitely be memorable.
From the InternetDEAR BLOGGER: And it would wipe the slate clean, washing away the smallest soap-bubble traces of male jitters. Come to think of it, though, we lassies also can take advantage of that damp setting to ask our lads The Big One. (If the response isn't all we hoped, well, those tear-inducing rivulets of soap may help to hide our crestfallen expression.) Stingy, soapy sigh.