DEAR SUSAN: What does it say about someone if he can't give an exact reason for breaking up? After spending almost two years with me in a committed relationship with no fighting, lots of caring and plenty of "I love you," my now-ex seemed to wake up one day and decide for both of us it was over. If he at least could have given me a reason, I would be able to go on without wondering what I did wrong or what I could have done differently. Any insight from you and/or male readers would be helpful. Jeanmarie J., Long Island
DEAR JEANMARIE: You had me equally at sea about the breakup rationale until I read "with no fighting." It was then that I had a not-so-vague suspicion you had explained it all. How can a pair of adults spend two years locked in an exclusive embrace and not fight? Were there no moments of irritation, of annoyance, of downright antagonism over something he did or didn't say? Something he forgot to say or do? Do you expect me to believe 24 months of unwedded bliss passed - two years of a cloudless sky? Even you must be smiling sadly when you read these words. It cannot be - in a real relationship, lovers feel free to erupt and sputter and allow the anger to be expressed and then renew the good feelings. That freedom is the stuff of which good relating is built. Actually, the first fight is a rite of passage and can be celebrated. I can only imagine the pent-up resentment felt by your now-ex. I hope he learns from it. And you?
DEAR SUSAN: I've been enjoying my single life in the exact fashion you suggest, not waiting to be in a relationship to live a full life, and I have to say I feel very content right now. I just turned 40 this month. In September, my fiance and I broke up, and I've decided to wait awhile before dating. I've never been hit on by as many men as I am now. In my 20s, I was pretty but considered unapproachable; now I look more mainstream, not as slim but still desirable. I still hope to meet someone who will love me unconditionally, but for now I'm content being alone. You really have a keen understanding of what it's like to be single. I know you were single for a while after your husband died. I remember that from reading your book a few years ago. I'd love you to write another one! Thank you for such a worthwhile column. You help many people understand the importance of self-esteem in successful relating.
Carole Y., Portland, Ore.
DEAR CAROLE: Impeccable timing on your part! I'm incubating a book at the moment, and it's taking a bit longer than expected. I guess it's because I've learned the value of waiting, letting ideas and events percolate and marinate. It seems you, too, have gained the confidence to wait a bit - to let events play themselves out - and give yourself more time to shape life your way. Time is so very precious, and alone time is the most precious gift we're given in singlehood, if only we'd realize it. Thank you for the appreciation.