DEAR SUSAN: You're right. If a guy has promised to call but hasn't, then call him. Maybe he lost your number or has been really busy, or maybe he is a soul without a backbone and never had any intention of calling in the first place. Whatever it is, you'll find out when you call him. Yes, women do this, too. A woman will tell you to call her, but all you ever get is her voice mail or a few words about how she's doing something else -- yada yada yada. But growing thicker skin around your heart can only keep everyone out. I guess the answer is to be strong but resilient, coupled or single. Sometimes it's not the fear of rejection keeping us away from love but the fear of acceptance. What do you do after someone says yes?

From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: That's what interests me. After someone says yes, what then? There's the whole enchilada, deliciously wrapped and ready to enjoy, but -- what's this? -- a bit shy are you about claiming your prize? It's got to be that old devil fear, showing off with sweaty palms and queasy stomach. And he ain't gonna leave the premises until you cave. So admit it, friends; sometimes (most of the time?) it's easier to flee than take a giant step into the promising but hazy unknown. Oh, you'll kick yourself on the way home, rationalizing to your adventurous side with lame excuses even you don't buy, but at least the pressure is off for another night, and you can slip into your narrow bed with something that sounds like a faint sigh of relief. Yes, you've escaped another coulda. But maybe -- just maybe -- you shoulda.

DEAR SUSAN: I really don't think too many women need coaching on letting a guy down gently. Too many women do their best not to hurt the guy's feelings, and as a result, he keeps trying -- because after all, women are socialized to "be nice" and put themselves in the other person's place. Also, they don't want to trigger a man's anger. "Oh, think you're too good for me, huh?" I'm not sure why you've decided that the world's problems would be solved if only women would be kinder to men. How about the "kindness" of a guy promising to call and never following through? This isn't the first time you've stuck up for those poor, poor men suffering from all the injustice directed their way. I'm not sure whether you overreach because you are a woman and want to avoid accusations of being anti-male, but it does get tiresome seeing all the fault being laid at the feet of one gender all the time.

From the "Single File" blog

DEAR BLOGGER: (Sigh.) I've been accused of secretly being a man because I'm always on the male side of issues. And now you've surmised that my reason for sticking up for "those poor, poor men" has something to do with solving the world's problems. In other words, ladies, the key to world peace lies in our fair treatment of our fellow man. Wow. Would that it were so simple -- and all up to us. Because if it were, I have every reason to believe that walls would crumble and the wicked would be consigned to hell. But in the present time, the best path we females could follow is an evenhanded generosity of spirit in friendship. Women are the feeders of the race, so we must be strong and fair and compassionate all at once. We may at times be coupled, sharing togetherness with mutual respect and love. In those periods, we must be teacher, love object, breeder of the race. But we vow never to grow distanced from our single core. Feel free to change the gender of any and all of the above.

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