Q: How does a 26-year-old woman without much dating experience know what common courtesies are observed, and how to politely refuse or avoid commitments? I now find myself unattached and I love it -- but I have been out of the dating game for four years and have "forgotten" what to do. Someday I hope to find a partner, but for now I'd like to have fun and "use my head" with a decent man.
A: Your thinking tells me you are already using your head. Apply the same sort of logic to the dating ritual and you should be fine. Funny thing, though . . . when you tell a man you are newly on your own and have no intention of getting serious, watch his eyes light up with interest!
Nothing makes someone more attractive than staying above the fray. (It's something in the nature of a dare or a challenge.) Etiquette is something else again, the surest sign of a person with high self-esteem, and in dating it is a basic necessity. Even the briefest time together is a reconnaissance mission, a testing of compatibility and mutual desire to get to share time and space. So compassion, consideration, respect, reciprocity, integrity are all fundamentals of dating. Be true to them, and the rest will fall into place. Enjoy yourself as you make up time.
Q: I just read from the reader who is a hermit again after dealing with the personal ads. I know exactly how she feels. I have had absolutely no luck using personals.
I have been divorced, have raised three boys and am still helping my oldest son in college. I have worked two jobs seven days a week. So I don't have too much time to myself, but I still don't want to spend my life alone.
I thought personals would be a good way to meet gentlemen, and I have talked to several of them at least half a dozen times each on the phone after answering one, but when it came down to meeting them, it never happened. (They never called back.)
I did meet two others, listened to their problems and decided they were not for me. The last ad I answered resulted in two calls but he never called again.
I feel I am wasting my time talking to these men who really don't want to meet anyone. I am a very attractive woman, 44, who keeps herself nicely and am not a runaround. I am a great cook and own my own home.
So now I only hope and pray that by accident I meet someone. The thought has occurred to me that maybe the nice men who would appreciate a good woman like myself are home alone like me.
(P.S. I don't have trouble meeting men, but they aren't honest. One was already married, one got transferred out of state and was fooling around with everyone and sired a child, yet another one moved out of state and only told me that when he came back to clear up some business.)
I have decided that in 1991 I am not going to be the nice person I have been, because it doesn't work. There are no honest men, so I won't be honest either.
A: A resolution like that will get you nowhere. Bitterness drives away people in droves and feeds on itself. Nothing is more unattractive in either gender at any age, any stage. So make a resolution to be your honest self -- with some changes.
Honesty doesn't mean telling your life story to a stranger the first time he calls; it can include editing. You can be honest in what you say but you need not tell all -- at least, not in the first 10 minutes! You can be honest yet hold back your personal information, your feelings, your private dreams.
You can be honest yet speak up and ask whether a man is married, or where he lives. The point is, being honest and nice need not equate with passivity and demureness. For 1991, practice being more assertive in a style that feels right. When you have that down pat, chances are you will attract a different sort of man. It's worth a try!
Questions for Susan Deitz should be addressed Susan Deitz, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore, Md. 21278. All correspondence is confidential. Ms. Deitz welcomes letters from readers and will answer all those accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope.