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Don't wait by the phone when relationship ends -- focus on new interests


Q: I am 37 and recently ended an eight-month relationship with a married man. We were attracted to each other, but he had excuse after excuse for not getting divorced. I finally told him I don't want to hear from him until he files, but in the meantime I just can't get interested in anyone else. My heart keeps hoping he'll call and say he's getting a divorce -- yet my brain says to give up.

A: Disregard both messages. Instead, make a shift of focus and put your energy, time and hopes into your interests. Join a group centered around some activity that brings you pleasure; study a subject you genuinely care about; plan that trip of your dreams, the one you've been saving for a honeymoon.

In other words, pluck from your mind thoughts about a man -- married or otherwise -- and replace them with enthusiasm about an activity, a topic, an outing that both diverts and expands your mind.

I know that's not so simple, but give it your mental backing, and your heart will soon follow. Dig into the parts of life that you can control, the things that spark your interest, and it is inevitable that friendships (possibly more) will evolve. If a married man is the answer, you're asking the wrong question.

Q: There are several reasons for all the recent discussion about ++ mothers without custody:

* The mother gave up custody to give the child a better standard of living.

* The mother felt the father fit, and prefers a single life without the kids.

* The mother doesn't feel capable of raising the children.

* The mother has health or other problems.

* It would not be in the best interest of the children to be in the custody of the mother.

* The mother is unfit.

And there are many more reasons.

The problem is that we live in a polarized, judgmental society that is only capable of seeing in black and white, and is blind to the rest of the story and does not recognize the boundaries of what is and is not their business. A mother who gives up custody is only giving up custody, not her motherhood. It takes great courage to do so.

My question is about fathers without custody. They get no sympathy either and are made to look and feel like criminals.

Many noncustodial fathers are denied access to their children, others are falsely accused of crimes, some even jailed for crimes not committed. One father I know was jailed for punching his wife, and the judge didn't want to know that his wife had put a steak knife through his hand prior to the attack. Another father I know was jailed for abusing his daughter, and 12 years later he won custody when it was finally proven that the mother's boyfriend, not he, had been the abuser.

There are many advertisements and media stories of deadbeat fathers not paying child support. What about the deadbeat mothers who don't pay their child support?

No, life's not fair, but let's start trying to deal with it instead of always complaining. This is an issue of parents and children, not mothers and fathers!

Is your column about singles, or is it a pour-out-your guts advice ++ column?

A: Your stirring defense of mothers without custody makes a strong point: They may be surrendering day-to-day custody of their children, but by no means are they giving up their role as mothers and nurturers.

Single File is a forum for thoughts and opinions, a gathering place for singles. The column has probed the hot potatoes circling the single world, reflecting its concerns as they have evolved since the late 1960s.

Readers' letters range from soap opera to righteous indignation, from moral outrage to run-of-the-mill life issues. The column is for every conceivable lifestyle choice within the unmarried community. It is a lightning rod for single people of all generations, all stages.

As for the child support by noncustodial moms, well, according to a recent survey by professors Geoffrey L. Greif and Alfred DeMaris, about one-third of the mothers court-ordered to pay support never do, although they were ordered to pay an amount lower than that asked of noncustodial fathers. (Interestingly, when mothers are ordered to pay support, they are expected to pay about the same percentage of their income as are noncustodial fathers.)

But in general, such mothers have about the same payment record as fathers.

Thanks for raising the issue; it should be addressed and put on the record.


Attention dieters: A few weeks ago we wrestled with the issue of fatness and attractiveness to the other sex; most men say they prefer slim women. (And most women seem to prefer slim men.)

Weight loss is one of our society's biggest concerns -- witness the number of weight-loss clinics, systems, products.

The latest research indicates that, put simply and succinctly, dieting doesn't work. What is needed is a lifetime commitment to sensible, moderate eating, plus a regular, steady program of exercise. There is no magic solution for losing weight. Many commercial diet programs are now paying more attention to counseling and exercise as intrinsic components to successful weight loss.

Guess it comes down to walking more and pushing away from the dinner table. Enough said?

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