Keep the old problems away from your new date


December 26, 1993|By SUSAN DEITZ | SUSAN DEITZ,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: I am a 35-year-old single man in good shape who dates frequently. The problem is the women I meet (late 20s to mid-30s); they all seem to want to carry their problems and failed relationships like a cross. And that attitude results in problems:

* The divorcee who wants to go out on the town every night.

* Overbearing women who tell you to pick them up at work/job/friend's house, but not theirs.

* Women who want you to dress and/or smell like their ex. I am not their ex, and I am not a psychologist. I am not here to sort out their mental problems and solve them.

When I ask someone out it's because I'm attracted to her and want to have a good time, and maybe end up in a serious relationship. I don't want to scare her away with my problems. If a woman accepts a date, she should go with an open mind and a clean slate, and maximum effort to make the date successful.

Relationships fail equally for both genders, for some people more than others; but you can't reach Go unless you're willing to throw the dice. Don't date unless you're ready!

Because of what was happening to me on dates, I decided to try the Personals. I called a couple of numbers and also placed one. Two women who called made me feel like a defense witness being cross-examined on the witness stand. After these calls, I know why they're single.

Personals should say I like this, this, this in a man. Keep your conversations light and general; you're not shopping for a new car and talking to the salesman. Don't answer more than one personal ad at a time; have a short, friendly conversation and meet for coffee or an ice cream soda, if possible. Some meetings can't occur because of schedules or location -- so answer another ad.

Make a date to meet again on a more formal date if the first meeting is enjoyable. Almost no one is going to know immediately, in a coffee shop meeting, if the person is the one of their dreams. But if you see something you like in that person, build on it by investing your time and effort.

If the first meeting doesn't work (some can be dreadful), call another ad as soon as you get home. Don't set up your dates on a daily basis and go at it as though you're picking the nicest puppy from the litter. There may be more than one person whose company you enjoy and who enjoys yours, and she may not get a chance because you're so busy with the others. Don't wait for Mr. or Ms. Perfect or give time to find fault in the people you meet; fault is easy to find, virtues may be harder to find.

Women: Absolutely insist on paying the check; the first meeting is not a date. You are only meeting to talk, over coffee or a snack.

Men: Always meet for a snack the first time. This alleviates the feeling of being stuck for a meal and dumped, if the woman doesn't offer to pay half the check -- and most don't. This way, it's only a burger and coffee. And drinking coffee can last as long (or as briefly) as you want it to.

Give time to each meeting that has some promise. This won't work all the time, and only if both parties try, but it is a better way to start a relationship.

A: Lots of women will appreciate your taking the time to share your reactions and advice, especially the suggestion to give each promising contact time to bloom. Too many singles get caught up in the personal ad merry-go-round and lose track of the reason they got on the horse in the first place.

Personals are a means to an end, one way to reach for love and happiness. Some people forget that, and become "professional singles," those who make a career of first dates and are constantly looking behind the person they are sitting across from, eagerly searching for a newer, better-looking, more promising companion. They never reach their goal because they have lost their sense of direction, forgetting why they're dating in the first place. Women, this letter deserves a counterpart, some advice and hints for men. Send yours today.

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