Women Don't Lie,
Men Don't Listen

This is the Archive of DocLove's weekly column featured daily on our homepage. Doc Love is a talk show host, entertainment speaker, and coaches men in his seminars. For the past 30 years he has asked thousands of women, "Why do you stay with one man versus another?" He is the author of the Master Series, available at www.doclove.com

DocLove will answer all of your romantic love questions from a man’s perspective. So, set your ego aside, learn to laugh at yourself, and e-mail him at doclove@doclove.com or call 800.404.2644 and he will give you a snappy answer to your silly love question – one loaded with truth. You do what he says, and Miss Right will rob banks for you. When he gets done with you, you will need more security than Julio Iglesias. However, to protect the guilty, he promises not to use your real name, or give it out. All questions will be answered, but only the ones of general interest printed. Please be specific and don’t ramble.

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Did Jude Flip Out when Siena Dumped Him?
Did the Girls Dig Harrison Ford when He was Broke and Unknown?
Does Bruce Willis make Dates by E-mail?
Does Demi ever get Jealous of Ashton's Female Buddies?
Does George Clooney ever tell His Dates that he Sucked at Football?
Does Hef ever have to Protect his Heart?
Does J-Lo ever Feel like the "Other Woman?"
How did Sinatra Handle the Married Ones?
How does Diddy Handle Her when She Blows Hot and Cold?
Will Jennifer's Next Husband be Jealous of Brad?
Would Hugh Grant ever Tell Her All About His Past?
Would it have Helped Kenny Chesney if he Flirted with Other Girls?
Would Mickey Rourke buy Mischa Barton's Story?
Would You Dump Salma Hayek if She Called to Say "Hi"?

Does J-Lo ever Feel like the "Other Woman?"

Hey Doc,

I always read your articles and like the way you tell it. I have a unique problem and can’t find a similar situation among my friends or in your literature. I went through a very hard time with my marriage, and stuck out 10 years before realizing it was going to kill me if I stayed. I am a doctor, and have never considered having an affair. At the end of my marriage I became good friends with a nurse, Mona, who was also getting a divorce. We were supportive of each other, and agreed to keep it on a platonic level. But when I made the decision to proceed with my divorce, she confessed she loved me, and I also had to admit I had very strong feelings toward her, and we looked forward to the day when we could have a romantic relationship.

During the final stages of the divorce, we began dating and did some couple-type behavior -- hugging, kissing, and holding hands. Then, all of a sudden, she stopped returning calls. The few times I was able to talk to her she was vague and distant and finally said that she wanted space. She let me know that she felt like she was “the other woman” and that she didn’t want to feel that my divorce was because of her. I know that this was very distressing to her because her husband had cheated on her constantly, and for her to feel the stigma of being the other woman really affected her.

I did what most men mistakenly do -- gave presents, begged her to talk, sent her long love letters. I even fooled myself into thinking that she just wanted to keep a distance until the ink was dry on the divorce papers.

But then I found out that she started seeing someone else. She claimed she still loved me, though. Initially I reacted with anger, but after several days I cooled down enough to let her know that we had meant a lot to each other and if she wanted to try and salvage our friendship I would be willing to talk to her.

I didn’t hear from her for two months, and since I needed some sort of closure I e-mailed her to tell her to stay away from me and not contact me anymore. Well, she answered me, and we started talking again and then became friends again.

We talk on the phone for a couple hours every day now, and when we’re together we hold hands and cuddle. She will not kiss or have any intimacy beyond this and still says that she only wants friendship. I am getting very mixed signals, and have never heard of a woman doing these things but only wanting to be friends. She’s not interested in seeing anyone else, and I am the only “man” in her life right now.

Doc, I don’t know whether to hang in and hope that things will change or take the approach of acting disinterested to see if this will perk up her Interest Level and make her realize that I am a good catch.

I really love this woman, but don’t like what I have now and am very frustrated. I certainly don’t want to ruin any chance of a relationship with Mona if I can help it. I know that as of right now I do not have that relationship, but Mona is clearly showing interest and getting something from the coziness we have now. I am very confused and feel powerless. Your advice would be helpful.

Drew - who needs to break the impasse

Hi Drew,

First of all, I want to commend you for staying in your marriage for as long as you did. When it was all over you wanted to say, “I was going for ‘forever’ like I promised at the altar. I did my best to make the long haul, and I didn’t just say ‘I do’ to fool around with this girl for 10 years.” But like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Some women can kill you without a knife.”

When you hooked up with Mona, you should have realized right off the bat that you were dealing with two people who were seriously on the rebound and not really available. It was like throwing Jennifer Aniston together with Kenny Chesney. In other words, you had all the ingredients for disaster. What the heck were you thinking, man?

Why were you getting all heavy with a woman who was still married? I tell you guys not to talk serious when they’re available. Mona’s still legally hitched and you’re blabbing about the future? You should have been putting on a clown show, not a “psychology today” seminar. You would been better off disappearing instead of yakking about how you’re going to get re-hitched the minute you’re free of your wife.

But you went ahead and engaged in “couple-type” behavior anyway. Like 90% of the men out there, you had to go rushing in like a bull in a china shop. The problem is that you, like everybody else, think only in the short term. Nobody thinks long term. And that’s what “The System” is all about.

Mona stopped returning your calls? Drew, I’m positively shocked! Women never do that! They’re not known for inconsistent behavior! We got one for the Guinness Book of Records here! Are you sure this really happened?

She was vague and distant and wanted her space? Boy, you got all the luck. You just got rid of one hellcat, and the second one’s beating up on you before you’re even out of the cage. One drove you nuts, and you already have another one trying to do the same thing. Any normal human being would throw in the towel.

So, Mona doesn’t want to feel like the other woman, huh? Like I’ve told you guys before, they always give you the SECOND reason why they’re cutting you loose. Remember when the born-again Christian Jane Fonda said, “I can’t live with an atheist” when she split with “Mister Moneybags” Ted Turner? I’ll bet you anything she wasn’t so religious when she had 99% Interest Level in old Ted.

Know what’s great about most women? They love to concoct a darned good back-up story instead of the real deal. They always come up with wonderful, inventive whoppers that don’t have anything to do with you.

Drew, if you knew that giving presents and sending mushy letters was wrong, why in the world did you do it? That was your fault. It was Mona’s fault that she didn’t tell you she was waiting for the ink to dry on your divorce papers. What does that say about her?

Now, can you believe Mona started seeing someone else? I can’t. Again, I’m totally shocked. But Drew, seriously, how much more of a beating do you have to take, how much more screwing around with your head do you have to endure, how many more lies do you have to hear before you get past your ego and see reality?

But, you insist -- despite all evidence to the contrary – that Mona still loves you. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love would say, “Dude, she’s lying through her teeth.” The sad part is that you want to believe her. And you’re a doctor? I hope I never find myself in your emergency room -- I’ll probably end up with a scalpel in my stomach when I come out of the anesthesia.

Why are you checking in with this woman? You’re married, she’s married, and she’s seeing another man. When you were talking to her on the phone, were you on your knees or were you just lying on your stomach?

You weren’t really after closure, Drew. Closure is when you walk away and never look back. But at least you grew a teeny bit of a backbone – until you and Mona became friends again. What you really mean is that you caved in, you weakling.

Now you two are chatting on the phone a couple of hours every day. Is that all? Gee, you should talk longer than that. You know why Mona doesn’t want more intimacy with you? Because she has to save it for her other boyfriend. Actually, you should ask her if she still kisses her husband. So there it is, buddy – after all your groveling and begging she’s kissing two other guys and not you. That’s just great.

Mona doesn’t want friendship either. You know what she really wants? She wants a divorce and she wants to be wrapped in her new boyfriend’s arms. This woman is a user and a drama queen. Gosh, Drew, did you actually believe her when she said she didn’t want to see anyone else? And that you’re the only man in her life? What about her boyfriend and her husband? That sure sounds like a couple of others to me. And like my Uncle Jethro Love would say, “She just keeps you around because you don’t give her no trouble.”

What do I think you should do now? I think you should throw more gold on the sinking ship. As Bill O’Reilly says, “You been drinking too much Kool-Aid!”

Ruining a relationship between the two of you is not even a possibility because Mona’s Interest Level is south of 50%. The reason she returned your call after two months is because she probably had a little argument with her boyfriend or maybe she dropped him.

But it’s your own fault that you’re in this fix. Guys, until you have the paperwork in your hands, you shouldn’t go starting anything.

You call holding hands “coziness?” Not! Coziness is kissing, and you’re not doing that. I hold hands with my grandmother.

Remember, guys: if you don’t memorize my “System,” you are doomed to repeat your mistakes.

Did Jude Flip Out when Siena Dumped Him?

Dear Doc,

I am writing in desperation. I bought your book quite a while back and with success landed the woman of my dreams. I met Antonia and at first I wasn’t that into her, but there were a few things that I loved. We went out for two and a half years, and she expressed many times that she wanted to marry me. I never had to chase her, and I kept blowing off the idea of marriage. I loved her but wasn’t in love with her. But I knew she would make a great wife.

Well, Antonia unexpectedly dumped me recently. For the first week after it happened, I was okay. But when I saw her on Match.com I lost it. It dawned on me then that it was real. I flipped out and called her at 2:30 a.m. She said that she went on there to prove to herself that she wasn’t ready for dating. (Yes.) And that she got an e-mail from someone and it made her sick to her stomach and she almost threw up, etc. I believe that she was speaking with true conviction.

Antonia asked me not to call her because she needed time. So the next day I called again, and she got irritated because she said she needed space. I e-mailed her then and she wrote back and said not to e-mail her anymore. Her exact words were, “What I need is TIME. How much time, I don’t know.”

This led me to believe there is hope for us getting back together. I wrote back again and told her how much I loved her and wanted to marry her.

A week went by and I noticed that she was still on Match.com but her picture had been changed. The new one made her look sexier. I lost it again and called her. She said she tried to take the picture off but couldn’t.

Doc, I know it’s a lie now. She said she is so angry with me that she can’t stand to be in the same room with me. She also said that when she got the e-mail message from me where I said I wanted to marry her that she cried all day.

Doc, I want to bring a ring over to Antonia’s house, get down on one knee and propose to her. I love her to death and want to marry her.

I feel that Antonia has someone in her ear telling her to forget me. I can’t eat or sleep and have lost 10 pounds. I don’t know what to do and realize I ruined the best thing in the world. I need to prove to Antonia that I am changed but she won’t speak to me. But I think she still loves me.

I know this isn’t much to go on, but any advice would be appreciated. After two and a half years I am not sure if the principles of “The System” apply here.

Marty - who hopes he can turn it around

Hi Marty,

What do you mean you weren’t “that into” Antonia? Why was that? You’ve got problems right out of the gate here. You’re talking about marriage to the girl of your dreams, and you weren’t that interested in her? It’s a contradiction in terms. Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “You’re worse than those babes when they talk Womanese!”

If you weren’t in love with Antonia, why the heck were you wasting your time? It’s not that your Interest Level was low, man -- you actually didn’t have an Interest Level. Antonia wouldn’t make you a great wife. Because after a while she’d come to realize that the man she married wasn’t in love with her. But don’t worry about her. I’m sure she’ll make a great wife – for somebody else.

To you Psych majors, when you get dumped it’s ALWAYS unexpected. The guy never sees it coming. He doesn’t have a clue.

Well, then you went and “flipped out” and called the poor girl at 2:30 in the morning. Why didn’t you make it 4 a.m. and get her really riled up so she never spoke to you again? I see that you’re really practicing my premier virtues of Self-Control and Discipline here, guy.

Hm, Antonia went on Match.com to prove she wasn’t ready for dating…and you bought it. Now just listen to that impeccable line of logic she served up: the reason a person joins an online dating service is to prove she’s not ready for dating. Huh? Did I miss something here? The statement makes no sense whatsoever and contradicts itself. And you were so gullible, Marty, so desperate for love, that you bought it.

But, she goes on to explain; the experience was so nauseating it made her want to barf. Okay, so there are jerks on the Internet. And there are psycho women on the internet, too. This is what I call a “camouflage” tactic. Antonia’s talking about nothing that has anything whatsoever to do with you and her. And yet she’s trying to make it appear that way.

Of course she was speaking with true conviction – there are creeps on the Internet. But you’re trying to infer somehow that her bad experience makes your situation better. The bad news is that her meeting a sleazoid on the web doesn’t raise her Interest Level in you. It’s too late for that.

Antonia doesn’t need a little time away from you, Marty – she needs Eternity. The tells you to disappear, and what do you go and do? Like 90% of the guys out there you think with your EGO, you think with your high INTEREST LEVEL, and you think with your PRIDE. And guess what? You’re going to lower her Interest Level even more by your out-of-control actions.

Instead of protesting that she needs space, Antonia should have said she was going off to Australia to get married and live in the outback. Then maybe you’d get the drift. Like my cousin Doctor Freud says, “What’s this little girl have to say before you finally pick up the hint?” But as always, guys, if you don’t want to get hurt, lead with your chin!

Nevertheless, you insist there’s hope for the two of you getting back together. Sure, there is. And Saddam’s going to reclaim the presidency of Iraq, too. You’re the kind of guy who probably goes out to his backyard and tries to shoot the moon with a BB gun. I got news for you -- your odds of pulling that off would be better than getting Antonia back.

But you went ahead and told her you wanted to marry her. Great! You want to marry a girl who wants space and time. Makes perfectly good sense to me!

The incident of the second photo on Match.com is another side issue, a smokescreen. You’re getting sidetracked on nothing that counts, Marty. It’s got nothing to do with anything, except to drive you even crazier now that you don’t have Antonia anymore. You should have noticed how sexy she was about two and a half years ago.

Now she can’t stand to be in the same room with you. Hey, that’s exactly the kind of girl you want to marry! Know why she cried? It was from joy, because she was so ecstatic that she didn’t marry you! But like 90% of all men, you clutch at straws. If you think you hear one half-promising word in 10 minutes of being put down, you say “Ah-ha! I can tell she’s just hiding her Interest Level!”

Marty, you only want to marry Antonia now because she rejected you. Her rebuff doubled your low Interest Level. Rejection is the ultimate challenge. Now you can’t see straight. You went out with this girl for two and half years and you didn’t even like her. Now you’re ready to give her a ring? Are you sure you read my book?

Of course Antonia has someone in her ear telling her to forget you. She’s a good-looking girl -- there are probably 10 guys chasing after her. But so what? They can’t knock down her Interest Level in you. Only you can -- by calling her and crying in the middle of the night.

Yeah, it sounds to me like Antonia digs you a lot, Marty. She must, judging from the way she tells you to get lost. And don’t worry about what you gave me to go on – it’s more than enough.

The principles of “The System” apply here, dude, but you didn’t use them, and that’s your problem.

Remember, guys: once she uses the word “space,” you’re dead in the water.

Would You Dump Salma Hayek if She Called to Say "Hi"?

Hey Doc,

I have been a follower of your techniques for two and a half years now and “The System” has become a powerful part of my dating life. I have heard you say that on many occasions guys look to you for coaching when it’s already too late. They don’t recognize the red flags in their relationships, and by that time, the woman’s Interest Level has dropped below 50% and they are history.

I’m writing to get your opinion on my relationship with a woman by the name of Salma. She is a 23-year-old, good-looking, first-generation, American-born woman of Jordanian extraction. (I know that’s a mouthful, but I want you to have as many details as possible.) She recently graduated with an accounting degree and is working at a nearby corporation.

I met Salma at a volunteer workshop hosted at our college. The first two and a half months went smoothly. I would call her, set up a date and we would not see or talk to each other until the date. She was always energetic and bright and would constantly be touching and kissing me by the end of the date. Nine dates later, I gave her a rose in a gold box.

At seven months into this relationship, I’m continuing to keep my hands to myself and let Salma chase me. She pays for the occasional date. I have tried to steer clear of heavy subjects as much as I could during this time. I’m now trying to dissect what Salma’s Attitude is made of. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed:

1. Salma likes to talk about guys hitting on her and trying to pick her up. I’ve remained cool when she does this and have switched the subject on occasion but have stopped short of asking her not to talk about it.

2. There is no intimacy between us. Being of a Catholic and conservative background, she wishes to wait until she is married.

3. She is of a different culture, which sometimes makes for a very different way of seeing things.

4. When challenged, she becomes stubborn and inflexible.

5. She lives with her parents, and there is an unwritten rule as to what time she must be home at night and what activities she can and cannot do.

6. She broke a date two weeks ago because she had to help her sister-in-law set up for a birthday party the next day.

7. When I schedule dates up to five days beforehand, she will call before we see each other to say hi.

Doc, do you detect any red flags in her behavior that I should be truly concerned about? I’m stuck on Salma, but I don’t want to overlook anything that’s truly dangerous.

Samuel - who doesn’t want to wake up when it’s too late

Hi Samuel,

What you said about Interest Level was a mouthful. If a woman’s Interest Level dips from 95% to 85%, the guy should immediately back off. But of course he doesn’t see it that way. He finally gets the hint that something’s wrong when her interest drops to somewhere between 55% to 65%, but by then he’s already in more trouble than the Titanic when it met that infamous iceberg. To you Psych majors, he always reads the signs too late. But through memorization of my principles, this can be prevented.

It’s good that Salma is gainfully employed. It means you have a self-reliant woman on your hands, Samuel, and not one of the worst species of female on earth -- the Gold Digger. And she’s supposed to be energetic and bright and constantly touching you when you’re together, so that’s okay, too. If she springs for the occasional date, it means she’s a Giver. She’s not supposed to take care of half of the dates, but an occasional date is a very good sign. So far you’re doing great, kid.

Now let’s take a look at your list. You’re doing the right thing by switching the subject when Salma brings up how guys hit on her. But how often does she do it? Is it a constant theme, or was it broached only once or twice? When she lays this stuff on you, you should counter by telling her about the models who’ve been doing photo shoots outside your apartment, and can’t resist coming in and asking to use the bathroom, then hanging around and having a glass of water with you. Then check out how she reacts. In other words, rather than ask a woman not to do something -- which all mankind should know is nothing but a waste of time – just bring up how other women are always coming on to you and you don’t do a thing to encourage it.

The problem of intimacy has a really simple solution, buddy. As long as both you and Salma are okay without it for the time being, that’s all that matters. The rule is that the later you have sex, the better.

You’re not giving me enough specifics regarding where your girlfriend’s exotic culture is a problem. But she’s ultra-conservative, and that’s good. With all the wild ones running around, you’re better off with a girl who’s not partying as hard as Tara Reid.

Just how often does Salma become stubborn and inflexible? If she does it once every two or three months, you can live with it. But if she pulls that act every second or third date, like my Uncle Jethro Love says, “Boy, you got a problem!” And here’s something else -- how are you challenging her? What is it you’re trying to change about her? Could it be that you’re prodding her into an attitude? Again, I need more information, and you need to examine what you’re doing.

It’s good that Salma’s folks restrict her activities and keep an eye on her. If you need uninhibited adventure, dude, go out with a topless dancer.

But point number 6 is a different kettle of fish. You know my feelings on broken dates. It’s not so much that Salma broke the date; it’s how you responded to it that’s the important thing.

What you should have done was not called her, and forced her to ask you out. Because when a girl breaks a date, she’s telling you she’s too comfortable with you. She’s saying she knows she owns you. If Salma knew in her heart that you were going to walk, she would have said to herself “To hell with my sister-in-law!” But she knew she could get away with brushing you off, right, Sammy? She knew that you’d be waiting for her no matter what, because you can’t resist the fact that she’s a Salma Hayek look-alike, and even if she told you to jump off a bridge, you’d probably do it. Just how much of a follower of “The System” are you, my man?

There’s no problem with Salma calling you just to say hi. Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “It shows that you cross her mind at least once in a while.”

No, the red flag I’d be most concerned with is that Salma digs her sister-in-law more than she digs you. And she doesn’t give a darn about the consequences because you’re not a Challenge, she knows she’s got you where she wants you, and so she can break a date without thinking twice.

So out of your seven items here, number 6 is the biggie. Did she break the date because she’s not organized? Did it just come up out of the blue? If you’d said, “If you go to that birthday party, then we’re not going out anymore,” what would have happened? Some “three-percenters” – true tough guys – would have done just that. They would have said to Salma, “If you break a date, babe, don’t ever call me again. We’re kaput, finito. No woman ever pulls that crap on me.” And they would stand by it. If you wanted to play hardball, you could have done that, too. And by the way, how come you weren’t invited to her sister-in-law’s party?

Remember, guys: you have to learn to read her actions quicker, and more importantly; you can’t rationalize what she does just because she’s hot.

Would it have Helped Kenny Chesney if he Flirted with Other Girls?

Hey Doc,

I’m a regular reader of your column. I think you give great advice on all aspects of dating, much better than the other love doctors out there. Now I’ve become a regular listener of your radio show as well. Please keep up the good work. Lots of us guys need it.

But I have a question that I don’t think you’ve ever dealt with.

First, let me tell you my situation. I’ve been dating Sasha for about three months now. I was unbelievably attracted to her from the start (she’s 26 and a real hottie), and though I tried my best to stay a Challenge, I couldn’t help myself from slipping into the worshipful “Nice Guy” syndrome, after which, predictably, she began to lose some interest in me.

But here’s the good thing. It’s my assessment that Sasha’s Interest Level is still at least 51%, although I have sensed it fading lately. By this I mean that she still accepts dates once a week and we have a pretty good time when we’re out. Needless to say, I’d like her to be completely in love with me, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.

Now since I’m a good-looking guy myself, I always catch women looking at me wherever I am, even when I’m out with Sasha. So here’s my question: is it okay to flirt with these other girls when I’m with Sasha? Since her Interest Level is declining anyway, will it have a positive effect on her? In other words, if other women find me attractive, doesn’t that increase my desirability to Sasha? Or will it only hurt my cause? I’m confused on how to handle this.

I recently heard a never-married movie star with a long track record of dating beauties say that women only like bad boys. I know flirting with other girls doesn’t make me Scott Peterson, but it shows I can’t be controlled.

So far I’ve kept my flirting to a minimum, smiling back when a girl smiles at me, but I can’t tell what effect if any it’s having on Sasha since I’ve stopped short of asking other women for their home phone numbers when I’m with her. But if I’m going to lose her anyway, I might as well have some fun in the process, right? Maybe I’ll even meet someone new.

I’d like you to weigh in with your thoughts on this. Thanks, Doc.

Andre - who’s trying to kill two birds with one stone

Hi Andre,

What you’re suffering through right now is the biggest romantic affliction in America, so you can take some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Once a guy’s Interest Level hits 90% or above, he just loses it. He’s a goner. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “Love is a drug.”

Here’s the problem when you’re all hung up on a knockout: your head’s not right and you’re not thinking straight. It’s like the woman is a cobra who got her fangs into a mouse – you – and you’re just paralyzed. And there you are saying to yourself, “I’m so in love with this girl! I’ve never been in love like this before! I can’t live without her!” And it’s only the fourth date!

It’s great that your Interest Level is soaring around the stratosphere, but guess what? At the end of the day you guys all give in and collapse – because the drug is too strong. And the drug is called BEAUTY.

Andre, your girl didn’t lose some interest in you. She lost a lot of interest in you. Jeez, you’re bragging about a 51% Interest Level? You’re hanging by a skimpy vine from the side of a mountain looking down 4,000 feet to the bottom of the ravine and you’re proud of it? I got news for you – you’ve already slid off the mountain to 40% Interest Level. It’s over and you don’t even know it. Now Sasha’s going to keep you around just to see how much pain she can inflict on you before she finds another poor dumb fish to sink her hooks into.

And you know why she keeps accepting dates? Because she’s just waiting for the next turkey to come along. She’s bored, but maybe she likes the flowers you bring over to her apartment. Like I told you guys before, when their Interest Level is 40% to 49% they’ll still go out with you.

And by the way, what do you mean when you say you two have a “pretty good time” on your dates? Can it be any weaker? How come you don’t have a great time? That’s what you’re supposed to be doing after only a couple of months, right? Are you putting on a show when you’re with Sasha? Are you taking her to great restaurants? Or are you moping because you can feel her slipping out of your grasp?

Hey, Andre, don’t get me wrong -- if I saw your Sasha, who’s no doubt a double of Keira Knightly, I’m sure I’d be completely in love with her too. But the point is this: you had your shot, and what did you do? You blew it because you weren’t prepared. The narcotic of love softened you right up. Now you’re sitting there as immobilized as a smack freak or an alcoholic after a binge. It’s just like the fate that befell Samson when he got the infamous haircut in the Bible. Like my cousin Brother Love down in Watts told me, “Dog, that’s what high Interest Level does to a man!”

Did you ever think that maybe these other women are looking at you because of Sasha? If she’s as hot as you say she is, it’s definitely a possibility. But no, it’s not okay to flirt with other babes when you’re with her. You’re going to do something else. Next time you’re in a bar together, you’re going to say, “Honey – see that girl over there in the red dress? She keeps staring at you. Do you know her or something?”

Now of course she’s been checking you out the whole time. But you’re going to try and get a conversation going between her and Sasha and see what happens. You’re trying to rustle the bushes here, shake things up. Flirting will have a positive effect on Sasha’s Interest Level, but in your fix you have to do a lot more.

If Sasha’s Interest Level is 51% like you say, the attention of other women will have a positive impact for the time being. But if her interest is just flickering at around 40% to 49%, these little back-and-forth skirmishes won’t amount to much of anything. When you’re in that south-of-the-50-yard-line range, she’s just wasting your time and playing with your head.

And if you’ve memorized my principles, you’ll know when it hits 49%. But even with the power of “The System” behind you, you’re still just a puny male going up against the most powerful creature on the face of the planet – the Beautiful Woman. In other words, like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “I hope you realize how much trouble you’re in, baby.”

But sure, Andre, keep taking Sasha to places where other women can stare at you. It’s worth the shot to see if you can raise your desirability. You’re asking yourself how to raise Interest Level, which is good. But the question you’re leaving out, the more important question that should have occurred to you earlier, was how did I make Sasha’s Interest Level take a powder in the first place? What did I do wrong? You should look at your errors and do the opposite. And then add Challenge to it. But it’s probably too late.

The statement that women only like bad boys is a half-truth. Because they also dig gentlemen like Cary Grant. What Cary Grant and the bad boys have in common is that they’re both Challenges. Where they differ is that the bad boy shows up for dates with a toothpick in his mouth and thinks it’s cute, while the gentleman knows it shows no class.

Pal, you’re only fooling yourself when you say that since you’re flirting with other girls Sasha knows she can’t control you. Her Interest Level did a swan dive because she knew she could control you.

You should never hustle or look at other women when you’re with Miss Right or any date, that’s the rule. You’re not being a Challenge when you shove it in her face, you’re being disrespectful. Andre, you’ve got the right idea -- that you have to go to war -- but you’ve got the wrong weapon.

Sure, maybe you’ll meet someone new when you’re flirting. And maybe there’ll be an earthquake and a brick will fall and hit you in the head, too. The problem is that unless you toughen up and get the monkey off your back, when Miss Beautiful Number 2 comes along you’re going to play the same old record. You’re going to make the same tired mistakes, and Number 2 is going to get rid of you, too. Except that now you’re four years older, you’ve got a network of little wrinkles around your eyes, and you’re not as cute.

So this is my thought on your situation: my friend, you’ve got a lot of work to do.

Remember, guys: most men give up all semblance of Self-Control in the presence of a Beautiful Woman.

Would Mickey Rourke buy Mischa Barton's Story?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been a student of your techniques for about a month now. I think I have to break up with Maria Luiza, but I just don’t have the heart to do it. This is my story.

I started dating this drop-dead gorgeous beauty (she’s a dead ringer for the actress Mischa Barton) about a year ago. After a few months of being together, she had to leave for Brazil (which is where she’s from) for three months. We decided that we would continue our relationship long-distance.

I thought everything was going okay, but now I’m not so sure. The night before she was to come back to the U.S., she went out dancing with her friends. She was offered a ride home afterwards by one of her male companions. En route to her house, he stopped by his place and invited her in for a few minutes. At this point the details get sketchy, but here’s what I’ve been able to wrestle out of her so far.

She had had two drinks at the bar and was feeling lightheaded. When they got inside the guy’s apartment, he sat on the couch next to her and started kissing her. She said what followed “just happened.” When I asked her how it happened, she said that maybe she wasn’t feeling so sure about our relationship. She said that they were kissing for just a second, but then things got a little more intimate. Then, she said, she pushed him away and ran out of the place and went and reported him to the police.

When Maria Luiza showed up in the States the next day, there were no bruises or scratches on her. I went to visit her at her place, but we ended up arguing all night over this incident. Whenever I asked her for more details, she started attacking me. She made me feel like the culprit, Doc, and maintained that what happened wasn’t her fault at all. By four in the morning I got tired of arguing and left.

Doc, is Maria Luiza’s story just Womanese? What do you see here? I see scum. But I just can’t gather enough courage to drop her. Like I said, she’s a legitimate “10.”

I really want to get over this ordeal. Any suggestions, Doc?

Gordon - who can’t tell if he’s being snowed

Hi Gordon,

First of all, you say “we” – meaning you and Maria Luiza together -- decided to continue your relationship long distance. But just who brought the arrangement up first? Was it you? Or was it her? Did you have to beg? How was the subject left when Maria Luiza flew off to the Amazon? Were you whimpering like an abandoned pit bull?

Let’s move on to what happened. Now let me get this straight. Maria Luiza went out with the girls, but happened to get into a car that wasn’t owned by one of them. No, instead she ends up cruising around in the middle of the night with some guy she was dirty dancing with at the club. Hm….Then she gets out of the car and goes with him into his apartment. Fascinating. Uh, why didn’t she sit in the car and tell him, “Go do what you have to do in the apartment and I’ll wait here?” She must have been so lightheaded from those two drinks that she completely forgot what she was doing – and all about you, too.

And it’s at this sensitive point that the details of Maria Luiza’s story get sketchy. I wonder why that is? Gordon, this is about as comical as the upcoming trial of Phil Spector, old helmet-hair himself. The details of what happened in his mansion that night are very sketchy too. The cops have been trying to get them straightened out ever since they arrested him.

But let’s look a little closer at what allegedly went down with your girlfriend. Why didn’t she sit in a chair so this fellow couldn’t sit next to her? When she said that what followed “just happened,” does it mean she cooked him breakfast in the morning?

I gotta hand it to this girlfriend of yours, man. She’s slick, all right. You were interrogating her like an internal affairs officer and she decided to turn the tables on you. What exactly wasn’t she so sure of when it came to your relationship? Your high Interest Level? She knows you were in love with her, so what exactly was she saying? Did you ever think that when she was necking with her salsa partner from south of the border that maybe she wasn’t sure of her Interest Level in you?

This whole scene is just great. It reminds me of those classic arguments where the girl does something outrageously wrong and her poor boyfriend is so angry he can’t see straight, and then she cuddles up to him and coos “Are you mad?” Now the poor schmuck is suddenly on the defensive, and if he says he’s not mad, then he’s lying! Don’t think that my cousin General Love is kidding for a second when he says, “Go out there fully armed, because dating is war!”

To you Psych majors, she’s pulling a fast one on you. She’s scamming you. It’s called being so slippery that you lose your footing and get all confused. But when you see those bee-stung lips and legs that start up here and end down in Ipanema in a bikini, you don’t have a prayer.

Any chance Maria Luiza and her chauffeur could have been kissing for an hour rather than just a second? And I wonder exactly what “a little more intimate” means? Since this column is G-rated, we can’t go any deeper into it, but you get the idea. Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “They weren’t playing checkers, baby!”

Now let me get something else straight. Your squeeze reported this guy to the authorities for the following reasons:

  • She got into his car voluntarily.
  • She went to his place voluntarily.
  • She sat next to him on his couch voluntarily.
  • She made out with him voluntarily.

5. He never held a gun to her head.

Well, gee, if I were cop, I’d put the guy away too! Her story makes perfect, logical sense to me!

You say you saw no bruises or scratches when you two got together the next morning? I’m shocked all over again! Boy, medicine works fast these days! But like Fast Eddie Love says, “I’ll bet he had scratches all over his body!”

But at the end of the day, nothing was Maria Luiza’s fault – she didn’t make any bad choices at all when she was partying down in Rio. Gordon, I have to give this girl’s story the Womanese Award of the Year for 2005.

You might see scum here, Gordo, but I see an anaconda in the grass.

Nevertheless, you can’t bring yourself to drop this babe because she’s too hot-looking. And that’s very sad. The point is this: she’s always gotten away with murder because of her looks. And she’ll go on getting away with murder until she hits the wall or somebody calls her on it.

And that’s the one thing you did right. You busted her, and that’s why she attacked you. I think it’s great, man. You were really, really sharp. Most guys wouldn’t have the guts to not let their little starlets wriggle immediately off the hook.

Here’s my suggestion: next time don’t fall in love so fast.

Remember, guys: when the girl attacks you, you know she’s guilty.

Does Hef ever have to Protect his Heart?

Hey Doc,

Recently I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life -- to break up with my girlfriend of nine months. I find myself second-guessing whether I did the right thing. I often feel sorry for the person I break up with. This leads me to try and make the relationship last longer than it should.

Here’s the story. I’m a traditional, confident, attractive (I’m a former model) med student in his mid-twenties. My parents have a model marriage, something I hope to emulate one day. I somehow got mixed up with a girl I thought was traditional too. Shannon was sweet, funny, delicate, and morally sound. She claimed to be very religious and went to church on a regular basis. I was amazed to find such a great-looking girl with a solid background. She chased me relentlessly and of course I was a Challenge and only responded to her pursuit on occasion. I made her laugh, and kept things light.

As she became more comfortable with me (around the four-month mark), she showed red flags that I made the mistake of ignoring or choosing to live with. For instance, I found out that she would go to wild parties and sometimes got intoxicated to the point where she almost passed out. Talk about classy -- a 120-pound girl taking shots like a sailor! I was shocked, but didn’t react. She cried, and said she made a mistake. She told me she wouldn’t do it again.

Then I found out that her ex-boyfriend still called her and professed his deep feelings for her. He did this even though she told him she felt nothing for him, and that she was deeply in love with me. I asked her why she still talked to him and she responded that they have common friends and that as a Christian she didn’t want to be “mean.”

It turned out that she’s the type of girl that loves attention. I know all women do, but Shannon seemed really in love with it. She would dress scandalously, brag about turning heads at social gatherings, or shocking her boss and customers at her job since she works in retail. I understand that this is part of life, but I didn’t like the fact that she seemed to enjoy it so much. To top it off, she claimed that when she has children, she’d never change a diaper or wake up if the baby’s crying at night. Some great catch, huh?

You’re probably asking why I stayed so long. Well, she promised she would change. However, with time her true colors always shone through. It was like I was dealing with a Jekyll and Hyde character. On one side of the coin was this very sweet church girl, and on the other a party girl who craved attention and getting her own way. Very confusing.

Anyhow, I got tired of being disappointed and realized the situation had no long-term potential. It got so bad that I didn’t trust her whenever she went out. I’m not possessive or jealous, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for someone to control herself. When I did end it, she kept calling me until finally I had to change my number. I’m not going back to that hell-hole.

I guess what I’m asking, Doc, is what I should do to make sure this never happens to me again. I was raised to expect the best in people and that given the right circumstances, people can change. But it seems to me that when people change, the changes are usually superficial, and they go back to whom they really are. I’m a good guy, and I know I deserve better. I just want a nice, sweet girl.

Ben - who wants to protect himself in the future

Hi Ben,

Breaking up with a girl shouldn’t ever be a tough decision. It should be a piece of cake. Your problem is that you didn’t leave sooner. This goes for most guys out there.

But you’re sitting around feeling sorry for these castaways. Why, Ben? Do you think they sit around feeling an ounce of sympathy for you when they cut your heart out with a razor? Guy, as my cousin General Love always says, “Dating is war!” If you let a bad relationship drag on, you’re just fighting reality. And my principles are all about facing reality – the sooner the better.

Guess what, man? Shannon might have looked clean and wholesome at the start, but down deep, she’s nothing like your dear old mom. She went to church all right, but apparently not enough. It only seemed like she had a solid background, but unfortunately for you, appearances was where it ended.

But it’s great that you responded to Shannon’s pursuit of you at first. Some guys would have held back and rubbed Challenge in her face, but that’s not the rule. You should give in once in a while. Setting an inconsistent pattern means she’s never going to be bored. This is great – so far.

Because Shannon’s true colors came out at the four-month mark. In other words, you stayed an extra five months for nothing. You threw away five months of your life and money and you probably lost some of your sanity in the process over a ding-dong. Was she worth it?

So, Shannon almost passed out at parties. And those two guys with her were helping her to recover, right?

But I can just hear her tearful explanation afterwards: “Oh, Benny, I slipped and made a boo-boo! This is the only time it’s ever happened! I never make an ass of myself at parties, honest! Somebody mixed those drinks really strong! When I came to, those two guys were just helping me over to the couch to sleep it off!”

I got news for you, Ben – Shannon didn’t just start drinking like a sailor. She’s been pounding it down like Popeye for a long time. And you’re a medical student? Man, am I ever going to feel comfortable the next time I have to go to the hospital for a diagnosis!

So, Shannon told you she wouldn’t ever do it again….You know what’s really sad, Ben? Not that she’s a liar, because that goes with the territory. What’s sad is that you believed her. You bought into the BIG LIE. Why? Because you wanted to. You thought you had a conventional, conservative girl and you were going to stick to your guns come Hell or high water. Your male ego and pride led you astray. And, pal, you lost five precious months of your life because of those two words – EGO and PRIDE.

Shannon and her ex don’t have friends in common. She’s got low Self-Esteem and she’s addicted to the strokes. One man isn’t enough for her. She has to have at least two turkeys eating out of her hand.

But okay, she’s a Christian and she didn’t want to be mean. Whatever happened to when it’s over, it’s over? There’s no reason for Shannon and her ex to be communicating. The reality is that Shannon is being mean. She’s being mean by being disrespectful to you, the one she loves so much (theoretically), and by stringing her ex along and giving him false hope. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “She’s some catch, all right!”

When you describe how Shannon gets off on her various states of undress, one thing becomes very obvious to me – she’s a flasher. This girl’s in the wrong place -- she should be working one of the Vegas strip clubs. She sure as heck doesn’t belong in church! To you Psych majors, when you fall for a knockout, you have to expect her to get away with murder.

Know why Shannon will never change the baby’s nappy? Because she knows you’re going to do it! Why should she lift a manicured finger when she can get some flunkey to do the dirty work for her?

Shannon’s behavior isn’t confusing at all, Ben. The girl’s a whack-job. And like I tell you guys up front: no Mercenaries, no Feministas, and no whack-jobs. You’re opening yourself up to a lifetime of misery if you don’t heed my warning on this.

Dude, the reason you were disappointed in Shannon is because you were expecting too much. This babe didn’t have what you thought she had. You were okay with her for four months, but then her real self came out. And you should have said to yourself, if I want to be in love with a flasher and I want to get up at 2 a.m. to feed the baby, then I’d stay with this girl. But you have to think of the cost.

Still, you wasted five whole months, like I said before. Five months you can never have back. But it could have been worse if you’d have refused to open your eyes.

But hey, why didn’t you trust Shannon? All she does is get bombed and pass out after 15 shots of Jack Daniels! Gee, what’s so bad about that? After all, she’s got a bunch of guys rubbing her arms and forehead when she goes unconscious, but they’re just trying to bring her around – at least I think that’s what they’re doing!

Nevertheless, I want to award you the Congressional Medal of Honor for not caving in to Shannon’s pursuit at the bitter end and having the guts to get your phone number changed. You know how many guys wouldn’t have done that? You know how many desperadoes would have turned right around and walked straight back into Shannon’s arms?

To make sure this never happens to you again, buddy, memorize my principles, and then get out after four months! Sure, people can change, but with this girl you’re not just talking about the way she applies her lipstick. She’s got major problems that need attention, starting with her binge drinking.

But one essential thing we never mentioned is that this girl has to want to change. If she ever gets to teach a course on the Bible or give a speech on modesty and decorum, she has to be able to do it with a straight face. Otherwise, like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Fuh-get about it, baby!”

Remember, guys: the prettier they are, the easier it is for them to hide their flaws.

How does Diddy Handle Her when She Blows Hot and Cold?

Hi Doc,

I am a dedicated follower of your principles and truly feel you’ve got it all figured out. There is a situation I would like your advice on. Here are the details.

I began dating Leigh two and a half years ago. In the beginning I was unaware of how powerful Challenge really was. I was a Challenge without even knowing it. When we first started going out I even said to her, “I don’t have to call you every day, do I?”

For the first six months Leigh was a wildcat. She was a blast to hang out with and appeared to have a tremendously high level of interest in me. However, she is from a family very impressed with money and they’re always telling her to “marry up.” I come from a modest background but was able to provide her with lots of the things she wanted.

After a year I found out that her ex-boyfriend of 10 years (who by the way is filthy rich) started calling her. She said she wanted to be friends with him again, but being a guy, I knew better. I was concerned and jealous.

We ended up breaking up a few months later because Leigh said she felt like something was missing. She even said that I wasn’t being a Challenge, there was no chemistry, and that I didn’t stand up to her enough. The funny thing, though, is that she didn’t start dating her ex-boyfriend. That’s when I fell into your hands and started reading your articles.

I went back to being a Challenge, not calling and saying I love you all the time, and after a few months we got back together. Then I got a job and had to move to another state for nine months. We decided we could do the long-distance thing. During my eighth month away, Leigh bought me a birthday gift and gave it to me a week early when I was home visiting, but she forgot to call me on my birthday.

I got very upset with her and she apologized. We made up, and she invited me to spend the Fourth of July with her and her parents at the beach. The first night things were great. The next day, though, she was distant. She went to visit her girlfriend and didn’t return any of my phone calls for a week. When she got back she finally called and again said that she didn’t feel any chemistry.

Some time later I ran into her when she was with another guy. I made out like I was doing okay, but deep down I still had feelings for her. I waited a week, called her, and left a message that I thought she was looking good. She called back, and when I didn’t return any of her messages she begged me to call. A week went by and I asked her out. It was apparent she was still single. She called me the day after our date and told me how much fun she had and that she’d like to see me again.

I waited another week to call and asked her out again. This time things were different. She was distant again, but I continued to try to be light and funny. I haven’t spoken to her since.

How can a girl who says she doesn’t feel chemistry for you one day turn around and be intimate with you the next, then go cold again? It’s so confusing; Doc. Is there anything I can do to turn Leigh around at this point?

I would love to know what you think I should do now. I love Leigh, but I don’t understand her.

Loren - who can hardly take it anymore

Hi Loren:

First off, you’re not a dedicated follower of my principles. Know how I can tell? Because you’re asking me a mile-long question here. If you were really a Doc Love disciple, you’d have my principles memorized and be able to figure it all out. You’d already know the solution to your problems.

But that’s not the issue here. I’m here to help you and every other guy out there.

You were unaware of how powerful Challenge is? I’ve been telling you from day one that it’s NITRO! But you guys still don’t believe me. Think about it. You had Leigh eating out of your hand for six whole months with a throwaway line like “I don’t have to call you everyday, do I?” Heck, that’s something straight out of the mouth of Sal “The Fish” Love! Talk about a master of Challenge!

So, Leigh was a blast for six months. That means in the seventh month she wasn’t such a party anymore – because her Interest Level was taking a nosedive. Because, Loren, you were doing something different. You changed something. You started morphing into some form of Wimpus Americanus. What it boiled down to is that you stopped being a CHALLENGE. And Interest Level will decline from there on out.

Don’t fool yourself, man. Money was never an issue with Leigh. During those first hot six months, Interest Level cut through everything, right? Leigh knew you weren’t the second coming of J. Paul Getty when you pulled up for the first time in your secondhand Saturn. When her Interest Level was 95% she couldn’t care less whether you drove a Mercedes or were collecting unemployment insurance. (To you Psych majors, he was between careers!) For six months you owned this girl. Then you didn’t anymore.

When her rich ex came into the picture, you should have said to her, “Hey, baby, bring him over and we’ll have lunch. I’d really like to meet the man. In fact, I’d be honored.” On the inside you were thinking of taking a hit out on the guy, but on the outside don’t ever show that anything gets to you. Sure, you should have been concerned, but not jealous. Instead, you should have been asking yourself “Why is she talking about exes? Why is she talking to other men? Why isn’t she a blast anymore? What the heck am I doing wrong?”

You two didn’t break up, Loren. Leigh dropped you. We don’t break up with women – they drop us. Get it? Sure, something was missing for her – 51 points of Interest Level! It was 100% for around 180 days, but you managed to lower it to 49%. That’s the missing “chemistry” she was talking about. Chemistry is the twin sister of Challenge.

When Leigh accused you of not standing up to her, what she meant was that you have no backbone, you’re no fun, and you’re boring – but don’t take it personally. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “And you wonder why she’s talking to the exes?”

By the way, Loren, how do you know Leigh wasn’t dating her rich ex? Did you have someone tailing her with a camera? You don’t have enough money to hire someone like that. Her rich ex-boyfriend does, though.

It’s too bad you got to me after the damage was done, buddy. It’s nice that you tried to go back to being a Challenge, but 90% of you guys do it way, way too late. You don’t realize that what the girl saw in you at the beginning she wants to see after 40 years. As Doctor Love would say, “What she doesn’t want is someone who’s predictable and no fun.”

Moving out of state for your new job was the kiss of death. Now I know that somebody upstairs was looking out for this girl! You were forced to get out of town in your tenuous position with Leigh? Talk about things going wrong! Murphy’s Law loves you.

Do you know why your birthday slipped Leigh’s mind? Because babes only call when their Interest Level is somewhere between 51% and 100%. I know this is tough for you to swallow, but it’s the truth. But then you pouted. Great! Guess what pouting does to Interest Level? I’ll give you a hint – it’s like driving a stake through a vampire’s heart.

At that point you should have turned down Leigh’s invitation for the Fourth of July, told her you had other plans. The reason things were great on the first night was because she was putting on an act. But then she ran out of gas. She got tired of fighting her resentment for you and decided to let it out. Screw it, she figured – this guy’s such a drag I’m going to shoot him a dirty look every time I see him. Resentment isn’t pretty.

But you must really be addicted to pain and torture, Loren, because you still hadn’t had enough. You went and left phone messages! (You left phone messages and you’re a follower of mine? Like my cousin Brother Love says, “Blasphemy!”)

Then Leigh confesses to you a second time that she has no feelings for you and what do you do? Like every other male, you chase her! Makes sense, right? Really smart. What a great idea. Seeing the results you got, maybe I should change my philosophy on women!

And after all the punishment you absorbed, you still have feelings for her. That’s okay. You’re not a robot, and I’m sorry you’re in pain, my friend. But you forgot to memorize my stuff. You should have come to me about a month before you met this girl to get all my rules down, and if you had, right now Leigh would be your love slave. But instead she’s a love slave for some old, filthy rich boy.

Don’t be fooled because she begged you to call her. Know what was really begging? Her ego. Not her Interest Level. Because when it’s 40% to 49%, they give you false hope. You were getting scraps, dude. And then it just gets worse until it peters out altogether. That’s why when it’s over, it has to be “Adios, baby!”

So, it was apparent that Leigh was still single? Talk about grasping for straws! She wanted to see you again? Hey, maybe you two are meant for each other after all – this girl’s a real ding-dong!

At best, though, her Interest Level is bouncing all over the place like a ball in a pinball machine: 43% to 41% to 46%, etc. Here’s what the inside of her head sounds like: “I’ll call him back…I’ll break the date…Maybe I’ll see him…Nah, I won’t see him,” etc. And when she finally cuts you loose forever, you’ll sit there like a dope and look back at the massive amount of time and energy you wasted and how empty your wallet is. You could have wrapped this up a lot sooner, man. If you didn’t make so many mistakes, you wouldn’t need a bailout program.

Know why Leigh goes back and forth so much? Because women will make out with you when their Interest Level is ricocheting between 40% and 49%. And you guys think, well she’s kissing me, so she can’t really be on the way out. But the fact is you’re already out and don’t even know it.

You don’t have a chance with this girl, Loren. Forget her. Go back to your old ways of being a great Challenge.

If it helps any, I understand Leigh perfectly. For six months her Interest Level was 95%, then it went to hell and you were history. It’s that simple.

Remember, guys: she doesn’t want just you; she wants you and Doc Love’s principles forever.

Does Bruce Willis make Dates by E-mail?

Hey Doc,

I hope you can give me some advice.

Three weeks ago on a Saturday night I met Ashley at a state fair. After 10 minutes of good conversation, I asked for her phone number. She said that she had some problems in the past when giving out her number, and offered me her e-mail address instead. As your rules state, I took this as a “not interested.” I told her it was nice talking with her, and moved on. After another 15 minutes or so, I decided to leave. Noticing this, Ashley came up and asked, “Are you leaving?” I told her yes and she said “Maybe I’ll run into you sometime.”

Normally, I would have flushed her e-mail address and forgotten about her, but during our conversation she asked quite a few personal questions and we seemed to have a lot in common. I figured I had nothing to lose by sending an e-mail. I waited until Thursday, e-mailed her, and invited her out for drinks on Sunday night. She accepted.

We met at the designated place and talked for two and a half hours. She tapped the top of my leg quite a bit. I ended the date by saying I had to be in the office early. I walked her back to her car and closed with a kiss on the lips. On Wednesday I e-mailed her, inviting her to play miniature golf. She accepted, and this time gave me her address and home phone number.

This date went well. After golf, we went for ice cream. I took her home, walked her to the door, and kissed her goodnight. The following Monday I e-mailed her, inviting her to dinner and a movie for Tuesday. At the end of the date I walked her to her door and she gave me a nice long kiss.

The next morning, she sent me an e-mail and told me she had a really good time. That was one week ago, and I haven’t heard from her since. I have not initiated any contact with her since our last date.

Here’s what confuses me, Doc. Ashley was always on time, used every excuse to touch me, laughed at my dumb jokes, and seemed to have a very good attitude. But I’ve made all three of our dates over e-mail. (I called her only once, and there was no answer, so I didn’t leave a message.) The e-mail thing seems like a red flag to me. Plus, if she had high interest in me, wouldn’t she have made some attempt to contact me in the week since our last date? My inclination right now is to not initiate further contact with her, sit back, and see if she contacts me. What do you think?

Alvin - who wants to know how to play it

Hi Alvin,

If you had your ears open, you would have realized that Ashley was telling you a lot right up front when she dropped that remark about handing out her home phone number. If she were only giving her number to nice guys, she wouldn’t have any problems, would she? So why the heck was she handing out her number to all comers? Or was something else going on? Does she have a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend? Like I always tell you guys, you have to be like love detectives on Love And Order.

Taking Ashley’s offer of her e-mail address as a “not interested” was certainly a shrewd assessment on your part, at least at first. Ninety percent of the time you’d be safe coming to that conclusion. But with Ashley there was something else happening. Sure, it could have been that she wasn’t interested. But she could also be a control freak. Or maybe she has problems coming from the outside – that psycho-stalker ex I mentioned. So you have to go deeper here.

With that in mind, let’s look at what actually did happen. Ashley came up to you at the fair and asked if you were leaving? Phenomenal! That was a definite buying signal. You should have said, “Nah, I’m not leaving. I was just practicing my reverse moon walk!” When she said maybe she’d run into you sometime, you should have come back with “Remember what they say – when the stars are aligned, your dreams will come true,” and then smiled. Show some Confidence here, Alvin, a little guts.

So it was a good idea that you took her e-mail address. She did approach you, after all, and hinted that she wanted to bump into you again. She talked about the future, which is always a good sign. She toned it down with “maybe,” but still, she tossed out clues about what was going to happen. More buying signals! So don’t get all hung up on the e-mail issue. At least you had a way to communicate with this honey.

Even better, when it came to the actual date, she showed up! Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “You know how many babes don’t even make an appearance after you set the time and place?”

And when Ashley eventually gave you her street address and home phone number, you got even closer. The point here is that doing things by e-mail didn’t hurt you at all. If she likes e-mail, give her e-mail. True, The Dating Dictionary says that you have to go for the home phone number, but this is an advanced class. This girl’s doing everything else textbook-right.

So then you went and asked her out on Monday for Tuesday night. Guys, don’t ask them out for the very next night. That’s way too close for comfort. Make it Monday for Thursday, or Wednesday for Sunday -- but not Monday for Tuesday. Like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “What are you trying to do, man, suffocate her? Give her a little room to breathe!” Hey, Alvin, you’re lucky Ashley wasn’t busy Tuesday night. On the other hand, Interest Level cuts across everything.

Nevertheless, I want to congratulate you because you did everything else right up to this point. You went for the kiss on the lips. You closed the deal. Good for you. That’s what you’re supposed to do -- CLOSE.

But Alvin, you weren’t supposed to hear from Ashley after her last e-mail. She’s a classy lady. She’s not going to drape herself all over you like a cheap suit. You -- the man -- are supposed to do the asking until you own the girl. But you’re getting closer.

It’s a mistake that you haven’t initiated contact with her. It shows you have a BIG EGO. You want poor Ashley to come crawling and begging. She’s already kissing you good night, she can’t keep her hands off you, and she shows up when she says she will. You got any idea how many guys don’t have that?

You’re so blinded by this e-mail situation, buddy, that you’re not seeing the forest through the trees. Ashley gave you a way to communicate with her and everything else is going right. What more do you want?

Guy, you have to know when to fold ’em. Like I said before, you’re in the advanced class here. But you wouldn’t know that until you have my book memorized. If you did, you would have known you could have stopped forcing the e-mail issue. If it works, go with it. Like my Uncle Jethro Love says, “If she likes to talk using two tin cans connected by a long string, get her a tin can, sonny boy!”

Don’t worry that you haven’t heard from Ashley for the past week. The only thing to be concerned about is that she’s there and on time for your dates, she giggles, she touches you, and that you kiss her on the lips. Other than that, nothing else in life matters.

Being a tough guy is no good here. You think you’re being a Challenge, but by doing that you’re actually breaking the rules. The male is supposed to be aggressive, not passive-aggressive. This is not the time to imitate Clint Eastwood and play hardball.

Remember, guys: if she likes e-mail and does everything else right, send her e-mail to make the date.

Will Jennifer's Next Husband be Jealous of Brad?

Hey Doc,

I’m a highly intelligent, handsome (so women tell me) guy in his forties. I’m a network engineer with an extremely high IQ and I command the income to match. I also work as a first-call consultant when insight is needed on a new invention or venture in a very complex area of high technology.

I also happen to be very insecure about my relationship with my wife, Kyra (not her real name), who is stunningly beautiful and cultured. We have a two-year-old child, and she’s the mother of two teenagers from her previous marriage.

Here’s my problem. Before me, Kyra was married to a celebrity. (I won’t mention his name because you’ll know who he is.) And in fact, Kyra herself is something of a celebrity, being a successful and well-known writer in the film industry. Anyway, I have to admit that I’m quite jealous towards her, especially the attention she gets from men. I don’t feel great about being jealous, but I guess it stems from some feeling of inferiority because of her status and that of her ex-husband.

Kyra sometimes needles me about missing out on social and interpersonal communication skills because from an early age I buried myself in computers. And I have to admit that maybe it’s true. Just yesterday I noticed some jerk giving her the eye at the mall and said to her, “That guy was looking at you. He’s probably wondering what you see in someone like me.”

She also complains that my behavior is controlling and emotionally abusive and that I’m jealous of her celebrity. I do try to keep up with her whereabouts and sometimes-even worry that she might be getting involved with someone else.

At the same time Kyra claims that she really loves me and doesn’t want to violate our marriage vows. Doc, what the heck can I do about this? Can your “System” help with a problem like mine? Most average people can’t really know what it’s like to be the husband of someone who was married to a famous person – it’s hell. Every time his mug shows up on TV you think to yourself that you’ll never measure up. It’s like having your face constantly rubbed in his celebrity.

Please help! This is turning into a major problem.

Stephon - who didn’t bargain for this when he married her

Hi Stephon,

Now let me get this straight. You’re a rich, no-name computer geek and you got to marry a B-list or semi-celebrity who was once married to a 100% real celebrity? Pal, you didn’t realize what you were taking on!

Stephon, you’re just like Mister Heidi Klum now. Think about it. Seal’s not going to have his own name anymore. But if he can roll with it, and laugh about it (and himself), and if he can wear a T-shirt that reads “MISTER YOU KNOW WHO,” you know what it shows? It shows women -- and the world -- that he’s not jealous of or threatened by his wife’s celebrity and success. It shows that being a big-time celebrity’s other half has no effect on him whatsoever. He can sit back and enjoy it; in fact, he can wear a T-shirt that trumpets the fact! And he’s probably not half as good-looking as you are, right?

I’m sorry to hear that you’re jealous of the admiration Kyra commands from men. But hold it a minute here. She’s a Beautiful Woman, especially all dolled up in her designer outfits, isn’t she? Other men are going to look at her, right? Gee, I wonder how that happened? Uh, didn’t you happen to pick up on that fact when you two were going steady? Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “A little slow on the uptake there, aren’t you, dude?”

Your problem, Stephon, is that you don’t know how to properly view your situation. Like my Uncle Jethro Love would say, “Boy, get yourself away from that god-danged computer terminal for a few minutes and listen up!” Here’s what you should have said to yourself: “Wow! I’m going to be in the celebrity world. What a ride this is going to be! Man, what a party! I can’t wait to tell all my buddies back at the beer hall!”

In other words, you should have looked at marrying Kyra as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your personal growth and expansion. Maybe it would have helped you be more creative in your job, did you ever think of that? Or maybe you could have a picked up a few high-powered connections. The point is that you could and should have looked at acquiring your extraordinary wife as something positive, a valuable, new experience. But not you, Stephon. You wanted to pout. You didn’t want to play along.

To you Psych majors, always marry someone smarter than yourselves. Now here’s a woman, Kyra, who’s trying to drag you up in the world, and you’re kicking and screaming. Here’s a woman who actually knows Miss Manners and follows her, and she’s going to improve you and make you grow and you’re going to be a better and stronger man for it. When she “needles” you about your nerdy shortcomings, she isn’t nagging you -- she’s trying to help you. She’s trying to pull you up. But again, you don’t want to play. And that’s too bad for you.

When that fellow was ogling your wife at the mall, you should have walked up to him and said, “Hey, man, what do you think of her? Pretty hot, right?”

And of course he would have answered, “Hell, yes. I think she’s beautiful.” And then you could have told him, “Yeah, just think: she’s going home with me tonight.” Then you give him a wink and go back to your wife -- with a little bounce in your walk! Have fun with it, man. Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “You got any idea how many guys would kill to be in your position?” But noooo, not you – you’d rather pout.

Kyra’s right when she accuses you of being controlling, abusive and jealous of her celebrity. And let me warn you about something right now, Stephon. Your wife’s Interest Level is fluttering at around 51% to 55%, and you’re running out of time. But you’d only be hip to that if you read my book, and it’s obvious that you don’t even own it.

So, what can you do about your fix? GROW UP! “The System” can help 90% of all guys with your problem. But in your case, odds are only 50-50 that it will work.

Man, if you think it’s hell being married to a celebrity’s ex, it’s high time to loosen up and buy a dozen T-shirts. All you have to do is remember that Kyra dropped her celebrity husband. He’s yesterday’s news. He turned her off, just like you’re doing. And at the rate you’re going, you’ll be in the same boat unless you wake up on the double and memorize my principles.

When you complain about having your face rubbed in Kyra’s ex’s onscreen time, you remind me of those religious penitents who flagellate themselves on a holy day. So stop torturing yourself, my friend. Wake up and smell the coffee if there’s still time and you haven’t already made Kyra want to run for the hills.

Remember, guys: if you want to get on the celebrity train, you better have fun with the ride.

Does George Clooney ever tell His Dates that he Sucked at Football?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been seeing Lianna for a few weeks now and I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. I know I like her, and I thought her Interest Level in me was high (mid-70s), but now I’m not so sure.

I used to work with Lianna, and she began contacting me via e-mail out of the blue. She asked lots of personal questions, so I took this as a buying signal and asked to meet her after work. She agreed. We met and had a few drinks. When the bill came she offered to pay, but I insisted. She gave me a playful bump with her hip. I had her laughing all night long and kept it light. Afterwards I asked for her home phone number but she gave me her cell number and asked for mine (ugh). She said she wanted to go out again and gave me a hug. I felt confused, like I should have tried to kiss her.

Our next date was an Anaheim Angels baseball game. Again we had a great time. About five minutes after I got home that night Lianna called. She said she just wanted to make sure I got home okay. Then she admitted she just used the call as an excuse to see when we could go out again. To me this was a sign of very high interest, but I played it cool and told her that I was busy for the next few days and that we would talk later.

On our third date, dinner at a nice restaurant, we were laughing and having a good time when Lianna began asking me some very personal questions. I tried to throw the questions back at her as much as I could. At one point she started telling me about some of her insecurities, and then said, “I’ve told you my insecurities, now what are yours?” I told her that when I was growing up I was insecure about my ability to play sports, but that I no longer felt that way.

She did the majority of the talking and I just asked questions that dug deeper into what she was saying, mostly about her insecurities and passions. At the end of the night I walked her up to her porch and gave her a kiss. It was a very good kiss, Doc. I said good night and went home. That’s the last time I talked to her.

I called twice a couple of days later and got her voicemail both times (I didn’t leave a message). I waited a few more days and called her again. Again I got her voicemail and didn’t leave a message. I called her last night and got her voicemail again. I decided that two weeks was enough to call and not get an answer, so I left a message. Was leaving a message a mistake? Did I somehow lower her Interest Level on the third date so that she doesn’t want to talk to me anymore, or am I missing something?

Aaron - who can’t figure out how he blew it

Hi Aaron,

When you say you thought Lianna’s Interest Level was high, but now you’re not sure, what does it really mean? It means you jumped the gun, that’s what. Like most overeager, love-starved guys, you overrated the woman’s Interest Level. Mistake number one. And boys, it’s a big one, because it leads to all kinds of errors later on.

Let’s examine the specifics of what happened. Lianna contacted you via e-mail? Beautiful. According to Rabbi Love, “Incoming interest from a babe is the meaning of Heaven!” And it’s to your credit, Aaron that you went straight for the date without fooling around. You closed. Guys, you always have to remember to close. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “Man, it don’t mean a thing if you don’t seal the deal.” So good for you – at least up to this point.

And it was good that you insisted on paying for your first rendezvous. It shows that you’re all class, a regular Cary Grant in the making. And consider that playful hip-bump Lianna gave you a touch. Remember, though, despite all the good stuff that happened that first night, that it was just a little get-together, your short date, and your preliminary bout. Like any good fighter, you have to last nine more rounds (dates) and the performance has to be perfect. And of course that’s the tricky part.

Think of it this way: when they open the gate at the rodeo, there’s a guy sitting on top of the Brahma Bull, but most of them don’t make it to eight seconds.

You shouldn’t have given Lianna your cell phone number until you got her home phone number. When she told you she wanted to go out a second time, you should have said, “Are you sure? I think you’re a little too fast for me, baby. But I’ll tough it out and go with you anyway.” And by the way, fellas, you don’t kiss her right there in the bar. You wait and kiss her on her doorstep.

Guy, you shouldn’t have picked up the phone when Lianna called you after date number two. Another boner. Instead, you should have listened to the message she left on your machine. And played it over and over again and studied it to see exactly what it is you’re dealing with. You have to learn to not be so ready and willing.

Sure, Lianna’s ruse of using a call for finding out when you were going out again was a cute move, but you’re missing the point here. Her Interest Level might have been 95%, but again, you two have barely gotten through one date. You have to have that 95% Interest Level from her at the end of nine dates before you can say you’re in the ballgame at all. And as I said before, that’s what’s tough. Like my Uncle Jethro Love would say, “Don’t go countin’ yer chickens before they hatch, boy!”

Nevertheless, it was cool that you told Lianna you’d be busy for the next few days when she was champing at the bit. You know how many guys wouldn’t have done that? On the other hand, the rule is that any time a female’s interest is incoming, grab the date. Still, it’s not a major error that you turned her down.

But what’s bothersome is that Lianna didn’t ask you out specifically, as in “Can you go out Thursday at 8 o’clock?” So you should have pressed her. “What night?” You should have “closed her” to see how real her offer was. In other words, let’s pin this thing down right here and now and find out if it’s just a “phoney flirt” or the real deal.

When Lianna started bingbingbing-ing those personal questions at you, she was subjecting you to the “hard interview.” To you Psych majors, this is usually a tactic of women who are structured. She was thinking that since she loves you so much (though it’s only been three dates!), it’s time for you to pour it all out and if you don’t, she’s going to get rid of you because you’re not playing her game.

Aaron, you should have listened very, very closely to Lianna’s litany of insecurities, because this is the whack-job you’re going to be living with for the next 30 years! In your response to her question about your fears and anxieties, you should have told her: “Honey, I’ve got the biggest problem in the world. I go out with a girl a few times -- and I swear to you I wish I didn’t have this problem -- and they fall head over heels in love with me! I got two right now under restraining orders for stalking me after only three dates. I’m telling you, sweetie, this being popular is for the birds! Every man wants women to fall in love with them, but I don’t like it. And I don’t dig having my body used all the time, either.” And you should have done it with a straight face, and then given her your best Christopher Walken look.

When you copped to your athletic insecurities that was cool, too. You had something light and safe to say, it was no big deal, then you shifted the attention immediately back to her. Since you couldn’t come up with all the funnies you were supposed to have prepared for every single one of her questions, what you did was okay. I’m not saying it was the right thing, but at least you didn’t lose lots of face. And you pulled it out at the last minute by saying you no longer felt like a sports fairy. Of course she’s probably going to think, “If he doesn’t feel insecure, then why’s he talking about it,” but on the whole you acquitted yourself adequately.

And it was brilliant that you dug deep into what Lianna was saying. Most guys would have tried to switch the subject to football.

But leaving her a message after all those hang-up calls was a mistake, my friend. Think about what’s really going on here. This girl had your number all this time and was supposedly gone over you, right? But she got turned off, and you lost your composure. Like Brother Love says, “You thought you were standing on solid ground, my son, but you weren’t.”

How you blew it, Aaron, was that you didn’t have enough insecurities to talk about. If you depressed Lianna, she probably would have stayed with you. Then you could have been miserable together forever.

Remember, guys: if you go in fast, you can go out just as fast.

Does Demi ever get Jealous of Ashton's Female Buddies?

Hey Doc:

I need some of your great wisdom and advice. I am considering breaking up with my girlfriend of six months. I realize that no relationship is without its problems so I am hesitant to break it off with Dana, but at the same time I would rather feel a little sad than a lot sorry, not to mention the wasted time I’d save.

Everything was going so smoothly between us. Dana was even wondering if we were ever going to have a fight, things were going so well. Well, she got her first fight two weeks later. I attend a school in which 90% of my classmates are female. I told her that I wanted to have friends at school, but that they would be mostly women. She said that she had no problem with that.

Well, I made a number of friends and I hung out with one of them on a few occasions. Terri knew I had a girlfriend and nothing inappropriate ever happened between us. I never told Dana that I was hanging out with Terri, just because I still wasn’t sure if she would have a problem with it. Finally I grew some confidence and told her about Terri, figuring it couldn’t hurt. In fact, I even introduced Terri to Dana. That’s when everything went haywire. We had been drinking at a restaurant, and Terri didn’t want to drive afterwards. She lives 45 minutes away, so I kindly offered her one of the extra beds at my condo.

At this point Dana freaked out. She was shaking and upset, and told me that I had to tell Terri that she couldn’t stay over. It turned out to be quite a nasty scene and left me shaking my head afterwards.

In my eventual career I’m going to work very closely with women and I feel that if Dana can’t handle my female friends now, I don’t know how easily she’ll be able to handle my working with women.

Doc, Dana has many of the qualities that you discuss in your book. She’s a Flexible Giver, is considerate and kind, is very sexy and can speak three languages. She’s upbeat, dresses well, is thoughtful and finding someone like her has been difficult. She’s in shape and has fewer problems than I do. For the most part we work well together, but I feel that her jealousy could be a future problem. At this point in the relationship we have hit somewhat of a plateau. There’s only one logical next step, marriage, which I am not ready for. (Dana’s in her late twenties, and I’m 21, by the way.)

Should I move on and start dating other people since I’m so young? Doc, I really need your help here.

Charlie - who doesn’t want to make any hasty decisions

Hi Charlie,

Before you decide on getting rid of Dana, you have to ask yourself whether you had any input into this situation. Because if Dana had 95% Interest Level in you and a good Attitude, and you were in turn respectful of her, you wouldn’t be having this problem, right? Chew on that for a few minutes, guy.

Any chance it’s not a coincidence that you two had your first battle just two weeks after Dana mentioned that you’d never fought? Six months of peace and love and kisses and then a few days later, BOOM! -- all hell breaks loose. Kind of weird, don’t you think? Even if the odds are one in 10 of something like that happening, you’ve got to consider what’s really going on here.

Now, Dana knew your classmates were largely of the female species from day one and it wasn’t a problem, right? So why did you go and blab to her that you had to have a huge harem of girlfriends at school? Why did you have to tell her anything, for that matter? And most important of all, what in the world are doing you talking about other women? A charming man never throws potential competition up in his girlfriend’s face unless he absolutely has to.

So right there you made a pair of humongous mistakes. Dana should be dropping you instead of vice-versa, Charlie. Like my Uncle Jethro Love says, “Boy you got it all back-asswards!” To you Psych majors, KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTHS SHUT!

So, you hung out with Terri – just the two of you -- a few times? Another big boo-boo. It showed disloyalty to Dana. When you insist on spending time with your girl buddies, you have to do it in a crowd. Spending time with another girl in private only invites trouble. Could you expect Dana to see it as anything but a threat? Come on, Charlie, use your head.

You should have been asking yourself whether telling Dana about Terri could possibly help your relationship. Why would talking about another girl make Dana like you more and raise Interest Level, that’s the issue here. And the answer is that it can’t. Charlie, are you sure you want to drop this girl?

The next thing that makes no rational sense is why you would possibly want to introduce Terri to Dana. I assume that you and Dana just happened to bump into Terri somewhere. I hope to God you didn’t actually set up a meeting among the three of you. Why would you want to throw two kitty-kats together, especially when things were going perfectly between you and Dana? Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Were you looking for trouble here, bro? Or were you out to stroke your own ego?”

Instead of offering Terri an extra bed at your place, you should have driven her to a hotel room, made sure she got safely into bed, said good night, threw the keys on the bed, then slammed the door like a cool guy would, and just written off the 60 bucks for the Motel 6.

But most of you guys usually do all the wrong things. You’ve got to learn how to be innovative. You’ve got to learn how to think on the spot. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love would say, “If you wanna survive, man, you gotta learn how to dance!”

You should never have brought Dana into this whole thing in the first place.

It’s not your female friends Dana has trouble with, Charlie – it’s YOU. It’s the way you’re presenting these women to her. You’re doing it all wrong, dude.

Don’t go worrying about how Dana will handle your future career working with women. You’re getting way ahead of yourself here. Heck, odds are she won’t even be around by the time that happens.

I would certainly hope Dana has fewer problems than you. And that’s why I know she won’t be hanging around all that much longer. This whole mess has nothing to do with her jealousy. It has to do with RESPECT – your lack of it. It’s the way you’re explaining your relationships with other women that’s turning Dana off. And you’re doing it all incorrectly because you haven’t memorized my philosophies. As a matter of fact, I can hear Dana’s Interest Level doing a painful nosedive even as we speak.

You’re definitely not ready for marriage, Chuck. And by the way, what do you call Dana – Mom? What’s this 29-year-old gorgeous lady doing with a baby? Aren’t there laws against that sort of thing? Don’t forget, Mary Kay Letourneau did hard time for robbing the cradle.

You absolutely should go out and date other women, but not because you’re so young. You have to get out there because you have so much to learn!

Remember, guys: if you want to protect your heart, you’d better internalize my rules.

How did Sinatra Handle the Married Ones?

Hey Doc,

First of all, let me say that I’ve been reading your columns for a couple of months now and find your perspective unique and very interesting. I don’t know if it will work with every problem a guy has with women, but your writing is certainly lively and funny. It’s nice to find a love doctor who actually has a sense of humor!

Anyway, I have a peculiar problem I was hoping you might be able to help me with. I was recently widowed (six months ago) after decades of marriage. I knew my wife’s death was coming, but it was still a shock. I think I might still be in a state of shock, frankly, and because of that I’m reluctant to even approach a woman.

What’s complicating this situation is that I seem to keep running into unhappily married women who show an interest in me. These are women who I’ve met through my work. (I own a small manufacturing business.) I’ll give you examples.

First there’s Dominique, a stunning Frenchwoman who is married to an American man. He’s a successful financial analyst; a very nice man (I’ve met him a couple of times) and they have two young children. The problem, says Dominique, is that she’s not in love with her husband anymore. He doesn’t pay attention to her and is always working. They are well off and have all the trappings, it goes without saying. She claims that she is physically attracted to me, but so far when we’ve been alone, she has made no move to touch me.

Another example is Ava, a gorgeous redhead in the process of getting separated from her wealthy stockbroker husband. They have five kids, and her complaints about her soon-to-be-ex are the same as Dominique’s, with the addition that Ava’s husband is also mentally and physically abusive. Ava and her kids are also well provided for, but she’s not happy. She also says she’s attracted to me, but when we went for a walk in the park the other day, she said that she “wasn’t ready” to go any further at this point because her head’s “not right.” But what threw me for a loop is that she revealed to me right afterward that she’s already dating a musician.

Do you see a pattern here, Doc? Both women seem to have the same problems with husbands who don’t give them positive attention but have provided for them financially. Do THEY have a problem? Should I push the issue with them as far as romance is concerned? Like I said, I admit that I’m not sure what I’m doing because of my fragile state of mind. Please help me figure out what to do, as I’m very attracted to both of these lovely women.

Quentin - who doesn’t have his act together yet

Hi Quentin,

First of all, let me remove any doubts you have about my method. It’s simple: “The System” works with every problem with every woman because it’s THE TRUTH.

Now that you mention it, the other love doctors out there aren’t very funny, are they? It’s amazing how unfunny they can be and still have any kind of following. Especially that buffoon Carolyn Hax, whose answers I can’t even understand, let alone get a chuckle out of.

And thanks for the compliment, Quentin. If you can still manage a laugh despite your tribulations, you’re going to make it.

That said, I’m very, very sorry to hear of your wife’s passing, and it’s going to take you a long time to get over it. But you must remember that life does go on. As Woody Allen said in one of his films, “Life is for the living.”

Now let’s take a look at your situation. First you tell me you keep “running into” unhappily married women. But you only give me two examples, and these gals are coming to you for business reasons. You haven’t talked about trying to meet females by working the Internet, or going to a dance club, or attending a cooking class or an awareness seminar. The point is that you’re really not going out and consciously “meeting” this type of woman. You’re at a vulnerable point in your life right now, but when we think about the next 10 years -- assuming you go on trying to hustle women -- you’re going to be meeting all kinds from all over the map, so don’t think Dominique and Ava are it. They just appear to be it for the time being.

Did you ask Dominique if when she married her poor sap of a husband she was in love with him? That’s what you should have fired back at her at the beginning, and then you’d have found out what the deal really was. Sure the guy’s always busting his hump – how do you think he procures all the trappings to keep his queen happy? Don’t you see that, Quentin? And don’t for a minute jump to the conclusion that the mess she’s in is definitely the fault of her husband. What she’s handing you is just Womanese for “I’m bored, and I need to play with someone else’s head for a while!”

Here’s another question you should have asked her: how does she think her kids are going to be provided for after she dumps hubby? I hate to have to break this to you, pal, but Dominique’s selfish, and all she’s thinking about is herself, not her kids. And they deserve to be thought about. After all, like my cousin Brother Love says, “The little ones didn’t ask for your misery, did they?”

At first glance, your second honey, Ava, is a slightly better bet – at least she’s in the process of getting out. But let me get this straight. Ava makes love to a man who physically and mentally abuses her, has five kids with him, and then figures out that he’s bad news? As Fast Eddie Love would say, “A little late, baby, a little late!”

But I must admit, Quentin, that at least you’re meeting the rich ones. And guess what? To you guys who are always complaining about all the Beautiful Women marrying rich dudes, just because they’re married to them doesn’t mean they’re happy!

When Ava told you her head wasn’t right, you should have looked at her with the sweetest expression and said, “That’s the nicest thing anyone could ever say to me.” And then given her a big Christopher Walken or Dennis Quaid-like grin and walked off.

Do I see a pattern here? Oh, sure. The pattern is that when women are on the rebound, they like you! In fact, I’ll bet you didn’t know you’re about to win the “2005 Mister Rebound Award.” When these powdered, coiffed and manicured ladies drive over to your place in their spanking new Mercedes Benzes and BMWs and need someone to moan to about how terrible their lives are, your shoulder is there for them to cry on.

But like I said before, I only hope you don’t go as far as to believe their husbands are the bad guys. Of course they’re feeding you that these schmucks are nothing short of beasts, the next worst thing to O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, and Scott Peterson combined. But if you talked to him, she’d be the B-I-T-C-H. To you Psych majors, there are ALWAYS two sides to these stories. How do you know the husbands don’t pay attention to their wives? Maybe they’ve tried everything and your two knockouts are so cranky all the time that nothing works. If you’re not in their homes, Quentin, you can’t see what’s really going on.

So, buddy, rather than get yourself entangled in a quagmire with one of these two temptresses, what you’re going to do is get Dominique and Ava to set you up with their best-looking girlfriends who are SINGLE. Tell them, “Next time you want to get together and talk about your husband problems, bring along one of your hottest friends. In fact, bring along two of them. I don’t want you to think I’m a hog or anything, but what the heck, let’s spread all this love around!”

You’re not going to go chasing after these two beauties, Quentin. They’re nothing but trouble in high heels. They can nag and moan all they want, but they’re off-limits, especially the second one with her five kids. Ava should be ashamed of herself. She shouldn’t be even thinking about musicians until she’s got the divorce papers in her hands. Otherwise she is com- mitting the sin of adultery.

So remember, you’re going to work these two to get their girlfriends, but there’s a lot more to my principles than just that. And keep this in mind – Ava and Dominique might be lovely on the outside, but they’re not lovely on the inside.

Remember, guys: sometimes you have to learn how to use them.

Did the Girls Dig Harrison Ford when He was Broke and Unknown?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been reading your columns lately and I find that I like your no-nonsense approach to women and dating and the fact that you never BS us guys with false hope about how to handle the opposite sex. Please keep telling it like it is.

So I’m going to put it to you straight. I’ve noticed that the only guys who score the really hot babes in this world are the Donald Trumps, the Hugh Hefners, and the Michael Douglases. In other words, the guys so loaded with money they don’t even know what to do with it all. It’s actually very discouraging when you stop and think about it. It’s like the guy with no money has zilch chance of getting and keeping a “10.” And what’s worse is that if you happen to find and succeed in dating a Beautiful Woman, she’s history the minute some rich, overly successful or famous dude looks twice at her. And I’m not exaggerating. It’s happened to me more than once.

So my question to you is this: what can a guy with no budget like myself offer a girl, really? Does a guy’s financial portfolio play the biggest part in maintaining a relationship? Let’s face it, Doc, when do you ever see a woman like Melania Trump with a construction worker or a librarian?

I hate to think this way, Doc, but isn’t it true that all Beautiful Women are Mercenaries? I don’t like to paint a completely pessimistic picture of what it’s like out there, but that’s how I see it.

What are women really looking for in a guy? Most guys I know are attracted to the Angelina Jolies and the Bo Dereks, but wouldn’t we be better off scaling down our expectations and going for the Plain Janes when we don’t have big-time money? Or is there something we can do to romance a beauty that doesn’t cost and arm and a leg and will keep her Interest Level high?

I’m really curious to hear what you have to say about this, Doc.

Channing - who’s sick of coming in second to the fat cats

Hi Channing,

Let me tell you something. I’m the only love doctor out there who tells the truth when it comes to women, and I’m the only love doctor out there who has all the right answers. My job is to help men, not BS them. My job is to keep you in touch with REALITY. So you can ALWAYS count on me to tell it like it is, and not like you want it to be, which is the mind-set that sinks so many guys in their dating relationships. And thank you very much for the compliment – I do appreciate it.

Let’s move on to your problem. You cite the examples of Trump, Hefner and Douglas, three guys who have it made with any Beautiful Woman on the face of the earth. But of course, that’s just the problem in your argument – they happen to be just three guys, and that’s all. If there are 100 good-looking women out there for the taking, those three guys get one each (except for Mister Rabbit Ears, who always gets more than his quota), and there’s 97 left over for the rest of us. And as my cousin Rabbi Love likes to say, “There are lots of nice girls in the world who want to live in an upper middle-class home but who are NOT BUYABLE.” They’re simply not for sale.

So Channing, the premises you’re operating from are erroneous. What you’ve got in your head are half-truths built on half-truths. And, like you told me up above, I always give you guys the 100% unvarnished truth. Sure, lots of beauties are Mercenaries. But there are tons of ugly women out there who are Mercenaries too.

And you’re also wrong about the Average Joe having zilch chance of holding onto a hottie. If you happen to be the best carpenter in town, you can get yourself a “10” – but you also have to be a Challenge and humorous. See, the real problem you had with the babes who defected on you is that you didn’t own them. Don’t blame the rich and famous dudes for stealing them away. Blame yourself for not going by “The System.” You just happened to be dating Beautiful Women whose Interest Level was only 40% to 49%. Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Paisan, the simple truth of the matter is that they weren’t into you enough to stick around.”

So, what does a no-budget guy have to offer a girl? CHALLENGE and HUMOR, like I said before. I can’t say it enough. Want to know everything I know about women in two words (which is impossible by the way)? The two words that come closest are CHALLENGE and HUMOR. Most rich boys don’t have Challenge, and that’s why they beg her to take the keys to the Ferrari. Nice, self-reliant girls get bored with that no-Challenge tactic after a while. And most guys aren’t funny. That’s where guys who have studied my techniques come in.

But on the other hand, your financial portfolio does play some part in your relationships, because she wants to know what you’ve been up to for the last twenty-eight and a half years. Have you been going to school and learning something useful? Starting your own business? Trying to be creative? Or have you been sitting on your butt whining and watching TV and collecting unemployment compensation from when you got laid off from your job on the Home Depot loading platform? Do you realize that we live in an economic society and that it takes money – the more the better -- to get by? The point is this: why should she take a step down? Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “If she’s used to Cadillacs or BMWs, why should she ride in a 10-year-old Chevy?”

So, you never see any of the Trump wives hanging around with a mechanic? Heck, I went to a biker convention the other day and I saw a bunch of them! Man, you’re definitely too fixated on the notion that all Beautiful Women are Mercenaries. And as I explained above, you’re a little off base. (The actual number is only 49%!) You do paint a bleak picture of what it’s like out there on the dating battlefield, but it’s a fallacy on top of a fallacy. Bo Derek hasn’t remarried since her husband died, has she? Nobody’s sold her yet, and she’s looking for love, right? As far as Angelina goes, she’s finally fessing up that she’s seeing the stud.

Settling for the Plain Janes is erroneous reasoning on your part, one more half-truth. Guys, you go for whoever likes you. And the best way to negotiate that is by virtue of Challenge leavened with humor.

You want a suggestion for how to romance a Beautiful Woman and keep her Interest Level in the eighties? Buy her a hot dog at the zoo. Or an ice cream cone at the park. Or some popcorn at the movies.

Remember, guys: the more money you have, the handsomer you are.

Would Hugh Grant ever Tell Her All About His Past?

Hey Doc,

I am a 36-year-old, well-educated, happy and successful dude. I am also well-groomed and well-preserved and am thought of as a guy who has his game together. I love your material, and the fact that you are always making sure us guys are being careful at the same time that we’re enjoying the journey.

I just got out of a two-year relationship – and of course she left me! After reading your thoughts on being on the rebound and emotional baggage, I should have seen the “red flags” much earlier!

Anyway, I am back on the love hunt and need some help. I just went on a second date with a 31-year-old “Caprice” after a very successful first date (on which I waited five days to call, made a quick call to set up a Starbucks meeting, no touching, though she touched me several times, kept it to 45 minutes, etc.). She even e-mailed me that night to thank me for a great time.

On the second date I picked Caprice up and took her to dinner, and everything was going great -- until I opened my yap! She asked me a personal question about a past relationship. Nothing too heavy, just “So, what was your longest relationship?” So I thought I’d have some fun with it, and told her she needed to show me a sign of good faith. I proceeded in a very light and funny way to say that if she kissed me on the cheek, I MIGHT tell her. Man, did I think that was smooth! But right away her whole attitude changed, to very closed-off. She even folded her arms at dinner! She told me I should be more open since she was being open with me, and blah blah blah.

Well, I was able to steer the date somewhat back on track after a bit (but still did not answer her question). I dropped her off at her place and tried to give her the “what the hell” kiss. She then leaned over and kissed both my cheeks and whispered, “Okay, there are your kisses, and next date you owe me my answers!”

I smiled, grabbed her by the back of the head, and laid a deep, long one on her. She smiled, with her eyes still closed, and then I walked off. What do you think of my genius move after she kissed my cheeks? Do you think she is worth the all-important third date, or was her immediate closed-off response to my cute cheek-kiss question not that of a Flexible Giver? Anyway, lay it on me, Doc!

Sheppard - who wants to know if he has a tiger by the tail.

Hi Sheppard,

Hey, why are you “well-preserved” at only 36? I thought well-preserved went with being 86 and having one foot in the grave. Are you sure you’re really 36 years young?

You mentioned that I want you guys “enjoying the journey.” Man, I couldn’t have said it better myself. That’s the most beautiful sentence in your letter. Guys, you have to enjoy yourselves when you’re out there dating, and you have to study my book not only because you want to get the girl, but because it is the TRUTH. Like my cousin Rabbi Love says, “My son, the truth will lead you to do some great, great things, if you’ll just let them happen.”

Regarding your ex, Sheppard, I’ll bet you did see those big red flags early on, but like most men you decided to look away, and you rationalized them on account of your high Interest Level. But slowly those ugly red flags chipped away at your level of respect and the end was inevitable – like it always is.

My friend, you did everything right on your first date with Caprice. I’m proud of you. When she e-mailed you to thank you for a great time, that was an indication of high Interest Level. Her gesture was above and beyond the call of duty. So your Caprice was okay after date number one – she showed some traits of being a keeper. But you have a long, long way to go. Like my cousin General Love says, “It will be easier to get Hannibal’s elephants over the Alps than it will be to get this woman to nine dates!”

I’m glad you realize that loose lips sink ships. As my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love likes to put it, “The problem with every guy is that he opens his yap!” To you Psych majors, once a girl likes you, you should never talk again. It doesn’t raise Interest Level, which is all you should be concerned with.

Caprice probes you about a past relationship and it’s “nothing too heavy?” Dude, this is very, very heavy. This gal didn’t bring a BB gun to dinner, she brought a howitzer! Do you need glasses, Sheppard? Remember, when they start with the heavy questions, you’ve got to channel Jim Carrey or Robin Williams on the spot.

Making Caprice kiss you on the cheek as payment for your background information was a very gutsy move. I happen to think it’s too strong for the second time out, but I’ll give you a top grade for closing. At least you had the guts to go for it.

Know why Caprice’s attitude went south? Because she didn’t want to play. Her interview was more important to her than falling in love with you. She had her agenda, and she was going follow it come hell or high water. Like Johnny down at the Shell station, she hauled out her list of “to-dos” – check the tires, oil, air filter, transmission fluid, etc. What she did, really, was give you an indirect ultimatum. And when you didn’t capitulate to it, everything changed -- her body language, her attitude, everything -- just because she didn’t want to play. Caprice doesn’t want to be loved. Her agenda – dragging up all of your past romantic disasters right then and there -- was the most important thing to her, and if it takes any longer than right now, then she’s out of there. Wow, does she sound like a blast!

But good for you, Sheppard, that you didn’t go along with it. Ninety-nine percent of all guys would have caved on the spot and sold out their manhood.

I have to hand it to you, guy. Going for the “what the hell kiss” shows that you’re a winner. You get an “A” in LIPS. You might be doing some stuff wrong here and there, but when it comes to LIPS, you’re aces.

When Caprice mentioned your next date, you should have growled, “Hey, sweetheart, aren’t you’re being just a little too confident here,” just like Robert Mitchum would have, then flashed your best boyish smile. When you laid the deep long one on her, you showed again what you’re made of. Most guys don’t have cojones, they’re shrinking violets in the presence of these 110-pound sticks of dynamite called females, but you’ve got the opposite problem. I want to tone you down a little bit. But I dig that you walked off into the night just like Humphrey Bogart.

Your genius move worked, Sheppard. But what we don’t know is whether Caprice is Flexible, and, therefore, a keeper. She wanted hard answers to her interview, so you’re up there in terms of her Interest Level. But I didn’t like her pouting – it shows that she’s inflexible. Every time you two disagree on something in the future, she’s going to pout. And don’t forget, this was only date number two. When she starts laying on the guilt and pressure over the big stuff – money, kids, in-laws –you’re going to feel it like a rat being suffocated by a boa constrictor. Man, do you really want that for the next 45 years? That’s what “The System” is about: preventing half a century of mystery when you’re stuck with the same woman. Guys, can you imagine?

So what you’re going to do, Sheppard, is not answer Caprice’s questions. You’re going to come up with “funnies.” When she says to you, “So, what was your longest relationship,” you’re going to say, “I’m still in it. I’ve been going with this girl for four years.” And when her beautiful violet eyes widen and she demands, “Well, what are you doing with me, then,” you’ll say “I’m looking for a replacement. I need some backup. That’s why I’m interviewing you.”

Fellas, like the great Zen masters you have to learn to be detached. Being joined at the hip forever doesn’t work.

Remember, guys: you gotta go for the kiss.

© 2005, DocLove Dot Com 

Other Relationship Issues, Books

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I present myself to you in a form suitable to the relationship I wish to achieve with you. - Luigi Pirandello

Doc Love is a talk show host, entertainment speaker, and coaches men in his seminars. For the past 30 years he has asked thousands of women, "Why do you stay with one man versus another?" Archives for 2003, 2002, 2001, and 2000.

DocLove will answer all of your romantic love questions from a man’s perspective. So set your ego aside, learn to laugh at yourself, and visit www.doclove.com or e-mail me at doclove@doclove.com or call me at 800.404.2644 and I will give you a snappy answer to your silly love question – one loaded with truth. You do what I say, and Miss Right will rob banks for you. When I get done with you, you will need more security than Julio Iglesias. However, to protect the guilty, I promise to not use your real name, or give it out. All questions will be answered, but only the ones of general interest printed. Please be specific and don’t ramble.

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. I have a feeling that I may have dumped too much on her and made her feel like I want a commitment out of her. Well, I do, but I don't want her to know that, especially now that she’s still thinking about her ex.

I feel that her Interest Level in me is still moderately high, but she’s just having a hard time letting go of the past. What can I do to raise her Interest Level back to where it was? I am afraid that if I make myself unavailable and act as though I don’t care that she may look to her ex for any comfort she might need. What I really want to do is apply some pressure to break the deadlock, but I don’t know if it’s the right move. Is there anything I can do about this situation?

Clarence - who doesn’t know whether to retreat or advance

Hi Clarence,

Unfortunately for you, your one shining moment in this whole debacle was in the very first sentence. The rulebook says no boyfriends in the background, and you showed the proper restraint and didn’t go charging straight in like the proverbial bull in a china shop. Kudos. Most guys wouldn’t have done what you did. They would have busted in and tried to knock the other guy right out of the box, which is impossible. Because as Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Only the woman can knock the other guy out of the box.”

Janine and her guy were together six years, huh? As the great bard once wrote, something’s rotten in the state of Denmark. At the end of one year the woman knows whether or not the guy’s a keeper. And if he’s not willing to commit, then something’s wrong. A woman hanging around a guy for six years with nothing happening is a BIG RED FLAG. There’s a problem with either Janine or her ex.

And, by the way, it’s NEVER good to make a “big deal out of things.” As my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love advises, “Relax, man. When it comes to women, there IS no such thing as a big deal.” Like I said, you did fine -- until things broke your way. Then it was straight down hill for you, Clarence.

Asking Janine out immediately after she broke up with her guy was a HUGE MISTAKE. You should have let her come down from the aftershocks first. You went in way too quickly, pal. Instead, you should have continued just playing with her at work and waited for her to ask YOU out. The fact that she was hesitant confirms it.

Your biggest shortcoming in the entire enterprise, Clarence, is that you never gained a beachhead. Unlike the Americans on D-Day, you got knocked back into the water and never achieved a solid foothold with this babe, and you have to have that in order to achieve anything.

Now you’re left trying to plug a hole in a ship that’s leaking. Your best course of action at this point is to continue having a good time with Janine at work, but don’t bring up the ex-boyfriend and don’t bring up dating. And be sure to always make her chase you, and initiate the conversation and physical contact. With time you might get lucky and she’ll get rid of the other bum forever.

Wanting a commitment before the time is right can only lead to a mess. Like most guys, you used pressure. And romantic love doesn’t respond properly to pressure.

So yes, she’s thinking about her ex, and she’s also thinking about you -- she’s leading two turkeys around by the nose. And don’t delude yourself, Clarence: the reason Janine’s having a hard time letting go of the past is because she still has high Interest Level in this ex of hers.

If you want to raise her Interest Level back to where it was, WITHDRAW. Just like the Russians during World War II. They pulled back; pulled back, pulled back -- and the good old German army got caught in the snow. Let Janine keep coming after you until her supply lines are stretched to the limit. Then she’ll be finished, like the Nazis – and Napoleon before them. That’s General Love’s strategy here.

So let Janine go to the ex for comfort all she wants. We’re not here to “comfort” the woman. We’re not here to make her a better person or get her into heaven. We’re trying to get her to fall in love with us and stay with us -- that’s the only reason we’re here. We couldn’t give a damn less what the other guy does.

The way you’re going to apply pressure is by withdrawing.

Remember, guys: once they start talking about old boyfriends, it’s time to disappear.

Can Taking it too Slow Get You into Trouble?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been studying “The System” for a while now, and am just starting to implement everything I’ve learned. I took a dating hiatus after breaking up with my girlfriend of four years, but your book really helped me move on and inspired me to improve myself in preparation for my next relationship.

About a month ago I met Diana at a friend’s birthday party. Our first two dates went great. I kept it light and positive and let her do all the talking. I also made sure to take her out on weekdays. By the third date, and even during the second, she commented on how she didn’t know a lot about me and asked why I was being so mysterious. I used humor to explain myself and that seemed to buy me more time, but it got me wondering how long is too long to avoid those probing questions women tend to ask, especially about the ex-girlfriend? Also, if you let her do all the talking for the first 60 days, won’t she think you’re lacking in personality or substance? Banter can only take you so far.

Now I have to admit that after the third date I made the mistake of talking to Diana a couple of times over the phone. She would call and want to talk for hours. Since the third date went so well, I felt compelled to give her some phone time. It was during these conversations that she started asking me how she could go about capturing my heart. I took this to mean she wanted to go steady, but it wasn’t even close to 60 days -- it wasn’t even 30 days yet.

I told her that I liked the way things were going and that with time she might get what she wanted. She asked if I was seeing anyone else and I said no, but she didn’t believe me. (In reality, I wasn’t dating anyone else and wanted to date her exclusively also, but I wanted to do the right thing and not move in too fast.) My question is, how long should a guy wait before agreeing to date exclusively? I know we should wait for the girl to ask, but what if they ask relatively early in the dating process?

Since then I’ve seen a few red flags from Diana, indicating Inflexibility and lack of trust. She’s also very judgmental and has a quick temper, which she warned me about but I’m just starting to see now. Most of this stems from the fact that she thinks I’m seeing other people. This makes me think that she may be a future nag and I’m actually thinking about ending things before I get too involved, despite my own high Interest Level in her. But I have to wonder if I brought out these traits in Diana by moving too slow.

I hope you can answer my questions since it looks like I’ll be asking for more home phone numbers soon.

Rock - who wants to get it right

Hi Rock,

Know what you should have said when Diana complained about your cool demeanor? “Specifically, honey, what would you like to know about me at this point? And by the way, I really take it as a compliment; you’re calling me a mystery. Because between you and me, I think guys talk too much.” Just like Bogie.

So you had to use humor to get off the hook, huh? Dude, get used to it -- you’re going to be pulling out the light repartee and parrying your wife’s interrogations after 30 years of marriage! And anytime a woman brings up your exes, here’s how you deal with it: “One had no Integrity, one was too structured, and one was a Taker. Does that answer your question?”

You don’t have to worry about being perceived as lacking in personality and substance if you keep your mouth shut, fella. Remember the old cliché “Silence is golden?” It happens to be true. And when you do open your trap, keep it light and funny and positive, like you tried to do at first. Because banter is going to take you everywhere, Rock. The key to women is BANTER. Just keep practicing.

The real problem here is Diana herself. I don’t mind a girl calling you and sniffing around for attention after three, four, or five months, but this babe’s doing it way too fast. She should be practicing a little Self-Control and saving the conversation for face-to-face dates. You felt compelled to give her phone time? Like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Why lay a guilt trip on yourself?” Don’t ever feel forced to do anything when it comes to a female. Just go by the book -- the Dating Dictionary -- and the book says never talk for hours on the phone. When she asked how to go about capturing your heart, the perfect answer would have been “By not talking for hours on the phone!”

No, I don’t like the fact that this girl is already gone after just three dates. I’m happy that she has 95% Interest Level, but she should be controlling her tongue. She’s pushing it entirely too hard. So the good part is that she’s pushing too hard – and the bad part is that she’s pushing too hard. She’s not giving the relationship any room to breathe.

You did hit the bulls-eye once, though, pal, and that was when you told Diana, “With time you might get what you want.” Perfecto. You get an A+ for that one. Because you stayed a Challenge. You told her that she has to work to get you. Even if you said it half-jokingly, you got the point across and she should have listened. But when Diana asked if you were seeing someone else, you missed an opportunity for the perfect retort: “Well, not that many.” That’s what you should have said.

Notice how she’s pressuring the crap out of you during all this, buddy? Jeez. You have to be feeling more pressure than Michael Moore’s toilet seat.

How long should you guys wait before agreeing to date exclusively? After she asks you, that’s when. But you don’t want to do it after three or four dates -- you want things to unfold naturally, give it a couple of months at least. To you Psych majors, you have to get to know each other. In your case, Rock, you and Diana are still strangers. She’s just someone you met at a party, and she’s still basically a stranger. This girl has high Interest Level, but no Self-Control. And if she has no Self-Control, that means she has problems in other areas. It’s the fin of the shark.

If she asks that question too early in the dating process, stall her. Tell her “I’m shy,” or “I’ve been hurt.” They’re the excuses they always hand to us guys, right?

Finally, you mention that Diana has a quick temper and that she warned you about it. And you’re just mentioning it NOW? Man, I’d hate to have you around in case of emergency, Rock. You’d let the house burn down before you got around to dialing 911. This little item should have been brought out before you talked about anything else! Her hissy fits don’t stem from anything you did – she was a hothead before she met you, so don’t lay another guilt trip on yourself. She’ll be a hothead after you get rid of her, too. As Fast Eddie Love says, “What you see is what you get!” You didn’t bring these negative traits out of her, guy. They were all there before you ever set eyes on her.

The point is this: you can only move too fast with women. You can NEVER move too slowly.

Remember, guys: If you want to get it right, follow “The System.”

Who is Really Man's Best Friend?

Hey Doc,

You may remember an e-mail I sent you some time back. I told you how your “System” changed my life, and I also wanted to thank you. I told you about how I’d gotten out of a bad relationship and found the love of my life, Caitlin, who meets all the key elements of a great woman (qualities you very insightfully pointed out in past articles). You wrote back and told me that I was doing great.

Well, now I’ve run into a problem I can’t find an answer to in your book. I’ve been dating Caitlin for a year and everything has been wonderful. Lately we’ve been talking about getting engaged and moving in together. I recently had to move out of my place and into a new rental and neither of us like the increased distance between us. Both of us are willing to relocate to be with each other (our jobs allow us to do this). However, we unexpectedly ran into a major stumbling block – my half-Golden Retriever, half-Shepherd, Max.

Max is “house dog” who is my best friend, and I can’t bear the thought of parting with him. Caitlin on the other hand does not go for “house dogs.” She brought this up before we got romantically involved, but we both sort of cruised over the subject. Her point of view is that basically I’m saying it’s either her or the dog and she doesn’t like that. My point of view is that if she cared about my feelings she would get used to the dog since she knows what Max means to me. It has become a huge issue.

So my dilemma is whether or not I should stick to my guns and keep Max. If I don’t, I’m afraid that I’ll look like a pushover now that Caitlin and I are in love. On the other hand, I hate to lose a great woman and a great relationship because she thinks I love the dog more than I love her. What do I do? Help, Doc!

Chris - who is in the doghouse

Hi Chris,

Unfortunately, you’ve got no one but yourself to blame for finding yourself in the doghouse. “Cruising over” the subject of your pooch was a humongous error on your part. Your attachment to your mutt was way too big of an issue to just gloss over. The sad truth is that you shouldn’t have gotten involved with Caitlin in the first place.

Pal, when you skip over a subject of this magnitude in a dating relationship, there’s always a day of reckoning. That’s why in “The System” we have the Reality Factor. Or as my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love likes to say, “Between a guy and his girl, REALITY always raises its ugly head!”

You ended up falling for Caitlin, who is great, but you’d have been much better off finding someone who has common values, because your values when it comes to animals are exactly the opposite of hers. To you, dogs are man’s best friend, while to Caitlin the beasts of the world belong anywhere but inside a house. The two of you together is like a partnership between Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore.

I happen to have a cat myself. Personally, I don’t believe in having animals in the house, either, so I know where your girlfriend’s coming from. And lots of other people don’t want animals in the home. With Fido, you have to deal with dog breath, dog slobber, dog hair, dog dander, and that’s just for starters. And to people who are germ freaks, dogs are carriers of all kinds of goodies. Mutts don’t use handkerchiefs or toilet paper, and they lick certain parts of their bodies that are, um, unsanitary. So Caitlin has her legitimate reasons for feeling the way she does. And we haven’t even factored in the vet bills.

Now, in your defense (all the other love doctors always put down the guy -- I’m the single one who doesn’t), your pet was there first. Caitlin, too, should have asked herself some hard questions when the two of you were becoming more than just friends. She should have said to herself, “Hey, if I fall for this guy, how am I going to ask him to get rid of Max? Maybe we shouldn’t go any further with this, or maybe we should hammer it out right now, before it’s too late and we’re involved.” But she didn’t.

Because it was like you came into the relationship with a child, Chris. To many people in America, dogs are like children, and your case proves it. In fact, what if you were divorced and had a rug rat or two? Would Caitlin now be demanding that you beat it or get rid of the kids? Of course I know a dog isn’t a kid, but in your eyes Max is. There are over 55 million dogs in America, remember, and in some cases they’re treated better than kids. People love their canines in this country.

In other words, you and your doggie were a package deal, and Caitlin was responsible for recognizing that fact and not glossing over it. So your problem goes back to the very first day you met.

So now, bro, you’re at an either/or dead-end: either get rid of the dog or get rid of Caitlin. But there’s a way around the impasse.

Here’s what I would suggest: find a house with a garage for you and Caitlin. Keep Max in the backyard during the day, and at night allow the animal into the garage. Arrange it so that Max feels comfortable out there, and you do too. Set up a chair, go out there every day, spend quality time with the dog, play with him, take him for a walk, and so forth.

Chris, you don’t want to lose the love of your life over a dog. I’m not saying that either you or Caitlin is right, and I’m not pointing fingers either. The two of you have to work out a compromise. Or as Sal “The Fish” Love puts it, “If you want to keep her, baby, you’re gonna have to get good at finding the middle ground from here on in.” This is going to be just one of many compromises you’ll have to make with Caitlin. You’ll have to take trips to visit her relatives when you don’t want to, you’ll have to see movies you don’t want to see, you’re going to have to eat at restaurants you might not dig all that much. Get used to it.

So don’t regard this situation in terms of “either/or,” but that you and Caitlin are just going to have to work through it. You might look a little like a pushover, but that’s what happens when an issue wasn’t resolved from the get-go. The reality of your dog was eventually going to come up and bite you. And hopefully Caitlin’s not just testing you.

Remember, guys: if you want a good dog and a good woman at the same time, date only dog-lovers from the beginning.

How do You Break the Ice?

Hey Doc,

Let me first say that I’m a big fan of yours, having read your column and being a student of the Dating Dictionary and its principles. For my money, you’re the best love coach out there – maybe the best in the whole world.

Now maybe I’ve just missed it, but I don’t believe that you’ve ever discussed exactly what to say to a woman in great detail. I hope this isn’t too basic for you, but I could really use some help here, Doc. In other words, how do you break the ice? Then what the heck do you say to follow it up? How do you keep the initial contact going and make your way to asking for the home phone number?

This is where I really get stuck when I try and meet a girl that I take a fancy to. “Hi” doesn’t seem to work most of the time. But maybe it’s just me. If I don’t get an enthusiastic response right off the bat, I tend to lose whatever confidence I have, stumble over my words, and end up making a fool of myself.

So when you get around to reading this, what I’d like to know is what to say in the following situations (which is where I find myself most of the time when I spot a girl I think I’d like to take out):

1. If she is at the bar.
2. If she is with her friends.
3. If she is standing on the outside of the dance floor.
4. If she is waiting to use the restroom.
5. If she is in line at a bank or store or restaurant.

There are more, but if you could help with the above list, I could probably apply them to the others. By the way, Doc, I’m 29, a college graduate, and have a good job in the pharmaceuticals field. Like I said, you might not even want to deal with something as fundamental as this, but I know I sure would appreciate the help, and probably so would all the other losers like me. Thanks in advance for your tips.

Carney - who doesn’t know how to get into the game

Hi Carney,

First of all, want to know why “Hi” doesn’t work most of the time? Because the girls you’re approaching don’t have high Interest Level in you. If they did, that simple “Hi” would do the trick. That’s the main point you’re missing here -- most of the girls you hit on don’t like you.

But look at it this way, guy. Out of a hundred girls, how many are going to like you? Eight? 10? 12? It’s a hard numbers game for the average Joe. Like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “If you looked like Brad Pitt in the movie Troy, you wouldn’t even have to say ‘Hi’ – she’d be taking your towel off before you even opened your mouth!” (But we all know women don’t care about looks – they’re really after “inner beauty!” That’s what makes us men such animals!)

So you shouldn’t lose your confidence, pal. Because you’ve had the guts to go up to these girls in the first place, talk to them, and try and close the deal. These are complete strangers you’re approaching; don’t forget, so it’s to your credit that you’re even trying. But the more interesting thing is this: they didn’t help you. And why not? Because they weren’t interested. “There’s a logic to this madness,” as my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love would say.

But you don’t have to stumble over your words. Whenever you see a honey you’d like to take out, look at her and say, with a twinkle in your eye, “I think you’re coming on too heavy.” Just like Bogart would. Remember -- always keep it light and funny and easy. When she goes on staring at you, you’ll feel like a fool twice over, but that’s okay -- you’re just there to have fun anyway. Then ask her, “Hey, have you got a girlfriend for me?” If she doesn’t at least crack a smile, she’s got no sense of humor and you don’t want her anyway.

The point is to have two or three great lines down pat, wade into the fray and SMILE. And remember, you have to be dressed right – neat and clean. As my Uncle Jethro Love puts it, “Are your sneakers white? Are your clothes pressed? Of course, if you’re in the band, forget about all that -- it doesn’t matter!”

Now, before we get rolling on your list, let’s take an overview of the situation. There’s one thing all these girls have in common, like I said -- they’re all complete strangers to you. That’s the really tough part, buddy. Before you even go near any of them, you have to ask yourself: What’s the numerical probability that this girl’s going to like me? Or that she’s even available to like me? Like Brother Love says, “She doesn’t know you from Adam, so the chances ain’t good.” But let’s take them one by one anyway.

At the bar. You go up to her, and when she makes eye contact, you say, “Are you dying to buy me a drink, sailor?” Again, just like Bogie.

With her friends. Pick the ugliest, fattest one and beg her to dance. After you’re through and you go back and sit down at her table, say “I would be delighted if you’d introduce me to your friends.”

On the outside of the dance floor. This means she wants to dance. Or that her boyfriend, who’s twice as tall as you, is in the men’s room and she’s waiting for him. Step up to her and say, “Excuse me -- may I have this dance?” Then smile and show her your pearly whites. What have you got to lose, right?

Waiting to use the restroom. Forget it. She’ll think you’re a pervert. Why? It’s all the rage nowadays to take pictures with your cell phone.

In a bank, she’ll think you’re trying to rob her, so forget that one, too. In a store. Ask her where the white chocolate macadamia cookies are. Talk about another product. Tell her it’s your first time in the store and that you’re lost. At a restaurant, try to grab a table near her if you can. If she’s watching the dance floor, dance with some other girls where she can see you. You have to keep an eye on her peripherally, and then make your move. The best time to go up to her in a restaurant is when she’s on her way back from the ladies room.

When you’re making any of these silly pitches, Carney, what you’re really doing is trying to break the ice. You’re saying, “I want to play. Please tell me you want to play too! Give me your home phone number.” If she’s interested, it’ll work.

Now, to follow it up. When you open your mouth, the girl knows you’re conning her. When you talk to her about the avocados in the grocery section, she knows there’s a good chance you’re hustling her. And if she’s attractive, she’s going to get hustled all the time. But if she sees something in you, and she’s available, you’ve got a shot, though it’s a slim one.

If, on the other hand, after two or three of your funny lines her eyes glaze over and she yawns – in other words, if she doesn’t help you out with positive encouragement either verbally or with her body language – say “Nice meeting you” and walk away. “Next!”

But Carney, you should be aiming at higher-percentage activities to meet girls. Like giving speeches where there are females in the audience. Take what you’re best at and emphasize your success. Try a church, for instance, where there are maybe 500 people listening and maybe 10 good-looking babes who will take a shine to you. There are definitely better ways to find them than the cold call.

Remember, guys: they help you when they like you.

Does "The System" Bring Out the Worst in Women?

I recently purchased your Dating Dictionary. It’s the best information on dating and women that I’ve ever encountered. This is why I hope you can help me with the problem I currently have on my hands

Gabriela (maybe the most attractive girl I’ve ever talked to in my life) and I have been getting to know each other for the past two months. She’s in my basic communications class at the university we attend, so I see her on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We have actually become pretty close -- or so I thought. I let her initiate all the physical contact (such as touching my leg, rubbing my back, or putting her hand on mine), just as you say to do. She also makes it a point to hug me after every class and goes out of her way to get me to notice her.

As a result of all this, I began to get the feeling that Gabriela wanted to be more than friends. I kept taking it slow, just as you suggested. Finally, after a Tuesday night class, I asked her out to a movie, and she said yes. But at the very next class, a pretty Native American girl who usually sits next to me happened to come in that day and flirt with me a little. I was friendly to her, but did absolutely nothing that I would deem as inappropriate in response. I was just being a nice guy, you know, Doc?

Well, needless to say, that ticked off Gabriela, the girl I’d asked out. Immediately after class she told me that something had come up and she wouldn’t be able to go out with me to the movie after all. Suddenly, she said, her schedule was too full.

That night I was upset about what had happened, went home and e-mailed Gabriela and told her how I felt about her. What I was after was to find out if she felt the same way about me. She seemed to soften a bit, but, get this -- she said she just wanted to see me now as a friend! OUCH!

Doc, what the heck happened? Did your techniques backfire on me? Please help. Thanks.

Art - who is totally and completely dumfounded

Hi Art,

You might not realize it now, but you are one lucky, lucky dude. And I’m the guy you can thank for your good fortune. I’ll explain in a moment.

Now, up to the point when you asked Gabriela out, you did everything right.

Obviously you understand the principle of touching. You learned your lessons well. Given your overwhelming attraction to Gabriela, you’re to be commended for your restraint and adherence to my rules. You took it nice and slow. Most guys look at dating as a hundred-yard dash, when in fact it’s a marathon. So I’m going to award you a star for your early performance. But as Rabbi Love is fond of saying, “Only time will tell, son, what’s really going on!”

Then you asked her out to a movie. Uh-oh. Here’s where you deviated from the rulebook, Art. You plunged recklessly ahead of the program and went for the date before the time was right. (And you were so good at the beginning!) As General Love says, “Rushing onto the battlefield without the proper training and preparation is an invitation to disaster!” What you were supposed to do was ask for the home phone number. You went and tampered with “The System” here, pal, and committed an error. You fell into the trap that most guys who are unsuccessful with women fall into. It’s called jumping the gun.

But let’s take a close look at what happened next. Another pretty girl found you attractive, and rather than take it as a compliment to her good taste, Gabriela went and got all bent out of shape. But here’s the good part of it, Artie: you dodged a bullet. Isn’t it better you discovered this side of her now rather than after two or three or four months of dating? You bet it is! And that’s why I said you were lucky.

Right then and there, after Gabby blew off your date, you should have written her off. Next time you see her in class, flash a nice smile, say “how are you doing,” but aside from such gentlemanly gestures, give her absolutely nothing. When you e-mailed her that night, Art, you were begging. In her eyes, you were down on your knees, groveling – the complete and total antithesis of being a Challenge. With that move you’d turned yourself into the worst but most common sort of weakling -- Wimpus Americanus. Think about it: how could you even ask this girl if she felt the same about you when she broke a date? You made a mental leap ahead to something that didn’t exist! As my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love puts it, “When she cancelled your date, it was over FOREVER in your lifetime!”

Fortunately for you, Art, “The System” does bring out the worst in women – the wrong women -- and that’s what’s so great about it. The sooner we learn the worst about a girl, the sooner we can dump her and move on to someone who’s not so uptight (the code word for “jealous” and “possessive” and “controlling”). Here a pretty girl talks to you, and Gabriela goes and loses it? Can you imagine being married to her and having a couple of kids? When you went out to dinner and the waitress was friendly, she’d probably demand a divorce!

So don’t waste another minute thinking about Gabriela, guy. What you should be doing instead is thinking about asking that pretty Native American girl for her home phone number.

Remember, guys: the sooner you can find out what she’s really made of, the sooner you can leave her.

Are Some Women Too Good to be True?

Hey Doc,

I’m 33 and recently met Melinda, who’s 32. She is very hot-looking and it would be hard for any guy not to find her attractive. Anyway, she agreed to go out with me, and on the first date I followed all of your principles. The very next day she called me and asked me out on another date. I accepted. After that night, she called me for a third date. As you might imagine, things were going well between us.

On the second and third dates, Melinda cooked dinner for me, told me how wonderful I am, said she was falling for me, and told me she wants to take me to Florida (all expenses paid by her). She also asked for pictures of me, said she was willing to rearrange her schedule with her kids to be with me (she has two) and calls me every single day (I don’t answer all her calls). She has said everything to me but “I love you.” I keep my mouth shut as far responding to her compliments, or I just say “Thanks.” Her Interest Level in me is probably about 90% plus.

Now, here’s the problem. Melinda has been divorced for about a year. On our second date, she revealed to me that she had been having an affair with a married guy for the past year, and that she thought he was her soul mate. They were recently on a trip to Las Vegas together, and she told him (she says, anyway) that they had to stop seeing each other because he’s married. (Incidentally, he lives in a different state, so I know they can’t be carrying on with one another.) Anyway, these things have made me question her Integrity. Also, do you think it’s suspicious that her Interest Level is in the 90s on the second date?

As a test, I told Melinda on our third date that I needed five bucks for highway tolls and that I’d pay her back the next time I saw her. She handed me a twenty and said, “Just keep it.” I do plan on paying her back, but I guess that on one level the whole thing seems too good to be true, while on another I’m not sure I completely trust her.

Doc, what’s your read on Melinda? Should I drop her like a hot potato and move on? I’d really appreciate your insights here, as I read your column faithfully and find you right on the money. Thanks.

Harrison - who’s never had it this easy

Hi Harrison,

First of all, congratulations on Melinda’s high Interest Level in you. But if she had any class, she wouldn’t be hounding you the very next day! I want a woman to have 95% Interest Level when she first sets eyes on you, and I want her to have 95% Interest Level at the end of a date. But I don’t want her to act on it. Climbing all over you shows that she has no Self-Control.

The man is supposed to be the aggressor in the dating game. Melinda should be sitting back, relaxing, and letting you ask her out and letting you call her up once a week. As the great Doctor Freud once said, “A clinically sane woman doesn’t call a guy every day, at least not in the first month!” This constant phoning only happens when you’re already married and your wife is wondering where you are every five minutes.

This babe’s going way, way too fast. Sure, I want her to cook for you and I want her to take you on vacation, but after the first two or three dates? She’s got to rein in her horses -- she’s going crazy! See, Harrison, if she’s already acting like this, there have to be other areas of her life that you’re unaware of where she’s done – or is going to do -- some goofy things. It’s a positive sign that she likes you, obviously, but she’s got to learn how to cool her jets.

Here’s another way to look at it, pal: your own Interest Level is 90%, but you’re not going nuts, are you? Jeez, Melinda is giving you no time or space to pursue her -- she’s all over you like white on rice. I think it’s great that she’s hustling you, don’t get me wrong, but she should be cooking dinner and squiring you on trips after four or five months -- not four or five days!

Now, on to her affair. How can Melinda’s “soul mate” be married? It’s a contradiction in terms! And why did it take her so long to dump this dude? If she had any Integrity, she would have told him that they couldn’t see each other when he first asked her out. “No, thanks. Soon as you get divorced, call me.” That’s what she should have said if she had any class. But she has no class.

And just a minute, here -- what do you mean the two of them “can’t be carrying on?” Hasn’t it crossed your mind that this married “soul mate” of Melinda’s can fly into town and shack up with her at Motel 6 for a few hours? We have these newfangled contraptions called airplanes and motels for $55 nowadays, don’t forget! Come on, Harrison – the reality is that you don’t know what Melinda’s doing. You are very naïve. But I am glad these little things made you question her Integrity!

That said, I don’t think it’s suspicious that she has 90% plus Interest Level in you so early in the game. Lots of women, when they first see a man, declare “I’m going to spend the rest of my life with that guy.” That woman might very well be a keeper, and you might very well want her. I just want HER to keep her pants on and let the relationship unfold SLOWLY.

And I think it’s great that she gave you $20. It’s no big deal, and it is another good sign. Nevertheless, you have huge problems with Melinda dating married men and calling you every single day. Here’s a suggestion: try backing off for a while and not calling her, and you’ll find out if this gal has a temper. Usually these overly generous, over-eager types are extremely jealous and possessive of your time. Wait a week to call, return her calls two days later, and see if she’ll be complaining, “Hey -- after all I gave you, you have the nerve to ignore me? You jerk!”

The desperation she’s displaying makes it entirely possible that Melinda is a bit of a whack-job. Remember the movie Fatal Attraction? If you don’t watch out and slow down, your pet rabbit may end up in the soup. Like my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love says, “Be careful. There ain’t no clean deals in life!” Here’s another tip for you, Harrison. When a woman is this hot and heavy so soon, you can bet she’ll be the same with the next guy she runs into.

Remember, guys: the reason you’ve had it so easy is because this girl’s easy.

Where do You go to Meet a Good One?

Hey Doc,

I know you deal mostly with the intricacies of dating and relationships, and for that reason I’m a little embarrassed to even write this letter. My problem, you see, is much more basic. But since you seem to be open to tackling most any kind of situation, I’m going to take the chance and ask anyway. Here goes.

I am a 42-year-old male who was married for 20 years and am now in the final stages of my divorce from Robin. (One child, by the way, and she lives with my soon-to-be-ex.) In all the years I was married I never cheated on Robin, and for these last two I’ve been in a state of shock. I’ve also been going back and forth with Robin (with the help of various marriage counselors) in an attempt to save our marriage. Needless to say, it didn’t work.

Now that I’m completely on my own, I find myself feeling totally inept when it comes to women and dating. Instead of feeling the experience of my years, I feel dopier than an eighth-grader who’s never kissed a girl in his life. Add to this that I’ve begun to notice that the women that I meet seem to have no interest whatsoever in a man of my age. I don’t know, maybe this is just my imagination. All they seem to want is vacuous guys under 30. But again, at this point this might only be my skewed vision of life.

To make a long story short, it’s a nightmare out there. I’ve tried cultivating women through the Internet, but when I actually meet them face-to-face, they look nothing like their pictures. I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody is honest. I’ve gone into a few bars and clubs and forget it. My skin isn’t that thick yet – I feel like I’m surrounded by schools of sharks.

Doc, I’m attractive (I think), in great physical shape, educated (M.A.), financially secure, humble, and blah blah blah. I’m sure you’ve heard it all from other guys. Since I work out of my home, I have extremely limited work-related social activity. My question to you is, where the heck am I supposed to go to find quality women? I know that I’ll have to go through a certain number of them to find a single good one, but I can’t even seem to get into the game. Remember that movie Clueless? That’s me.

Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated, and no doubt appreciated by others like me.

George - who’ll be alone again come Saturday night

Hi George,

My first piece of advice to you is to go easy on yourself. Sadly, there are lots of guys in your boat, but it’s not the end of the world. And you’ve come to the right place for coaching.

Before we leave the subject of your failed marriage, let me just say that I think marriage counselors are great. But the Reality Factor says that there’s one thing they can’t do, and that’s bring a woman’s Interest Level back to life once it’s gone south of 50% -- nobody can. The smart move here is to let sleeping dogs lie and get on with your life.

Now, let’s start with where you are right now. When a guy is married for 20 years -- in your case, from the time you were 22 until now – he’s locked in what I call a “time warp.” In a sense, you were forcibly pulled out of society. You haven’t the foggiest notion what’s going on out there in the real world. When you reenter the dating scene, you expect it to be like it was when you were 21, but baby, it’s not. It’s a much rougher, much tougher world out there nowadays. As Sal “The Fish” Love puts it,

”Ricky Nelson is dead!” But that’s okay -- we’ll work around it. Stick with me.

George, the fact is that it’s normal to be feeling dopey. There’s nothing wrong with that. Again, think of the rock you’ve been under for the past two decades. I get reams of e-mails from long-time married men between 35 and 55 who are going through divorces, and their fix is the same. To you Psych majors, you’re not a robot, so a period of adjustment to the new reality is to be expected. STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP! You’re just like a fish out of water -- you don’t know what’s going on and you’re trying to thrash yourself back into the water. Don’t worry -- I will teach you how to swim.

Now, your age. George, you’re not 106. You’re only 42 – there’s still hope! Sure, there are lots of women out there between 35 and 45 with fine figures made up of various surgically “upgraded” body parts who walk around complaining, “I’m (relatively) young and hot, so why would I want a 42-year-old geezer?”

But George, 42 is not really an old geezer. There are women around between 35 and 42 who will find you attractive. We just have to find you the right one. But at the same time, you have to be packing your gear. Like General Love says, “You can’t go into war without bullets.” And that’s what you’re doing – going into battle. If you don’t have the proper ammo when you go out looking for Miss Right, you’ll get squashed like a bug. The ammo you need is contained in “The System.” All you have to do is memorize everything in the Dating Dictionary.

Let’s talk about the Internet. I get tons of e-mails from women, and they tell me that -- believe it or not -- guys are dishonest too! So let’s have some empathy for the other half here, fellas. They ask me why you guys put up your high school pictures when you’re 50 years old. What you’re running into, George, is the same thing – she’s using her cheerleader snapshot from senior year and she’s pushing 45. People change with time; that’s why you always want to post the best current professional photo of yourself because it’s the first thing she’s going to see when she brings up your file.

By the way, George, are you talking to – interviewing -- these women on the phone before you make the date to go to Starbucks? Are you finding out whether she’s really 5’8”, 132 pounds, and not 5’4”, 182 pounds? Try to get as much information as possible beforehand – it’ll save you lots of time.

The only reason you should go to a bar or club is to have a good time with your buddy. It’s a mistake to get caught up in that scene. And forget Friday and Saturday nights. If you want to do the bars, do them on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays when the atmosphere is a little less competitive. But ultimately clubs and bars aren’t really a good bet, because they’re the only places women go to pick up guys when they have their shields up. Sounds like a contradiction to me, but that’s the reality of the situation.

George, you’ve listed all of your qualifications. But are you fun to be with? Have you developed your sense of humor? That counts for more than anything when you’re trying to make a go of it in the dating game. Don’t come off like a whipped loser, even if that’s how you feel. Remember my cousin Fast Eddie Love’s advice: “If you can make ’em laugh, dude, it’s party time!”

Where you want to go is to lunches, dinners, and meetings sponsored by various women’s groups on how to make your business better, how to be a successful entrepreneur, how to enlarge your home-based business, etc. There’ll be women there. All kinds of women. You’ll be like a weasel in a henhouse. Sit and talk shop with them. It’s here you can develop your “sales presentation.” It’s here you’ll find out which of your jokes work, and which don’t. Think of these functions as a great place to practice.

Other superb places to meet women are yoga class, wine-tasting clubs, swing-dance class, New Age seminars (but watch out for the whackos), cooking class, comedy improv workshops, acting class (again, be on Whacko Alert!), and weddings. You might also try some volunteer activities.

But the very best way to determine where to go, George, is by asking yourself what hobbies and pastimes interest you the most. Make a list of those. The ones that have the most women involved are where you want to be.

Remember, guys: just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.

What if She has a "Split" Personality?

Hey Doc,

I’ve got a dilemma that I’m looking to gain some insight into.

I’m 32 and living with Debbie, the same age, who works for the same company as I do. We work in two different departments, two different floors, actually. We have found something pretty special with each other and we both know it. It’s an amazing feeling to be this in love, this satisfied with someone in your life. I’m a very lucky man to have what we have.

So what’s the problem? Well, it’s small actually, and maybe I shouldn’t sweat it, but here goes. In the past year Debbie got a divorce. A rather civil one, I might add. (No kids, by the way.) The issue is this: she’s afraid of looking like “that kind of girl” to people at work; in other words, she doesn’t want to look like she’s diving into another serious relationship so soon after her divorce. I understand that. She’s worked there a long time, knows lots of people, and wants to save face, but still have me, the love of her life.

While I don’t expect mushy stuff at work (I, too, don’t want that sort of label on either of us) she tends to overcompensate, and I can’t help but feel hurt by this. When we go to lunch with other people from work, people that know we’re dating, even, she tends to almost act like I’m not there. This makes me feel a bit like a tagalong. I’ve tried talking to her about it, but she always feels attacked. The conversation becomes negative, and I start to think that maybe I AM making a bigger deal out of it than I need to. We have each other outside of work and what we have IS wonderful.

Doc, is Debbie just trying to be professional? She acts buddy-buddy with everyone else at work except for me. It’s almost like she’s afraid to look at me in an improper way or say something that would give people the idea that something is up between us. She doesn’t treat me in a mean way, nothing like that, but it just seems as if she’s really trying to NOT let on to anyone that she likes me. This can be an embarrassing thing to people who DO know that we’re a couple, because then they tend to wonder if we’re having problems.

Lately, this problem seems to have infiltrated our lives outside the office. I almost feel now as if I’m “chasing” Debbie and the mutual desire we had for each other seems to be dwindling. I am a very romantic and sensitive male by general standards and usually speak to and treat her with respect. But it almost seems as if she is distancing herself from me.

I’m not sure how to approach this. It could be temporary, but I’m a bit concerned. Debbie is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I don't want to scare her off or make her think she’s made a mistake. Help!

Brian - who doesn’t know how to handle her “work” personality

Hi Brian,

When you say that you and Debbie “both know” that you have something special, I have to wonder where your evidence is. I know that YOU know it, but where’s the evidence that DEBBIE knows it? There’s really no proof whatsoever in your letter that Debbie is as sold as you are on the whole deal. I’m not saying she isn’t, but like I always say, you guys have to become forensic love scientists, which means you always have to be on the lookout for hard evidence. And when you ask me for help, please be specific -- no generalities, please.

But on to what we know of your problem. First of all, why is it that everybody but the janitor at your company knows the two of you are dating to begin with? This never should have happened, pal. You two let the cat out of the bag and now you have to suffer the consequences of being a public item. And the fact of the matter is, your coworkers always know more than you think they know. And, by the way, which one of you is the blabbermouth – Debbie or you? The evidence points to you.

Of course you’re going to know lots of people at your place of employment. But what do most people love more than anything? Gossip. And if they’re not batting the rumors around in the lunchroom, they’re jealous. So what good can this possibly do for you? Why in the world would you go and spill the beans about your private lives? Just plain dumb, buddy. This is your biggest mistake and your biggest problem – that everyone knows you’re together. It creates all kinds of pressures that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Compounding this situation is that you’re being way, way too sensitive. Your girlfriend’s just playing a role here. She’s acting like a female James Bond on a top-secret mission. (And the word is HUSH -- keep your trap shut!) You tell me that you agree with Debbie on what your strategy should be, but when she does her undercover act, you aren’t willing to go along with it. You can’t have it both ways.

The truth is that Debbie should feel attacked when you bring up this ridiculous subject -- because you’re wrong here. Like my Uncle Jethro Love says, “You’re making the Grand Canyon out of a gopher hole!”

So yes, Debbie is merely trying to be professional. That’s it, no more. She’s doing exactly the right thing – she doesn’t want to give your coworkers the idea that something’s up between you. What business is it of theirs? Your girlfriend’s smart and you’re a dummy!

But what you want to do is pout, like a little boy throwing a tantrum. Sure, Debbie acts buddy-buddy with the people at work, but who is she kissing at night – them or you? That’s what counts.

Mutual desire isn’t dwindling in you, Brian. It’s dwindling in Debbie, because you keep having these stupid arguments over her not paying enough attention to you at an inappropriate place. You’re becoming less of a Challenge, and Debbie’s Interest Level in you is beginning to dip. To you Psych majors, work is for BUSINESS, not for LOVE.

Stop being weak, because that’s what “sensitive” and “romantic” really means. Don’t be a wuss -- forget about your “feelings” when you’re on the job. Pretend like you don’t know her at the office and Debbie will be flying back into your arms.

Remember, guys: if she wants to play a game at work, go along with it as long as she loves you.

Should You Keep Her if She Censors Your Reading?

Hey Doc,

I realize that this is probably one of the more unusual letters you’ve ever received, but I don’t have much choice but to send it.

I recently purchased “The System,” but I’m planning to return it. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with The Dating Dictionary itself. In fact, I was drawn to buying it after reading your articles on the web. I especially liked your theories having to do with the fact that men are largely dominated by women, and that we have far less of a voice than they do in relationships. Also, it was nice that there was a guy offering help rather than the usual female love doctors who all preach pretty much the same thing.

I’m sure you’re sitting there asking yourself, “So what’s this guy’s problem?” It’s a little embarrassing, I’ll admit, but here it is: my girlfriend, Jessica. She wasn’t very pleased with me ordering your book in the first place, and when she read some of the sections, it caused some very heated arguments. She thought the chapter about men having to be a Challenge was particularly ridiculous. It’s her opinion that we should not play any head games with each other. She says we should be completely open and honest with one another, and your teachings prevent that.

Jessica has always been the kind of girl who likes to have her own way, Doc, and since she’s very beautiful, I tend to give it to her. In this case I figured that since it’s just a small matter of returning a book, I’d do it and preserve the peace. Besides, I promised Jessica that I would, and we don’t lie to each other, ever.

I have to admit though that since I made the decision I’ve been wracked with some nagging doubts about whether it’s the right course of action. I mean, it is just a book, so what’s the big deal, right? Can’t I read what I want? Are Jessica’s objections some kind of attempt to control me? Does this bode poorly for our future together?

On the other hand, I don’t want to lose her. We’ve been together for about 10 months now and are planning on getting married soon. Your book was the first major wedge to come between us, but this whole conflict has me wondering if I’m making a mistake without knowing it.

I know it seems crazy, Doc, but it’s come down to a matter of Jessica versus you. Even though I’m sending your book back, I’m still curious to know your opinion of my situation.

Bruce - who’s choosing the line of least resistance

Hi Bruce,

Yours is a curious question, but it’s not one that surprises me given the power of my ideas. Whenever the truth is encountered, there is going to be a certain amount of denial. And that’s what’s going on here.

What’s really interesting, though, is that you can’t see the pattern of what’s happening right under your nose. Here you’re reading 10, 15, maybe even 20 of my articles, at an average of maybe 1,200 words apiece, and you can’t find one thing you disagree with. Right, Bruce? In fact, you’re so motivated by my columns that you agree to part with $99 for “The System.” You read it, and you still can’t find anything to disagree with! Because it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Yes, it does. Furthermore, you seem to need something from me. Now, did Jessica put a .45 to your head and order you to put the book down? Well, you’re acting like she did. The point is that you yourself are ultimately responsible for what’s happening here.

But let’s move on to Jessica anyway. Let me ask you a question, pal. Were her arguments against Doc Love logical? Did she allow you to explain why you were reading my book? The answer in both cases is no. If she had taken the time, she would have understood – assuming she has the capacity – that Challenge is most definitely not a head game. Challenge is the love ether in the dating game. And what Challenge does is keep you, as a partner, always fresh. But what Jessica’s proposing and implying – and of course this issues from the most popular female love doctor herself, Oprah – is “Let it all hang out!” Air all your dirty laundry, your weaknesses, your insecurities – in other words, every negative thing about you – and somehow she’s going to want to stay around! Makes sense, right? WRONG!

Bruce, I want you to be honest with your woman at all times. It’s the OPENNESS I worry about. Nobody wants a simpering weakling, least of all a woman. You keep that up and see how long you hold onto Jessica – or any other babe, for that matter.

But, you protest, “She likes to have her own way.” Know what I hear you saying, cowboy? That you give Jessica her own way all the time. I hear you NEVER saying NO to this girl. (As a matter of fact, I’d bet the house no one’s ever said no to her.) That’s why you’re sending the book back. Do you realize the amount of pain and misery and domination (of you!) that’s going to be involved when you’re living with this can’t-take-no-for-an-answer prima donna for the next 42 years under the same roof, day after day, week after week, month after month? You give her the power to dominate because of your high Interest Level -- because she’s beautiful. But you’re not looking at what’s on the inside, the part you’re going to marry. Like my Uncle Jethro Love says, “After a while, her looks ain’t so hot anymore. You’re going to have to live with her Attitude.”

You’re not just returning my book, Bruce; you’re returning THE TRUTH. Because you can’t handle the truth, and neither can Jessica. Yes, you’ll go ahead and preserve the peace at any price, just like Chamberlain when Hitler rattled his saber. And heavens no, I wouldn’t want you to fib to Jessica. I would just like to see you grow a little something in a certain part of your body so that your voice will deepen -- get what I’m saying, pal?

Unfortunately for you, Bruce, once you have Doc Love’s method in your head, you’ll never get rid of those nagging doubts. You’re going to be hearing my voice for as long as you’re involved with Jessica, book or no book. Know why? BECAUSE I SPEAK THE TRUTH, GUY -- THE TRUTH!

And no, apparently you’re not allowed to read what you want. And you couldn’t in Nazi Germany either. Sure, Jessica’s objections are an attempt to control you – she always has, hasn’t she? Why would things change now? She’s getting her way again, isn’t she? This is just an extension of what’s always been there. Does it bode poorly for your future together? Not for Jessica! She’s going to have a great time being in total control of her wimp of a husband! With you around she’ll have her own way for the rest of her life!

Before we go into “your situation,” I want to point out one last thing to you. If Jessica read my book cover to cover, she would have discovered my maintenance program, which is made up of Affection, Romance, and Respect. And she would have said to herself, “Look at what this guy’s studying – he’s going to give me the three things I want most over the long haul!” But she didn’t take the time. And, like you said, she calls all the shots, all the time.

As to your situation, I’ll let my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love do the talking for me: “You’re in a hell of a lot of trouble here, baby!”

Remember, guys: you never want to date a girl who’s a prison guard.

Is Dating Only Easy when You Look like Brad Pitt?

Hey Doc,

I happen to be married and not on the dating scene, but I look forward to your articles, as I find your point of view refreshing. Dating is indeed a power struggle, and men don’t really get this, handing over all their bargaining power before they get anywhere with a woman. As far as usefulness is concerned, I think your material appeals to average-looking guys with average income levels, because the Pierce Brosnans of the world don’t need it.

The subject of looks is an interesting one in your writings. On the one hand you say that by being a Challenge, Mister Average can have an A+ babe. In other articles, the Reality Factor (common sense) dictates that women respond to attractiveness as much as men do, and that you have to be realistic about what you have as far as looks go. Other times you say that you can’t guess a woman’s motivations and therefore you never know. Or you say that the “10s” are really high maintenance (implying the average guy wouldn’t want one anyway, and thus avoiding the issue). Often you ask how many times you see a beautiful babe with a loser/ugly guy, as some form of encouragement to the average-looking guys, I suspect. (The answer, in reality, is pretty much never.)

So from where I sit you kind of dance around this issue of looks. I know Attitude and Challenge are your central themes, not looks, but it is an important factor in dating nevertheless, and never won’t be (which to your credit you do acknowledge -- sometimes).

Many average-looking guys spend half their lives pining for those “A” babes (“genetic celebrities”). Really, being a Challenge won’t help much in that department, because there are different leagues when it comes to looks. And it’s rare to play – and win -- out of your league and that’s that. I know you preach Attitude in the end, and rightly so, but looks never cease to be important. I think your advice is great, and works best basically within your league. This is common sense, but the male ego has great difficulty staying in its own league, and denies reality.

Being filthy rich would of course make of all the above beside the point, but the Donald Trumps of the world don’t need your advice either, and aren’t reading your columns. I think your writings should emphasize being realistic as a means of increased success maybe more often than they do.

I’m really curious to hear your definitive opinion.

Richard - who believes that Brad Pitt will always come out on top

Hi Richard,

You’re right when you say that most men are saps who hand over their power at the first possible opportunity. Most of them, upon sighting the most dangerous creature on the planet – the Beautiful Woman – can’t wait to run up the white flag of surrender. But you forgot to mention something else. Usually, by the time a guy is married, he has no self-respect – or power -- left whatsoever. If he does, his wife will erode it by nagging him to death.

Now, on to your main concerns. Luckily for him – and us -- there’s only one Pierce Brosnan in the world. But there are millions of us average-looking guys and so the playing field evens out. If there were 10 million Pierce Brosnans running around, we’d all be in trouble and I’d have to agree with you on this point, but I think you’re skewing it.

And what makes the dating game all the more interesting, Richard, is that there are many types of attractiveness. We’ve all seen some beautiful women with some real strange-looking dudes, haven’t we? Remember the Julia Roberts-Lyle Lovett romance? (And she married him!) Or how about Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob? (Ditto for her!) How many times have you seen a knockout with a schnook and asked yourself, “How the hell did he manage to snag her?” And not all of these schnooks play in the band!

You accuse me of saying that a guy can’t ever guess a woman’s motivations. This is actually a half-truth. You can’t figure her out in the beginning, but with time and by looking through the eyes of “The System,” you will see her real agenda. But it is true that most guys don’t know where a babe is coming from most of the time. Maybe you’re referring to yourself here, pal.

You’re on target when you suggest that the pursuit of the perfect “10” can be a grueling marathon. But there is a certain percentage of hardheaded men who will go after her no matter what. Like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Some guys have to have their eye candy whether or not you warn them that it’s going to make them sick.” And if they’re willing to pay the price, fine. I just don’t want them to find out after they get married how high the price was.

You mention that I encourage guys by citing the loser/uglies who score beauties. This is also a misconception on your part. What I’m referring to is the “winner”/unattractive guy. The fellow who “gets handsome” after he opens his mouth because he’s got something besides sawdust between his ears and he’s not just pumping iron or running on his looks. Those guys are capable of scoring “10s” too, but they come at it from a different angle.

Here’s the way it works: you meet a babe, you start talking, and in two to three minutes -- if her Interest Level is 51% -- you can start working the mystical aphrodisiac known as Challenge. But if her Interest Level is 49% or less, it won’t matter if you’re Pierce Brosnan’s clone – nothing’s going to happen. Challenge only works when the girl likes you to begin with.

Richard, I happen to agree with you that dating is easier within your own league. But the point is this: if she happens to like you, and all the pretty boys are down on their knees begging her to go off with them to Acapulco and you’re hanging back cool and relaxed (being a Challenge), she has to wonder what separates you from the groveling turkeys. And that’s your shot. It’s true that you’re not going to get as many shots with the “A” list because you don’t run in that league. But as General Love says, “When you’re packing ‘The System,’ you know that when you venture onto the battlefield of dating, you’re out there to win.”

“The System” comes in handy even for the filthy rich, buddy. Yes, even Donald Trump needs my advice. He’s gone through two messy divorces and now he’s about to marry someone who’s young enough to be his daughter and who just happens to be Beautiful. Sound like a recipe for disaster? Has he learned his lesson yet? How much do you want to bet that he hasn’t? Yet Donald Trump wouldn’t condescend to buy my book. But maybe he should. Rush Limbaugh should too, because he’s about to become a three-time loser in the marital sweepstakes.

Richard, you really haven’t been paying close enough attention to what I preach. In the end, you always have to pass the Physical Attraction Test FIRST. You’ve heard me say that 50 times in the years I’ve been writing this column. Once you pass that hurdle, then you can apply Challenge.

I agree that it’s better to stay in the same league as the women you’re dating. Because, like my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love says, “If she’s running around with guys who own Lear jets and you man the pumps at the local Shell station, it’s gonna be a little tough to catch her eye!” But in the end, you still never know. If fate is kind, maybe one day she’ll run out of gas in front of your place.

Remember, guys: with “The System” you’ll be better-looking.

Will "The System" Make You Something You're Not?

Hey Doc,

About eight months ago I purchased your instructions because I wasn’t having much long-term success with women. I listened to the CDs and read The Dating Dictionary and I must say that it was an illuminating and unique experience. I decided to immediately implement what you teach and see what would happen out there in the real world.

Doc, your techniques worked liked a charm. They helped me to attract the interest of more women than I could ever have predicted or hoped for. Frankly, they transformed me from the loser I was to a guy who was successful in making women go after him.

But here’s my issue. Your principles, it seems to me, instruct men how to change themselves to be what a woman wants. Well, I did that, got plenty of dates, but it really wasn’t me. The problem was that I never felt like myself. I always had the sneaking feeling that I was manipulating the women and “playing games.” It just seemed to be plain hard work.

Finally I decided to just act naturally, was less of a Challenge, and then met the woman of my dreams. By many men’s standards, Joan wouldn’t be considered any more than an 8; maybe less, but to me she’s a 10. And I guess that’s all that counts.

Doc, why do you think I’ve found satisfaction with a woman who is less than a knockout? Has my perception changed since I stopped trying to be a Challenge? Also, do you really think that changing who a guy truly is can be the correct strategy for him to find long-lasting happiness? It seems to me to be a contradiction in terms. Or am I missing something here?

I’m really curious to hear your take on this, since you are the supreme Doctor of Love and I can’t argue with your success.

Taylor - who wanted to quit acting like somebody else

Hi Taylor,

You pose an interesting question. And the answer is that yes, I am transforming you into someone more appealing by making sure that what you are and do is what a woman wants. And she’s going to want you for you when you’ve absorbed and practiced my rules. You’re going to be more you than ever, because you’re going to be strong and secure as Taylor for the first time in your life.

But that’s only half of it. The other half, the one we don’t want to lose sight of (and which is why you sought out my principles in the first place), is that as you are, she doesn’t want you for you -- because you’re not good enough!

By your acquisition of a new set of proven techniques, I am making you more masculine. I am making you more attractive. Nevertheless, Taylor, I started out with nothing but you as raw material. As my Uncle Jethro Love would say, “I didn’t come in with a new carburetor and stick it down your throat, did I?” No, I didn’t. No matter what, when all is said and done, you are still you. A new and improved Taylor, for sure, but still Taylor.

Now of course you’re going to feel that practicing my techniques “wasn’t you” because you’ve been doing everything wrong all your life. (By your own admission, I might add!) It stands to reason that revolutionizing yourself is going to feel a little odd, at least at first, until you’ve gotten the proper hang of things. To you Psych majors, any time there’s change, there’s going to be discomfort. That’s just the way it is – it’s the process of life. And nobody likes change. We all want to just sit on our butts with the TV remote and watch life roll by while we munch on our cheese curls and potato chips. But in order to go from being a flop to a success with women, you have to change yourself and make yourself more desirable, and “The System” does that.

Taylor, have you ever looked at the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine? Have you ever noticed that every month there are eight different articles on how a gal can turn a guy’s head? Or how a woman can get a man to eat out of her hand? For that matter, check out the covers of all the women’s magazines! Aren’t they full of the same stuff? Don’t you see what they’re telling women? Don’t you get it?

I hate to break this to you, guy, but in the beginning anything worth doing is “hard work.” When you first try and play golf, do you have any idea how to properly hold the club or strike the ball? Of course you don’t! Chances are you don’t even know which end of the club to hold, right? Ever play a musical instrument? Unless you’re Mozart, it takes endless hours of practice to get even the rudiments down. And even prodigies have to practice.

Okay, so you fell in love with Joan, and she’s not Angelina Jolie. Why did you go for her, you ask? The answer is because you see inner beauty. To quote Sal “The Fish” Love: “You’re going to live with Attitude!” So, good for you. You’ve absorbed more of my teachings than you think. Your perception hasn’t changed, Taylor, since you’ve allegedly stopped trying to be a Challenge. But the more interesting question is this: what made Joan interested in you in the first place? What do you think she saw in you? The quaking Wimpus Americanus you used to be, or a confident guy transformed by me? My book, my rules, have changed you – and the new you is what she saw.

Regarding your next question, the answer is YES. Of course changing a guy is the formula for long-lasting happiness! Because you’re going to be PERFECT by the time I get through with you. What you perceive as a contradiction in terms is nothing but a half-truth, a fallacy, and an erroneous assumption.

Finally, you say that you wanted to quit acting like somebody else. And do what, Taylor? Go back to being a loser so your new girlfriend can dump you? My course is about getting you to put your best foot forward. That’s what you did. You have me to thank for finding true love.

Remember, guys: without “The System,” you’re just potential.

Selling the Girl Next Door

Hey Doc,

One of my friends who regularly reads your column told me that you’re the guy to ask about a problem I’m having. I hope he’s right, so here goes.

I sell computer equipment at an office megastore for a living. Currently I live in a 600-unit apartment complex with two swimming pools here in the South Beach section of Miami, and a lot of the residents seem to be single. I run into them at poolside and in the gym, but haven’t really gotten to know that many people, either girls or guys. (I’ve been living here for the past year, by the way.) I’m 28 and single. I’ve never been married, incidentally, and am coming off a broken relationship with a woman I dated for two and a half years. She dumped me because she needed to “grow in different directions and we were stagnating.”

After a good year of trying to figure out why the relationship went south, I finally gave up. The whole experience shattered my confidence, and I find myself sort of out of it when it comes to striking up conversations with women I’d like to get to know. I don’t know, maybe I’m just completely inept. On the other hand, I do well enough in my job, I move computers successfully, and sometimes I think that I should be able to “sell” myself to women, too. Or does one not have anything to do with the other?

Anyway, I’ve had my eye on Pamela (I found out her name when I checked her mailbox), who lives three doors from me, ever since I moved in. This babe has it all in the looks department – she’s at least an 8, maybe even a 9. Aside from flashing a smile when she’s coming or going, we don’t have much contact, and I’m at a loss for what to do to get something going. By the way, I can’t really tell if she has any interest in me whatsoever, but I’ve always been baffled by how to tell. I’ve seen friends of both sexes stop by her place, but never the same guy overnight, so I figure she’s up for grabs – well, at least that’s my fantasy.

So Doc, my question is this: when you want to get to know or date “the girl next door,” how the heck do you actually do it? It’s not that I’m shy, exactly, but it’s not easy to get the ball rolling when you’re in such close proximity. In fact, it can be harder than usual to pull it off because of that closeness. If something goes wrong, you’re stuck with having to live on top of each other.

Any tips on how I can get to know Pamela and save face if it doesn’t work out would be greatly appreciated. My friend swears by you, by the way.

Columbo - who could use some good techniques

Hi Columbo,

You say you’re been living in your place for a year and you don’t know anybody, so the first problem you have is getting yourself out there. Here’s what I suggest you do: go to the management of the company that owns the apartment complex and arrange to give a speech on Challenge. You’re going to introduce yourself as “Columbo, the first man in 6,000 years to understand women.” You’re going to put this information on a flyer and stick it into everyone’s mailbox (with the approval of management, of course!). What we’re doing here is giving you what I call Posture. The Reality Factor says that having “Posture means you’re never begging.”

You need Posture, Columbo, because of your recent painful experience. I just love women like your ex. They always come up with some new variation of Womanese. But the great thing about “The System” is that it enables you to see right through the doublespeak like a superhero with laser vision. What your ex was really telling you, man, was that her Interest Level in you was down at the bottom of a pothole.

As Sal “The Fish” Love would say, “Women with high Interest Level never want to hurt you.” I feel sorry for you, Columbo, but you can take some comfort in the fact that you’re not rowing your boat alone. What happened to you happens to millions of American men. They get clobbered by a woman, they haven’t a clue what to do, they try to figure it out, and they spend money on books by love doctors that don’t work. “Your problem,” they advise you, “is that you’ve got to hit your head faster and harder against that wall!” Their wimpy solution is buying some overpriced trinket for the woman who tossed you. It’s not going to work. It never has, and it never will.

You want to know if there is any correlation between selling products and selling yourself to women. My boy, you just asked me life’s grand question. The answer is an unequivocal YES: one has EVERYTHING to do with the other. For years countless people with impressive sheepskins have been handing out tons of erroneous, ineffective information on relationships. While I detest the clichéd phrase “thinking out of the box,” I did just that. I correlated sales to dating. Bingo.

Now, moving on to Pamela. You found out her name from her mailbox? Let’s just hope it was right next to yours, because if she spotted you snooping on her, you’re out forever, and the rest of our game plan means absolutely nothing. I’ll tell you why: women hate sneaks.

But do you know what you should say the next time you bump into her? “Let me ask you a question: what grade are you in?” I don’t care if your knees are shaking, guy – GET IT OUT. Practice in front of the mirror if you have to. The reason I say this is because you don’t know if Pamela has any interest in you. So we’re going to eliminate any doubt by gauging her response. If she comes back and says “I’m in kindergarten – is that too young for you?” you know you’re in the game.

But you mention that Pamela flashes a smile at you. She did that for one of three reasons (and this is where you’re going to have to be like a detective on “Love and Order”): 1) Because she’s just a classy lady and you’re her neighbor (but that’s all there is to it and it’s never going anywhere). 2) Because she has positive Interest Level in you. 3) Because she’s both classy and because she has interest.

Now think about this. What if she saw you up on the podium at the microphone giving a fascinating speech to a hundred people who came to see you as the love doctor who understands women as you stand in for me? You’d have her eating out of your hand.

The point is that you date the girl next door by getting her to hit on you. That’s what we’re trying to set up here, pal. We want her to think it’s her idea. We’re going to create the illusion that it “just happened,” so to speak. It’s called” controlled spontaneity.” And remember, as General Love would say, “Dating is war.” All tactics are fair.

By the time this girl discovers you, by the time you allow her into your life, you’re going to own her, if you have any real chance with her at all. At the same time, though, you’re going to be smart and not put all your eggs in one basket. You’re going to be hustling other women, especially right there in your backyard. Any time you’re around single honeys in your complex, you’re going to practice on them. Our objective is for Pamela to see you hanging around other females, and we want these others to be having a good time, touching your arm, laughing, and cooing things like “Oh, Columbo, you’re so funny!” This tactic is going to make you as desirable as you can be to Pamela. You’re going to be selling yourself.

So buddy, deliver your speech on why Challenge is the key to women and use all my jokes out of The Dating Dictionary for laughs. You do that, and guaranteed you’re on your way.

By the way, tell your friend he has really great taste in love doctors.

Remember, guys: if you want to be successful in your life, you have to learn how to sell yourself.

Do some Men make Telephone Blunders

Hey Doc,

I just ordered “The System” and am awaiting its delivery, although I’m in a bit of a bind and wished I’d used overnight express.

I recently met Cindy on an Internet dating site. She e-mailed me first, asking me to call her since she wasn’t much of a net “chatter.” Fine with me. She is a single mother with a three-month-old (babies do not scare me), has a steady job and lives on her own, about 45 miles away, so I’m not able to take her out at the drop of a hat. Anyway, she said later that she wanted to make me call her first, but then she turned around and called me first.

We really hit it off by phone. After reading your principles, I discovered that I’ve been talking to Cindy entirely too much on the phone. Our conversations usually last two or three hours. She said that she wanted to get to know me by phone before meeting me, and I didn’t make a fuss over it. Finally, she hinted that she was open on Saturday for a dinner date, and I caught on and asked her out. I know now that I shouldn’t have given in.

Here’s the problem: we met for dinner and had nothing to say to each other. (She did have her child with her; I knew she would ahead of time.) Most of the time Cindy wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. I was stunned by how pretty she was. (My experience with “Internet girls” is that they are generally unattractive.) We both struggled to make conversation, but to no avail, and even after squirting herself in the eye with a lemon, conversation was still sparse. I got a bit frustrated, since our phone talks went so well.

I decided that I would give Cindy a chance to bail out if she wasn’t interested, and asked her if she wanted to get dessert. To my surprise, she accepted and we went to the local ice cream shop. There we had a little more conversation, though nothing like on the phone. I concluded the date at 10:30, citing my long drive back home. In the parking lot, I asked her why she never made eye contact; she said that she is a very shy person and apologized. She asked me to call her after I got out of church the following day. We shook hands and said our goodbyes.

On Sunday she called me first, but I was busy and had to cut the conversation short. I phoned her later and yet again we had another great talk.

It would seem that Cindy is very interested. What should I do at this point to repair the mistakes I’ve committed (long phone conversations, weekend date, asking her out too soon) and how can I make sure she is truly interested in me and not just in getting a daddy for her child?

I haven’t known Cindy long, granted, but she seems like a very stable, confident and genuine person, the sort of person I ought to be spending time with. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Damon – who wishes she would talk face to face

Hi Damon,

Cindy’s not much of a net chatter? Why do you guys buy right into everything a woman says? If she tells you that 2 plus 2 equals 5, do you have to automatically go along with her? Guy, the reason she wanted to talk to you on the phone is because she had high Interest Level – initially, at least. Otherwise, she’s a net chatter. How do you think you two met?

What I don’t dig about this situation is that Cindy has a 90-day-young child. Wow – only three months old and Mommy’s already dating? Wasn’t she just discharged from the hospital day before yesterday? If this chick moved any faster, she’d be running with the thoroughbreds at Hialeah Park! Uh, by the way – where’s the daddy in this picture? As my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love would say, “Hey -- was this kid even planned?”

When Cindy changed her mind and called you first, she was saying, as Sal “The Fish” Love puts it, “I’m a whack-job!” She wanted to rap with you before meeting you? Damon, you could have disagreed -- without making a fuss over it. (If you make a fuss, you’re a Macho Boy. If you go along with everything she proposes, you’re a wimp. Isn’t this complex?) What you should have said was, “Cindy, why don’t you call a few other guys, and when you get tired of talking to them, e-mail me and we’ll meet at Starbucks and have coffee.” And that would have been the end of all this smoke-blowing! In other words, you call the shots! Stand up for yourself! Show her you’re a tough guy – if you can. Because as you can see, all your telephone yakking is doing you no good whatsoever.

Damon, you caught on to Cindy’s hint all right – but you caught on and gave her the wrong response. When you tell me you had nothing to say to each other over dinner, you’re really saying that she gave you the cold, silent treatment. And you sprang for the food! How smart is that? Now let me ask you a question. I want you to clear your head here -- and that shouldn’t take too long. Do women with high Interest Level really act that way on a date? At first, she seemed to have high Interest Level, but the clock is always ticking and things change. The odds are you didn’t pass the Physical Attraction Test when you finally came face to face, but Cindy was still hungry and she figured, hey, why not have dinner on this chump’s tab anyway?

Have you ever noticed that when women are interested in you, you don’t have to ask them if they’re interested or not? Why were you surprised she accepted the invitation to dessert? Because your gut was telling you that you had her mixed up with someone who cared? Or because you suspected at that point that somebody was out for a free hot fudge sundae with wet maple walnuts and whipped cream?

Let me tell you something, pal – when a girl says she’s “shy,” it’s Womanese for “My Interest Level in you is running at about 5%!” Jeez, you shook hands? What are you – a politician on the stump? Are you trying to win votes or make time? You should be puckering up and kissing this girl on those big, fat, Angelina-Jolie-like bee-stung lips! Wake up, dude!

When Cindy phoned you on Sunday, again you didn’t ask her out. Because you, like most men, don’t know how to close. Then you tell me Cindy’s “very interested.” Let me ask you another question: aren’t drugs illegal in your state? What she’s interested in, Damon, is a meal ticket.

A final thought: woman goes on date, woman refuses to speak to you -- and you call her genuine? As my Uncle Jethro Love would say, “I think we oughta have a lil’ talk ’bout the way yo’ mommy raised you, boy!” She obviously didn’t teach you how to tell the real from the foolery.

Know what, Damon? You should have a special tee shirt made with the words “FREE BABYSITTER” in big block letters emblazoned across the front. That’s where you’re headed with this one.

Remember, guys: If Alexander Graham Bell knew what chaos the telephone would cause, he would never have invented it.

Slow and Easy or Fast and Furious?

Hey Doc,

First I would like to quickly thank you for giving us your principles, as they help me screen out the annoying games most women play. I read your articles quite often and always enjoy them.

I have a question that I don’t think has come up yet: what’s better to

have in the long run -- a woman with high Interest Level right off the bat, or one that you’ve had to build up over time?

I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but with high Interest Level straight out of the gate, it seems that you have more chances to screw up because the woman will show early interest in you, thus making your own Interest Level shoot through the roof, which often leads to mistakes because you just plain get sloppy. On the other hand, with a woman whose Interest Level you’ve built up from 51%, you’ve had to work harder to be a Challenge (not to mention behave yourself!) and show her that you’re a great guy to be with, versus a guy who is given an easy path with the possibility of the romance fizzling out.

I am asking you this because of what’s occurred with the last two women I dated. The first, who I’ll call Charlize, was a female friend of one year who was converted into a romance, which was very nice until she moved away for grad school. The second girl, Angelina, didn’t even like me at first and expressed it in so many words. Two months later, she’s wildly in love with me, wants to get very intimate and calls me day and night (I guess that’s what I get for being a Challenge, telling her I am not really interested in seeing her long term, and not kissing up to her like every other guy). Please let me know your opinion: would I have been better off with Charlize, whose interest built slowly, or Angelina, who I have to beat back with a stick.

Christopher – who wonders if he should have let the first one go

Hi Christopher,

Congratulations on bringing up a very interesting question. But the answer is that it really doesn’t make any difference. You’re going to have to do the same work in the case of both the low AND the high Interest Level woman, so the issue is nothing but academic. To you Psych majors, dating is like baseball. You’re going to see 100 mph fastballs, and you’re going to see hanging curveballs at 75 mph, and you’re going to see 60 mph changeups. But as a batter, you’re going to have to hit them all – or at least try to.

And so you’re going to run into women who will have an Interest Level of 80% after talking to you for five minutes, and you’re going meet women who are going to have an Interest Level of 51% after talking to you for two hours. But they both like you. It’s just a matter of which one you’re going to get the chance to work on. And it doesn’t really matter which it is, as long as you know how to drive her Interest Level out of the ballpark. What’s so great about “The System” is that it doesn’t matter what she throws you, because you’re going to know what to do.

But Christopher, you are right about one thing. With high (75% to 85%) Interest Level from the get-go, you do have more chances to screw up with a girl. As Sal “The Fish” Love says, “As soon as you open your mouth she’s going to find out what a lightweight you are, and her Interest Level is heading straight downhill from there!” The fact is that it doesn’t matter if a woman shows early high interest in you. Because your Interest Level is already through the roof – she doesn’t need to push it up for you any further. And what’s worse is that no doubt you’re already showing her yours. So you’re right -- you will get plain sloppy when things are going your way. When they aren’t, you’ll get even sloppier.

With your 51% Interest Level woman, you don’t have to work harder -- you just have to work longer. With this honey you should be doing the same exact things as you do with a girl whose Interest Level is bumping the outer limits of space.

Okay. Now, let’s look at what you have – or don’t have – with your two girlfriends. Regarding Charlize, let me quote my cousin, “Fast Eddie” Love: “She loved you so much, she left town!” Maybe Charlize did have 51% Interest Level in you at one point, guy, but apparently you didn’t do anything to move it up the scale or even keep it where it was. In fact, you drove her Interest Level in the opposite direction the more she got to know you. No lady with a growing Interest Level in a guy buys a one-way ticket out of town, so don’t even try to fool yourself about what was going on there.

That leaves us with your current squeeze, Angelina. Sorry to have to break the news to you, Christopher, but Challenge doesn’t work on three types: Feministas, Mercenaries, and Psychos. And a Psycho is what you’ve got on your hands here. This girl’s a ding-dong. You don’t go from telling a guy to his face “Not if you’re the last man on earth!” to suddenly seeing the light of his tremendous desirability out of nowhere. The Reality Factor says: BEWARE OF INCONSISTENT BEHAVIOR. Would you call the sweet Angelina a model of steadiness, or is she more like Norman Bates’ sister?

Finally, you asked my opinion. My opinion is this: you didn’t read my principles closely enough.

Remember, guys: Doc Love’s principles must be memorized.

Only the Woman Knows the Right Time

Hey Doc,

I’ve been dating Eve for a few months now and I’m a little confused. Our romance really took off one month into our relationship, but only recently did she reveal to me her “secret”: that she is still legally married and waiting for her divorce papers to come through. (She was married for three years, and has been separated for six months.) She does not contact her ex; in fact, he does not even know where she lives. (No kids, by the way.)

I see Eve twice a week, and she stays with me at least one of those two times. We have great fun together and she is extremely affectionate with me. She has hinted many times to friends and family that she has long-term plans for me.

This past New Year’s Day I made the Jack Daniels-induced blunder of asking if she wanted to be my girlfriend. She politely said she was not ready, so I quickly switched subjects. Two days later we went out again, and she told me how only now is her life finally settling down again. (Her divorce is finally coming through, she bought a car, moved out of her Dad’s home into her own place, and just got a job.)

Eve shows a lot of interest in me (even all my buddies who’ve met her agree), but she is reluctant to commit to being my steady, even after acknowledging that she is not seeing anyone else, and wanting us to be more romantically close than ever.

At the same time, sometimes she makes comments that reveal she appreciates being single and spending time with her girlfriends. She mentioned that her ex was a control freak who did not let her have friends, and moved her to a solitary house in a small town.

As a result, I’ve pulled back a little. But recently, on my birthday, Eve came to my place and gave me over $100 in gifts, even though she’s not doing so great financially.

Doc, I want Eve to be mine. What should I do? Is it worthwhile to wait and keep being a Challenge? Am I rushing, or am I wasting my time? Finally, was the fact that she didn’t tell me she was married a simple sin of omission, or should I be more concerned about it?

Tracy - who needs some expert guidance

Hi Tracy,

First of all, calm down, guy! You’re in much better shape here than you realize. Let me explain.

I don’t think a woman should have to spill that she’s going through a divorce on the first date. I don’t think it’s any guy’s business – and, vice-versa, any girl’s business. As Interest Level climbs in a relationship, then it’s the proper time to bring up that sort of information. And Eve has done just that. She’s been appropriately open and honest. She isn’t hiding anything. Remember, it’s not like the two of you have been together for a year and a half and she’s been holding out on you for some shady reason. In other words, the point when she told you about her marital situation was in proportion to the time you’ve been dating.

The reason Eve’s so affectionate with you is because her Interest Level’s way up in the 90s. No kids? Doesn’t see her ex? This is very rare, my friend. You got a pretty clean deal on this one, Trace. I hope you realize how lucky you are.

Instead, you’re going after the wrong thing. You’re looking for a negative because she won’t verbally commit, but her actions indicate her real feelings, which is all that counts. Eve could tell you that she hates you, but as long she’s with you all the time and nobody else, that’s all that matters! And the icing on the cake is that she’s spending on you when she’s not flush. I’ve got news for you, pal: women don’t do that unless they really dig you.

The fact that Eve is freshly separated is what’s scaring her. She’s just getting out of a legal bind with what sounds like an abusive spouse, and when she hears you insisting on new ties, she freaks a little. (Can you blame her?) As long as you get your two days a week with her and she’s all over you like white on rice, don’t panic. And don’t pay attention to her chatter, because it’s just that – nervous chatter.

To you Psych majors, the woman is supposed to ask you to be her boyfriend. This is where you’ve got it backwards, Tracy. The only right time to find out if she wants to be your steady is when she brings it up, not the other way around. That way there won’t be any mistakes and misinterpretations on your part.

You mention that Eve’s getting her life together. Hallelujah! You gotta love this girl. Just look at all the proactive things she’s doing to become independent and self-sufficient. Some women milk their divorces (and their exes) for three or four years, but Eve’s moving right on with her life, and not wasting any time doing it. She knows that making mistakes is okay when you try and fix them quickly. She got rid of her husband and fortunately he’s not hanging around causing problems. And you still get your two days a week together. This one’s an ace, buddy.

You have to learn to ease off the verbal pressure, dude. Girls want to have girlfriends. Eve’s husband was against that. And so when you bring up the notion of a commitment, she fears she’s going to lose her freedom again. (And by the way, she just mentions the girls in passing -- she’s not talking about them every five minutes or for hours on end.) It’s good that you’re sensitive to what the lady’s saying, but your interpretation of her words is off.

As my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love would say, “When it comes to a good woman, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!” And you’ve got a good one here. That $100 worth of gifts says it all. She came to your place, she’s broke, and she’s spending money on you. Now, is this girl a Giver or what? Does this girl have high Interest Level? The answer is YES.

What you should do is this: stay a Challenge, keep your mouth shut, and stop trying to rush the girl. She likes you a lot. You have nothing to worry about. Let her ask you for a commitment.

Remember, guys: only women know the right time.

What's the Best Way to Get a Women to Want to Hold Onto You?

Hey Doc,

I’m a nightclub owner, and usually have my pick of women. My problem usually arises when I find one I really want to date. This is about the most difficult one yet.

When I meet a girl at the club that I’d like to date, I usually get her number and give her mine, and they usually call me the next day or come to my club to see me. In this instance, Crystal came to my club the next night. We really hit it off again that second night, and the third night as well.

Then she called me and wanted to go out to a place other than the club. So on a Monday night we went out with a couple of friends. We had a great time together. Crystal ended up falling asleep on my couch, and like a gentleman I put a blanket over her and a pillow under her head, and took her home before I opened the club on Tuesday. Everything was wonderful; when we parted, I got a really nice kiss.

The next day I found out from a friend that Crystal was having second thoughts about me because of all the other girls that are interested in me, and the fact that I’m always surrounded by them. No big deal, I figured – she’ll call anyway. Well, she didn’t. Then I heard that she was in the hospital. After a couple of days I called the hospital to see how she was. (It turned out she had a bad flu and was basically fine.) I sent her flowers on the fifth day, and planned on visiting her in another day or so.

When I did finally get to the hospital, she’d left about an hour earlier. That night I went out with a guy friend who happens to be her friend as well. She called his cell phone around midnight, and the conversation got around to me. When this happened, my friend handed me the phone. Crystal and I talked for a while, but she was a little vague and seemed somewhat uninterested. I figured that maybe she still wasn’t feeling well, or maybe she was detached because of this issue of all the other girls. But I’m just guessing.

What perplexes me, Doc, is that she called my friend but hasn’t called me. She told me she’d like to go out when she gets to feeling better, but I’m not really sure what I should do next. Do I wait for her to call me, or do I just wait a day or two and call her? Do I try to pursue her, or wait for her to pursue me? Crystal is the one I really want to be with right now, but I don’t want to set myself up for rejection.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. There’s a pattern here. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Buck – who is dating too many women, and wants to date only one

Hi Buck,

First of all, your situation isn’t all that unusual. She likes you, you don’t like her, and vice-versa happens to all guys. It happens to guys like you, who meet hundreds of women every night, and it happens to the guys who barely get one home phone number a year. What we’re looking for in a relationship is equal Interest Level, or, ideally, the woman liking you a little bit more going in. Your job is to raise her Interest Level during the time you spend together.

Now I’ll get out my “Crystal” ball to see why you gave her your number. Ah-ha! Just as I figured! You goofed. Ninety-nine percent of the time, women don’t call. To boot, giving her your number shows her you’re weak. Now if she asks you for your number, I would definitely give it to her. But you’re the man, you’re the aggressor, and you’re going to call her – this should always be your tactic.

It’s true that the old saying goes “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” But at the same time, why is this girl hitting on you every night? She should show a little propriety and stay away for three or four days and allow you to call her. I’m glad she demonstrated high Interest Level at first, but she rushed it. Maybe she’s not so special after all – maybe she’s like all the other girls in your nightclub.

But let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. The good part is that Crystal called you, asked you out and instead of hanging around your club, you went somewhere different. The bad part is that you brought “friends” along. To you Psych majors, as I’ve mentioned before, no group dates. And Buck, you give us some very strong reasons why I make that a hard and fast rule. Let’s take her second thoughts about you, for instance. As Judge Joe Brown would say, “This is all hearsay!” This good friend of yours could be inadvertently hurting you by feeding Crystal erroneous information – i.e., attributing to you things you never said. You have to make like this is World War II all over again and keep in mind that loose lips sink ships -- and relationships. So why are you talking to friends about your relationship in the first place?

One of the reasons you never know what’s going on, pal, is because you’re talking to way too many friends – yours and hers. Get off the friends. They can only hurt you, even if they think they’re doing the opposite. As Rabbi Love says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. “

(Regarding that hospital incident -- here we go again with the hearsay. And you say you got there an hour late. Why didn’t you call first, make sure Crystal was still there and run down there ASAP? You waited too long, and blew an opportunity to be alone with her. Incidentally, the flowers were plenty for the amount of time you put in.)

Now, guy, when lots of women love you, all the others are more interested in you, too. This is a basic law of attraction. Think about it -- does being George Clooney hurt George Clooney when it comes to women? The corollary of course is that no one loves you when you’re down and out. When no women want you, no women want you. Now it’s great that you’re surrounded by babes, Buck, but you’re going out with Crystal. You went out with her two or three times in a row. You showed her you like her by being with her -- too much.

Which leads us to the real crux of your problem, Buckaroo: you must be doing things wrong on the date. The women you’re interested in are turned off to you, as opposed to the fact that women are climbing all over you. How is it that you’re in a super environment for meeting females, you’ve got all these dollies hanging on you, but you can’t hold onto the good ones? You need to memorize The Dating Dictionary and learn how to do things the right way.

Ultimately Crystal acted uninterested and detached because she has low Interest Level in you. It isn’t because of all those other girls. (And anyway, if Crystal happens to be one of those types with low self-esteem who’s jealous and possessive, your owning a nightclub would drive her nuts and you’d have to sell it if you ended up with her. And you’re not about to do that.)

My advice is to wait a week and call her. Ask her out (no group dates!) and act like it’s your first date all over again. And don’t go to your club. Take her someplace new.

Remember, guys: some of her Interest Level is based on the fact that other women love you.

Is It Your Kids She Doesn't Want - or You?

Hey Doc,

April and I were together for over a year and a half. When we broke up, we still loved each other very much. Her reasoning was that I am a single father with custody of four kids and an ex-wife who is largely absent from her kids’ lives. April is very intimidated by taking on this kind of responsibility and ultimately felt she couldn’t do it. She also felt that I couldn’t give her the time she needed, and so the relationship ended.

However, we remained friends for a short while and then ceased all contact. Neither of us could take the total separation and we started to talk again and date with the agreement (at her insistence) that we are still “broken up.” However -- again her idea -- we are exclusive as far as intimacy goes. She told me that she dated a couple of guys when we were apart, but she found that their qualities weren’t as strong as mine, which brought her closer to me. We have now been “dating” again for about three months. I have been bending over backwards to show her how much I love her and that our relationship can work. I give her cards, flowers, and compliments and have been pretty much at her beck and call. I know that this can be dangerous too (too nice, too sweet, no Challenge, etc.).

Lately I’ve had a strong gut feeling that she may be losing interest in me, and that maybe she’s seeing someone else. She’ll be very loving one day and the very next day she’ll seem distant or indifferent. There have been times when it seems like she really doesn’t want that long kiss or much of a kiss at all. Once in awhile she’ll bring up the “fact” that we’re “broken up.” When I’m at her place and her phone rings, she’ll ignore it or just look at the caller ID and act paranoid. When we were “together,” her phone hardly ever rang, but since we’ve been “just dating,” it seems to ring a little more often. The other night she answered and told the caller she would call back later. She told me it was her mother, though when she was on the phone, it didn’t sound like someone talking to her mom.

However, even during her “cold” stages, April tells me that she loves me, calls me pet names, etc. She even mentions the future, i.e., “Someday we’ll have to do this,” or mention doing something together two or three months down the road. In other words, she leads me to believe that we could possibly have a long-term future together.

I always trusted April 100% throughout our relationship. But now I find myself agonizing over whether she’s lying to me or if she’s seeing someone else. I find myself overanalyzing and obsessing over every little thing she does. I wonder what she’s doing on her lunch hour, what time she’s getting home from work, and what she meant when she said something fairly trivial. I know this sounds like the ranting of a madman, but it has been really hard and love does make you crazy.

I don’t ask April questions or pressure her because I know it can make things worse. But I’m getting to a point where I feel I have to talk to her about all these things I’m feeling.

Doc, from your experience, do you think that I’m a victim of my own imagination and there’s really nothing to worry about? Or do you think she is being dishonest with me and stepping out behind my back? Is she protecting herself so that if we truly break up she won’t be as hurt? Is she stringing me along and just waiting to find someone else? Or do you think it’s the fact that I have all those kids?

Help me, Doc.

Spencer - who can’t take this much longer

Hi Spencer,

You and April still love each other very much? You mean to tell me that she has 95% Interest Level in you yet goes ahead and breaks up with you anyway? I’m scratching my head here -- does this picture make any sense at all?

Know what, Spence? It doesn’t. April knew you had four kids when you started going out with her. She didn’t drop you and your four kids when she had high Interest Level in you, did she? But when a woman’s interest flags, she’s going to concoct an excuse to distance herself. In this case, it was your kids.

The only reason April’s back with you is because she can’t make out elsewhere. You’re back with her because you miss her. So your agendas are different. And by the way, if April had gone out with 102 guys instead of just a couple when she was doing her comparisons, you might have a leg to stand on. But as it is, she’s just getting started.

Your main problem, Spencer, is that you’re bending over backwards all the time. You’re what I call Wimpus Americanus, the most pathetic species of U.S. male. Doing things for your girlfriend in itself isn’t dangerous at all. But I don’t see you giving me a laundry list of all the things April’s done for YOU, other than smell good and look pouty and hot in her miniskirt!

Now let’s face reality here, guy. As the world’s top authority on women, that’s my job – to help you face reality. When April tells you about all the stuff that might happen “down the road,” it’s nothing but Womanese for chopped liver – leftovers. The odds of it happening? Zilch. See how she works your ego? With the skill of an acclaimed artist. Never will a woman tell a guy, “My Interest Level in you is only in the 30s and 40s!” She’ll blame your kids, problems in school, money worries, that her mom’s sick, everything except the real reason she’s tired of you: “My Interest Level in you is in the commode!”

From what you’re reporting, it’s obvious that April’s both lying to you AND seeing someone else. You’re overanalyzing and obsessing because your gut is telling you that everything she says is a falsehood. And she knows you’re so gone over her, so whipped, you’ll eat any crap she throws out.

Sure, love can make you temporarily crazy. But when a woman is in love, she doesn’t go crazy, she becomes submissive. She doesn’t want to see other guys. She’s consistent in her behavior. She doesn’t send confusing signals. Time to wake up and smell the jungle gardenias!

Pressuring April now isn’t going to hurt anything, Spence. Because, as “Fast Eddie” Love says, “Once her Interest Level hits 49%, it ain’t ever comin’ back!” And by the way, have you ever noticed that when a woman’s Interest Level is in the 90s that you never have to have those painful “talks?” I wonder why that is, guys? Duh!

Spencer, your list of questions tells me that you’ve gotten about halfway to the truth. You are a victim of your imagination, but there’s everything to worry about! Women with low Interest Level don’t mind lying. April’s just convalescing with you because she went through a couple of turkeys, but she’ll be out looking again soon. You finally made the truth-o-meter sing when you asked if she was stringing you along until she finds someone else. BINGO!

Let me tell you something, friend – if you owned oil wells in Texas, you could have 22 kids and it wouldn’t matter to April.

Remember, guys: when it’s over, it’s over.

Women Should Learn to Keep Their Mouths Shut

Hey Doc,

I’ve been dating Teri for nine months now, and we’re currently engaged. I love her very much. We’ve both been divorced (I’m 34 and she’s 32), and everything seems absolutely wonderful, except that I’m having difficulty with her ex-lovers. Not with the reality of them, but, specifically, I can’t seem to get the image of her being intimate with them out of my mind. The two guys I think most about are her two most recent partners. Whenever I find myself thinking about it, I try to think about something else -- anything else, work, whatever, but it never really goes away. She didn’t date either of these guys for more than a month, and it just makes me mad that she gave away her intimacy so quickly to guys who clearly didn’t deserve it, who hadn’t earned it. As a footnote, she has been with around 30 guys in her life, and I’ve been with three women (I was married for 15 years).

We have an incredible and active romantic life, and I’m not insecure about my performance, and she tells me repeatedly that I am her best. (And no, it doesn’t make me feel better that she is good because she has had so much “practice.”) I’m not really concerned about her leaving me, or cheating on me, or desiring other men. She is a Giver, makes all sorts of special efforts for me, and is extremely loving and attentive. She does not have any communication at all with any of her exes, and I trust her completely. The issue is in my own head. On our very first date, she told me about the five or six guys she had been with over the past two years; clearly thinking it would be no big deal. She has been kicking herself for the past nine months for those five minutes of conversation.

Even now, as I’m typing this, I am picturing her with “Jack,” and it makes me want to punch something, even though she didn’t know I even existed at the time. Whenever we talk about it, it makes her feel embarrassed and “slutty,” and I don’t want to do that to her, and I’m trying to keep my moods to myself. I don’t want this to taint our relationship, because she really is the one that I plan to spend my life with. I have begun to see a counselor, but any words of advice from you would be greatly appreciated.

Marvin - who desperately wants to get rid of the ghosts

Hi Marvin,

I’ll get to you in a moment.

First I have to something to say to you ladies out there. Please, KEEP YOUR TRAPS SHUT. It really amazes me that you profess to understand men; you know that they want someone relatively unsullied (even though you’re 85 years old and you’ve been out with the 181st Airborne), yet you go shooting your mouths off about your lovely pasts! Think about it: why is it that telling the guy you’re dating that you’ve been intimate with somebody else (which in some corner of his mind he already suspects) is necessary? Worse, why do you have to go and lean on it so heavily?

Sadly, this is the legacy of the Feministas. “You’re equal to any ill-mannered jerk of a man, so go on and act just like him!” they preach to you. But ladies, your guy is already wondering, “Has this girl been out with only one other guy besides me, or has she been out with 288 others?” So how does all this intimate revelation help a man feel like more of a man? How does going out with two divisions of Army Rangers make you more attractive as a female? How will it make a guy feel better towards you that on Friday night you were so happy the football team won that you jumped into the showers with them?

So please, ladies, in the future, fake it. Pretend that you’ve got a little bit of lily of the valley in you. I don’t care how tough a guy is, he doesn’t want to hear or know about your wild adventures with other guys, he wants to rationalize to himself, “You know, I don’t think this one’s been around the block a hundred times like all the others! This one’s odometer only reads 188,000 miles instead of 200,000!”

Now, back to you, Marv. Listen to me, pal: learn to live with it, or get out. Wake up -- Teri’s previous flames deserved her intimacy, all right, because they got it! What you’re really lamenting is how it should have been earned by them and wasn’t. And those 30 guys she mentioned are only the ones you know about, friend. So I don’t doubt you’ve got an active and incredible romantic life – she’s had enough practice, like you said, whether or not you like it. Or maybe she’s just a natural.

Marvin, I have to tell you that your Teri sounds like a very classy lady. It’s really elegant that on the first date this gal’s blabbing to you about all the studs she’s been to bed with in the past few months. Wow -- and you fell in love with her? You overlooked this when you decided to get involved with her? Come on, guy, something’s wrong with your head!

Now I’m not passing judgment on her or her private life. I’m not saying she was wrong for doing what she did. But if your sister were dating some guy, wouldn’t you advise her, “Sis, stop bragging about sleeping in a different house on fraternity row every night!”?

Teri should be embarrassed. She should be feeling “slutty.” That’s the problem in America today -- nobody has any shame anymore. And she should feel shame. “But her bigger problem,” as “Fast Eddie” Love would say, “is that she’s got a BIG YAP.”

Dude, this has been driving you crazy for nine months out of the nine months you’ve known Teri. It has already tainted your relationship. You can’t get shake it. You’ve got a problem. Anything that eats away at you -- and I don’t care if it’s that she cleans her teeth with a toothpick in a restaurant – is a problem. So you’re right to seek out someone who’s got a sheepskin on his wall. My job isn’t to figure out what’s going on between your ears, but I can tell you this: if it makes you miserable, it makes you miserable. You have to ask your girl, “Honey, if you’re trying to make me feel good, why would you even bring this stuff up? What’s going on in your mind?”

And now that the cat’s out of the bag, it’s going to bother you for the rest of your life.

Good luck, Marvin. You’re going to need it.

Remember, girls: down deep, he wants a virgin.

Can the Pattern of a Relationship ever be Changed?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been in this relationship with my wife, Meredith, for 18 years now. I met her when I was 13 years old, and she was the same age. Back then she had very high Interest Level in me. All throughout my teenage years our pattern was to break up for a few months, find other relationships, then, when I wanted her back, she would leave her current friend for me.

We’ve now been married for 10 years and have three kids, and after reading your articles on askmen.com, I’ve come to the realization that her Interest Level in me is low (very low). This year she decided she wanted a divorce and took interest in a family friend (my old navy buddy) and they decided they were going to move in together. They were even making wedding plans.

I was heartbroken for about three months. Depressed, I stayed home with the kids on the weekends while Meredith was out doing the town. Finally I decided to take my wedding band off, and when I did, women came at me from everywhere. I started dating too and leaving Meredith with the kids on weekends.

Women were sending me cards, watches, and other gifts. When this happened, Meredith’s Interest Level in me began to rise again. I slept in the guest bedroom, and one morning I caught her sneaking around in there reading the cards and going through my pockets checking for women’s telephone numbers. When she realized I was awake, she threw a fit. She said I had the smell of other women on me, castigated me for being out late, and accused me of being loose. Her Interest Level was high again. We made up and I took her back.

Now, with predictability and the passage of a little time, her Interest Level is low again. I can’t say anything without her getting offended. Every now and then I do something special for her, and she doesn’t appreciate it at all. It seems like she actually hates me. Do I have to cheat again to raise her Interest Level? Should I send myself some flowers to spark her Interest Level? I refuse to let her see my concern, and act as though I’m not even bothered by her loss of interest. What do I do? It seems that we can’t escape the pattern we established when we first met as kids.

Lee - who wants to break the vicious cycle

Hi Lee,

Here’s your problem in a nutshell. You and Meredith started out on the wrong foot. It’s not as if you two were on the same page from day one, that you never had any problems until now, that you never had to break up, and so forth. The deadly pattern you find yourself mired in right now kicked in when you were 13 years old. So guy, you have to ask yourself this question: WHY?

All this agonizing back-and-forth stuff that you put yourself through is simply an extension of what happened between you and Meredith at the very beginning. If that weren’t the case, we’d have a different diagnosis for your problem. But like a dog chasing after its own tail, you two are lost in a nasty cycle of breaking up and getting back together. What it tells me is that you probably really didn’t dig Meredith that much in the first place. At any rate, this has been a longstanding pattern. And the pattern says that you guys were never meant for each other despite the fact that you had three kids.

But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt anyway, and examine some of the specifics of your dilemma.

First of all, Meredith might have gone after your buddy just because he was your buddy. She might not really even like the guy, have you thought of that? It’s a strong possibility that she might just have been rubbing that relationship in your face. After all, you and she have been good at tormenting each other over the years, right? (And by the way -- it’s okay for her to run around; even to get it on with one of your old friends, but when you do the same thing, it’s HORRIBLE. Whatever happened to what’s good for the goose is good for the gander? As my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love would say, “So much for a fair fight!”)

Taking Meredith back was basically a mistake, dude. It was okay to make up with her for the sake of the kids you brought into the world, but you were way too easy. When you take a woman back after she’s making time with your best buddy, she knows she can get away with anything in the future and she has no respect for you whatsoever. And Interest Level is built on RESPECT.

You see, pal, Meredith’s Interest Level plummeted all over again because you always go back to your old ways. If you would have been a Challenge to your wife, then maybe you could have kept her Interest Level up. Her interest dips more times than a yo-yo because you don’t continue doing the things that bring her back. You keep reverting to your old ways again and again, thereby perpetuating the mutually destructive pattern.

Lee, I have to tell you that you’re a real glutton for punishment. Didn’t I once see your picture next to the word “masochist” in Webster’s Dictionary? Once you do something special for a woman and she doesn’t appreciate it -- and this goes for any woman, not just your wife – why in the world would you do it again? “If you don’t get a sugar-sweet thank-you for your romantic gestures,” as Sal “The Fish” Love says, “FUH-GET ABOUT IT!”

And forget too about continuing to cheat, Lee. By being a cheat, you wear yourself down, and in that mode you’re being a negative challenge. What you need to be -- and what you’ve never been throughout this excruciating process of torture -- is a POSITIVE CHALLENGE. You don’t have to imitate Hugh Hefner and run around with 10 women to raise Meredith’s interest, but you can keep your hands to yourself and keep the conversation light and funny and let her initiate intimacy. If you study my principles, you’ll know that’s the way to do it! This advice applies whether it’s your first date or after 18 years of marriage.

You have done one thing right, though, and this might be something you can build on if there’s any hope left for the two of you: it’s great that you’re not letting Meredith see your concern over her loss of interest. That’s where you should be at all times. (And yes, mail yourself some flowers once a week for a month, or send yourself some candy and sign the cards with the names of different girls, with notes like “Your secret admirer,” and “I love you for your mind,” and “You’re the greatest thing since popcorn!” That sort of thing.

So here’s the Doctor’s prognosis: if Meredith’s Interest Level hasn’t dropped into the forties, you have a shot at salvaging the marriage. You say you love your wife, but Lee, I have to ask you this question: Are you IN LOVE with your wife? Even though I counsel you guys never to consider your own Interest Level in a woman, in this case I have to ask: What do you want? You’ve got to be introspective and brutally honest as far as what’s going on inside your psyche. Where’s your Interest Level in Meredith? Exactly why are you going back and forth with this gal? That’s what has to be delved into here. That’s the question that’s begging for an answer, and at the end of the day only you can provide it, even if you don’t like what the answer is.

But as with anything in life, as my Uncle Jethro Love once wisely observed, “When you’re off on the wrong foot, boy, you’re gonna have a hard road ahead of you!”

Remember, guys: when you break up, don’t waste your time by going back

Does Love Always Have to be Such a Mystery?

Hey Doc,

Here’s my predicament. Currently my girlfriend of two years is attending college some two and half hours away. On the whole, this has turned out to be a good deal, as I get to see Liz at least every other weekend. The problem is that there’s this guy at her college who she says she has feelings for, and they’re growing a little stronger, especially recently.

Doc, I know my girlfriend is in love with me because she tells me so all the time and acts like she does. In fact, she constantly compares me and this other guy, and when it comes down to it, I’m better than he is in every category -- except for how I treat her. Liz really can’t keep her hands off me, and constantly reminds me of how much more attractive I am, how much smarter I am, and how much more funny I am than this other guy. And the list goes on. Up until now I couldn’t even be jealous because I felt so superior to the other guy and didn’t even view him as a threat. But in the end, he does treat her a little better, and all she wants is to be happy.

Now don’t misunderstand me, Doc. I treat Liz very well and she knows it. But I can honestly say that I probably don’t treat her quite as well as this other guy. While he does have very little going for him, he treats Liz like a goddess, waiting on her hand and foot, doing whatever she wants to do, complimenting her, etc.

Liz is very religious and she’s much more mature than most girls her age (she’s 20). This is one of the reasons I fell in love with her in the first place. I actually thought that we were beyond the games of mystery, being a Challenge, etc. and other strategies you recommend. This girl is a classic example of marriage material and I would truly hate to let her go.

My question to you is this: should I just learn to treat her better (and I’ll be the first to admit I could stand a little improvement in this area), or can you recommend another alternative? Should I be worried about losing her? Or should I just let her go?

Billy - who is just a wee bit confused

Hi Billy,

You have a girlfriend who’s 150 minutes away from you, practically living on top of a guy who she has increasing Interest Level in, and you tell me that on the whole it’s turned out to be a good deal? I have to hand you one thing, pal – you’re really funny! In fact you’re going to be the next Rodney Dangerfield! And what you’ve got in common with Rodney is that you don’t get any respect either.

Billy, I hate to break this to you: your girl isn’t in love with you. Because girls don’t love two guys at the same time. Never. That’s a rule set in stone. Yet you believe her when she says that she does. If she told you that two and two equaled five, would that make it true? As Brother Love would say, “These ladies work the man’s ego with the skill of an acclaimed artist!”

(By the way, when Liz compares you to her college admirer, you should turn around and compare her to your ex-girlfriend. Tell her that she’s got it all over your ex, except that your ex had longer legs! See how she likes being on the receiving end of the same treatment!)

Billy, just maybe you underrated your competition – that’s not a real smart tactic in war! Remind me not to ask you to fetch the ammo while I drag the machine gun up the hill, ’cause I got a feeling you’re not gonna be there! As my cousin Fast Eddie Love once put it, “Be careful when you turn your back on the other guy!”

Nevertheless, I’m a just a little suspicious of all these claims that your girl is getting treated so royally when you’re not around. Did you plant a video camera in her dorm room to spy on her and the other guy? Or are you just buying everything this girl shovels into your mouth? In other words, where’s the evidence? As I’ve told you guys again and again, you’ve got to be a love cop on “Love And Order!” Give me a few specifics! Without the specifics, we’re like the Yankees trying to hit a Josh Beckett fastball – we’re swatting at the wind! Did it ever occur to you that just maybe she’s manipulating you for her own ends with this line of malarkey?

But let’s grant that this guy really is doing everything, including washing her dog, for Liz and making you think you should be doing the same. I don’t know about her being religious, and I don’t know about her being mature. What I do know is that she sure as heck knows men – she’s got two idiots dangling on a string!

Now, as to your main question, which is whether or not to let Liz go. Here’s my question: how can you let her go when she’s already basically gotten rid of you? Let’s face it, Billy – she’s come right out and told you that her Interest Level in the other guy is on the way up. What does that mean for her Interest Level in you? Duh! No mystery here. No mystery here at all.

What you should do is this, dude. Tell Liz to take a hike and go and memorize The Dating Dictionary. It’s the only way to really get you on track.

Remember, guys: If you only read her actions, you’ll never be confused.

Should You Keep Your Ex as a Friend?

Hey Doc,

The girl I’m currently dating is totally a keeper. Sumino has all of the qualities we men are supposed to want and find in a woman. She treats me like I’m a king! And I’m totally in love with her.

So here’s my problem, Doc. Before I started dating Sumino I was constantly hanging out with my best friend, Courtney, usually once or twice a week. We would go out for coffee or just hang out at her house. (Courtney and I used to date when we met at my last job, incidentally, and after our romantic relationship was over, we stayed friends.) And if I had a chance to date Courtney again I wouldn’t, because I don’t see her as girlfriend material (she has many flaws).

Well, after six months of dating, Sumino and I had an intense confrontation. She told me that she didn’t want me to talk to or hang out with Courtney anymore. Sumino says that since Courtney is my ex-girlfriend, she has a problem with my seeing her. I told Sumino that Courtney and I dated in the distant past, that our romance was ancient history, and it didn’t mean anything to me. She countered with “It doesn’t matter. The fact is, she’s your ex,” and she wants me to completely disassociate myself from Courtney. The strange thing is that I consider Courtney to truly be my best friend.

So I’m torn in two directions, Doc. I leveled with Sumino about the fact that Courtney is indeed my closest friend. She got extremely angry. I was surprised at this wildly emotional reaction because I have never seen that side of her. Frankly, it was a little disturbing.

I can’t just let go of Courtney because she means a lot to me, but I don’t want to make my current girlfriend upset because I see a future with her. So what should I do, Doc? Do I stop hanging out with Courtney and give in to Sumino’s demands, or do I just let Sumino stew in her jealousy?

Please, Doc, help me with your insight.

Paul - who’s stuck in the middle

Hi Paul,

Well, I gotta hand it to you. You seem to be able to hold the attention of two women. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you don’t quite know what to do with either one of them. I’ll straighten you out here, but as the great bard Shakespeare once said, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

By the way, Paul, who dropped whom in your relationship with Courtney? Elementary. As the great relationship detective Sher“Love” Holmes would conclude, “Apparently you dropped her, because when a gal drops a guy, the last thing she wants is to stay friends with him!” Taking it a step further, you say you wouldn’t want to date Courtney, but the more interesting question here is, would she want to date you?

The answer is 50% yes. The other 50% is that odds are Sumino knows that you were intimate with this girl. And when a girl’s in love, she’s like a kitty kat -- territorial. She doesn’t want other pussycats around her man. Don’t forget that basic law of dating, Paul – kitty kats kompete.

You mention something else that’s very curious: Courtney has “lots of flaws.” Then why the hell is she playing Siegfried to your Roy? What flaws does she have that don’t work in a girlfriend but are acceptable in a pal? Paul, this is like saying “I don’t want Courtney because she’s a thief. I wouldn’t want to be in love with a thief, but I’ll certainly have a thief as my best friend!” Aren’t you contradicting yourself here? Or more dangerously - rationalizing? Come on, dude! What in the world are you talking about? You’ve got to get your head straight or the next thing you’ll be doing is playing golf with O.J.

Nevertheless, what you should have done was pinned Sumino down on what was wrong with seeing Courtney casually if the romance between the two of you is indeed dead. And you should have pressed for a straight answer. What you got instead was a generality, which did both of you a disservice. When you’re involved in a significant, big-time argument, you need to get at the truth in order to avoid the festering resentment that can undermine all relationships.

But let’s dig deeper. Your romance with Courtney “didn’t mean anything” -- to you. But what does it mean to Sumino? You should have convinced your current girlfriend that it meant nothing so far as she was concerned. In other words, you left out what was really important.

What Sumino would have said, if she were being completely honest, was that the situation is negative because Courtney wants back in with you. And if she’d said anything else, then you’d have to cut her loose. Because Sumino’s jealousy is the only thing that counts in this mess. Any other explanation would have been worthless – because she has no right to tell you whom you can and can’t run around with.

You keep repeating that Courtney is your best friend. How come you’re not hanging out with the guys? Don’t you have two or three drinking buddies like most guys do? What are you doing with a girl as a best friend? I’m not saying it’s not socially acceptable, but don’t you think you should have two or three guys in line ahead of her?

The point is that something is wrong with this picture. Paul, if you don’t have a few male pals to hang with, your girlfriend should be your closest friend (even though I generally deplore the word when it comes to dating relationships). If you’re thinking long-term with this babe, shouldn’t she be your bosom buddy instead of a flawed ex?

When it comes down to it, Sumino is furious with you because you’re telling her that your best friend is an ex-flame. Don’t you see how in a girl’s ears that would sound baffling at best? Or as they say in Tel Aviv, “IT AIN’T KOSHER!”

Finally, it bothers me that you’re speaking more highly of a discard than you are of your main squeeze, the one you say you really want to be with. Even if you don’t come straight out and say it, that’s what I’m reading between the lines here. Maybe you have to look in the mirror and face up to what’s really there.

But if you really want Sumino for the rest of your life, you have to capitulate to her demands and get rid of Courtney. But upon doing so, you have to say to her: “Darling, if you want me to, I’m going to get rid of her -- for you. But you owe me one -- a big one!” Let Sumino know that if any major issues arise between you in the future, you’re going to wave this IOU over her head like a flag. Because hopefully this is the first and last time she asks you to do something you really don’t want to do.

Remember, guys: don’t waste your time with a has-been.

What if She Won't Commit -- but Won't Let Go?

Hey Doc,

I started dating Erin in August 2002. We had about five or six dates, but were otherwise seeing other people and things were moving very slowly. In December she asked me to go to New York for New Year’s Eve. We went, had a fantastic time, and then things took off more seriously. From that point, we both decided to date each other exclusively.

We had a fabulous time together. I fell in love with Erin and she fell in love with me. We went on a number of trips together and I treated her like gold. She was good to me in return, though I would have preferred she was more of a Giver. All in all, however, she is a fantastic woman and has the kind of values that I want in a life partner. However, I can see now that to some extent I was not much of a Challenge as time went on.

We are both conservative and would never live together before marriage, so moving in with Erin was never an issue -- it was always when and if we were going to get married. And marrying her was something I was mentally preparing to do, but I was just waiting for her signals to me to become more clear. About two months ago, I noticed subtle changes in her behavior. She did a few minor things that indicated she was losing interest, so I asked her if that was the case. She assured me this was not so, and being in a state of mind where I heard her say what I wanted to hear, I chose to believe her.

Well, one day out of nowhere she suggests that she needs “time apart.” Not being a total idiot, I said time apart wasn’t for me, and I defined my boundaries quite clearly and said if she was committed to me, then great, but if she wasn’t, we should stop seeing each other altogether and just end things like adults. She did not like me setting my boundaries so strictly because I suspect they were rather unsettling for her and not convenient for whatever it was she was trying to achieve.

Anyway, for the past six weeks I’ve been trying to distance myself from Erin (a painful and difficult experience). Over this same time period she has shown up at my house (unannounced!) to “visit my family” when she knew I was there, she has called me numerous times and has sent me a number of e-mails. Initially I was sucked into these antics, such as on one occasion on my deceased mother’s birthday when Erin’s sister was giving birth that same day. She called upset, so I took a pizza to her house to cheer her up. On another occasion, I accidentally bumped into her when I was out with a (female) friend for a drink. Every encounter with her is totally awkward and draining, and last week I reiterated to her that I wanted to stay away from her until she has some clarity about what she wants, and in the meantime I’m going to get on with my life.

Given that I genuinely love this woman and care for her deeply, what would you recommend that I do? I can’t allow her to treat me like a revolving door, but I don’t want to entirely shut her out if she is somehow trying to extend an olive branch without coming right out and saying it. As we all know, woman are best judged by their actions, and right now hers are rather inconsistent (which implies low interest). I know I can’t do anything to control her, but when she contacts me again (which she inevitably will, either in person, or by phone or e-mail) what is the best thing for me to do?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Les – who is “Mister Confused”

Hi Les,

Let’s clear something up right out of the chute. The decision to “date exclusively” wasn’t made by you and Erin together. She decided to date you exclusively. What have I told you guys in the past? We pick, but they choose. Big difference, and one you shouldn’t lose sight of. And why did she make that decision? Because you managed to drive her Interest Level up into the 90s. At least for a little while.

Les, when you use the word “gold,” I’m very suspicious that you’re acting like a stooge. I’m the best love cop on earth, and my evidence for saying that is that Erin’s Interest Level, by your own admission, began to drop. And as time goes on, being anti-Challenge will continue to lower Interest Level. (But I do want to compliment you on recognizing that Erin was not a Giver. You recognized that one-third of what she has to offer you wasn’t all that great, so you were down to two-thirds of a woman.) So let’s get this straight, pal – moving in with Erin was never an issue, not because you went to the same church, but because she had lowered Interest Level in you.

It’s worth looking at this phenomenon more closely. Interest Level doesn’t plummet suddenly from 95% to 35%. It sinks slowly, as the guy – you, in this case – says and does all the wrong things. And the guy thinks that he can get away with it because the girl is already locked in. And she is -- when her Interest Level is at 95%. But eventually it will drop to 93%...then 89%...and then 84%...and when it hits the magic number of 49%, that’s it, boy – you’re all washed up.

Now Les, I’ll give you $100 million if you can get a woman to say, when you ask her what she wants in a man, that she wants a guy who doesn’t lower her Interest Level by kissing her fanny. When Erin told you she needed time apart, you should have said nothing. You should have smiled and walked out. You don’t sit there and give her your game plan, you don’t tell her how you feel, you don’t tell her what you’re going to do – you leave. But you did all this stuff. And in her mind, it was another wimpy form of begging.

You went on to tell her that you should break up like adults. Les, exactly how do adults break up? As far as I know, there are no sweet, mature ways to do it. When Erin informed you that she needed her space that was it. Finito. The end. You’d hit the magic number: 49%. Of course she’ll play with you like a cat plays with a mouse at 40%-49%, give you a little false hope, but when it hits 39%, she’s in the arms of another guy. In other words, she’ll play with your head until she strikes paydirt with another jerk, another weakling.

But whoa, wait a second here -- you got tough and set some hard boundaries that really bothered your girl, huh? Sorry, Les, but she wasn’t really upset. It was just a little smokescreen she threw up that had nothing to do with anything. She was grabbing at something, anything, to indicate her low Interest Level. (The problem is, women never come out and say it. “He lowered my Interest Level due to his deportment,” is not something you’ll ever hear tumble out of a lady’s lovely bee-stung lips.)

So what happened to all those tight boundaries when Erin showed up at your home? Why didn’t you just duck out? Why didn’t you tell her you were going to the kitchen for a second, then walk straight out the back door and come back at midnight?

Because you wanted the torture. I just hope you haven’t answered any of her phone calls or e-mails. I have a feeling you did, though. Know why? Because you took that pizza with the works over to her when she didn’t even ask you to. A huge, huge mistake. Les -- you’re delivering pizza? Aren’t you a little embarrassed, at your age, to be a delivery boy for a girl who doesn’t want to possess you?

What you should have done when you bumped into Erin was start making time with your female friend. “I’ll give you a hundred bucks if you kiss me in front of her,” you should have offered your gal-pal. Know why these encounters are so draining? Because you’re not prepared for them. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “Keep it fun and keep it light. And never, ever let ’em know they got to you!” You have to be on top of your game at all times, buddy.

Unfortunately, Erin doesn’t give a hoot, Les. Until she’s crying on your doorstep for you to take her back, she’s got all the clarity she needs. How many times do I have to tell you guys -- the woman only cares about her feelings? In her mind that’s all that counts.

She’s extending an olive branch, you say? They’re Molotov cocktails she’s hurling at you, man! Can’t you tell the difference? (Hint: the Molotov cocktail’s the quart of gasoline with the burning rag hanging out of it, dummy!) Jeez, you’d have better luck negotiating with Fidel Castro! Inconsistent actions, you say? Wrong! She’s very consistent. She said she needed her freedom, and she’s not in your arms! Sounds totally consistent to me.

The best thing for you to do now, Les, is block Erin’s incoming e-mails. If she calls you on the phone and you accidentally pick up, say “How have you been, baby? Look, I’d like to talk to you, but my date’s in the bathroom. But I want you to know something. She doesn’t mean a thing to me. You know you’re the one. So keep in touch….” Click. Then go back to reading the Bible.

Remember, guys: when it’s over, leave first.

Is There Ever a Good Time to Rip Off Your Buddy?

Hey Doc,

I’m involved in a messy situation I hope you can guide me through.

I’ve known Erica and her ex-boyfriend, Jeff, for exactly the same amount of time (I met them when they were dating each other). About a month ago, they broke up. (Jeff initiated it.) Afterwards, Erica called and invited me out to shoot pool. I went, we had a good time, and we started hanging out together more often. I was attracted to her, but since Jeff is a friend of mine and her ex, I felt that I should “ask permission” before trying to pursue Erica. I did just that. He said “no,” so I backed off.

The next day Erica called and said Jeff had phoned her at 1:30 in the morning and asked whether there was anything between the two of us.

This bothered me. First of all, he should have taken my word that nothing was going on. Second, after their breakup, he never called Erica once, except to ask if there was something between us.

Well, she and I continued to hang out and have a good time. Then one day she called and informed me that we were “just friends,” even though I apparently wanted something more than a friendship. Who told you this? I asked her. She let out that Jeff had told her things that I never said. I smoothed things out, and she and I hung out again the next night.

The next morning Erica called and said “I don’t think we should hang out anymore.” After asking questions and getting nowhere, I finally said that if that was what she wanted, then I wouldn’t try to change her mind. She told me I would figure it out. This is what I’ve come to decide might be going on:

1. Jeff has said something else to her that damages my “credibility.”

2. She thinks I still have feelings for her.

3. She’s just plain angry about something.

4. She has feelings for me. (This is what some of my friends think.)

5. Erica and Jeff are back together. (This is what I really think.)

Doc, I don’t want to lose two friends, and I definitely don’t want to lose Erica as a friend and potential love interest. Help me, please.

Henry – who’s stuck somewhere in between

Hi Henry,

Your friend denied you permission to hit on his ex. What you should have addressed up front was how close you were to this guy, how long you’ve known him, and whether you could live without him as a friend, then proceeded -- with extreme caution -- from there. Most times it doesn’t work out with a woman, and you end up destroying a relationship with a buddy. So the moral of the story is never mess with the other guy’s ex, even if he tells you to go ahead and knock yourself out. It flies in the face of one of the most important things in life – loyalty. And even though the exes protest that it’s over forever and they’re just good friends now, there are still emotional ties. And that’s what you were messing with here. So unless you’re willing to write your guy friend off, you have to think long and hard about you’re about to do.

Now I’ll let you in on something, Henry. Jeff didn’t initiate this breakup -- Erica did. To you Psych majors, women do the dumping up 90% of the time in the dating game. And by the way, who told you that Jeff was the instigator of the breakup? Were you there to witness it? It amazes me how a man will suck up any slop that some pretty female throws at him when he’s gone over her. He’ll believe two and two equals seven if she tells him it does! As my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “When it comes to women, men are complete idiots!” (Of course your friend’s a fool, too, for calling his ex at one-thirty in the morning. That’s called begging. He knows nothing -- maybe even less than you do, Henry.)

I notice that you got enough hang-out time in with Erica before you asked Jeff’s “permission” to date her. Why didn’t you do that straight out of the gate, dude? Because you were already making time with her, that’s why. You made sure you liked this girl before you called your buddy, and that’s why it took you so long. Don’t con yourself, and don’t try to con me. As Sal “The Fish” Love puts it, “A guy who tries to fool himself is the biggest fool of all!”

So what was the upshot of all your slick maneuvering, Henry? You got dumped. And you don’t know why. When women dump you, they always give you the second, third, and fourth reasons why they’re dumping you. The real reason is called low Interest Level. Next! So after getting the brush, what do you go and do? Work your way into hanging out with Erica again the next night! You’re the exact antithesis of Challenge! Why not try staying away from this girl for four or five days and give her a chance to miss you?

When she said you'd figure it out, she overrated you, Pal. I’ll do the figuring for you. Let’s look at your delusions one by one.

1. It doesn’t matter what Jeff said about you, because only YOU lowered Erica’s Interest Level.

2. Erica doesn’t think about your feelings, because she has none for you.

3. Erica’s angry, all right. She’s angry because she spent too much time with you.

4. Sure, Erica has feelings for you. And on the way home tonight, you’re going to be abducted by Bigfoot.

5. Yep, Erica and Jeff are back together. But you had to turn her off before she went back to him.

Dear Henry: You’ve been smoking too much loco weed. Lose two friends? As long as they’re making out, they don’t care about you. They’re so happy to be back together, you haven’t even made a blip on their radar screen.

Remember, guys: women don’t lie, and men don’t listen.

How do You Get Her to Cool Her Jets?"

Hey Doc,

My problem is a little unusual. I’m looking to you for some good advice.

I was dating Samantha for about seven months before she had to go out of state to attend the best university business program in the country. (She’d already been accepted before she even met me.) She said that if she’d met me beforehand, she would have accepted another offer she got that was closer to home, but as it is she’s going to be gone for a little over a year. We’ve been doing the long distance dating thing for about four months now and she’s always talking about how she wants to marry me. As far as calling and e-mailing me, she is completely consistent. I fly to see her and she flies to see me once a month. Once she finishes the program, our goal is to go to graduate school in the same city. In other words, things are going fine between us, but I have two concerns about our relationship.

1. Samantha constantly asks me when we are going to get engaged. She says it in a joking way, but I know that she’s serious. My question is, how should I respond? I’m completely in love with this girl and want to marry her, but what is the correct response to keep her Interest Level up? (Sometimes I joke that we should go to Las Vegas tomorrow. Other times I’ll give her a more serious answer and say that we’re headed in that direction. But I’m not sure that it would be the best idea to tie the knot so soon.)

2. Samantha cries at least twice a week when we’re on the phone about how she wants me to pretty much drop everything right now and come and live with her. She tells me that I won’t have to pay for anything, and that I can just live in her apartment. This week she took it a step further and gave me a sort of indirect ultimatum by telling me that she didn’t know how she was going to deal with living apart from me for a whole year. “You need to move down here right now,” she said. I found myself a little panic-stricken at the idea.

Doc, how should I respond to this pressure? Our plans for the future sound fine to me as they are – Samantha finishes her program and the two of us go to grad school together. I tell her to relax about what’s going on, but she insists that she misses me entirely too much to even concentrate on her work. I really hope you can help me here, Doc, before I do something stupid.

Keith – who doesn’t know what he should do with her

Hi Keith,

Let me start off by saying congratulations, man. I have to take my hat off to you -- you’ve got Samantha exactly where you want her. Your goal should be to keep her right there.

One very positive point we shouldn’t lose sight of right up front is that Samantha said that had she met you before getting her out-of-state offer, she would have made a different choice and stayed closer to home. Do women with low Interest Level talk like that? No way – only women on the other end of the Interest Level spectrum do. So this is about the strongest indication you can have of her high Interest Level – assuming she’s telling the truth.

The right thing to do is let Samantha know that the two of you will get engaged after she comes back from school. This girl is straining at the leash like a hungry Doberman -- she’s completely gone over you and can’t wait to get back to you. And since you’re deeply in love with her, it makes sense to take that step. It’s okay to give in to your girl here, buddy. (But make sure that she understands that she still has to be a nice girl when she’s away at school, otherwise there will be no engagement. Remember old Pavlov’s dog.)

Don’t worry about keeping her Interest Level up, pal. You’ve already pumped it into the stratosphere like a helium balloon – she’s going crazy for you right now! You’re actually underrating her Interest Level, Keith. If this girl were any more nuts over you, she’d have to be committed. But don’t you go getting bent out of shape or going gaga over the situation. Hey, you’re not tying the knot just yet -- you’re only buying time by telling your babe you’ll get engaged when she gets back.

The reason Samantha’s begging you to move in with her right now is not because she’s a rigid or structured or hardheaded female, which is where most ugly ultimatums usually come from. She’s doing this because her Interest Level is hitting the high nineties. Let’s face it, man; she’s ready to pay for everything. (Gee, I’m impressed, Keith. She’s gotta be the first woman in the history of mankind to make that statement!) And so you reacted, at least on the inside – you didn’t practice Self-Control. Hopefully, you didn’t say anything to her at that moment. It’s okay to feel panic-stricken, but it’s not good to express it verbally to the one you love. As General Love puts it, “Never show weakness at the critical moment!”

But don’t lose any sleep over all this “pressure.” Samantha’s bluffing. She’s not going anywhere without you, Keith, as long as you keep playing your cards right.

Reassure her that since you’ve already got four months of being apart out of the way, you’ve only got eight more to go. You’re talking, you’re e-mailing, and you’re seeing her every fourth week. Tell her to keep her pants on! When she whines that she can’t concentrate without you being there, tell her what my cousin Fast Eddie Love would tell her: “Honey, you’re only a human being, and I understand.”

Forget about doing anything stupid, Keith – don’t do anything different, period. Just keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re doing just about everything right. Relax – you’ve got no problems. Just remind Samantha that if she’s a good, patient girl for the next eight months, you’ll reward her with that diamond. That will keep her content.

Remember, guys: it’s only okay to come on heavy after she does.

Beware of Creating Ms. Jekyl and Ms. Hyde

Hey Doc,

I want to tell you what happened to me with a girl I recently dated, and I’m wondering whether other guys have run into the same problem. Let me explain.

I took Dana out three times. On the first two occasions I did nothing wrong -- no inappropriate behavior, no talk of sex, no rudeness. She was perfectly nice and my plan was to move slowly forward. Things were going fine until date number three. Suddenly her behavior completely changed, and it wasn’t just my imagination. Where on our first two dates she was warm, talkative, and interested in me, now she was quiet and distant and cold.

Let me add here that this sort of thing has happened to me before, and this is why I need your insight, Doc. You go on your first date with a girl and she’s nice and excited to be with you but by date number two, she’s quiet, distant and sullen. Weird. What is it with these head cases? My name for a girl who acts like this is “Ms. Jekyl and Ms. Hyde" because the change in personality is so profound.

I’m somewhat acquainted with your techniques and ideas, Doc, and I suspect that I know what you’ll say about this – that she has low Interest Level in me. That’s fine, but why the extreme change in behavior? Why do women do this over and over again?

Here are some tell-tale signs of the Jekyl/Hyde syndrome:

1. She dresses down. Suddenly she’s wearing jeans instead of a sexy dress.
2. She seems depressed or quiet. Her eyes are downcast.
3. When you make suggestions for what to do on a date, she can’t seem to make up her mind. She’s unenthusiastic.
4. She tries to help pay for dinner or other activities like movies.
5. She’s not touching you or smiling.
6. She doesn’t laugh at your jokes.
7. She seems to be distant. She stares off into space.
8. Things that she was interested in previously have lost their appeal. If she told you she was into her cats, now she just really isn’t that excited about them.

Keep in mind that this person was previously happy, excited and nice. She was happy to be with you. There was no prelude to or warning of this new behavior. These are RED FLAGS. Something is wrong, but what? My theory is that she is in love with another guy, but he won’t commit to her, so she decided to find someone else. So the symptoms she’s exhibiting are not depression and disinterest, but guilt.

Doc, what I want to know is this: How can being a Challenge help you in such a situation? What do you do with a girl like this? Is there anything that can be done to turn it around?

Quinn – who’s had it with split personalities

Hi Quinn,

Yup, most guys experience exactly what you’ve gone through. It’s called getting up to bat and striking out. Dana gave you an opportunity, but you said and did the wrong things – otherwise, she’d still be with you.

But you say that you “did nothing wrong.” What I’d like to know is what you did right. I’ve told you guys again and again – you have to be like love cops on “Love And Order.” Don’t give me hazy generalizations – I need specifics in order to crack a case.

Quinn, you never want to move slowly forward with a girl. You want to move forward quickly. It might appear that you’re taking it slow, but if you know what you’re doing, her Interest Level should be taking off fast. If it isn’t, chances are good you’re already in trouble.

“Things were going fine until date number three?” Making out on the second date is what “going fine” means! Are you trying to tell me she made out with you on the second date? Fat chance! Now she was “quiet, distant, and cold,” you go on to complain. You neglected to add one thing – she was uninterested in you! You’ve got the answer in your question, you dummy!

Here’s the core of your problem, Quinn. Dana’s not weird, nor is she a head case. She was simply getting more and more turned off to you. Your input was negative. It’s not a profound personality change you’re witnessing in these women, guy, it’s a steep drop in Interest Level.

Telling me that you’re acquainted with my techniques is a little bit of an insult. As Fast Eddie Love would say, “With all the mistakes you made?” And you’re wrong again when you try and predict my response to your dilemma. It’s a little more complicated, you see. Dana’s Interest Level started out high, but instead of stoking it -- which it was your job to do -- you drove it downward into the minus zone. Want to know why women do this to you over and over again, pal? Because you can carry the ball for a few yards, but you can’t get the touchdown. You fumble – i.e., you lower her Interest Level.

Your list of symptoms is nice, but they didn’t crop up as the result of a change in a two-year relationship where the girl was all over you. You’re talking about a measly two dates here! My hunch is that your looks got you your first date, but then you opened your mouth and she never wanted to see you again! But there are some girls who can’t say no to a nice dinner.

Your psychoanalytical theory for how and why Ms. Jekyl and Ms. Hyde keep finding their way into your life is fascinating as well, but it doesn’t go far enough. As Doctor Freud himself would say, it’s nothing but a wish-fulfillment. It doesn’t point the finger of blame where it truly belongs – at you. In other words, you’re rationalizing.

Before you can be a Challenge, you’ve got to get your act together and say and do the right things. You’re not, and that’s why these women are being turned off to you. And do you know what the proof is? It keeps happening again and again. Maybe what you should have said to Dana was, “Hey, have you got a girlfriend I can start over with? Because I’m going to do things right the next time around.” Of course, with the performance you turned in, we know what her answer would be.

As far as turning it around, Quinn, in a word – no. Once you’ve screwed things up, it’s finished.

Remember, guys: when it goes south of the border, it’s over.

Does the Average Guy Ever Really Stand a Chance?

Hey Doc,

Although I know you usually only comment on people with specific dating questions, I was wondering what your take was on the television show Average Joe. My opinion is, after watching two outings, that the women’s behavior reflects a lot of your teachings.

On the show, a bunch of “average guys” (i.e., guys who aren’t great-looking and have little experience with Beautiful Women), get to compete for the attentions and affections of an extremely hot-looking babe. The twist comes at the end, where after several dates with the average guys, a couple of hunky stud-muffins enter the picture to complicate things.

How this relates to your “System” (which I purchased, and it helped a lot, thanks!) is that the average guys, besides being just average-looking, are not a Challenge at all. In fact, they constantly laid out their hearts and bared their souls to the Beautiful Women only to be repeatedly dumped at the conclusion of the contest.

At the end of both competitions, the beautiful girl surprisingly (but maybe not to those who read your articles) picked the good-looking guy over the average guy, despite only knowing them for a short time. The icing on the cake was that the good-looking guys were emotionally remote and looked like they could care less.

What’s really funny is all the comments on the net that crucify the women on the show for being so shallow. That may be true, but all us average Joes want them anyway, right?

What do you think, Doc? Do guys like us ever really have a chance with Beautiful Women? Is it even worth the struggle? Or should we stay with our own kind and not risk all that rejection?

Lenny - who still has his fantasies of scoring a “10”

Hi Lenny,

First of all, let me congratulate you on starting to learn my techniques. You’ll never go wrong practicing a set of proven principles. As my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love likes to say, “With a little spit and polish, you’re gonna be a master!” That is, as long as you stay with it. Dedication and practice are the keys.

But it’s obvious by your comments about Average Joe that you’re already sharpening your analytical faculties when it comes to the dating game and are on the right road. Nevertheless, I want to touch on some of the specifics of your letter to make sure you stay there.

Let’s start with this: Lenny, the average guys should be dumped at the end of the show. Besides being just average-looking, they’re not Challenges. So they have two things working against them. Why wouldn’t they be dumped? It’s common sense, right?

You mention that the hotties on Average Joe go for the hunks “despite” knowing them for only a short time. Here your premise is dead wrong, pal. It’s BECAUSE the girls only knew them for a brief period of time that they picked them. Look at it from the girl’s perspective: if she doesn’t know two guys all that well, and one’s good-looking and the other isn’t, what’s going to happen? Think about it. Let’s reverse the process. If you’re given a choice between two women, and one’s nothing much in the looks category and one’s a ringer for Elizabeth Hurley, who are you going to pick? Maybe the gorgeous babe has a lousy personality and the other doesn’t, but how are you going to know that in a short amount of time?

Next, you report that the good-looking guys appear as if they could care less. Well, this is what you average guys should be doing! The ploy worked, didn’t it? Nobody is attracted to desperation (ie., baring of souls, wearing of hearts on sleeves, blubbering about weaknesses, etc.). The name of the game, at least at first, is pretending you don’t care. Being secure and mysterious. In other words, being a CHALLENGE. That’s what you have to do in the beginning, whether she’s an average woman or the second coming of Kim Basinger. Do it, and watch what happens. It never fails, buddy.

There’s another reason why the women on Average Joe went with the guys who are the best-looking. Why? Because it is short-term. I’d like to come back six months later and check whether those babes are still dating the hunks. Did they pick the handsome dudes because they think it’s the right thing to do since they’re on TV? You can bet the house those romances aren’t going very far.

Do average guys ever really have a chance with the Beautiful Woman you ask? Ah, now that’s the million-dollar question. And a million-dollar question demands a million-dollar answer. As Sal “The Fish” Love puts it, “The first thing you have to do if you want a chance with a Beautiful Woman is get yourself a 120-foot yacht. A big, humongous, 120-foot yacht!”

Of course, that would be doing things the hard way. And you don’t have to do it the hard way, Lenny. It’s not going to be a struggle if you memorize what I teach you. I make it easy to deal with Beautiful Women as well as wallflowers -- all women. The years of torment you’ve endured at the hands of the opposite sex will be over once you stick completely to my guidelines.

To you Psych majors, what you’re looking for anyway is Attitude. As long as you’re attracted to a woman, and she’s a Giver and she’s Flexible, she’s going to be the one for you. And over time she will grow prettier and end up being the Beautiful Woman you’ve always wanted because of her inner qualities – qualities that a lot of the plastic women don’t have. In an age of phonies, my plan leads you to the genuine article. And that, not some silicone fake, is who you want for the long haul.

Lenny, a fundamental fact of life is that you’re always risking rejection. When you get into the bathtub you can slip and break your neck. When you climb into your car you can be killed in a smashup. You can be asleep in your bed and an airplane engine can come crashing through the roof and land on your head. (Don’t laugh – it’s happened.) Life is one huge risk. Every time you breathe you’re taking the risk of rejection and pain. There’s no way around it except to stop living. So get out there and have some fun.

As I’ve said in my books, practice on the average-looking girls with the huge fannies and slowly make your way up to the razor-thin beauties. By the time you get there, you’ll be irresistible. The way you’re going to get a “10” is to memorize all my principles.

Remember, guys: if you want somebody beautiful, you have to practice on somebody average.

The Pitfalls of Group Dates

Hi Doc,

I met this girl, Susan, in my art class at UCSB. We hit it off and traded phone numbers. Two days later she called me and asked me if I wanted to join her and her friends that night for beer and pizza. Even though it was short notice, I said yes and went that night.

When I got to the restaurant she enthusiastically hugged me and introduced me to all her friends, there were six of them – three guys and three girls. We all got along and had a fun time. We finally all walked out together and Susan hugged me again and kissed me on the cheek. I didn’t even make a move on her at all. She came at me first.

A few days passed and then today she called and left a message asking me if I want to join her and her friends again, this time for a volleyball game at the beach this coming weekend. I’m actually a great volleyball player and I know it would be fun and that it probably would be a good opportunity to impress Susan with my athletic skills.

So, Doc, I’m thinking that this girl must have high interest in me because she’s doing all the calling and she’s asked me out twice now. But I also have doubts that maybe since she wants me to hang out with her and her friends again, that that means that she only wants to be friends with me. Would it be better to ask her out for a one-on-one at this point to test her Interest Level or would it be rude not to accept her invitation? What do you think.

Lindsey – who’s just not sure


All right, here’s the lowdown. There were two mistakes that you made when you accepted that first date with your Suzie Q. Number one; you accepted a date on short notice. I know that it’s compelling and also flattering when a woman who you like, calls you and asks you out. The average guy only needs one finger (or fewer) to count all the times in his entire life that a woman has ever taken the initiative to ask him out. So when it does happen it’s kind of a shock and there’s a tendency to throw Challenge out the window. But one of the bedrock principles of “The System” is self- control.

You should have told this gal, Lindsey, that you already had a prior commitment that night, even though you didn’t. Why? Because when you accept a date on short notice, it diminishes your mystery quotient in her eyes. It makes you appear too available and too eager and so her romantic Interest Level in you is impacted negatively. To you Psych majors, you gotta learn to play hard to get.

Guys, when a woman who you’ve just met calls and asks you out on short notice, she isn’t even aware of the fact that she’d actually like you more if you didn’t accept the date. She’s unconscious of the fact that in reality she’s setting up a little test for you to see how much of a Challenge you are. Granted, usually, when a woman calls a guy after having just met him she has to have pretty darn high Interest Level in him to begin with.

So, the argument could be made; So what if her Interest Level lowers by a point or too when it’s probably very high to begin with? Well, probably is the operative word here. In the beginning all dates are too new to rate. We don’t know where we stand until we cross that ‘60 Days’ goal line. So it’s always best to too keep the odds in your favor as much as possible.

You see, Lindsey, girls turn guys down all day long, day in and day out but a guy turning a girl down? How often does that happen? (About as often as Osama Bin Laden takes a bath.) But when it does happen, it has a powerful impact. If she has high Interest Level in the guy to begin with, it’s always higher after he (temporarily) rejects her.

The second mistake that you made, Lindsey, is that you went out on your first date with this girl with HER posse. Doing that dis-empowers you in more ways than one. She knows everyone and you don’t know anyone. It’s unfamiliar territory with too many unknowns. You’re at a disadvantage. Plus you don’t know who in the group might have an agenda that’s in opposition to you making a love connection with your date. And … you don’t even know if it’s really a date or not. It’s all very confusing and problematic.

You did one thing right, Lindsey, when you let her come at you with the hug and the kiss on the cheek. But remember a kiss on the cheek is very ambiguous. A kiss on the cheek can mean anything from “We’re gonna be buddies and nothing more” to…”I’m hoping you’ll jump my bones and here’s a hint.” After she kissed you on the cheek, Lindsey, you should have pulled her back in to your arms and given her a real kiss right on her lovely lips. If you had done that, then you wouldn’t be wondering right now whether she wants to just be friends or not.

My recommendation to you now, Lindsey, is to take a pass on the group volleyball happening. Politely thank her for the invitation and tell her that you’re busy. That wouldn’t be rude of you to do. You’d only be being rude if made the date with her and then broke it - like thousands of women do to men every day.

Then wait a couple days and call her back and ask her out on a one-on-one date. If she insists on only going out with you in a group situation, then throw her phone number away (unless you’re hard up for friends) But hopefully she’ll enthusiastically accept the more intimate date with you and then you can move forward from there.

Remember, guys: never let her think that you’re too available.

If She's from the Other Side of the Tracks, can She be a "Keeper?"

Hey Doc,

I recently came across your website and got acquainted with some of the information on it. I have to say it made for very interesting reading, but I’ve not seen anything like my situation discussed.

I’m currently involved in a new relationship and I was hoping that you could provide some insight. About two months ago I started dating my current girlfriend, Gloria. I come from a preppy background (I’m a graduate of an Ivy League university) and Gloria is from a somewhat lower-class background. Her parents were immigrants and her family are all blue-collar workers. This is the only truly noticeable difference between us. Despite it, Gloria is wonderful to me and I couldn’t be happier with her. She does lots of things for me -- including cook! How rare is that? Anyway, things have been going really well for us.

But Doc, Gloria’s had a very rough life. Her stepfather physically abused her for 10 years, she’s been homeless, old boyfriends have treated her like crap, etc. She projects a hardened, bad-ass image in public, and only reveals her soft, caring interior to me. To me, that’s a sign that she really does care for me. She’s been very expressive of her feelings, telling me that I’m wonderful almost every day. I’ve been expressive of my feelings towards her too, but with some guarded caution.

So the "I love you’s" have not been exchanged yet. I’m pretty much spending every night at her place (except for two to three days a week when I’m out of town). I do a lot for her around the house, compliment her, spend quality time snuggling, hugging, and so forth. Doc, I’m ready to exchange an "I love you," because that’s how I feel about her.

But…something has been holding me back from going all the way, and I think it’s because of that class difference I mentioned. I worry that somehow the difference in her background will come out and have a negative effect on our relationship somewhere down the road when we’re deeply involved.

So I guess my question is this: considering the discrepancies in our backgrounds and the progress we’ve made in the last two months, where do I go from here? Can a difference in backgrounds ever be overcome? I know your feelings on the "I love you" issue, i.e. -- who should say it first, and I somewhat agree. But in this instance, we’re not talking about the typical girl, if there is such a thing. I really do love this girl, Doc. Despite the fact that it’s only been two months, we’ve spent lots of great time together and she has treated me better than any girl I’ve ever been with.

Your opinion and time is appreciated. Again, loved the website and I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Kirk – who wants to know if he’s being over-cautious

Hi Kirk,

Your problem isn’t saying "I love you," or the fact that Gloria comes from the so-called "wrong side of the tracks" -- your problem is that you’re seeing entirely too much of her.

Now, on the other hand, if you’d been going out with Gloria for six months, everything you’re doing now would be just about fine. But what you should be doing after six months, you’re already doing after only two months. You’re getting way ahead of yourself. So the way I see it, you’re already "anti-Challenge" by a good four months. You’re giving too much of yourself away to this girl. What’s the hurry, Kirk? You should be spoon-feeding yourself with Gloria instead of gorging yourself on her. Know what happens when you eat an entire gallon of Ben and Jerry’s cherry vanilla ice cream in one sitting? You get sick to your stomach.

It doesn’t bother me that Gloria’s got a "hard edge" in public; as long as you’re not Arnold Schwarzenegger running for the governorship of California or in the field of public relations, you’re going to be okay with her. If, as you say, she takes off her armor for you, and she’s a flexible giver – and from what you tell me she sounds like one -- then you can live with her tough public persona. Besides, when you tell me she’s "hard," you’re giving me a generality -- and generalities don’t work when it comes to the principles of "The System." These techniques demand specifics, clues, which lead to hard evidence. Let’s not condemn Gloria before we have something really solid to go on.

Now of course that "negative effect down the road" you’re afraid of is certainly a possibility. But you wouldn’t have to fear it so much if you slowed down and took your time with Gloria. If you date her for a year and a half and she’s perfectly well-behaved with all your friends and at social affairs, then what’s the problem? "The System" says you have to get the first nine dates in – that’s your beachhead, and then you go out with her for another year and a half. After seventeen or eighteen months, she’ll be asking you to buy her an engagement ring. As far as the "I love you’s" go, you utter that phrase to a woman for the first time when she asks "Will you marry me?" Then you can finally say "I love you." And that will be the first time you say it.

Kirk, as my cousin "Fast Eddie" Love would advise, you have to yank on the reins and yell out "WHOA…!" You’re going way too fast, buddy, for such a short time together.

Remember, guys: anybody can be nice for two months.

Never Try to Keep Someone Who Doesn't Want to Keep You

Hey Doc,

I really hope you can help me, because I’m hurting.

Janet and I have been together for three years and friends for 20. She’s 52 and I’m 51. We’ve always had passion between us. But she’s in menopause and has a daughter who never liked that she was with me. In the past year I’ve had some financial problems, and Janet and I broke up once, then got back together, but she says that I sucked her back in. Fights occasionally broke out over nothing. She would begin raging and always blamed me because eventually I reacted to her raging and did some of my own. But I never started the raging.

In July she broke up with me a second time. Her daughter (33 years old, with children) came to town and spent some alone time with Janet. I gaveher space to do this. This was when she cut me off. Her sister told me that Janet said that she felt like she was in prison with me. (This, Doc, from a lover who called me five to seven times per day, every day, and asked me to see her all the time -- and now says she felt “obligated” to make those calls!)

I gave her a week to cool off, then went to see her again. She ripped my head off. Filled with anger, she told me it was over. I asked her later if we could get together for some “closure” talk, and she said no. So I left. Two weeks later she called me, and I asked to meet with her. We did. She said she was raw and needed to be alone. I investigated to see if there was another man, and there isn’t. She cried with me, held me, caressed me, said she loved me deeply, and didn’t know what to do about it. But she “needs to do this” – be alone -- for a while. I asked her what I could do for her and she said “Leave me alone.”

Since then (it’s been two months) we’ve talked a few times. She says she loves me but is keeping busy. I asked her if she’s happy with her decision and she said no. I asked her if she still loved me, and she said yes. I asked if she missed me, and she said yes. So I said, why don’t we see each other every two weeks? She said no, just leave me alone for a while.

This left me entirely confused.

We were so in love and wanted to marry. I have been in pain over this for two months and don't know what to do. How can I become a Challenge when she won’t even call me?

I do want Janet back because I can see she is crazed by her hormones and her family is steering her away from her heart. But she has to feel her own heart and not live through her family. Does she love me or doesn’t she? Will she come back?

Doc, what do you think is going on, and what is the best recourse?


Steve – who’s living under a black cloud

Hi Steve,

Let me ask you a question. Why is it that you and Janet were friends for 20 years? When you’re friends for 20 years, usually you’re friends forever, right? How is it that after two decades of friendship this woman decided suddenly that she was romantically interested in you? Steve, if you’d always had passion between you, you wouldn’t have been “just friends” for all that time. You’re contradicting yourself, pal! You don’t even know what it is you’ve got here! No offense, but you don’t have a clue! You’re the kind of guy who pulls into a service station, announces that he needs a lube job, and the mechanic points out, “Uh, sir -- your transmission is in the road!”

Steve, I hate to have to be the one to tell you this, but you and Janet didn’t always have “passion.” Passion was in your mind -- and your mind alone. As usual, the shortsighted male projected his Interest Level onto the woman. Don’t blame it on her hormones!

Now, you say Janet’s daughter never liked you. Why didn’t she like you, Steve? Remember, Janet raised her. She had a great amount of influence over this kid who hates your guts. There must have been some reason for it, don’t you think? To boot, the Reality Factor says that women with children, even if they’re grown, are “package deals.” If the kid hates you, it kills the deal right off the bat -- unfortunately, most of you guys don’t realize it! Even if Janet’s Interest Level was 100%, you’d still be dead in the water, because her kid detests you.

You tell me that Janet accuses you of “sucking” her back into a relationship with you. In Womanese, it means that you pressured her back into seeing you. You got on your knees and whimpered like a puppy when she told you to back off and behave yourself.

You go on to reveal that fights occasionally broke out over “nothing.” Steve, I got news for you -- fights are always over something. And what they’re usually over is low Interest Level. Because when a woman has high Interest Level, she wants to do what you want to do, she agrees with you on everything, and there’s nothing to fight over. When Interest Level is high enough, she’ll even give up watching Oprah!

Finally, you ask me what’s going on and what your course of action should be. I’m afraid it’s more bad news. The chance of Janet ever having 90% Interest Level in you is more remote than your chance of hitting the moon with a rock.

Steve -- how many times does this lady have to drop you before you decide that maybe, just maybe, she has low Interest Level? You say you gave her a week to cool off. Dude, you should have given her a lifetime! It’s not a matter of having to cool off -- it’s a matter of HER NOT LIKING YOU. I know this is complex. I know this is real tough to understand, and I know that all the counselors and shrinks are going to tell you there’s something more to it, but the simple fact remains: she doesn’t like you.

To you Psych majors, women who like you – and I know this is going to sound strange – actually want to be with you!

Steve, this girl misses you like Ben misses J-Lo. Know why Ben dumped J-Lo? Ben got tired of her. He got tired of her telling him what to do. He got tired of her domination. I’m all for self-improvement, but not when it’s the result of overbearing pressure, especially from the one you love.

Remember, guys: don’t give her a second chance to tell you to get lost.

Should You Believe Her - or Your Eyes?

Hey Doc,

I recently became aware of your advice columns and have been very impressed with your principles.

I met Joanna recently at a bar. I approached her and asked if she and her friends would like to join my crew for drinks. They accepted, and we all had a blast together. We agreed to meet as a group a few nights later, and again had a great time. Joanna seemed an awesome find, down to earth, sweet, pretty, and fun to be around. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen her once or twice a week. Everything was going great. Well, now for the problem.

On our last date, which was at a party at one of her girlfriend’s apartments, we were out on the balcony kissing when this other guy, Steve, came over and broke up our little session. I didn’t think anything of it, but noticed later that he was trying to put the moves on Joanna. I was angry that he had the audacity to try something when he knew she was with me. Wisely, I played it cool. After we left Joanna was very affectionate with me. I thought that I had handled the situation well and received my reward for that effort.

I thought nothing more of Steve until she told me that she was going to be at a party he and his roommate were hosting. “Have fun -- I’ll be out with my friends,” I told her. At around one in the morning she called my cell phone and said she wanted to see me, so I offered to come and pick her up at the party. That’s when everything went haywire.

When I arrived, everyone was quite drunk and Joanna was nowhere to be seen. I was told she was in the bathroom. I checked, but didn’t find her. It wasn’t in the best form, but I went into one of the bedrooms, and sure enough, there was Joanna on the bed passed out with Steve all cuddled up with her. (They were completely dressed.) I tried to wake her, but to no avail. I was angry and left immediately.

The next day Joanna called and told me how sorry she was, and explained that she’d asked her friends to wake her up when I arrived. She also swore that when she went into the bedroom she was alone and that Steve must have come in after she was already asleep. She professed that she wasn’t at all interested in him and that she wanted to make it up to me. I told her that I could care less what she does when I am not around, but if I am involved, then she would have to show me some respect. I also told her that if it ever happened again that she shouldn't even bother calling me. She told me it wouldn’t.

Now here’s my dilemma. Her girlfriend’s birthday party is coming up and they’ve rented a room at one of the hotels here in Las Vegas. She asked me to go, so I asked if Steve was going to be there too. She said he would, so I told her I wouldn’t be coming considering what had just happened. Now I’m wondering if I should have told her that I would go, but it’s too late to change my mind. My question is, how do you think I’ve handled this so far and what can I do to aid my cause against Steve? Furthermore, my gut tells me that Joanna has been telling some half-truths and lies of omission in reference to this guy. But on the other hand, why would she ask me to come pick her up if she was interested in him? What steps do I need to take to make her more interested in me than Steve or any other guys?

Allen – who’s not sure what to believe

Hi Allen,

You might be reading my columns, but you’re certainly not paying attention to my advice. As I’ve told you guys again and again, group dates are a no-no. Being in a group was fine when you first met Joanna; in fact, bringing your two crews together was a cool move. But once you’ve made contact with the girl, staying in a crowd of people is nothing but a waste of time. The idea is to separate the one you’re interested in from the herd, like a good hunter. As Caesar counseled, “Divide and conquer!” Hey -- are you interested in Joanna or her friends?

Now, regarding your rivalry with Steve, as my cousin Fast Eddie Love would say, “You should take it as a compliment that he tried to rip you off.” But the other guy doesn’t really matter, pal. It’s all in how you handle the girl -- and yourself -- that counts, and you haven’t done such a hot job of either. Let’s take a look at what you did wrong.

So -- you offered to come and pick Joanna up from Steve’s little soiree? I don’t claim to have psychic powers, but from that little move I think I can guess your last name: L--U--Z--Z--E--R. (Hint: It sounds just like LOSER.) My God, Allen -- you’re supposed to be a stud. You’re supposed to be a lover. You’re supposed to be a devil-may-care-type of guy that every girl in town wants, and here you’re doing the perfect imitation of a taxicab! You think a female can actually respect, much less have a high Interest Level in you, when you act like a wimp? Get off your knees, for God’s sake, and be a man!

But unfortunately we know it gets worse. Of course Steve and your girl were all dressed up when you walked in on them. They were dressed because they were through doing what they’d been doing. That way it wouldn’t look as if they were doing what they were doing! Get it, dummy? So upon making this shocking discovery, what do you do? You go back for another poke in the eye.

Afterwards Joanna wants to make up with you. Isn’t that wonderful? Allen – she was sleeping in bed in another guy’s arms! How is she supposed to make that up to you? Maybe by handing over the Kimberly Mine? By the fact that you told her you could care less what she does when you aren’t around, you achieved the exact opposite of what you were out to do --- you showed her you do care, because it was important enough for you to bring up! Who do you think you’re talking to, an idiot? Don’t ever talk down to a woman. They’re smarter than we are, don’t forget.

Guy, respect is earned. But you’re too busy begging Joanna on your knees to let you chauffeur her all over town to earn yours. Let’s face it -- you’re even willing to pick her up when she’s in the arms of another man in bed! (Oh, but that was all an accident!)

And at the end of this debacle, you tell her that it can never happen again. Wow, I’m impressed – you’re a regular Mister Tough Guy! Allen, your only dilemma is this: you’re 10 years too late laying down the law. Forget Vegas. The party’s over.

Remember, guys: your eyes never lie.

Should a Guy Ever be a Woman's Doormat?

Hey Doc,

I met Stacy through the Internet personals. In her second e-mail she gave me her phone number. We talked and made a date to meet at a club. She was two hours late, but I didn’t think anything of it because she called me every half hour to assure me that she was on her way and that she was stuck in traffic. When we got together she gave me all her attention. It was one of the best dates I’ve ever had.

We agreed on another date, this time dinner and a movie, but when the day came and I called to confirm, she never answered her phone. I called a few times that day and left messages and she never got back to me. Finally I stopped calling her. I was feeling angry and decided never to call her again. Two days later she e-mailed me an apology, then called and asked if the date was still open. Her excuse was that she’d gotten a call from her friends and she really wanted to go out with them. When she remembered our date, she realized she couldn’t call me because she’d left her phone at home. Of course I thought it was horse manure, but since she’d called me back and her Interest Level seemed like 75%, and since I enjoyed our first date, I said yes.

Then she did it a second time. The day we were supposed to get together, she didn’t answer her phone and I didn’t hear from her. She called me later and asked me to go out. I said yes. We met and again had lots of fun – a great time, really. We have a lot in common and shared many thoughts and experiences. Naturally we agreed on a third date.

The third time she stood me up, I felt like garbage. I sent her an e-mail telling her that I liked her a lot, but if she’s not going to make it to a date then I at least deserve a call, and that since we’re only dating I would understand. She called later and told me she agreed. She explained that at the moment she’s not really looking for a commitment and only wants to be friends, but that maybe in the future that would change. She invited me to go out with her and her friends. I went, and again she stayed with me the whole time, cuddling and kissing and getting more intimate than ever before.

My dilemma is that I like Stacy a lot because she is beautiful and because of her attentiveness when we’re together. Doc, do you think she could be testing me, or just teasing me? Do you think she might be interested in me but expects me to put in more effort? If so, how do I go about it?

Doc -- help me to understand what’s going on.

Woody – who can’t seem to rationalize his problem

Hi Woody,

Your very first mistake was not telling Stacy, when she was late for your first date, that something had come up and you couldn’t wait for her any longer, but that you’d make the date some other time. To you Psych majors, don’t ever forget -- SHE HAS TO RESPECT YOU. Don’t teach her that it’s okay to jerk you around from the get-go.

But you went on to a second date anyway. Now, listen to what you’re saying here. Stacy’s telling you that being with her friends -- who she’s seen two or three times a week for the last 22 years -- cannot possibly be postponed! Well, we wouldn’t want to break that pattern, now would we? Golly gee, that would be an absolute no-no! But seriously, pal, it’s a no-brainer. If her friends are more important than you, the precise translation of Stacy’s Womanese runs something like this: “You can find my Interest Level in you at the bottom of the ocean!”

The fact that your girlfriend forgot her cell phone and therefore couldn’t call you reminds me that I’ve probably met her on the lecture circuit. Didn’t she write a famous relationship book called A Thousand Excuses To Pull Out When Dumping A Date? Maybe you should have checked it out before you wined and dined her and saved yourself the trouble.

Next, you tell me that Stacy’s Interest Level is 75%. Jeez -- you attribute that level of interest to a girl who had you running a marathon with a sackful of rocks on your back? Woody, did you happen to get a look at the beating you’re taking? I’d hate to hear your idea of a lower Interest Level – you’d be doing hard time in a labor camp! Can you really be that lonely, pal?

When you said yes to the next date, you were really asking for trouble. At that point do you know what Stacy was thinking? This guy is a real loser! Of course, her next thought was, Hm…but he’s got three major credit cards in his wallet begging to be used at a four-star restaurant!

(Fellows, why not keep these early dates to a pizza and beer for 25 bucks? The point is not to try and buy these girls. Your objective should be to find out why she’s really here, and expensive dates only cloud the issue. Even Paris Hilton digs some of the guys in the Arkansas backwoods, and they’re not exactly rolling in the green stuff.)

But just when I thought I’d heard it all, it turns out you’re not through making totally incredible statements. You have lots in common? Guy, you two have NOTHING in common. Your Interest Level in Stacy is 100%, and hers in you is zero. As in nada. Therefore, you have absolutely nothing in common. There’s no other way to say it.

So – it took a third busted date for you to finally stand up and fight back, eh? A little late, I’m sorry to say. You were run over by a bloodthirsty tribe of Zulu warriors before it dawned on you that you were being slaughtered. (And they’re friendly Indians at Little Big Horn!)

Sure, Stacy’s beautiful. Only the world’s most dangerous creature, the Beautiful Woman, can get away with murder. But she’s neither testing you nor teasing you. The odds of this girl being truly interested in you are about the same as all politicians agreeing to tell nothing but the truth starting tomorrow.

Woody, since you have such pronounced masochistic tendencies, what I think you should do is buy Stacy a whip, then get on your knees and tell her all about how your mother didn’t hug you when you were a kid. As the great Love Doctor Sigmund Freud once wrote: “For some guys, love is torture!”

Remember, guys: as my cousin Fast Eddie Love always says, “Don’t be a doormat!”

Can she be Trusted when She's Living in Another Country?

Hey Doc,

I started studying your ideas more than six months ago and it’s helped me a lot. I met Reva in June. We’ve been dating since then and I have always abided by most of your rules and kept myself a Challenge. Things were going pretty well until two weeks ago.

Here’s my problem. Reva recently got a hot new job that will require that she move to Baltimore. Since we live in a Third World country, this is a bit of a problem. But the new job is a very nice opportunity, and I agree that she can’t let it pass because it’s an opportunity she’ll never get in our country. I have to stay at my university until I graduate in 2005, so I can’t move with her. I feel so good about Reva that I was mentally preparing myself to let her go by herself to America and try to keep the relationship going by telephone while she decides to either move back here or I finish my studies and move to be with her. In the meantime, I figured, we’d travel back and forth to see each other.

Last weekend my girl revealed to me that there was someone else in Baltimore. She went out with this guy when she was there for two weeks last summer. After a few talks about this situation, Reva admitted to me that they were intimate once. All this happened before we met, so it doesn’t count, and I can’t really make an issue of it.

But Doc, Reva tells me that this guy is the only person she knows in Baltimore and she wants to spend time with him because he can show her around places she doesn’t know, etc., and blah blah blah. (Like your principles taught me, this is Womanese for “she is insecure.”) I told her that I appreciated her sincerity, but that I don’t want her seeing the guy if she wants to stick with me. We argued, and later she told me that she would do everything possible not to see him. On the other hand, it would be nearly impossible not to see him since he works at the same place where she’ll be employed. But I maintain that it is entirely possible not to have to date him despite that fact.

The way I see it, there are three options for Reva:

1. Stay with me in our country

2. Refuse that particular opportunity and look for another job in the United States.

3. (The one I like best.) Stay loyal to me, forget the other guy, and do as we planned until I’m through with school.

What do you think I should do, Doc?

Anthony – who doesn’t know whether he should let her go

Hi Anthony,

Things were going well with Reva until two weeks ago? I’m sorry to have to enlighten you, but you’ve had a problem all along and just now noticed it. And you should have picked up on it a lot sooner, especially if you read my articles. I’ve said it again and again: men see things too late. Her Interest Level is going south faster than George W. Bush’s popularity, and you guys are oblivious!

Reva’s planned move to the United States is not just a bit of a problem, guy – it’s a massive problem. As my cousin, Sal “The Fish” Love, would say, “If you saw the Grand Canyon, you’d probably call it a gopher hole!” It goes back to the notion that women don’t lie, and men don’t interpret properly.

According to you, your girl’s prospective job is a “nice opportunity.” Now there’s your biggest mistake -– you not only went along with the idea, you pushed it. If Reva was shooting a bazooka at you, you’re the kind of guy who would hand her more ammo! (Your kindly intentions to keep the relationship going no matter what is, of course, based on the assumption that Reva’s Interest Level is at least 51%. Because if it’s 49% or less, you’re on the wrong road, Bruce Lee!)

Next, you tell me that Reva was “intimate” once with this fellow in Baltimore, but you “can’t make an issue of it.” While you shouldn’t make an issue of it to her, you have to ask yourself, if she was intimate with him once, why is she not making more of an effort to keep away from him? Why is she not sparing you the heartache? Think about what this is saying to you, Anthony! Duh!

So -- this other guy is going to be Reva’s Baltimore cicerone (in Italy that’s what they call a tour guide cum gigolo!)? Notice how she rationalizes her behavior here. She’s telling you in essence that she’s got high Interest Level -- in him! Know why she’s being so hard on you? Because of her low Interest Level in you. This guy’s the only guy she knows in Baltimore? I think I’m about to cry! Tell her to tough it out! But my guess is that it’s already too late to win this horse race. When a woman says it’s “nearly impossible” not to see another guy, it means -- as Fast Eddie Love would say – “The odds are 8 to 2 she’s going to see him!”

Again, Anthony, you only got half of the situation right. I keep reminding you Psych majors: you’ve got to be a love cop on “Love and Order.” You can’t afford to miss the clues that are staring you right in the face! And once you’ve got them, you have to learn, like Sherlock Holmes, to interpret correctly. But don’t take it personally – it’s an acquired skill.

Now, let’s examine your three options. Actually, there are only two. Know why? Reva’s not even thinking of staying in your country with you, pal. She’s thinking about Baltimore, and her new life there -- without you! And when she thinks about it, there’s a great, big smile on her face because of that Interest Level problem I talked about. Regarding the second option – that she should find another job in the U.S. – well, the odds are better that she’ll get eaten by a bear in one of our national parks. The third option is an illusion, a pipedream, because of the other guy. What you should have done was added a fourth: “Reva, raise your Interest Level into the nineties, and we’ll take it from there!” Because unless her Interest Level is in the stratosphere, you’re in trouble. My job is to raise her Interest Level in you, and, more importantly, to keep it there forever so she never wants to call a divorce lawyer.

Remember guys, if she wants to move away, it’s time to play – with some other girls.

© 2005 DocLove Dot Com 

Other Relationship Issues, Books, Column Archives Archive 2003a, 2003b, 2002a, 2002b, 2001, 2000.

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