No, I'm not really a doctor. I'm just a - happily - single person, and I'm posting a few of the personal experiences that were major Lessons Learned for me, relationship-wise. You, my reader, can draw your own conclusions. Perhaps you can even relate to some of these situations. (Failing that, maybe you'll be amused by my antics.)

  Do they, or don't they?  

It's a question as old as time itself: how can I tell if someone likes me? While there's no fool-proof way to tell, after you've been around a while, you'll start to pick up on the clues. Until then, here are some things that make me think a guy is interested, inspired by my recent adventures with a guy from school.

» Whenever one of you enters a room, the other one will invariably look, make eye contact and smile.

» He gives you a soda, claiming that the machine gave him two.

» When you say that you're going to lunch, he asks if you want company. Which, of course, you do. :winks: Then he offers to drive.

» He repeatedly asks questions and shows interest in what you say. (Note: if the guy is not someone you're interested in, this can be annoying.)

» He remembers details that you've mentioned. For example, he'll ask you about your friend chezanne, instead of you having to explain, during a conversation, "You remember: my friend chezanne? I've told you about her four times??"

» You're sick, but he still hangs out with you. He even encourages you that the coughing fits are not that bad, which you know is a bald-faced lie, but it's sweet of him to say.

» When you teasingly threaten to hurt him, after he's playfully picking on you, he remembers. And mentions your threat again later. More than once.

» After he makes a comment that borders on inappropriate, he looks at you first, to get your reaction. But you're already looking at him, intrigued.

» You notice that he's quick to point out, when the topic arises in group conversation, that he does not have a girlfriend. And when he mentions a girl's name to you, he feels compelled to explain her relationship to him, as in "I was telling Michele - that's my sister . . ." And you believe him because he's mentioned her before, and you remember who she is.

» You're working on an overwhelmingly huge project, and with a note of concern, he asks, "How's it going . . . really." He adds the "really" part because you and the group you're with have all been joking about how it'll take a miracle to finish all the stuff you have to do.

  Honorable Mention  

News flash, guys: women appreciate a bit of romance. At least, *this* woman does. ;)

» One guy that wanted to date me left a poem that he wrote and a rose on my car. Our relationship did not end well, but he still gets points for that sweet gesture.

» Another guy was picking me up for our date. On our way to the car, he said, "There's someone that wants to meet you." As I was thinking how mad I was going to be if one of his immature friends had joined us, he opened the passenger's door and there sat a large stuffed bear with a rose.

» Yet another guy that wanted to date me would say things like, "You have the cutest laugh." Maybe it was just flattery, but he made it believable and sweet.

» One guy that I was dating called me in the middle of the night from a pay phone near my house. He said, "Can you step out on the porch and talk to me? I just really want to see you." Maybe it sounds a little corny, but even now I think that was so sweet!

» That same guy was great to watch movies with because he'd dim the lights and cuddle with me on the couch while we watched.

» I have discovered that a common way that subtle people gauge another person's interest is to say something like, "So, what do you do for fun?" The other person could respond, "Oh, I like to go hiking/to the movies/whatever." The first person could say, "Hey, me too! Maybe we could go try that new nature trail/movie/whatever?"

  What Not To Do  

Some people just don't have a clue. :shakes head in pity:

» One of my big pet peeves is when a guy asks me out, and I try to decline nicely, but the guy keeps trying to talk me into it. If it does actually work, do you really want to be out with someone who is thinking how very much she doesn't want to be there? They say "you never know unless you ask." That's true, and by all means, ask! But if you don't get the answer you wanted, just accept it and figure that it wasn't meant to be.

» One guy I dated would mimic what I would say when we were arguing. I hated that so much. For crying out loud: we are not in the first grade.

» The mimic-me guy would also tell me, "I'll call you at seven." At nine-thirty, I'd still be waiting for him to call. The worst thing is that he never understood why this irritated me so much. (Um, Ray? For the record, it showed a lack of respect for me, it proves your word means nothing, and it's just plain rude.)

» One guy that I *briefly* went out with greeted me one day with "Can you give me $5 for gas?" Later that same evening, I drove us to get something to eat. After I paid for our food, I'd left my purse unzipped and he pretended to be reaching in to take money. I know he knew that I saw him, so I really hope he was pretending. Anyway, I said, "As a woman, I must tell you that I do *not* find that attractive."

» That same charmer, upon hearing that someone had complimented me for working out, looked me over and said flatly, "I don't see it."

» Another guy would be oh-so-charming when he was trying to get me to go out with him, but he switched to being downright cold when were on a date. I learned that there are people who get their jollies by cruelly toying with other people's emotions.

» Far too many of the guys I've dated have told me "I love you" not long after our first date. Really, fellas. "Sell crazy someplace else." At that point, you don't even know me!

» A guy that I worked with started flirting with me the first time he talked to me. I found this a turn-off. Soon it became apparent that he flirted with every woman he met. Worse than that, during any conversation with him, you could bet that he'd mention his divorce and how he really wants a girlfriend. He came across as SO desperate that I fear his chances of finding anyone are pretty slim.

» Another guy who I worked with - once! - starting flirting with me right away. I was busy working - not to mention that I wasn't interested - so I just made brief, polite conversation. After only a minute or two, he felt it appropriate to ask if I have any children. Keep in mind that I had *just* met this guy, and he didn't even know my name at this point!

» A guy from work advised me to go out with another employee who kept asking me out. The guy said that many marriages occurred because one person was persistent in pursuing the other. How romantic: they pestered the person into marrying them! Excuse the sarcasm but guys not taking no for an answer - and trying to talk me into dating them - is possibly my biggest dating pet peeve. "No" means "no" - not "talk me into it."

» Several guys that I've gone out with soon proved to be know-it-alls. With one guy in particular, there was nothing I could say that he did not have a bigger - and better, in his opinion - tale to tell. He'd usually preface his story with, "Oh, that's nothing. I..." As you can imagine, I did not find having my experiences dismissed endearing. When someone can't acknowledge other points-of-view and share the spotlight, I suspect that deep down they have low self-esteem.

» One guy that was interested in me would instantly ask "What?" when I'd say that I have something to do. A valid question, perhaps, but the way he said it so quickly made me think he was trying to catch me in a lie. I'd tell him my plans, and he'd say, "What about after that?" In my mind, it's obvious that if I had wanted to get together, I'd be the one to suggest an alternate time. More than once, he even showed up at my "other plans," I guess to verify that I wasn't lying to him. If I was so untrustworthy that he had to check my stories, why did he even want to go out with me in the first place?

» If someone asks you out and you don't want to go, be honest but tactful. Yes, it can be done. (For me, it took some practice at saying the wrong thing a few hundred times.) If they want to know why you're declining, say that you just don't see the two of you as a good fit.

» One guy that I dated for quite a while developed a habit of disappearing for months at a time, and I'd be left wondering whether we had broken up or what. Just as soon as I'd accept that he was gone, he'd suddenly reappear and I'd give him another chance. I finally wised up. During his last disappearing act, I called and left him a voice mail saying that I was going to start dating other people and I'd see him "around." Months later, he called again asking to get together, and I said no. After that he tried to call at least five separate time, and every time I said no. I felt like telling him, "You didn't call me all those times I wanted you to, so stop calling me now!"

After reading the above, a real-life guy acquaintance said, "You really think highly of yourself, don't you." Is that the impression these instances give? Well, if that's what it means to want to be treated with a little respect - particularly by someone interested in a relationship with me - then yes, I suppose I do. It wasn't always so, but my time with Mr. Disappearing Act taught me much about the type of person that I do not want to be (or be with!).

  What Was I Thinking?  

To be fair, here are a few (of the many, many) "what not to dos" that I've ... unfortunately ... done.

» When I was in tenth grade, a guy in eleventh grade asked me to the prom. We rode the same bus and had a pretty good time chatting, but I wasn't really interested in dating him. For whatever reason, I agreed to go. However, when people would politely ask about us going, I felt embarrassed that he wasn't one of the cool, popular guys, and I dismissed our date by saying, "I just wanted to go to the prom."

» When I was just out of high school, a guy that I knew asked me out. I had no interest in him, and the question completely caught me by surprise. I stammered, "Uhhh...." obviously searching for something to say, then said some obviously made-up excuse about having a college project to work on.

» One mistake I've made repeatedly is to get shy and quiet around guys that I like. I guess I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing that I wouldn't say anything, not realizing that guys appreciate - as I do! - someone who is confident enough to just be themselves.

» Another common mistake I've made is to get stuck wanting to date one particular guy. In my mind, the object of my affection had no flaws and no one else would do -- for months, or even years. I know we like what we like, but I've learned that if said object in no way returns your affection, you'll save yourself considerable pining and heartache if you'll move on to greener pastures.

» After realizing my folly of getting too set on one guy, I became somewhat bitter. I figured that if I couldn't have the guy I wanted, I might as well date whomever asks me. I did that several times with guys where I knew the relationship would go nowhere. Again, I could've saved myself a world of heartache if I'd had the sense to not get involved in the first place.

» Learning nothing from the prom fiasco mentioned above, more than once, I've accepted a date just for a free meal. I reasoned, "Well, this guy's okay, and if he's buying, I'll be glad to keep him company." Fortunately, it wasn't too long before I realized that doing so is really a jerky thing to do. Similarly...

» One of my friends advised me to go out one time with anyone who asked, even if I had no interest in the guy whatsoever. She said that if I still wasn't interested after the date, I should keep turning them down until they get the message. I don't know if she knows it, but I have done that before, and I find that ploy a disheartening waste of time. Beyond that, it's a bit cruel, leading the person on by agreeing to go out, and suddenly you're not interested.

  Romantic Ideas  

I saw these around Valentine's Day a few years ago, but you can be romantic at other times during the year. (Guys: don't laugh because all of these sound wonderful!)

» Surprise your partner with a hug from behind while they are busy doing something.

» Kiss someone when they are in the middle of a sentence.

» Write "I Love You" on a piece of paper and put it in their purse or pants pocket while they are taking a shower. They'll be sure to think of you later that day.

» Go to an art museum together.

» Take a long drive in the country.

» Spend the afternoon at a lake skipping stones in your bare feet.

» Rent a paddleboat.

» Take a long walk in the mountains.

» Keep something special from a day you spent together. Show it to your partner after a few weeks have passed and remind them of how nice a time you had together.

» Speak softly and kindly when your mate is having a bad day.

» Put a flower on your lover's pillow.

» Send flowers to your partner at work. Make them feel special in front of others.

» Make up a secret code and page your partner with it all day.

» Surprise your partner with a dozen romantic E-cards.

» Turn your air condition a little colder in the summer, rent a romantic movie and curl up under a blanket together on the couch. (Don't forget to burn candles.)

» Rent a convertible for the weekend and drive to the beach.

» Call in to work sick on the same day.

» Buy a gift for your partner every day for a week.

» Hold hands.

» Leave a trail of rose petals from the door to your bedroom for your partner to follow when they come in from work.

» Have one evening a week when the TV stays off and you sit together and talk.

» Ask your wife out on a date.

» Rent a tuxedo and surprise your mate with a candlelight diner for two.

» Start and end every day with a kiss.

  Celebrate Being Single  

Say it with me: "Being single is not a curse." Okay, so most people would prefer to be in a loving relationship with their soul mate, but how many people that you know are actually involved in a perfect, fairy-tale type romance? Whatever other people do, one sure way to be unhappy is to focus on what you don't have. With that in mind, here are a few ways to celebrate the single life.

» Take off from work and go somewhere, just because you can.

» Rent Thelma & Louise and realize that single is definitely not as bad as it gets.

» Do something that's all about you: splurge on something, take a class, get a massage, etc.

» If you have an ex - or more - make peace with the past by letting go of any hard feelings. You don't have to tell them, just accept that it wasn't meant to be with them and move on.

» Spend as much time as you want with your family.

» Enjoy having friends of the opposite sex without having to explain that nothing else is going on.

» Talk on the phone for hours without getting dirty, exasperated looks.

» Accept an invitation on the spot if you like. No need to check with someone else.

» If you are depressed or mad at the world for a few minutes, you don't have to worry about having your "outlook on life" analyzed.

» Eat garlic or onions without a second thought about breath mints.

» Proudly take control of the remote.

» Relish the fact that you can be less than perfect because you don't have anyone to impress.

» Stay up all night and read. Sleep late. Or go to bed very early.

» Listen to the music that you love; you know, the kind that other people can't stand.

» If someone rudely remarks that you're "not married yet," just smile extra big as you think about the person that they settled for.

» Notice things about other couples that annoy you, and rejoice that you're not having to put up with that.

» Take comfort in the truth that it's better to be alone than with the wrong person.

No, I'm not trying to encourage selfishness. I'm trying to point out that while being single has disadvantages (e.g. feeling lonely), it has some marvelous advantages as well. Likewise, marriage has its benefits, but it is not nearly as easy as it looks on television. If we can learn to be truly content with our current state, we'll be *so* much better for it.

  He Said... She Said... *Someone* Said...  

These are some thoughts about love from various sources. I especially like the last one.

» Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a tear.

» Love is sometimes harsh but always good.

» Don't waste your time on someone who isn't willing to waste their time on you.

» No man or woman is worth your tears, and the one who is won't make you cry.

» Maybe we are supposed to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right one, so that when we finally do meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.

» It takes only a minute to get a crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone, but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.

» There are always going to be people that hurt you, so what you have to do is keep on trusting and just be more careful about who you trust the next time around.

» Don't go for looks; they can deceive. Don't go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright. Find the one that makes your heart smile.

» Don't marry someone you can live with; marry the person who you cannot live without.

» Marry someone you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

» Remember, regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.

» Immature love says: I love you because I need you. Mature love says: I need you because I love you.

» Just because you can have someone doesn't mean you should.

» Just because someone asks you out doesn't mean you have to go.

» Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.

» Giving someone all your love is never an assurance that they'll love you back. Don't expect love in return; just wait for it to grow in their heart, but if it doesn't, be content that it can grow in yours.


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