Women Don't Lie,
Men Don't Listen

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 Archives for 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, and 2000.

Are Some Women Too Good to be True?
Beware of Creating Ms. Jekyl and Ms. Hyde
Can she be Trusted when She's Living in Another Country?
Can Taking it too Slow Get You into Trouble?
Can the Pattern of a Relationship ever be Changed?
Did Heidi Klum save Preconceived Notions about Seal?
Did Jon Voight Hate Billy Bob Thornton?
Did McCauley Culkin ever have Trouble getting Girls?
Does Mick Jagger Carry a Checklist of What Not to Do?
Did Brad have to Soothe Jennifer's Insecurities?
Did Rod and Rachel Split Up Because He "Just wasn't into Her?"
Did Sinatra Ever Come on Heavy?
Did "The Donald" Test Melania before Tying the Knot?
Does Bruce Willis ever Pine for Demi Moore?
Does George Clooney ever need Coaching with Women?
Does Love Always Have to be Such a Mystery?
Does Marc Anthony ever Worry about J-Lo's Past?
Does Russell Crowe Ever Let a Babe Get to Him?
Does the Average Guy Ever Really Stand a Chance?
Does "The System" Bring Out the Worst in Women?
Do some Men make Telephone Blunders
Do You Think Alec Baldwin ever has Trouble Getting Dates?
How do You Break the Ice?
How do You Get Her to Cool Her Jets?
If Mira Sorvino can Rob the Cradle, Can't You?
If She's from the Other Side of the Tracks, can She be a "Keeper?"
Is Dating Only Easy when You Look like Brad Pitt?
Is it Ever Okay to Apply Pressure
Is It Your Kids She Doesn't Want - or You?
Is There Ever a Good Time to Rip Off Your Buddy?
Is Will Smith the Real Date Doctor?
Never Try to Keep Someone Who Doesn't Want to Keep You
Only the Woman Knows the Right Time
The Pitfalls of Group Dates
Pretend You Don't Care and Watch the Fireworks
Selling the Girl Next Door
Should a Guy Ever be a Woman's Doormat?
Should You Believe Her - or Your Eyes?
Should You Keep Her if She Censors Your Reading?
Should You Keep Your Ex as a Friend?
Slow and Easy or Fast and Furious?
What if She Doesn't Have a Home Phone Number?
What if She has a "Split" Personality?
What if She Won't Commit -- but Won't Let Go?
What's the Best Way to Get a Women to Want to Hold Onto You?
Where do You go to Meet a Good One?
Who is Really Man's Best Friend?
Will "The System" Make You Something You're Not?
Women Should Learn to Keep Their Mouths Shut
Would A Girl Ever Send Julio Iglesias Home Early
Would Al Pacino ever put up with an "Arguer?"
Would Brad take Angelina Back if She Got Cold Feet?
Would Elvis Trust his Intuition?
Would John Stamos ever use a Matchmaker?
Would Jude Law give a Hoot if She had a Boyfriend?
Would Julia Roberts care if you Looked at Another Woman?
Would Katie Holmes be too Busy to Return Tom's Calls?
Would Orlando Bloom ever Waste Time with Empty Chitchat?
Would the Donald let Melania have Dinner with Another Guy?

Did Jon Voight Hate Billy Bob Thornton?

Hey Doc,

I purchased your Dating Dictionary recently, and it’s been very informative in showing me where I’ve made mistakes with women in the past. As a result, I’ve had tremendous success with your advice in talking to and getting positive responses out of women. But there is still one problem that seems to come up and I’m powerless to solve it.

The last girl I really liked, Tanya, ended up dumping me out of the clear blue. The last day I was with her, she mentioned that her father “approved” of me, and that he never approved of anyone before. Before this happened she acted differently towards me (i.e., with high Interest Level), but once I got the parental seal of acceptance it was over the very next day. Could it be that her Interest Level was lowered because her parents approved of me? This is not the reason that Tanya gave me for ending it, but I have noticed it in a few relationships in the past.

I’ve talked to other women about this, and they admit to wanting a good guy that appears to be a “bad boy” to the parents. It seems like they want to go against their parent’s wishes. I guess my question to you is, is this just Womanese for their low Interest Level in me, or could it be that women don’t want their folks to like their boyfriends?

Now it seems that I get along with women’s parents VERY well, and they all like me. (At least to my face they do.) But as soon as the relationship has gone on long enough for me to have met their parents a few times, everything falls apart. Can you give me any advice on how to handle this situation, and how not to have the parents like me so much? Or is this not really a problem after all, and am I just looking for an excuse for why I always seem to screw it up with females I like?

Your book has opened up my eyes, and allowed me to see more of what women want. I can see more clearly that the guys who act in the way that you advise have women around them all the time. I look forward to learning more and coming closer to mastery of “The System.” In the meantime, I need help solving my “parents problem.” I really hope you can help me out.

Thanks, Doc. You’re the best.

Gino - who never thought he’d run into something like this.

Hi Gino,

Allow me to straighten you out about something right up front. Being rejected by Tanya was out of the clear blue FOR YOU. For Tanya, it was preplanned.

So, Tanya’s parents never approved of anyone but you before. Now think about this, my friend. Here’s a girl giving you the old heave-ho, and in the process serving up a tall tale to throw you off the scent of the real reason –her lack of interest in you -- and you’re ready to buy it. Just because two things happen at the same time (i.e., Tanya decides to dump you and her parents announce that they think you’re okay) you jump automatically to the conclusion that it’s a case of cause and effect, and you don’t consider the possibility that it’s all pure coincidence and that one thing has nothing to do with the other.

I’m trying to train you guys to be forensic love scientists, to look very closely at the evidence, and that’s what you have to do in order to know what’s really going on between you and your woman. You have to consider all the possibilities in every case and not run off half-cocked towards a conclusion that doesn’t hold water. Like my cousin Doctor Love would say, “You can’t just rush to judgment led by your exploding Interest Level or your supersensitive ego.”

Now sure, it’s possible that Tanya cut you loose because her folks approved of you – that is, if she hates her parents’ guts and she’s going to end up being the psycho wife from hell who will make Angelina Jolie or J-Lo look clinically sane. In which case you don’t want her anyway.

Tanya didn’t give you a reason for ending your romance? You’re kidding me, Gino! You mean women aren’t always forthcoming with the straight truth about why they’re calling it quits? You mean that actually happens? Wow, man, I’m shocked!

But if other women in the past have told you that they prefer bad boys and don’t want their parents to approve of their choices, you’re running around with a bunch of nutcases. Dude, are you picking up girls when the Jerry Springer Show lets out? Or are you handing out tickets to the wackos going in?

To you Psych majors, good girls who are raised properly by good parents WANT to make sure their parents LOVE the new boyfriend. Honest.

Pal, of course all these excuses are just Womanese for your ex-girlfriends’ low Interest Level in you! Because you’re history, aren’t you? Think about what you’re saying here. Girls don’t want their parents to like their boyfriends? Like my cousin Rabbi Love says, “You’re attacking the family unit, my son, and you shouldn’t do that.”

I’m sure parents like you, Gino. And their daughters like you, too -- for a little while. But take my word for it, it’s strictly coincidence that when you meet the folks everything falls apart. The only thing really falling apart was the girls’ Interest Level, as it did a nosedive from 95% to 45%. So these poor parents aren’t your problem. The problem is YOU – you lower Interest Level. Her mother and father didn’t lower Interest Level, you did.

My book hasn’t opened your eyes all the way yet, Gino. Unfortunately, it’s opened only half of one eye. Which means you haven’t spent enough time with it. You need to read it again and again until the deeper truths of my principals sink into your mind.

Why don’t you act like the guys who have women around them all the time? I’ll tell you why. Because instead of imitating Cary Grant, you end up making these poor girls your mama or your psychiatrist, like all the other guys who screw up. But don’t feel bad, man. You’re not alone. You’ve got tons of company out there.

So to sum it all up, you don’t have a “parents problem.” You’ve got a problem keeping a girl’s Interest Level in the nineties. But memorize my techniques, and you’ll enter the Promised Land with a smiling face.

Remember, guys: when something goes wrong, it’s usually your fault.

Would Jude Law give a Hoot if She had a Boyfriend?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been reading your articles for quite a while. First of all, I would like to thank you for what you do to help us guys on the battlefield of dating, and also let you know that I really enjoy reading your material. It’s the most refreshing thing on the web for men.

Now here’s my question. I met Carmen last week at a department store at a mall, and had a very engaging conversation with her for about an hour and a half. We laughed and flirted and I could tell that she was very interested and attracted to me. We exchanged telephone numbers and agreed that we would both like to see each other again.

So in other words, everything was perfect...if she didn’t have a boyfriend. When I asked her if she was seeing someone, she just said yes, without going into a whole long explanation about it. But apparently she isn’t too serious with him, otherwise she wouldn’t have responded to me the way she did, right? Usually I wouldn’t pursue anyone who was in a serious relationship, but we most definitely had a strong connection, and I would at least like to follow up with Carmen.

How can I ask Carmen out, or find out if she is willing to leave her current relationship, without appearing arrogant? Of course I’d like to come across as confident, though, at the same time. The goal is to be able to date her, so what would you suggest in this situation to attract her even more.

Do you think I’m leaving myself wide open for rejection or to be used by Carmen? And how do I avoid that?

I know this might seem very basic to you, but I could really use the help.

Thanks, and sorry for the long question.

Emanuel - who’s eager to find out if he really has a chance

Hi Emanuel,

I appreciate your compliment, and the word you used was right on the money – my column is refreshing. That’s because nobody out there among all those hundreds of so-called love doctors sounds even remotely like me. And you know why? Because I’m the only one truly looking out for you guys.

So you met Carmen at a mall. Great, pal – you picked up a complete stranger. You beat the odds. And you didn’t just ask for her home phone number and got out of there, you actually built some value into your 90 minutes together. You stretched a passing encounter into a cup of coffee and a conversation that went beyond “Wow, you have a great set of legs! Wanna get together sometime and check out my etchings?”

So for you Neanderthals out there cruising the malls, don’t just go up to her and beg for her home phone number. Suggest a glass of iced tea or lemonade – that’s what you want to do. Get your time in and then pitch her for the number. You’ve got to build some value when you’re in an anonymous, public place; otherwise you’re a step away from being a stalker. And Emanuel, you did it for a whole hour and a half. Great job – as long as you didn’t get carried away with yourself and tell her you were the new crown prince of Monte Carlo!

But why are you giving this hottie your phone number? When a woman hands you her card or writes her number down for you, you have to go straight into a hard interview, just like a good, tough love cop. “So, honey -- are you going to call me? When are you going to call me? What night? Let’s set up a time right now when you’re going to dial my digits.” Because do you know what you’re likely to hear in answer to those questions? “Uh…uh…uh…uh….” Guys, women never call! Why go through all that worthless rigmarole? Don’t give her your number. To you Psych majors, once you get her home phone number, beat it the heck out of there. You’ve closed the deal.

So, everything was perfect with your little Carmen Electra-look alike, except for one little glitch…that darned boyfriend. Gosh, they’re a pain, aren’t they? Here you two are getting along better than Jude Law and his nanny and it turns out Carmen’s the granddaughter of the dictator of North Korea! It’s gonna be tough getting her out of North Korea. Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love would say, “But other than that, this girl’s all over you, right?”

My friend, the girl has to be available. I hate to have to inject such a heavy dose of truth into your life in one sentence, but she has to be available. And this girl is not available. Still, you made a good contact. So what we’re going to do is try and figure out a way -- if this boyfriend of hers takes a dive in the next couple of months – to be there to pick up all the pieces.

When she said she was seeing a guy, you should have asked in your best Danny DeVito voice, “How many guys?” You make a valid point about the strong connection the two of you had, but it’s really just a half-truth. You still have to figure out what her Interest Level in this turkey of hers is.

Another possibility is that she’s just being disloyal, and for you that’s not a good thing. Because what makes you think she wouldn’t be disloyal to you somewhere down the line? Or, maybe she has 95% Interest Level in her turkey and she also has low self-esteem, so she’ll take attention from anybody anywhere anytime. We got all these possibilities floating around, my friend, and that’s why I train you guys to think in terms of all the variables when you’re trying to get a read on a babe. You’re in training with me to become love detectives, and with time, you guys will start thinking like the cops on Love And Order.

Emanuel, you wouldn’t pursue a girl who’s in a serious relationship with someone else because she’s not available. But your Interest Level is up in the stratosphere and your ego is all involved with Carmen because she talked to you for 90 minutes, and so you’re going to act against your own common sense. If you asked Carmen if she was seeing anybody, and if she answered “Well, yes, but we’re breaking up at 8 o’clock tonight,” then it would be okay to forge ahead, because she was getting rid of her turkey and she’s available. Get it now?

You won’t appear arrogant by trying to move in on Carmen, you’ll just appear stupid. And like most men, you’re going to come on way too heavy too fast, and she’s already got somebody else!

Your game plan is to get this girl away from this guy. Remember, the odds are lousy, and you should still be chasing other girls. Until Carmen’s guy is history, you’re not going to think about her. You’re just going to play a little head game with her and see if you can get her to give your competition his walking papers.

The goal is not to be able to date Carmen -- that’s where you’re wrong, dude. If you start pressuring her for a date, she’ll say “I have a boyfriend -- I told you that, didn’t I?” and you’re dead in the water before you even get started. So what you’re going to do is this: you’re going to call her every two weeks. Hopefully she’ll call you back in between, and you’ll set up a coffee date. You’re going to meet her at Starbucks and drink coffee for 30 minutes MAXIMUM. Then you’re going to walk her to her car and try to give her a kiss. And then you’ll see what happens from there and how much she wants to talk about her turkey.

Manny, why are you talking about rejection? You spent 90 minutes with a girl who has a boyfriend! You have to get to nine dates with her without rejection before you even entertain the idea of where you stand. Like my Uncle Jethro Love would say, “You got the cart before the horse, boy!”

Remember, guys: when you meet her at Starbucks, make sure you’re overdressed and wearing your best cologne.

Does Marc Anthony ever Worry about J-Lo's Past?

Hey Doc

HELP! I’ve messed up a great relationship and I don’t know if I want to or should try to repair it. Here’s the story.

I started dating Sharon six months ago. She’s 50, I’m 43. She has always shown a high level (90%) of interest in me and treated me well. In fact, she asked me out first. After five great months I discovered her romantic past was much more on the slutty side than I first assumed. When I asked about her past she’d always say “I don’t like to share my history,” but at the same time she said she hadn’t dated much. Well, Doc, I hate to admit this, but three weeks ago I developed a socially communicable disease, to put it as discreetly as I can. I asked Sharon to get tested for it, and the test came back positive. At that point I asked her to be less elusive about her romantic history and came to find out she’s had 25 partners. (My own history is only three partners, since I was married for a long time, until 1998.)

It came out that most of Sharon’s liaisons were one-night stands while she was on various vacations. Her last serious relationship started in 1989 and ended in 1995. She cheated on that guy with a one-nighter in Tahiti two months into their relationship. She claims it wasn’t cheating because they didn’t have an exclusivity agreement. (To me, being intimate with someone means you are exclusive.) For the rest of the time, she says, she was faithful. She also cheated three months into her only marriage back in 1974. This revelation of her promiscuity has had a devastating effect on my interest in her. She claims everyone was playing around “since it was the 80s” and doesn’t understand why this knowledge makes me feel like crap inside. I know this sounds like how a woman would think, but I just don’t feel special anymore.

We had a big talk about how this new information makes me feel, as well as my changed perception of her. (After peeking at her vacation diary, I realized Sharon was hitting on every French guy she had any interest in during a jaunt she took before meeting me.) But I don’t know what to do.

My question is, am I being too hard on Sharon’s history? Any ideas on why this knowledge is making me feel like crapola? Is there some way of changing my perception of her back to where it was? I haven’t dated since my divorce in ’98, not that I wasn’t looking, but I just didn’t seem to elicit any interest from anyone. My looks are on the weak side (I resemble David Letterman or Tom Hanks on his bad days), but I keep myself fit and have heard more than once that I look like the guys on the Calvin Klein underwear box. The problem is that most women are interested in a cute face!

Woodsie - who hates being one of 25

Hi Woodsie,

Of course you messed up this relationship. And the reason you did is because you haven’t memorized my rules. Otherwise you wouldn’t be in the predicament you’re in. And I haven’t even read your story yet!

So, Sharon asked you out first? I just got a nasty letter from a female saying how horrible it was that a guy waited to call her. But that girl is structured – your girl has high Interest Level. Sharon saw what she wanted and went after it. Isn’t it great, guys?

But let’s move on to your problem. You don’t really want to know about Sharon’s past, Woodsie. Because if she tells you she’s had any partners aside from you, she’s going to be a tramp, right? On the other hand, I’ve got to wonder what section of the Australian outback you’ve been living in all your life. You’re looking for a virgin who’s a half-century old? You’d have better luck getting a California jury to convict a celebrity! But here’s the most important point: I always tell you guys that it doesn’t raise Interest Level to talk about her past.

Now you’ve gone and contracted a socially communicable disease. Score one for the Christians! You messed around before marriage and you paid. Then you went back and tried to talk about Sharon’s past again. Talk about beating a dead horse. I mean, what’s the point? You already got the disease, pal. If Sharon had only one partner or she went to bed with the entire Southern Cal football team, what’s the difference? So she’s had 25 partners -- that’s not so bad. That means she only dated a guy for an average of two years before she dropped him.

You say you’ve only had three partners, Woodsie? If you break the Commandments, anything over zero is too many! The real problem is that you never figured out why your wife dumped you before you moved on to a new set of complications. Like my cousin General Love would say, “Soldier, you were unprepared for the battlefield of dating!”

Who cares if Sharon’s liaisons were one-night stands? She’s 50 years young -- what did you expect? This is what you’re going to get if you date in your own age range. To you Psych majors, college girls don’t want to be adopted by old geezers like us.

How do you know when your girl’s relationships began and ended? Would you bet your life on what Sharon’s been feeding you? All you have to know is that you got an infection from her, and I don’t care if she got it one night from one guy or from the U.S. Navy. Thank God she doesn’t leave out any of the gory details of her past!

You never asked Sharon if you two had an exclusive relationship when you jumped between the sheets with her. You can’t assume anything when it comes to women, buddy, and that’s the first thing you have to realize. And by the way, when you’re going to bed with someone, what does it mean? This lovely lady of yours could be sleeping with two guys at the same time. It’s sort of like when they pick up these vile child molesters. You read about their crimes and you ask yourself, “Why was this creep out of prison in the first place?” So you have to try and find out this stuff sooner. Remember what I’ve told you again and again: you guys have to be love cops on Love And Order.

Sharon’s promiscuity should have a devastating effect on your Interest Level in her, Woodsie, but not because she’s been out partying with the backfield. You should only be worried about the fact that you got a disease from her. And by the way, why isn’t she visiting the doctor regularly since she’s into dating entire battalions? When she told you about her adventures in the ’80s, you should have looked at her with sad eyes and said: “But honey, you’re the love of my life and you’re only 50. I thought you were new!”

Just because your girl gave you a social disease and you found out that she likes entertaining the rugby team, you don’t feel special anymore? It really bugs you? Why is that? I don’t understand it, myself. If you wrote to Dear Abby or Ann Landers, know what they’d tell you? “Typical selfish, insensitive man. You’re not giving enough of yourself to your poor woman! You’ve got to be more open and show your feelings!” To you Psych majors, beg her to take more jewelry.

Why are you shocked that Sharon is interested in every Frenchman who’s ever lived? She asked you out first, remember. So when she’s in France, she’s going to be chasing after half the male population. I guess you’re not so special after all.

But in the end, no matter what, you can’t change the past. Get off it. Look forward.

You’re not being too hard on Sharon’s past, dude. You’re just stupid. You should have inquired about a blood test and a marriage certificate before you went and got yourself all diseased. So forget about her – you have a bigger problem to worry about now.

You won’t be able to erase your new perception of Sharon as a trollop. Once it’s in your memory bank, it’s there forever, and what she told you about herself was way too big – it’s like an elephant standing in the kitchen. In her defense, you kept nagging her. And like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Only women are supposed to nag, didn’t you know that? It’s their divine right!”

So, Woodsie, go and memorize the Dating Dictionary, and once you’re clean and cured we’ll go out and get you someone who’s alive and breathing. And hopefully the next one hasn’t been out with a couple regiments of marines!

One last thing. Tom Hanks is nice-looking, so you’re a C or C plus in the looks department. But I hope you also have a personality, because Letterman doesn’t. And good thing you look like a Calvin Klein model. I’m impressed. You did one thing right out of 17!

Next time, don’t sin with a community project.

Remember, guys: there’s an old Cheyenne proverb that says “Leave the past in the past.”

Does Bruce Willis ever Pine for Demi Moore?

Hey Doc,

I’m writing you for some sage advice on a serious situation in my life. I have asked many of my close friends for help with this, and they all give me conflicting answers, so I thought maybe some outside advice on this issue might help.

I’ve been divorced two and half years now from Emily (we were married for seven years, no kids), and am living with a new woman, Jill, who is just great. She’s totally into me and completely different in temperament and personality from Emily.

I, on the other hand, am still deeply in love with my ex. She was the one who wanted the divorce, and hasn’t spoken with me until just this past Christmas. At that time we finally got to talk about all our past issues. There was a moment in our conversation when she began to act like the woman I fell in love with years ago, and when she confronted me with the statement that “I hated her,” I broke down and confessed that I still loved her and always would.

Well, Doc, she was completely taken off guard and blurted out that she still had deep feelings for me, but was unsure of exactly how she felt and what, if anything, to do about it. She is currently seeing someone else too, and her concern seems to be focused on the fact that I’m living with another woman presently. She says that she doesn’t believe me when I say I still love her. I think this is because she systematically tried very hard to push me away when we were getting divorced.

Doc, I still love Emily and want her back desperately. I don’t want to hurt Jill, but my heart cries out for my ex. What the heck is a guy supposed to do in this situation? Is it possible to ever go back and start all over again?

Tiger - who has watched two worlds collide

Hi Tiger,

Your first problem is asking all of your “close friends” for advice. When it comes to love, I’M your close friend. I’m your ONLY close friend. And your old friends are your enemies. Why? Because they don’t know “The System.” So to start off, you’ve got everything back-asswards. These so-called friends of yours -- while I’m sure they have wonderful intentions -- give you confusing, conflicting answers because they’re all stupid when it comes to love. And that’s your problem, pal. I’m not the one who should be the source of “outside advice” when it comes to women -- your friends should be on the outside. Because they’re outside of reality.

So, these two flames of yours are as different as night and day. Meaning what? The only difference that’s obvious is that the babe you’re living in sin with, Jill, has 95% Interest Level in you, and the other one doesn’t. But that’s a BIG difference.

By the way, if you’re so deeply in love with your ex, what the heck are you doing misleading poor Jill? Why are you moving in with another person when you don’t care about her? Are you using her like a nurse in a convalescent home until you get well and then you’re going to hand her walking papers and break her heart? My rules say that we don’t use women. If we’re done learning from them or we don’t dig them, we don’t waste their time. Next!

Let’s move on to your main problem -- Emily, your lovely ex-wife. She was the one who wanted the divorce? Tiger, women are the ones who ALWAYS want the divorce! What planet have you been living on? Come on, guy, that’s about as basic as it gets!

She finally spoke to you last Christmas after two and a half years? What was she after, a present or something? When you two finally hashed out all your past issues, did she tell you about how you fatally lowered her Interest Level because you were all over her all the time and pressured her and treated her like your mommy?

No, she didn’t. She acted, at least for a few minutes, like the girl you fell in love with. Man, you have got to quit smoking the marijuana, please. Now think about this. You’re telling me you have 100% Interest Level in Emily -- and I believe you, Tiger, I believe you -- and she’s telling you that you hated her? Huh? Like my cousin Jethro Love would say, “That there’s the most convoluted declaration of love I ever heard!”

By the way, when you broke down and confessed to the divine Emily that you would always love her, did you grovel and beg, too? Did you get down and kiss her feet? Are you sure your name’s really Tiger? Because you’re acting more like a nice, tame little pussycat.

It’s fascinating that Emily used the word “unsure” when she was talking about her feelings for you. I’ve got news for you, my friend. She was lying like a Persian rug. Like my cousin Rabbi Love says, “No woman since Eve has ever been unsure.” The reality is that Emily hates you, Tiger, and not vice-versa.

Your ex is seeing someone else, too? That means she’s seeing two people -- you and this other stud-muffin. She entertained you for a half-hour at Christmastime and you went off into la-la land, dreaming about the good old days. All the while she’s in the arms of a new man, making out, grabbing him and everything else a woman does when she has high Interest Level in a guy. And like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love likes to say, “They would have done a lot more, but they didn’t have the time!”

And guess what? She’s not fantasizing about you, like most of you pitiful guys fantasize about your exes. But she says her main “concern” is that you’re living with another woman. Well, Tiger, she has to give you something. Women never tell the truth – which in this case is, “Guess what – I have low Interest Level in you!” Ever hear of WOMANESE? Check out my book. The entire dictionary of Womanese – the science of what they say versus what they mean – is included in the last chapter.

Here’s another thing, my friend. Emily DOES believe you when you say you still love her. She’s lying to you when she says she doesn’t. The problem is that she wants no part of you and your declarations of undying devotion (except for the momentary ego rush it gives her). The harder you push, the harder she rejects. And, oh -- you mean a woman pushes you away when you get divorced? Gee, I didn’t know that!

But after all this brutal spurning you’ve endured you still swear that you’re totally, desperately gone over your ex. Know what guy? “Desperately” is the worst word in the world. NOTHING IS WORSE IN A WOMAN’S EYES THAN A DESPERATE MAN. Why not try acting like a creature with a backbone for a change instead of being one more pathetic Wimpus Americanus?

So at the end of the day you’ve got one problem in your obsession with Emily, plus you’ve got your roommate – you’ve got to get rid of her, and that’s another problem. But you know what, buddy? I think you’re living with a good one – Jill -- right now. And you don’t even see it. Maybe you should open your eyes to what’s right in front of you in the present instead of living in the past. The past is over, in case you haven’t noticed. Like the great love doctor Sigmund Freud once wrote, “Why would you want to torture yourself over what’s finished and done? You got a problem or something?”

Remember, guys: never try and keep someone who doesn’t want to keep you.

Would the Donald let Melania have Dinner with Another Guy?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been dating Samantha for two years and everything has been truly wonderful. I have followed your program to the letter. The 60 days of Challenge got her hooked, and then came the romance and affection. Samantha treats me like a king. Just the other day she gave me a card with a picture of a baby boy on the front. What she was telling me without coming out and saying it was how she really wants to marry me, and this is what our kid will look like. Now here’s the kicker, Doc. She even put a little money in it for me! She does stuff like this for me all the time. She even paid for my plane ticket to go and see her parents with her this past Christmas.

So what’s my problem? Well, it’s an issue related to Self-Control and jealousy. I know you said that jealousy is an absolute no-no and that guys have to have Self-Control at all times. Here’s what shakes mine.

Every month Samantha has to go out of town for two days to attend a seminar for her job. When she comes back, she tells me about this dude in her program who’s really cool and how they talk and then go out to dinner. Then she goes on to say she finally met someone in her seminar -- meaning him -- who isn't a total jerk (because everyone else in it is arrogant).

Now when she tells me all this, I play it cool. Samantha recounts how she showed my picture to this guy and told him all about how we met, and he in turn talks about his girlfriend.

I told her “That’s great,” but inside I’m thinking that this dude is trying to move in on my girl, know what I mean? Samantha’s actions show that she loves me, but I can’t help but think maybe I’m being hoodwinked here. I mean, how would I really know, right?

So Doc, am I just overanalyzing the situation? Am I being too paranoid? Am I worried over nothing, or am I letting myself get taken for a ride?

Jagger - who feels uneasy about those dinner dates

Hi Jagger,

Very cute, Samantha’s little card with the money stuck in it. And I’ll bet that was a pretty baby on the cover, too. All in all, a very nice scene except for one thing -- she talks to you about another guy? Hold it right there! That’s a big, huge rock in the middle of the road, man. You might think it’s just a ping-pong ball, but from where I’m sitting, it’s a boulder.

I’ve got news for you, Jagger. This dude Samantha’s been talking about has been “working” her. Here’s the scenario. He’s new and fresh, he looks sharp, he has a spiffy suit on, he out dresses everybody at the seminar, he’s coming off as funny as Chris Rock, and, worst of all, you’re not doing something right at home.

Know how I know? Samantha wouldn’t be talking about him otherwise. As my Uncle Jethro Love would say, “When you make the cat purr all the time, she never wants to be petted by anyone else.”

Now let’s take apart what Samantha’s been feeding you about the seminar, piece by piece. Like I always tell you guys, this is the time to be like Detective Green on Law And Order, and you’re going to be a love cop on Love and Order. So run the evidence through your brain: “Now here’s a seminar room containing 38 people, right? And guess what? Every single one of them is ‘arrogant,’ except for this one guy. That leaves 37 arrogant people.”

Does it hold water? Or is your BS detector turning somersaults? How many times have you attended a class or social function and found that literally every one of the people in attendance have an attitude of some sort? None, right? (Of course we do have to discount fashion week in New York when the place is overrun by the likes of Naomi Campbell and Heidi Klum!) It doesn’t make sense, does it?

See what they do here, guys? When they shovel it, you eat, like dopes. To you Psych majors, you buy into their WOMANESE, which means they say one thing but mean something else, and that something else is far, far different from the actual truth. Check out the very last chapter of the Dating Dictionary. It’s all explained right there.

Jagger, you didn’t stand up for yourself and attack Samantha on her logic (or, more accurately, her lack of it), which is what you should have done from the get-go. And the guys who know when and how to do that are the guys who have memorized my principles.

So, the seminar dude talks about his girlfriend? Isn’t that sweet and considerate of him….Wow, this guy’s really good. He probably hasn’t had a date in six months, but he’s really slick and he knows how to sucker your Samantha in. As the singer Sade would say, “He’s a smooth operator.” You never even considered the possibility that he’s slinging the bull, too, did you? That’s why I know you haven’t done your homework, Jagger.

But here’s the thing that should really be bothering you, guy. Samantha lied to you, when she said that 37 out of 38 people in a room were arrogant, and her dinner date is the only one who isn’t. (And he also happens to be the best-looking guy there, just by accident!)

When you love somebody, you can’t lie to them. When you lie to them, it sucks all the love away. That’s what the Reality Factor says.

You’re not overanalyzing the situation, Jagger. You’re just misinterpreting everything about it. And hell yes, you should be paranoid over the fact that Samanatha spends all her free time when she’s on a business trip hanging out with another man and can’t stop talking about him when she gets back!

What you should have done was conducted a hard interview of Samantha when she started going on about her seminar stud. But you should have prefaced it with “By the way, I’m real happy you’re having a good time on your trips,” to disarm her and get the answers you needed. Then you should have asked, “By the way, how many dates have you had with this fellow?” And her answer would have gone something like this: “Well, actually, we’ve been having dinner both nights since the second seminar, and this last one was the eighth seminar. So that makes a total of 14 dinners now that I’ve had with this guy. Everyone else there is arrogant, but not him! (And oh, by the way -- he just happens to look like Mel Gibson!)”

And, my friend, at that point you would have realized you have a massive problem. And the problem may be that her Interest Level in you has skidded from 95% to 60%. This other guy is new and cool, using your girl’s own words, so he’s more attractive than you. So you have to ask yourself: “Am I being a Challenge? Do I allow her to touch me first? Do I wait for her to be affectionate? Does she still compliment me like in the good old days?”

And this is what you have to hope for: that this other guy really does have a girlfriend, and he’s just being nice to Samantha because they happen to get along and have business in common. Because you have to be able to trust your woman when she goes out of town. Otherwise, you’re in trouble.

Remember, guys: Doc Love doesn’t like it when she talks about other men.

Did Brad have to Soothe Jennifer's Insecurities?

Hi Doc,

I’ve been a faithful reader of your columns for over three years now. I’ve tried to use your principles, especially being a Challenge, in my current relationship with June (we’ve been together for over two years), but it’s not working as well as I thought it would. There’s something wrong, but I don’t know what it is.

June and I met in our last year of college. We started dating after three weeks of getting to know each other as classmates. I used your techniques from the get-go and they worked! I appeared confident, decisive, and didn’t always give in to June’s whims. I guess that’s how we’ve been able to stay together, and she even moved to Taiwan from her homeland (Hong Kong) for me.

But this is where things might have gone wrong. June is an incredibly insecure girl. Let me give you an example. On our first date, which was lunch, we were at a restaurant where some of the customers at other tables were being noisy. Therefore I decided that we should leave. However, she interpreted this to mean that I didn’t care about her and acted stone cold for the rest of the evening. When I asked her what was wrong, she wouldn’t say a word. Finally her friends intervened and resolved the situation.

Another example is that she’ll compare the movies and novels she reads with her life and concludes that a guy should do anything for the girl he loves. Doc, since this is her first relationship, all she can compare me to are the men from the movies and books she’s read. So if I don’t measure up well (in her mind) to the fictional guys, she becomes fearful that I don’t love her enough. Then she’ll try and catch my attention by acting really sad and angry, and I have to spend hours comforting her and reassuring her that I care a lot for her.

The problem is now worse, because June moved across the ocean to be with me, which means she has even higher expectations and demands from our relationship. The slightest imperfection or misunderstanding can cause her to worry and doubt the relationship. And since she is so insecure, she tries to save face by terminating the relationship first.

Whenever she pulls this tactic, however, she ends up crying and regretting what she said and did. Doc, I’m at wit’s end. How do I deal with such a sensitive and insecure girl? If I remain a Challenge, she’ll think I don’t compare with the romantic “wussies” from the Hollywood movies. Does being a Challenge work for a girl with low self-esteem and insecurities?


Mick - who got himself into a mess and doesn’t know how to get out

Hi Mick,

Before we get into the heart of your fix, I want to point something out. When you appear confident, it doesn’t matter what country the woman’s from, as you’ve demonstrated here. She can be from Mongolia or she can be from Montana, but all women, all over the world, want a confident, decisive guy.

Secondly, you mentioned that June wanted to do things that you didn’t. So how did you handle it? You compromised a little. You gave some ground to her, but to the rest of her demands you said NO. So I want to thank you for writing that sentence. Most guys would just read it and not give it a second thought, but there is a lot of power in it, and like Fast Eddie Love would say, “Dude, you showed that you have some real cojones.” Mick, there doesn’t have to be any guessing on your part about why you two stayed together. Your ability to take a stand and say NO is definitely the reason.

When a woman moves for you – in your case, across the South China Sea – that indicates high Interest Level. What you have to do is keep the Interest Level high – that’s the hard part. But at the same time, you have to have something to work with. And sadly, you don’t have that here. I’ll explain a little later.

When you left the restaurant, Mick, did you tell June why? Did you say, “Honey, let’s go find a place that’s a little more quiet?” Apparently you didn’t explain it to her, or she didn’t hear it. She pouted when you left, though, and that’s the most problematic thing here. This “mature” woman that you’re in love with acts like a seven-year-old. And like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “When they act like seven-year-olds and you live with them, that means they’re HIGH MAINTENANCE, baby!” And of course that means you have to put up with lots of stuff. Oh, it’ll be cute for a couple of months, but then you know what happens? It becomes a real drag. The celebrity news is full of high-maintenance babes. Think J-Lo. Think Liz Taylor. Think Raquel Welch. That’s 15 marriages among them – and counting. Think those three beauties are easy to keep satisfied? To you Psych majors, think again.

Mick, if your girl has trouble confusing crappy entertainment with real life, you should be showing her Cary Grant films. When she wants to read, give her The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand so she can get to know Howard Roark. Between the two, she’ll get an idea of how a real man acts. What you’re telling me here is that if you don’t crawl around on your hands and knees and beg, and tell her everything is perfect all the time (when you’re really miserable) like the wussies in the movies and romance novels do, she can’t handle it. Sounds like your girl is in tune with reality, buddy!

But wait a minute here, Mick. After you have the guts to stand up – at least some of the time -- to this girl, you then turn around and spend hours begging? You spend hours playing nursemaid? And you call yourself a Challenge when you’re down on your knees “reassuring” and “comforting” your unhappy princess? Is that what you’re telling me here, Mister Consistent Confidence? Get a grip, man!

So, she has even bigger expectations of your relationship? Tough! You don’t care about her expectations – and you’re not going to meet them. It’s time for her to grow up, or pack her bags and don’t let the door hit her in the you-know-what on her way out.

When June gets all insecure and sniveling and asks you where you’ve been, tell her “I’ve been out on a date with another woman.” If she bitches that she doesn’t like that kind of talk from you, you then say “Well, don’t bring it up, babe! It’s time for you to grow up. I’m sick and tired of you acting like a second-grader!”

And when she tosses a hissy fit and terminates the relationship, tell her “Honey, every time you leave you come back. Don’t you feel a little funny pulling that lame act, huh?”

Mick, what it boils down to is that this girl is a mess, and how she got her hooks into you I’ll never understand. Remember what I’ve told you guys again and again about making sure she’s clinically sane before you get involved. You’d be surprised how many girls out there aren’t. To you Psych majors, you have to be very, very careful from the get-go and not let her luscious bee-stung lips and legs that go on forever obscure what you’re really seeing.

Here’s how you deal with June. You sit her down and give her a talk. You tell her to grow up or shove off! It’s her problem if she compares you unfavorably with the romantic wussies on the silver screen. Because you’re not going to play along with it. You’re not going to cater to her. You’re going to do what’s right. Because like my Uncle Jethro Love puts it, ”Golly! You ain’t even got married yet! Once you tie that knot, it’s really going to be fun, boy!”

So the answer to your question, pal, is yes, using Challenge on June did work. It showed you that she’s no good for you. Challenge always works when it comes to women. ALWAYS.

Remember, guys: begging only lowers Interest Level.

Does Russell Crowe Ever Let a Babe Get to Him?

Before I ask my question, I want to thank you for all the great advice and time you put into helping out all of us guys.

My dilemma is more painful than I’d like to admit, and I really need some good advice on this. I’ve been with a beautiful young woman named Stephanie for nearly four years now. I’m a civil engineer in my late twenties and she’s almost through college on a full scholarship. Our relationship has been quite possibly as good as it can get. In these four years we have never gotten into a fight or even a loud quarrel. We have been talking about marriage and our financial future is secure.

Now here’s the part that just baffles me. Up until a month ago our relationship was absolutely great, we told each other everything, and we were still crazy for each other in every way. (My friends couldn’t understand how we were all over each other after four years like we’d just met.) Well, for the past few weeks Stephanie has suddenly been in a hurry on the phone and sort of ignoring me at times. The reason for this – and I found out from her – is that a guy has been trying to get her to date him. This guy is only 18 and works at a fast food restaurant! The guy and I know each other, by the way.

Needless to say, I’m furious, but did not show my anger towards Stephanie. After all, I’m angry with the other guy, not her. Just yesterday I found out that this guy, who is apparently very persistent, invited himself and a friend to go with Stephanie and her friends to the mall and the movies. After the movie he pulled her towards him and kissed her. She said it threw her for a loop – as in surprised, not as in fireworks.

But now she isn’t sure if we should separate and try dating other people! Needless to say, I feel like my heart has just been ripped out of my chest. Actually, I’ve not felt this kind of pain since my own father died when I was 11, and that is a lot of pain.

Please give me some advice if you can, Doc. I feel completely torn apart and devastated, which is funny since I’m a big guy who played football and you’d never know how I feel by looking at me. I can’t seem to clear all the confusion in my mind. My perfect relationship with this Beautiful Woman has been changed overnight.

Please let me know what you think about all this. Thanks in advance.

Swiftie - who doesn’t know if he can deal with it

Hi Swiftie,

I’m not only helping guys, pal. I’m also helping out lots of other people – like all the ladies of the world. Why? Because I’m trying to make Cary Grants out of you apes.

Now wait a minute here. You’ve been going out with Stephanie for four years and you never had a disagreement? As my cousin Jethro Love would say, “There’s a problem here, my boy!” Because there has to be a reason – and not a good reason – you two never had it out even once. Is it because you’ve always given in, like a nice Wimpus Americanus? Is it because you’ve been doing the perfect imitation of a doormat? Did you just go along with whatever Stephanie wanted from day one? Or did she give in to you all along but deep down inside resented it – and, eventually, you?

Your financial future might be as sewn up as Bill Gates’, Swiftie, but I wouldn’t count on anything else if you marry this girl. Not having even one air-clearing argument in four years is a BIG RED FLAG.

You say you told your girl everything. And now you’re sitting there telling me my advice is great, but you know that one-third of my program says that you guys have to keep your mouths shut and be a Challenge. So what’s the deal -- have you followed my rules, or only Stephanie’s wishes?

Here’s another, more devious problem you have and don’t even know it: when Interest Level starts heading south, WOMEN FAKE IT. When Stephanie’s Interest Level was tumbling from a lofty 95% to 85%, she only pretended it was 85%, but it was really 75%. And when she got tired of faking it, all of a sudden it appeared to drop from 75% to 45%. But that was an illusion too, because it really didn’t drop that fast. It was falling slowly and steadily, like a mountain stream, and in your case it could have been falling as far back as a year, even a year and a half ago.

I just wish Stephanie would have been all over you more, and you’d been all over her a little less during those four years, and you wouldn’t be in this predicament now. Nevertheless, you definitely lowered her Interest Level, Swiftie. You did something wrong, big-time. And that’s your problem in a nutshell.

But let’s move on to your immediate impasse anyway. Now just look at your logic here. Some guy wants to take Stephanie out on a date. You said she was beautiful, so what’s the surprise? She can have three dates a night if she wants to. When other guys are after Stephanie, your insurance is her 95% Interest Level in you. So, like I said, you had to have lowered her Interest Level. That’s why it’s impossible to steal a girl. Actually “stealing” a girl would be swiping someone who has 95% Interest Level in a guy – but that doesn’t happen. It can’t happen. Her Interest Level has to be south of the border for her to be so vulnerable to being kidnapped in the first place.

Here’s something else to consider. This new guy may only work at a fast-food restaurant, but maybe he has a personality and you don’t. Maybe you’re a boring engineer and you don’t even know it. So don’t be angry with this kid. He’s done nothing wrong. And, as I said, apparently Stephanie is receptive to him. You’re the kind of guy who discovers his wife with her lover and then shoots the lover instead of her! And then the guy kills himself and the woman walks away scot-free and marries the cop. It’s stupid, dude! (Now I don’t want all you Feministas out there getting your knickers in a twist. I’m not saying that any woman should be shot – no one should ever be shot.) But why do men go after the other guy who moved in? Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “After all, it was the woman who chose the new meat!”

Regarding the whole mall/movie episode, you have to come to grips with this fact, Swiftie: Stephanie had to tell Mister Burger King what she and her friends were planning that night. And what the heck is she doing rapping to this guy, especially when she knows he’s coming on to her? Why is she so amenable to his charms when she doesn’t have time to talk to you on the phone? Know why? To you Psych majors, because her Interest Level is circling in the sink, that’s why!

Swiftie, I’ll tell you one thing – I couldn’t teach your 18-year-old rival very much. He might only flip cheeseburgers for a living, and he might still be living at home with his mommy and daddy, but he gets an A+ in Women 101! This guy has you breaking up with Stephanie after a single kiss? Wow -- he is a firecracker!

What you have to get through your head, buddy, is this: your heart started to rip apart a year and a half ago. Interest Level doesn’t take a swan dive overnight. It disappears in slow, steady increments. You might have owned this girl for a long, long time, but you dated her when she was between 18 and 22. Like Fast Eddie Love says, “I don’t trust any girl between 18 and 22 with my Interest Level.” Find yourself somebody 25 or 26 years young. And you are going to have to find somebody else for yourself now, I’m sorry to say.

And I’m also truly sorry you’re going through such pain, guy. There’s no worse torture in life than being rejected by a woman you worship. But as I pointed out before, a lot of guys love my advice, brag about how smart I am, and then don’t follow my advice. I can give you a helpful hint, and then a certain sticky situation will arise and you won’t follow it. So, guys memorize the Dating Dictionary or forget women.

Swiftie, your perfect relationship wasn’t wrecked overnight. But on the other side of the coin you have to remember that Time is mankind’s greatest healer.

Remember, guys: romantic love takes constant vigilance.

Does Mick Jagger Carry a Checklist of What Not to Do?

Hey Doc,

After all these years of reading your column, I can honestly say that I’ve never gotten tired of it and have learned so much from you that I would regard myself as on the road to mastery, if such a thing can ever be achieved when it comes to the opposite sex. And now, having you on the radio is an even bigger bonus! I hope you become more popular than Howard Stern! Lord knows it would help all the hapless guys in the world. Which leads me to my request.

I watch many of my friends blow it with women they really want. Sadly, I had to place myself in this same category, until, as I said, I discovered your techniques and transformed myself from a loser with women into a winner. And I’ve seen my buddies do it all – call their women too often, indulge their whims with expensive gifts and dinners, and then kiss their lovely butts after the women treated them like crap and rejected them for other, less worthy guys. It’s been an ugly sight to behold, Doc.

I wonder if you would grace us with a list of the top behaviors that make a woman’s Interest Level drop. Then we could all print the column out and paste it onto our computers or carry it in our wallets as a sort of “first watch” checklist. You know, something along the lines of “TOP DEADLIEST MISTAKES MEN MAKE TO FORCE A WOMAN’S INTEREST LEVEL INTO THE TOILET” -- that sort of thing. Seriously, I think it would be of aid to millions of men the world over. And there’s a hidden agenda for me here, too. I’m dating a woman now who’s a 9.5 and I don’t want to make some of the blunders I’ve made in the past.

Anyway, thanks again for all your help, Doc. You are truly the greatest love doctor who ever lived.

Payton - who’d like to see it all spelled out

Hi Payton,

It is actually possible to achieve mastery when it comes to the opposite sex, my friend. Of course such mastery isn’t achieved overnight. It takes months, years, of work to come even close to handling women. But I want you to go back in time and think about the day the Dating Dictionary arrived in your mailbox and you were just unwrapping it. Do you remember how clueless you were about the girls at that moment? Now, how much do you know about the fairer sex today? There’s your answer. That’s what’ll tell you how far you’ve come. And, no doubt, if you’ve memorized my book and put its principles into practice like an accomplished artist, you’re a heck of a lot better off than you were back then.

Like my cousin Brother Love says, “TRUTH, not falsehood, leads to wisdom and awareness.” And that’s my job – to lift the fog for you guys. What you’re saying, Payton, is that my techniques have brought you closer to holding your own in the war. And make no mistake, as my cousin General Love says, “It’s total war out there!”

So congratulations on turning yourself from a loser to a winner. And on your road to mastery, I’m sure you learned the truth of whether the lovely and beautiful Beth O is with Howard Stern because of his drop-dead good looks or because of that half-a-billion-dollar contract he’s going to be bringing down from satellite radio.

You talk about the “less worthy” guys your friends lost their women to. Actually, they only appear to be less worthy. Deep down, they’re really bad guys. And some ladies dig bad guys, because they’re what we call “Negative Challenges.” Why do you think a wrinkled old coot like Jack Nicholson still attracts female attention?

But yes, you’re right, the torture that guys are subjected to at the hands of the ladies is ugly to behold, buddy. But isn’t it funny that when you finally get hip to what’s really going on, it all becomes as clear as day? You go out to a club and you notice that the girls are yawning and looking around the room with absolutely no Interest Level, and the guys hitting on them are making fools of themselves, and they don’t even see it even though their faces are a mere 18 inches apart. But you see it, dude. Amazing, isn’t it?

So, you’d like to see a list of the main things that lower Interest Level…. Well, have you ever noticed that 90% of the time guys don’t get past the first date and can’t score a second date? Why is that? After all, she went out with you and appeared to have a good time (or at least you thought she did) -- so what the heck happened? What did you do wrong?

Paste the following boners up on your computer screen:

YOU TALK TOO MUCH. Most guys yak way too much. They talk about things that don’t raise Interest Level. They don’t even think to ask themselves, “Is this going to help my cause?” No, they just blabber. Quit blabbering, guys.

YOU TALK DOWN TO THE WOMAN. In reality, she’s twice as smart as you are. Now how intelligent is that?

YOU BS. You all know that my articles are rated GP, so I have to say this as delicately as possible: guys fling the horse manure. And here’s the problem with BS – she’s got built-in radar. She knows when you’re telling the truth. She knows how to perceive sincerity. She knows that you weren’t really an all-state first-team quarterback and that you’re not writing bestselling novels under a pseudonym.

YOU TALK ABOUT SEX. It’s a turn-off. It might work in Hollywood movies, but it turns out that the girl you’re taking out is conservative. She actually goes to church and she’s a nice girl. The last thing she wants to hear from you is bad dialogue out of a porn flick. Yet you insist on doing your worst imitation of Ron Jeremy. Drop it.

YOU DON’T WALK ERECT. Don’t laugh. This falls under the heading of personal grooming. Some guys don’t walk – or look -- like human beings. It might have worked for Keith Richards when he snagged his hot young model wife, but then again, you don’t have his zillions in the bank. And don’t forget to get a haircut, take a good shower (and use soap), and make sure you don’t have holes in your wardrobe. It’s basic, but lots of men forget the basics. It’s like trying to play basketball without knowing how to dribble or shoot. On the other hand, if you’re in the band, it doesn’t matter – the dirtier the better.

Above all, keep your mouth shut unless it’s light and funny. For more tips, check out my books.

Remember, guys: unless it lifts her Interest Level, why are you talking about it?

Would Katie Holmes be too Busy to Return Tom's Calls?

Hey Doc,

Let me first say that I don’t doubt your veracity and expertise as the greatest love doctor of all. However, recently, while surfing the web, I stumbled on another love doctor whose name I won’t mention. He wrote an intriguing article on “confident persistence” (I’m sure you’ve read it), and this is why I’m writing you.

This other love doctor spoke of the idea that most women, upon meeting a guy, do not necessarily display extreme high interest, even if they are interested, and that they may also display your typical female distractions, i.e., date-breaking, unreturned phone calls, etc. I think of myself as a pretty smart young fellow and although I am a novice in the area of romance, his assessment struck a chord in me. The world today is lot busier and complicated than it used to be, and affairs of the heart and romance are not the highest priority on everyone’s list anymore -- and this includes even men. Therefore, meeting someone new can either take second place to work and career or make us more wary of affairs of the heart.

So my question is this: should a guy “persist with confidence” when he’s interested in a woman, even if she seems not all that focused on him at the start? Maybe she’s just so busy that she can’t concentrate on the guy at first, but his continued attentions will bring her around. Make sense?

As much as I like and am compelled to follow your advice, I am also one who does not like to rule out the possibility of alternatives. (No one theory is foolproof!) I have just received the Dating Dictionary and am in the early stages of memorizing it. In time, you can even put me to the test to see if I am up to snuff. But now I’m putting you to the test, Doc. If you are who you say you are, then the possibility of “deviations” to your “System” should be welcomed.

P.S. I have a question about the answering machine. I know it’s a mistake to leave a message on a woman’s machine asking for a date. Should I say, “Please give me call back,” or should I hang up as soon as her angelic voice says she “can’t be reached right now?”

Thanks. Always a pleasure.

Gary - who’s trying to make sense of it all

Hi Gary,

Thanks for the letter and your generous words. Now let me set you straight on a few things.

It’s true, as your other love doctor says, that some babes won’t display extreme high interest when meeting a guy. Most, however, will display at least some buying signals if they’re interested. But the point is this: you’ve got a lot of work to do if the girl’s Interest Level is 55%, versus the 75% or 80% she’ll show you straight out of the chute if you happen to be a cover boy for Esquire magazine.

But where I disagree 100% with your other love doctor is on the subject of date-breaking. No girl with true positive Interest Level – meaning 51% or higher -- is going to break a date. Because a broken date is all about low Interest Level, in other words, Interest Level below 50%. And like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Which means she ain’t interested at all, and no amount of chasing her is going to change that.”

So, Gary, we can agree on one point your other dating coach makes, but then on a crucial matter, he’s dead wrong. That’s why I tell you guys that until you have my stuff down cold, you shouldn’t be fooling around with quacks. They might have a decent idea here and there, I’m not saying they don’t, but you can’t make a good decision about what to keep and what to discard because you’re not ready. And remember that their notions are just that, ideas, where on the other hand I’ve been in the trenches interviewing the real thing – women -- for decades. Like my cousin Doctor Freud once said, “Theory is no substitute for practice.”

And your other love doctor is off-target on the topic of unreturned phone calls, too. Here my rule is simple: you shouldn’t be leaving messages to return in the first place -- PERIOD. If you’re such a smart fellow, Gary, why are you leaving voice mails when my book says not to? To you Psych majors, you do not want to appear to be a clueless desperado.

You, a novice in the area of romance, Gary? Gosh, you’re kidding! I would never have known! Wow, you had me fooled! But seriously, the other love doctor struck a chord in you because you wanted to believe him. It’s your ego reacting here, and as you guys know, you have to set your ego aside when it comes to the opposite sex. You might want to think that you can win Angelina Jolie over, but without the required Interest Level, it’s not happening. The Reality Factor says that once your ego is involved, you can’t see clearly, and that’s because you want to see things your way.

The world might be busier and more complicated than it used to be, but so what? Two and two still equals four the last time I checked. So I dispute totally that romance is a lower priority in today’s world. If a woman wants to get married and have babies, and if a guy is lonely and he’d do anything to get a woman…well, think about what will happen. Between those two factors, romance and love is going to be a high priority. Hey, even Donald Trump finds time to get hitched, doesn’t he?

The reason women don’t return phone calls is not because of their obsession with their careers. It’s because of LOW INTEREST LEVEL. When a woman returns a call, she has HIGH INTEREST LEVEL. I know this is real hard for most guys to grasp, but it’s the truth. And that’s what is great about the Bottom Line Factor – all you have to do is bottom-line her actions. Nevertheless, like I said before, you shouldn’t be leaving phone messages.

If a woman doesn’t give you the time of day at the start, it depends on what you mean by “at the start.” The simplest and most effective way to gauge Interest Level is to go up to her, get her name, make her laugh and then ask her the magic question: “Caprice, what’s your home phone number?” That’s your display of confident persistence, and it stops right there.

Whether or not Caprice gives you or doesn’t give you the number doesn’t make a lick of difference. But it is the moment of truth, and you don’t need any more in the way of tactics or strategies to figure out where you stand. If Caprice coughs up some lame excuse, anything other than the seven digits you asked for, it’s “Nice talking to you, Caprice.” You smile, shake her hand, and walk off into the sunset.

So, should you show continued attentions to a girl who seems to be distracted? Gary, Gary, Gary. Golly, you’ve got a long way to go. Let’s say there’s a Victoria’s Secret model standing right in front of me, but I’m so busy and preoccupied with other business that she hardly registers on my radar screen, and I just can’t pay any attention to her. Uh, right. Does THAT make any sense?

Is any love doctor foolproof? In the immortal words of my cousin Fast Eddie Love, “Doc Love comes the closest!” Guy, your letter tells me that you’re in the very, VERY early stages of memorizing the Dating Dictionary. If you want me to test you on what you know, get back to me in about seven years.

There are no deviations from “The System.” I call these little side issues the “advanced class.” For instance, there might be fine distinctions between the concepts of Confidence and Challenge, and these will be explored after the Dating Dictionary is already memorized. You’ll then get what I call puffs of wisdom from all your study and you’ll know the right answer. So they’re not deviations, dude. Let’s call them subsets of my rules.

Finally, regarding the answering machine let me reiterate. It’s a mistake -- FOREVER -- to leave a message. Why don’t you just yelp instead like a little puppy and beg her to PLEASE LOVE ME -- in doggie talk.

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

Would Elvis Trust his Intuition?

Hi Doc,

First let me say THANKS, because I’ve learned so much from you!

I’m 26 years old; currently unemployed, and have never had a long-term relationship with a girl. While on vacation with my friend recently we saw lots of girls in restaurants, bars, theaters, even in church. My friend is a scientist, very articulate, and has a girlfriend (who he cheats on, incidentally), and whenever we encountered a female he would encourage me to go up to her and get her phone number. If I’m interested in a girl I naturally take the initiative and try and get her number. But I also have this “sixth sense” that tells me whether a girl is interested in me and prevents me from wasting my time chasing a lost cause. My friend kept urging me to forget my intuition and just go up to her and get her number. His philosophy is that I should get as many numbers as I can, don’t put all my eggs in one basket (which I tend to do by getting fixated on one girl at a time) and that way I won’t get hurt.

Anyway, while we were on this vacation I caved in to his nagging and approached a girl at a nearby table in a pub and asked for her number. Now I’m not shy, and excuse me for being pessimistic, but from previous experience I was convinced that this girl wasn’t going to give me her number. She hadn’t been looking at me, for one thing. My friend said he’d accompany me to the table when I went.

We both went over, made some small talk, and then I asked for her number. Surprisingly, she gave it to me, but frankly, I’m still questioning why she did. I figure she must be playing with me since I can sometimes be naïve on the uptake in social situations. She lives about an hour away, and it’s been a few days and I haven’t called her yet.

The reason I’m writing you is that I feel that I know myself and pick up on girls’ lack of signals to me, but my friend is always after me for not taking opportunities that supposedly present themselves. I hate feeling pressured to have to do something when I don’t think it’s going to succeed. Am I being too down on myself? Any advice you could give me on this conflict would be deeply appreciated.

Walker - who doesn’t like to go against his instincts

Hi Walker,

First of all, thanks for the thank you.

Now, my friend, are you out there pounding the pavements for a job 10 hours a day? I certainly hope so. What are you saying to all these girls you’re meeting when they ask where you work? Are you telling them you’re between careers? At 26 years old, I hope you’re not telling them you’re waiting to hear on your application at the local Burger King. To you Psych majors, they only want to know you when you own 38 or more franchises.

Walker, if your buddy gets away with cheating on his girl, you can learn a lot from this guy, though the two of you have it only half right. It’s good that he encourages you to be aggressive and get home phone numbers, but he should be the point man. In other words, he should have gone and rapped to the girl in the pub in place of you. Since he has nothing to lose, he could have sized her up and you wouldn’t have to have been involved. The way it stands now, he’s happy to make you go to war, but he doesn’t want to carry the gun himself. So he should take the point and back you up. He’s a cheater, right? Approaching girls is no skin off his nose.

Taking the initiative and getting the girl’s home phone number is what you should always do. But regarding this so-called “sixth sense” of yours, you have to ask yourself: are you 100% right on? Or are you usually right, or just sometimes right? My principles state that if a babe is standing there and it’s no big deal to move in on her, then you should approach her like a gentleman, strike up a conversation, and ask her for the home phone number.

And forget about getting “fixated,” dude. What in the world are you thinking? Have you noticed how many attractive girls are running around out there? When you’re going with a girl for six months and she dumps you, then you can get hurt and cry. But when a girl turns you down for a home phone number, you can’t get all sensitive. Like my cousin General Love says, “Do you have any idea how far you have to go in this war, soldier? You better buck up!”

Walker, you’re manufacturing a big problem here. Dating is a numbers game. As we say in sales, you’re not going to close every deal. And guys, you have to remember NEVER TO TAKE WOMEN PERSONALLY.

Most girls give you buying signals. But a small minority don’t. And maybe this girl you were after, Walker, was the ultra-conservative type, and she didn’t want to appear cheap trying to pick up a guy in a pub who’s on welfare. (You better land a job fast. When you’re gainfully employed again you’ll walk more erect and the girls will notice and send you positive signals.)

But you did go up to this honey anyway. Good for you. And she gave you her home phone number. Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “So much for your intuition!” Intuition doesn’t lie, but you have to know how to read it.

Nevertheless, the fact that she gave you the number means nothing; so don’t worry about whether or not she’s just playing with your head. Until you get to nine dates with a girl, none of this preliminary stuff means anything. You’re just getting started here. And since you’ve never been with a girl for a long time, you’ve got a lot to learn.

You say you’re naïve. Why are you laying this trip on yourself, pal? Don’t worry about whether or not you’re reading her signals correctly. You’re just going to Starbucks for half an hour to check her out. You’re not giving this girl a whole night of your time and dropping $68.50. You’re buying her a fancy grande latte for $10.00 and a $5 tip -- because you’re a guy who knows how to tip, even though you’re on the unemployment compensation queue every other week.

Your friend’s right about the fact that you’re not capitalizing on opportunities. But the odds aren’t so good the way you’re doing it. It’s always better to go after a girl who’s giving you buying signals. But if you’re out on the town and you can get a number, how long does it take? Twenty seconds, that’s all. No big deal. Like I said, it’s a numbers game. You have to go through a lot of them before you find the right one. And you never know where or when that’s going to happen, so it’s best to try as many as possible.

My friend, you’re being way, way too down on yourself. Are you sure you read my book? You have to stop being so scared of women, that’s your main problem, and the first step in overcoming your fear is committing the Dating Dictionary to memory so that you’re armed and ready for anything. (And again, let me remind you that you were wrong about the girl in the pub, because she gave you her number. So much for your negative instincts.)

Remember, guys: until you do your homework, nothing’s going to happen.

Did Sinatra Ever Come on Heavy?

Hey Doc,

This is going to take some time because you always say you want as many details as possible.

I’ve been an avid user of your principles for about two years now. Your book has more than paid for itself and I’m finally with someone I really enjoy being with. Haley is the girl in the office who everyone wanted. We started dating nine months ago, and recently my contract took me elsewhere, so we’re no longer working together. Haley is in her early thirties and I’m in my late twenties. We’re in month number 10 and up until now, everything has been going really fine. As of late I started to notice a little less affection, but nothing major. So I increased the Challenge level and waited for the cruise that we were scheduled to take to determine if something was wrong.

The cruise went well, and Haley’s Interest Level seemed back up. Until I attempted to propose, that is. She wouldn’t let me, and afterwards said she thought I was just kidding. Things went downhill fast. The Monday after our cruise, she refused to let me stay at her place, the first time that’s ever happened. I withdrew and didn’t contact her until Friday, our planned date night. As we were driving to our destination, she said she was feeling sick and we should probably rain check it. At this point, sirens and alarms were going off, so I whipped around and we had a heart-to-heart in her parking lot.

Haley said we weren’t ready to be engaged. She also said that on that previous Monday a strange man had come into her apartment and he wouldn’t leave until she threatened to call the police, and she complained that I didn’t seem to care when she told me. I protested that I was both scared for her and angry that she wouldn’t let me stay with her that night. She went on to say that our relationship wasn’t “deep” enough and that I seem to be playing a role and not sharing “all” of myself with her.

I told her I would try and be more open and honest, and mentioned that she didn’t always tell me what she was feeling either. I told her I wouldn’t beg for her attention or settle for table scraps from her. And that if it had come to this, it was probably over.

She seemed to warm up after that conversation, and we went on an alternate date and then spent the weekend together. She seems to be coming around, but I’m at a loss for what to do next. Should I keep withdrawing and playing my “System role” or should I be more open and let her know my feelings?

Haley also said our relationship has been all “fun and games” and that we haven’t gotten serious enough to make a lifetime commitment. In the past she said that she wouldn’t be comfortable marrying someone before dating them for at least a year, so I’m assuming I just jumped the gun by trying to pop the question. But I want to know how I can maintain this relationship and how I should move forward.

Pierce - who’s fumbling for his next move

Hi Pierce,

You noticed a little less affection from Haley and you call it “nothing major?” A little less affection from your woman is always major, pal. What other signal would you wait for to realize that you’re in trouble? That was your first boo-boo. You shouldn’t have had to increase your Challenge level – it should have been perfect to begin with. Which means you weren’t being a Challenge at all. When you first picked up those negative vibes from Haley you should have picked up the phone and deep-sixed the sea cruise. When Interest Level starts bottoming out, you’re out.

Haley’s Interest Level after the cruise was back up, all right – temporarily. And dude, you never ask a woman to get married. You have to wait two years before you even approach a decision like that. The rule is that you can get engaged at the end of two years, and that’s when she’s so in love with you she can’t stand to wait anymore and has to be around you all the time. Guys, you’re going to check her Interest Level for 60 days, then for the next 22 months you’re going to study her Attitude.

But you’re telling me that you didn’t exactly have nine months and two weeks of bliss and then all of a sudden, boom, in the space of two weeks Haley’s Interest Level plummeted like a dud NASA spaceship from 95% to 51%. (Or worse, from 95% to 49%, in which case there’s no point in even discussing this any further.) You practiced my principles for about six to eight months. And then, like most stupid guys, you said to yourself, “Heck, I don’t need that stuff anymore.” And you know what the good book says: “Pride cometh before the fall.” And that’s what happened here – you fell asleep at the wheel and Haley’s Interest Level pooped. And it pooped over a long period of time.

In light of those facts, of course Haley thought your marriage proposal was a joke. It was a stall technique on her part. She wished you were joking, don’t you get it? And why isn’t she accepting your ring? Because her Interest Level is swirling around the bottom of the toilet, about to make its way out to sea.

In essence, you proposed to a woman who had no interest in you. You don’t do that. And guy, things didn’t go downhill fast. They started going downhill three miles back. It wasn’t a steep mountain her Interest Level toppled off; it was a long, long road with a small downhill grade. Are you sure you read my book?

But you insisted on compounding your errors, didn’t you? You shouldn’t have tried to stay at her place. You should have just dropped her off and beat it the hell out of there. Why would you try to stay somewhere you weren’t wanted? Wow -- you’re as bad as the runaway bride’s jilted fiancé who still wants her! Heck, you shouldn’t have even kissed Haley good night! Like my cousin Sal “The Fish” Love says, “This is war, amigo!”

After that debacle, there was no point in contacting her -- ever. What you should have done instead was change your phone number. When you have problems with a girl, you don’t have a planned date. If everything were going great guns, then okay. Like most men you gave away the store and took a lot for granted -- including Haley.

Know why your girl got sick on you? Low Interest Level. I’m dead serious. Like my cousin Doctor Love says, “When she’s sitting there with a guy she doesn’t like, low Interest Level can actually make a girl sick to her stomach.” And that’s what happened to poor Haley. She was stuck with a guy she didn’t want and her belly was doing somersaults.

Sirens and alarms went off in your brain? Why? The building had already burned down! The fire department got the call hours ago. A heart to heart in her parking lot? What you mean, Pierce, is that you turned to begging. Now you’re going to grovel. You’re not going to be funny and light. Go ahead, be real serious with her now, this is really going to help your cause! Yeah, right. Guess what? You can’t raise her Interest Level once it hits 49%. It’s not coming back.

Did you ask Haley why you couldn’t be engaged? Did you ask if it was because her Interest Level is below 50%? Did you get in her face and demand, “Come on, Haley, give it to me straight, tell me the truth for once!” Nah, you didn’t, because you were chicken, and you needed to beg.

And you could have gone further. You could have asked her for specifics on the role you were allegedly playing. What does she want you to share with her, exactly? Regardless, you weren’t going to get a straight answer, buddy. Because when they want to get rid of you, none of them ever say “You lowered my Interest Level with your deportment.” You’ll never hear that out of a woman’s mouth. No, all you’re ever going to get is Womanese, and in this case, the second reason, the third reason, and the fourth reason – not the first and only reason.

Why not? Because women with 95% Interest Level put up with all that other stuff. You’ve overheard them talking yourself: “I know he doesn’t share, but I love him!” “I know he’s playing a role, but I adore him!” A woman will put up with anything if her Interest Level is in the 90s.

Even after all that humiliation, you’re still going to try and be more open and honest. What you’re saying, Pierce, is “I’ll change for you.” You haven’t even gotten the ring through your nose at the altar and you’re already telling her you’re going to get yourself in line and obey like a good doggie? Pathetic. And you want to know if you’re a wimp?

But it gets even more embarrassing. You accuse Haley of not sharing. The only thing she’s not sharing is that her Interest Level is dropping faster than Michael Jackson’s pants when he’s with a little boy. You’re already begging for her attention, man. What you’re telling her you’re not going to do; you’re doing right now. You’re already accepting her scraps!

It’s “probably” over, is it? That just shows how weak you really are. My friend, it’s over already. You’re just trying to give Haley some wiggle room so she can help you back in. But she’s not going to. Women with 49% Interest Level or less don’t help you. Women with 51% Interest Level or higher do. That’s a hard and fast rule.

She warmed up because you finally showed her you had some cojones (maybe not real big ones, but at least you forced a conversation). But don’t worry – it was just an illusion. Instead of sitting there in the parking lot (and remember how many times I’ve told you guys to stay out of the car!) pouring your guts out, you should have told Haley, “You go your way and I’ll go mine. You have my number. Stay away from me for 30 days. If you want to go out after 30 days, give me a call.” Like my cousin General Love says, “When it’s wartime, it’s hardball time.” But you don’t get it, Pierce, and so you acted like a wuss.

It doesn’t matter how you act now. Because when her interest in you is somewhere below the Mason-Dixon Line, you’re out. And you’re in the 40% to 49% range. That means she’s with you, but she doesn’t dig you. She’ll yo-yo you and toss you her scraps, and then it’ll end. And then you’ll go on to the next one. And you’ll repeat your mistakes with another dream girl.

Haley was right about waiting until a year goes by for marriage. I say you have to wait for two. All you did was verify that she has low Interest Level. And you reinforced that low Interest Level by popping the question.

Remember, guys: once the girl loses respect – which is the foundation of Interest Level – for you, you can never get her back.

Would Brad take Angelina Back if She Got Cold Feet?

Hey Doc,

I am a loyal follower of “The System” and your techniques. I think you’ve really got it together when it comes to women and relationships. Now this is just a request and you might not want to deal with it, but I thought it might help some other men out there.

I’d like you to address the recent story about the woman in Georgia who bolted a few days before her oversized, showy wedding, fabricated a kidnapping story, then when the cops found her sniveling in a phone booth in New Mexico, recanted the whole thing and admitted she just had “cold feet” and had in reality ran away from getting hitched. It looks like she even had it planned long before the big event.

First off, why do you think this story has captured the public’s imagination the way it has? After all, it’s really only a local-yokel story about some chick jilting a guy, and the people involved aren’t that interesting to begin with. What do you make of it?

The next thing that I find fascinating is that this woman’s dumped boyfriend still wants to marry her. In fact, when they were reunited at her parents’ house after she was brought home by the authorities, he put the diamond back on her finger like nothing at all had happened! No word so far on whether she accepted it.

Is this guy the dictionary’s definition of Wimpus Americanus or what? I hear people on television talk about him being “understanding.” Do you think maybe that’s true and I’m being too harsh in my judgment of him? In an interview the guy said something along these lines: “I forgive her. We all make mistakes, don’t we?”

One last thing. I read somewhere once that psychiatrists say that if you can see the whites around the irises of a person’s eyes, then the person is totally crazy. That’s definitely the case with the runaway bride if you’ve seen her pictures. Do you think maybe she’s just insane and that’s why she did what she did? Maybe it’s worth considering, don’t you think?

Thanks for weighing in, Doc. I’m dying to hear your opinions on this one.

Antoine - who wonders how he’d handle it if it happened to him

Hi Antoine,

Thanks for your kind words. Now I’m not going to say I’m right 100% of the time. But I will tell you this: I’m hitting the bull’s-eye at a rate of about 98.7% when it comes to the dating game. Why? Because none of the other dating coaches out there ever talk about the man’s most important ally on the battlefield of love -- CHALLENGE.

Now, let’s move on to your questions. Not only did the runaway bride fabricate a ridiculous fairytale, she also accused a fictitious Hispanic male of abducting her. Her false accusation cast a long shadow over all the decent, honest, hardworking Hispanics who are legal citizens of this country. And it means she’s a bigot. Do bigots ever make good mothers? It’s something to think about.

Antoine, there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this lulu had a scheme planned out way in advance. She purchased the bus ticket she used to blow town a full week before the day she actually split! She left her keys and wallet at home because she intended for it to look like a kidnapping. THIS WAS A PREMEDITATED CRIME. IT WAS COMPLETELY CALCULATED. She just didn’t suddenly lose her marbles because the pressure of the impending nuptials was getting to her. She laid it all out cunningly --- like a lion stalking a wildebeest in the Serengeti for days on end. Or like Ivana or Marla or Melania setting a trap to snare the Donald.

The question of why this story has captured the public’s imagination is a good one. I can understand the fascination with Michael Jackson or Phil Spector – these are celebrities, big, recognizable names. But for some reason, certain stories pique America’s fancy, and this story is one.

This runaway bride just didn’t blubber, “I don’t want to marry you,” like Julia Roberts told Kiefer Sutherland. Julia pulled out on Kiefer three days before the wedding, but she didn’t lay out any twisted, diabolical plans beforehand. Not that what Julia Roberts did was right, but our current runaway did a great deal of pre-planning to get out of the big day. In other words, the story is like a Hollywood potboiler or a soap opera -- and we know how America is a sucker for a Hollywood potboiler or a soap opera. Why do you think we still can’t get enough of O.J. and Scott Peterson?

To you Psych majors, how can the runaway bride be kind and loving when she pulls something like this? Is this the behavior of a kind and loving woman? Are these nasty character traits what a guy is supposed to overlook when he ties the knot? Sheesh! I’ve known sweeter cobras!

There’s something else involved here, too. These days we have nothing else to talk about. The media has gotten tired of covering terrorism, so they have to look for something else. What also makes the runaway bride story riveting is the fact that the cops were on the boyfriend like white on rice as a potential suspect at first. If the runaway had slipped out to Malibu and fell off a cliff, her fiancé would be sitting in the slammer right now wishing Johnnie Cochran were still around. And this is the guy who’s begging her to take back the ring!

Which brings us to this pitiful dolt. I could take this guy, stick him in a jail cell and tell him, “Unless you memorize the Dating Dictionary I’m going to kill your parents!” And he might memorize the book under pain of that threat, know it inside and out, and answer all my test questions correctly, but at the end of the day he would still take her back. Some guys just aren’t fixable. This idiot is such a slave to his own Interest Level that he can’t see the forest for the trees. On top of it all, rejection doubles Interest Level. His is hovering around 190% right now.

So he’s going to beg some more. He’s going to grovel, and he’s going to get down on his hands and knees. I can just hear him whimpering like a whipped puppy: “Oh, my darling, please,

So he’s even a lower form of male than Wimpus Americanus, Antoine. He’s what’s called a STOOGE. He’s just not getting it at all. If they ever named a river after him, it would be DE-NIAL, just like the one in Egypt. This poor sap’s ego is in such a state of shock that to protect himself he has to put a happy face on the very ugly thing that went down.

But with the passage of time, if he has any brains at all (and that’s doubtful) his resentment is going to build. I mean, can you imagine being married to this model of stability? One day he’s going to come home from his long day at the office (where he slaves to keep his ice princess happy) and there’s going to be a note for him sitting on the kitchen table: “Honey, I’m leaving you, and I took the two kids. Sorry it didn’t work out after all.” And then of course everyone’s going to say, “Well, it wasn’t the first time. She did it before. She told you she was nuts up front! Didn’t you see this coming?” And, of course, he didn’t. Or he chose to remain as blind as Stevie Wonder.

So guys, this wasn’t just some “mistake.” What does the runaway bride have to do before everybody catches on -- burn the church to the ground? Does she have to flatten her fiancé’s house with a tractor before he gets it? How many people does she have to run over in a crosswalk with her truck before we wake up and say maybe this isn’t such a good person?

Finally there’s her pastor, who’s telling us how ecstatic everyone is that she’s back home and how the Lord is a presence in the room and once the runaway gets some professional treatment she’ll be well in a matter of days and everything will be perfect. But like my cousin Brother Love says, “Jesus and the Devil don’t work together.” This preacher ought to go back and read his Bible some more.

As far as our flighty lady’s wild eyes go, well, I’m not that kind of doctor. And I don’t buy into generalizations that condemn all females. All I know is this – she’s a whack-job. Like I always tell you guys, you have to start with a clinically sane person.

Remember, guys: never try to keep somebody who doesn’t want to keep you

Would A Girl Ever Send Julio Iglesias Home Early

Hey Doc,

I’ve had your “System” for over a year and have been practicing it ever since. Being able to weed out the Feministas, Gold Diggers, and ungiving has been a blessing.

I met Ashley through eHarmony.com. She’s 95% of what I’ve been looking for. To be honest, the only thing I’d change is to open her mind to different kinds of food -- this girl can eat chicken and steamed vegetables every day and not get bored because that’s all she likes. She’s 26, a knockout, educated, has a good job, her own place, and lives a good life. I’m 26, make a great living, almost have my own place (I share with my brother since he’s broke), and am looking to find a wonderful girl I can go the distance with.

Doc, I used your techniques to win this gal. Being the ultimate gentleman, I opened her doors, kept our dates light and fun, and treated her with respect. To my surprise, she offered to pay for our first four dates. I paid, of course, and she liked that. I think I waited too long (the fourth date) to kiss her though, but after I did she complimented me on my talent and proceeded to kiss me some more.

Tonight was our sixth rendezvous. I took Ashley to an upscale Chinese restaurant and we saw a comedy act at the Improv. Dinner was just okay since the restaurant was loud and we got terrible service, but she was a sport and our conversation was light and funny. We made the show on time, but the seating was bad since we were up against the wall and I had a small table as a barrier between us, and I had wanted to sit next to her and have my arm around her at least.

So here’s where I’m confused. On the way back to her place Ashley got really tired – she was yawning and almost fell asleep in the car. I walked her up to her apartment door, and we went inside and sat down on her couch. I could see in her face that she was ready to pass out so I said, “I’m leaving.”

I went in for a short kiss. After all of our earlier dates we always had a great time -- we would have a short, fun conversation at her place and I got the impression that she didn’t want me to leave. This time however, the energy just wasn’t there.

Her playful comment at that point irked me: “Since it’s only nine o’clock, what are you going to do -- go home and go to sleep?” I laughed it off, but I was a little offended since she gave me the impression that she thought I had no life. I should have said that I was going to call my friends and go have fun with them, but I didn’t.

Doc, am I thinking about this too much? Would you have done anything different? Should I be worried about Ashley’s Interest Level, or is a girl entitled to one off night in six?

Lamarr - who wonders if he played it too cool

Hi Lamarr,

You don’t realize it, but you’re one lucky guy! When it’s your turn to cook Ashley dinner, you can throw hers together in five minutes. You don’t know how fortunate you are to have someone who’s not a picky eater! Chicken and steamed veggies? A breeze! You’ve got a hell of a woman there. This girl’s 100%, not 95%. Too bad you probably won’t be able to keep her.

Because you haven’t even “won” Ashley yet, despite what you may think. You’ve only gotten through six dates with her -- barely. And number six didn’t exactly put you over the top. Like most guys, you’re going way too fast. (And let me remind you that you’re still going to be light and funny and treat her with respect after 40 years of marriage, too – if you get that far, which I doubt.)

Before we go on, let me ask you this: why is a girl who likes you offering to pay for everything so soon? She should be doing it on the fourth or sixth date, not for every single date. This is a huge RED FLAG, dude, and you should have picked up on it. The dating dance says that the guy pays for the first four dates. And another thing -- you should have kissed her sooner. You waited too long.

How come you didn’t survey the Chinese restaurant on an earlier night to see how loud it was before going in there and not being able to hear what each other was saying? You didn’t do your homework like you should have, Lamarr. And when things started going bad at the comedy club, you should have walked, and told Ashley that you’d do it another night. Again, you should have had everything arranged beforehand. You should have been in a restaurant that was nice and quiet, and you should have had good seats at the club. A smart dater wouldn’t have had all those obstacles blocking him. And don’t worry about getting your hands on Ashley. She should have had her arm around you. Are you sure you read my book?

As far as her behavior that night was concerned, maybe she had a tough day at work, and that’s why she was tired. You totally blew it by walking her into her apartment. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “If she’s already yawning in the car, GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!” Sheesh, Lamarr, what the heck are you doing – trying to beat this horse to death? Here Ashley’s already halfway to dreamland and you want to go inside her place, drone on about how lousy your date was, and lower her Interest Level even further? HUGE MISTAKE!

I’ll tell you something else: Ashley was yawning before she even hit the car, I guarantee it. You shouldn’t have even gone to the comedy club.

But it gets even worse. Here you have a girl with her eyes shut and snoring and you’re trying to kiss her? You should hotfoot it over to the local police department and register as a sex offender!

Pal, you might very well have had other good dates with Ashley, but circumstances change, and you have to be ready, willing and able to adjust -- quickly. Think about it: this babe was sawing wood before the night was even over! How blind can you be? Check out the name of my column: “Women don’t lie – and men don’t listen, see or look!”

When Ashley dropped that little comment at the end of your date, you should have told her you were going out to have some fun no matter what she did. You failed to take advantage of a perfect opportunity to show her that you weren’t lost without her. Now she knows the truth. You’re just a whimpering puppy dog.

Then again, maybe you’re reading too much into her words. Maybe she was just teasing you. Maybe she was just being cute. Like Doctor Freud said, “It’s hard to tell what she intended when she’s groggy and one eye is closed!”

Are you thinking too much about Ashley? Absolutely. You should be thinking about all the mistakes you’re making in the dating game, not about her. Guy, you might have bought my Dating Dictionary, but are you sure you actually read it? I suggest that you sit down and memorize it word for word before you make any more costly blunders.

Yes, Lamarr, you should be worried about Ashley’s Interest Level, but her being tired has nothing to do with anything. To you Psych majors, I’m going to say it again: when she’s about to drop with fatigue and you hear funny sounds coming out of her mouth, that’s the end of the date – you’re out of there.

Yeah, you played it too cool, Lamarr – about as cool as a hot Weber grill.

Remember, guys: if they start to yawn, it’s time to cut the date.

Would Al Pacino ever put up with an "Arguer?"

Hey Doc,

Jade and I have been living together for four months now but tend to fight over the slightest things. She’s very argumentative and never wants to “lose” in anything, even board games! Over time, I’ve found myself giving into her every time we have a confrontation just to avoid the inevitable explosions. Recently I realized that in doing so I had subconsciously given her power over me and now I want to take it back.

In the past few weeks I’ve tried talking to her less and doing more of my own thing just to show her that I’m not dependent on her. I’ve also started to engage more (not physically, of course) in the arguments we have to show her I’m not afraid of her -- which I’m not! She seems to have mellowed a little, but I find (or it could just be me) that we’re playing more mind games with each other now. Perhaps she found me to be a Challenge, I don’t know.

Here’s an example of what I perceive as a mind game. Jade used to jokingly put me down by saying things like “You’re skinny” or “You look horrible in sunglasses,” but just yesterday I gave her a taste of her own medicine by calling her “lazy” for not making the bed. She definitely didn’t like it and we had a fight over it. She asks for a goodnight kiss every night, but last night, after the fight, I didn’t do it and she didn’t ask for it either.

I’m not sure if I’m playing this the right way, and if I’m not, how do I go about it and beat her at her own game (to get her to realize she needs to change)? I like Jade, but I’m at the point where I wouldn’t mind ending the relationship if she suggested it first.

On the other hand, I want things to work out between us, but am trying to get her to respect me the way I used to respect her, stop taking me for granted and start showing me her love instead of picking on me. And if it doesn’t work, we’d probably have to go our own separate ways.

Thanks for any help you might be able to give me.

Norris - who doesn’t want to spend his life fighting

Hi Norris,

Straight out of the chute you said a mouthful. I can understand some women wanting to get into arguments, but your little hellcat never wants to lose at anything, and that includes the love game. And in her mind, if she’s going to be the winner, somebody’s got to be the loser. Unfortunately, that’s you.

Jade – or any clinically sane woman -- should be thinking about the two of you as a team, and you as a teammate, not somebody to compete with. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “If you want to throw punches, get yourself over to Gleason’s Gym and put on the gloves!” Gee, I can just feel the good vibes flying around your house, pal. It sounds like a real love fest over there.

I wonder whose idea it was to move in together? Who asked whom to move in first? I’m betting the house that you were on your knees begging this little hottie to cohabit with you. Why? Because her Interest Level is flimsy. To you Psych majors, the higher her Interest Level, the less she wants to argue. The only exception to this rule is the highly structured woman.

Jade will always remember that you gave into her, dude. She’ll never forget that you were born without a spine. Maybe instead of allowing her to take your cojones, you CONSCIOUSLY gave her power over you because your Interest Level is 90% and hers is significantly lower and you’re scared of losing her. This is what most lily-livered guys do. Rather than take a stand, they think short-term and give in, like Chamberlain tried to appease Hitler when the Fuhrer started gobbling up everything around him.

I don’t think Challenge is an issue here at all, my friend. Jeez – I’d love to turn invisible and sit in the corner and watch the interaction between you two lovebirds. I’d be able to tell you in two or three minutes exactly what’s going on. But as it is, I can only go by your version of events. If I were to take Jade out and get a couple glasses of wine into her, then I’d get her side of the story. Maybe she would say that you don’t hang the towels at the right angle or you leave dishes in the sink or she has to ask you 10 times to take out the trash.

Nevertheless, by your own admission Jade seems to be putting you down with a smile. And when you jump on her for being lazy, you’re not doing it with a smile. I hope you’re not making accusations out of the blue just to get her goat. When you get on her case you’d better have some basis in fact for doing it. And then do it gently. As my cousin Rabbi Love says, “Remember, this is supposed to be love, not war.”

But one thing’s for sure -- if you’re calling Jade names for not making the bed and she wants to scrap with you over it, you guys are done. Finissimo. Wow. You two aren’t even married and you’re going at it like cats and dogs over something so trivial? Thank God you don’t have any kids! Like my cousin Brother Love says, “If you’re battling this much in the first four months of living in sin, it’s time to move out of Sin City!”

Instead of dreaming up new head games to play with Jade, you should be playing the Yellow Pages game and booking a date for the Bekins moving company. You gave away your soul, Norris. And once a woman has you, you can’t do a 180 and turn over a new leaf, and that’s what you’re trying to do here. What you have to do instead is find yourself a new girl, and next time learn to say NO.

The fact that you’re waiting for Jade to end this fiasco shows that you’re a coward. Why don’t you suggest it, tough guy? Why not show her that you’re a real man?

As far as “respect” is concerned, what’s obvious to me is that this thing is totally one-sided. You respect her, and not vice-versa. And you’re afraid of her, too, despite your protests to the contrary. Once a woman loses respect for you, it’s over. From that point on, all she’s going to do is practice beating on you like she was trying out to be the drummer for the marching band.

You’re in a dream world, Norris. It’s not going to work between you and Jade. It isn’t working and it hasn’t worked. You better wake up, but fast, before you get KO’d.

Remember, guys: if she doesn’t think you have a backbone, you will be the punching bag in the relationship.

Pretend You Don't Care and Watch the Fireworks

Hey Doc,

I happened to be looking for advice about my current boyfriend when I came across your site. I know that you don’t normally give out advice to females, but maybe my problem can be a warning to guys about what not to say on the third date!

Here’s what happened. I was out last night with this I guy -- I’ll call him Angelo -- I’ve been seeing for about two weeks. He told me while we were driving home from a date that his greatest fear in life is being alone. This really ticked me off because it was like saying (to me, anyhow) that “I’m only dating you because I’m too afraid to sleep in an empty bed!”

It’s the unmanliest thing that any guy has ever said to me. Not to mention that he’s told me that he loves me twice already. In his defense he was drunk both times, but God, this guy comes off like such a loser! Here I thought Angelo had real long-term possibilities for romance, and he comes out with this lame stuff before I hardly even know his full name!

When we got to my apartment, I told Angelo not to say that he loves me again, that all I want is some fun, and not to get married after knowing him for 14 whole days!

The problem is that he’s smart, good-looking, funny, and actually quite independent. To me, these are the four most important qualities in a guy, and you don’t find them very often. I don’t really want to lose him, but I might have no choice but to dump him if he doesn’t get himself under control, and fast.

I was thinking that maybe you could give me the name of your female love-doctor equivalent? Otherwise, I could really use any advice you can give me.

Call this one from:

Jill - who’s frustrated with weaklings

Hi Jill,

Angelo deserves a spanking all right. But before I lay the paddle on him, you deserve a little reprimand too, because you tried to sneak one by me. You said Angelo was “quite independent.” Does an independent guy say the things he’s been saying? Would he have to rely so heavily on his buddy Jack Daniels to get him through a simple date? Would he come off as such a simp? Think about it, Jill.

Nevertheless, I want to thank you very much for your letter, because there’s a great deal of truth in it. As my Uncle Jethro Love says, “The vast majority of men aren’t ‘macho’ -- they’re actually wimps, despite the fact that they can bench-press 300 pounds!” So Jill, whether or not you realize it, you sure hit this one on the head.

Now, you and I are going to train these losers. Let’s say you go out with two guys, and one of them is like Angelo -- he really does have a fear of being alone in the dark, and he can’t stop emoting about it. But so does the other guy. But guess what? The other guy keeps it fun and light and he doesn’t bring it up every five minutes. He laughs and is easygoing and doesn’t blab about his emotional vulnerability. It’s his problem, he’s going to have to live with it, and he’s the only one (with the exception of Sigmund Freud) who can help him find out what the root of his problem is and how to get rid of it. Now my question is this: Which one of these two guys are you going to want to be with? The one who’s fun and light (despite his problem) – or the one who’s filled with angst and need and wears his heart on his sleeve? Do you want a shrinking violet or a man for romance?

But Jill, I’m a coach, not a headshrinker, so my point is this: if it doesn’t raise your Interest Level, why are we talking about it? As Reverend Love once told me, “Negatives keep the heart -- temporarily.”

Let me tell you something: it’s not “unmanly” to be built the way Angelo is built. His parents did a lousy job and I feel sorry for him. But as General Love wrote about the battleground of dating, “You can broadcast your problems to the world, but half the world doesn’t care! (The other half says: ‘You deserve it, pal!’)”

My principles instruct, “On those first dates, the woman should be doing about 75% of the talking.” Look at Angelo – not even two weeks in, and already he’s talking about love! I’ve said it consistently in all my articles. I’ve said it over and over from day one. KEEP IT LIGHT. KEEP IT FUNNY. NO HEAVY SUBJECTS. NO WALLOWING IN SELF-PITY. NO CONFESSIONS OF LOVE. I’ve said it all a million times, but unfortunately, Angelo never read my words. For this type of guy, it probably wouldn’t have made any difference anyway.

And Jill, I feel sorry for you, too, babe. The truth is that in one way or another most guys are like Angelo. Somehow they got the idea that you’re going to come along and just blow away all their pain. But women aren’t there for that reason. As Father Love says, “Women are there to love you. But they can’t take your pain away.”

One final thing. As far as my female counterpart goes, forget it. There isn’t one on the planet who knows the male – or female -- psyche like I do.

As I put it in my Dating Dictionary, “When in doubt, forget about the other love doctors -- refer to ‘The System.’”

Remember, guys: unless it raises Interest Level, why are we talking about this?

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.

What if She Doesn't Have a Home Phone Number?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been studying your laws of relationships for quite some time now. I’ve read your book about six times over and have practically memorized the entire volume from cover to cover, so I know how you feel about the necessity of getting the home phone number. That’s where my question arises. How would you deal with a girl who only has a cell phone and thus only a cell phone number?

This is the case where I live in China. As a bit of background information, many people who live in southern China came from the northern part of the country and are very poor. They only rent their houses and cannot afford to connect a home phone. As a result, many of them, if they have phones at all, only own cell phones.

This is exactly what I ran into recently. I met Hui at a restaurant where I work. She came in to eat, I was very attracted to her, and as per your instructions asked for her home phone number. When she gave it to me, I called and it turned out to be her cell phone. I didn’t leave a message, because it didn’t conform to your rules.

The next time I saw her, I asked for the home phone number again, and she told me that she didn’t have one. (By the way, I verified this with my female cousin, who knows where Hui lives, so I have to assume that Hui was telling me the truth and not just trying to dodge me because of low Interest Level.)

One other question, Doc. Your book seems to be written to apply to people with a high level of understanding, like Americans. Can “The System” really be applied to women all over the world?

Thanks for all your advice.

Lawrence - who wants to know if he should dial again

Hi Lawrence,

First of all, I’m very glad you mentioned the word “memorize,” because that’s what a lot of my students don’t do. They don’t memorize my techniques, and to really get them, to really make them as powerful as they can be, they have to be internalized and practiced, and I want to complement you on your diligence. You’ve made a solid start toward becoming a master of dating strategy. As General Love says, “The guy who ventures onto the battlefield of dating unprepared is the guy who is setting himself up for disaster.”

But it looks like you didn’t quite memorize enough. Lawrence -- you’re talking to one female (your cousin) who’s giving you advice on another female (Hui)? This is a fundamental error, and you’d know that if you paid closer attention to what you read in my book. What if the two gals are tighter than you think (and chances are good they are!)? If your conversation with your cousin gets back to Hui, all it does is show her that you’re an insecure guy and can’t do your own dirty work, in addition to the fact that you can’t keep a secret. You just dropped 10 points on the Interest Level scale if your cousin has a big yap, and as my cousin “Fast Eddie” Love would say, “Show me one who doesn’t!”

Next, you tell me you “assume” Hui told you the truth. Assume? You bad boy! You were doing so well back in the first paragraph! As the great dating detective Sher-Love Holmes says, “Never assume ANYTHING when it comes to women!” But your second point is right on the mark. Hui could have been trying to dodge you. Sometimes a woman gives you the cell number when they don’t want to give you the home number. But we’ll get a little more into that in a second.

Regarding your question about whether “The System” works for women the world over, let me give you some background information. Lawrence, I lived in Los Angeles when I interviewed thousands of women to formulate my techniques. L.A. is an international city with people living and visiting from all over the world. I happened to be residing right next to UCLA, which has a high percentage of Asian students. Many of them attended my seminars, and they followed up with countless testimonials that “The System” did indeed work. And let me tell you why: because the women in China and the women in America want a confident guy. They want a guy who practices Self-Control, and they want a guy who’s a Challenge. It doesn’t make any difference if she’s from Montana or Mongolia -- “THE SYSTEM” CUTS ACROSS SOCIAL, RELIGIOUS, ECONOMIC AND GEOPGRAPHIC BOUNDARIES.

Aside from “The System” being based on the truth, what I love about it is the fact that it’s logical. Now you read in my book that it’s mandatory that you get the home phone number. Hui gave you her cell phone number. What does that mean? For argument’s sake, let’s say she told you the truth and she really doesn’t have a home phone number. In this case, she gets credit for giving you the home phone number.

But what you should have done, Lawrence, like a good love detective on “Love And Order,” was ask: “Is this your home phone number?” And when she countered with “No, it’s my cell phone number,” you should have insisted “I’d like to have your home number too.” At that point she would have said “People from the north are all poor and only have cell phone numbers,” or she would have come up with a whopper. But at least you would have resolved the issue once and for all.

The point is that you want to come as close as you can to getting that home phone number. Even in America today there are over 145 million cell phones. Lots of girls live with their parents, or they go to school, or they’re hard to get hold of and so they rely on their cell phones. But I would always rather you have both numbers. The more important one is always the home number.

Nevertheless, Lawrence, you have to use common sense and ask yourself, “How can I modify what Doc says in a given situation -- for example, where they don’t have phones on the walls of some homes here in China? How can I logically hold onto his principles in a tough spot and not deviate from them?”

So in this case the cell phone counts as the home phone number. But if she has one in her house, you have to get that one. If she doesn’t have a cell or a home phone, then you’ll take two tin cans with some string connecting them.

Remember, guys: I don’t care where this girl is from, just do what I tell you and she’ll love you forever.

Would Orlando Bloom ever Waste Time with Empty Chitchat?

Hey Doc,

I met Caprice, this total knockout, at the mall last week, worked up the courage to talk to her for a bit, and asked for her home phone number. She took out a pen, wrote it on my hand, and enthusiastically told me to call her. At that point, her Interest Level seemed very high.

Perhaps it was a mistake to call on Sunday, but I’m going to be out of town on Monday and Tuesday, and felt it would be okay to do that. In the first few minutes of the conversation we agreed on a Starbucks coffee date for Wednesday. She wanted to talk longer, but I indicated that I had some things to take care of before leaving town. She asked if I’d call her before Wednesday to talk, and when I reminded her I’d be out of town, she said I should just use my cell phone and call her anyway. I joked around, told her I knew she was dying to talk with me, but that she’d just have to wait until our date. When she said “Fine, then, just call me whenever you find the time in your busy schedule,” she sounded a bit upset and quickly hung up.

Doc, in the past, I would have probably called Caprice right back and apologized, and then talked with her for a long time to make up for my little transgression. But since I’ve studied your techniques, I decided not to roll over like a puppy dog and instead stand my ground and be a Challenge.

But at this point I’m not sure what to make of Caprice’s getting upset when I told her I couldn’t talk. It seemed pretty clear at first that she had high Interest Level, but now I don’t know if she’s just highly interested, or whether she’s Inflexible and rigid and I should stay away because that can only mean further problems down the road.

What’s your take, Doc? I always trust your insights and I hope you can help me to see the light.

Baron - who suddenly isn’t so sure he wants to go through with it

Hi Baron,

Before we get into the messy part of your situation, I want to bestow upon you the Congressional Medal of Honor for Dating. My man, you are brave. You wouldn’t believe how many guys wouldn’t have done what you did. Confronted with the most dangerous creature in the world – the Beautiful Woman -- you said to yourself: “She’s not wielding a machete. She’s not carrying an Uzi. And I don’t see a grenade, either. I’m going to approach her. What’s the big deal, right? What’s the worst that could happen?”

And YOU DID IT. You got cojones, pal. Most guys in that situation would have been lily-livered cowards. Congratulations to you, Baron. And to you Psych majors, you have the ability to do the same thing; all you need is the guts to follow through.

Calling a girl on Sunday night is fine. Do it on the late side – most people are at home then and it’s a good time to catch them. Now, what I’m going to say here is really important: you did the right thing by not giving in to Caprice’s whim to chitchat about nothing. Here’s an old salesman’s adage: once you get the order signed and the check in your pocket, get the hell out of the house! And like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “You can only blow it by hanging around.”

When Caprice wanted you to stay on the line and shoot the breeze, you should have said, “Hey, you’re not an insecure girl, are you?” When she asked you to call her on your cell phone, you should have fired back (playfully, of course), “Baby -- how can you be insecure with that body and that face? It doesn’t make a lick of sense!”

But another possible scenario here is that Caprice is a control freak. Or worse, she really has low Interest Level in you. Some babes will give you the number, but when it’s time for action, you’re never going to see her in public – or anywhere else, for that matter. So make sure you look at all the possibilities. Remember, you always have to be a love detective.

You were smart to joke away Caprice’s demand to talk longer. But apparently she didn’t get the message. When she dropped that caustic remark about your overloaded schedule, you should have come back with “Fine, honey. I know that down deep you’re into Challenge, and that’s why I can’t call you. But I’ll see you at Starbucks at six. Just hold on for three more days. You can do it.” And then hung up. And left it that way.

You don’t have to talk anymore. And you don’t have to accept Caprice’s calls if she phones you. If you show up at Starbucks Wednesday at six and she’s not there, fine. Look on the positive side -- you found out the truth about her sooner instead of later and you wasted very little time or money in the process.

Want to know why Caprice got a little cranky and hung up on you? Because Miss Control Freak didn’t get her way. You’ve got to remember something: she’s so good-looking that priests and homosexuals are asking her out. She’s getting her way damned near all the time. And believe me, I’ve seen six-foot-five linebackers who look like huskies instead of puppy dogs in the grip of the Caprices of the world, and they roll right over without a fight. They fall apart. Here this little girl they’re chasing weighs all of 115 pounds and they’re going to pieces. Sickening, right? But that’s not going to happen to you, Baron.

If you were to fall in love with this girl, I would agree that you should be afraid of her rigidity and demands. But you’re going to go out and practice on her. And that’s all you’re going to do. You’re going to go out and have fun with Caprice. Then you’re going to run back home and read the Dating Dictionary. Afterwards you’re going to go out with Caprice again. When you stop learning from her, it’s adios!

Above all, don’t allow YOUR Interest Level to go up. If it starts to rise, you’ve got to drop this girl faster than MacDonald’s dropped Kobe Bryant. If you don’t, you’re going to have one nasty problem on your hands. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love would say, “Be careful. Remember, you’ve only seen Caprice with her clothes on.”

You’re dealing with a deadly serpent here, my friend. So you’ve got to be like one of those charmers in India who plays the flute to lure the snake out of its basket and make it spread its hood and dance without getting bitten. Because once you get bitten, you’re dead. And it won’t take long.

Remember, guys: never turn your back on a cobra.

Does George Clooney ever need Coaching with Women?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been your student for two years now. Your book is probably the best book I’ve ever read! It’s pretty sad how right you ALWAYS ARE...I’d say about 97% of the time! The other 3% are either exceptions or bizarre cases that you can’t possibly cover. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people “get” you and some don’t. I am one who DOES get you. I understand the concept of Challenge and you’ve helped me with many specifics.

The reason I’m writing to you is because I have an idea I think you should consider. I read your articles in addition to your books and there are lots of things you don’t write about, very small details that mean a lot. My idea is that you should make your books even bigger. The idea of more information is fascinating.

For example, recently in an article on Askmen.com you mentioned that “sitting in the car” is very bad when you’re on a date. I can attest from an experience I had some weeks before I read that article that you were 100% accurate! Staying in the car too long was a disaster and messed up a potential relationship. This is the kind of thing I mean, Doc.

So here are some things you should add, in my opinion. You should have a section called “CONVERSATION.” 1) Tell men what to say in conversation, what not to say, and the different “positive” topics men should discuss with women. In particular, it would be interesting to have some guidelines for how to conduct phone conversations: what to say, at what point to say it, when to get off. 2) You should also have a “HUMOR” section where you give us guys some funny, cocky things to say and comebacks for the girls, because you have a great sense of humor and many of us still need ideas in that area. 3) You can have a “RELATIONSHIP” section too (well, I know you already have one), but maybe you can go into more detail and specify how to do it, what not to do, and what a woman looks for.

Heck, maybe you can give us some tips right here, come to think of it!

I just appreciate your work so much that I want to hear more. You are doing an amazing job. All my friends have your books because I told them to buy them and they’re helping them out A LOT. You are the master of dating, and helping guys reach their goals. You’ve been through it all and I want you to give us even more guidance, because this is very valuable material.

I hope you don’t mind my request.

Moochie - who can’t get enough

Hi Moochie,

First of all, thanks for the compliment. And second, you’re absolutely right about “getting” me. Some guys can read 30 Doc Love columns of 1500 hundred words or so, not find a single sentence that they disagree with, learn a ton about the opposite sex, but still won’t commit to the program by investing in the Dating Dictionary and going for the whole enchilada. It’s simply amazing how cheap and shortsighted some men are.

And then there are the numskulls who read 50 articles and say to themselves “yeah, yeah, yeah, I get what Doc’s saying,” even memorize my techniques, and they still go out and pull the same stupid stunts on the battlefield of love. Like my cousin General Love says, “The only difference between a dumb soldier and a dead one is nothing.”

Certain guys need an epiphany, Mooch. They have to be smacked in the head a few hundred times by REALITY before they get hip to what’s what. They’ve got to all of a sudden say to themselves: “Hey – that’s me Doc’s talking about in his column!” These guys need to hit rock bottom like an alcoholic or dope addict before they wake up. When the pain gets to be too much, when they can’t take one more rejection from a Vanessa Williams look-alike, that’s when lots of guys “get” me. And as you say, it’s very sad.

But, my friend, I have to wonder where you fit in among these losers. You tell me you want more information. Well, I’m supplying it to you on a weekly basis! What do you think my column is, dude? HELLO? Earth to Moochie?

But I am glad you pointed out my warning about men sitting in the car with their dates. Because I’ve got something to add to it. I don’t want you guys driving around to six or seven different places with a date. Remember, you’re not a cabbie or chauffeur.

Here are the only three reasons you should be behind the wheel when you’re on a date: 1) To pick the girl up. 2) To drive her to wherever you’re going – dinner, dancing, the zoo or the circus. 3) To take her back to her home when the date’s over. Otherwise you’re not doing anything constructive. Like Fast Eddie Love says, “Unless you’re making out with her, you’re just sitting there in the dark with yourself.” And when you can’t read her face or body language, you don’t know what’s really going on – and you’re truly in the dark.

(By the way, I’m sorry about your disaster with your ex-girl – next time I’ll try to write my column sooner.)

Now, let’s take the topic of conversation. What are you supposed to say to a woman? First you should at least have the appearance of spontaneity, pal. You want the girl to think she’s with a live human being, not a robot who knows how to recite from memory. The general principle is, KEEP IT LIGHT AND FUNNY. STAY OFF THE HEAVY SUBJECTS. To you Psych majors; ask her what her favorite thing is to do. If she wears tattoos, say to her “What rocks your boat, baby?”

As far as the telephone is concerned, the advice here is simple: STAY OFF THE DAMNED THING. You’re not supposed to be having phone conversations. The only thing you’re supposed to use AT&T (or what’s left of it) for is asking the girl out. You’re not supposed to yak like a yenta over the wire about all kinds stuff that can get you into trouble. Moochie, are you sure you read my book.

Next, you want even more humor. My cousins Fast Eddie and Sal “The Fish” are insulted! Haven’t you been reading their one-liners week after week?

Here’s what you do. Whenever a girl asks you a hard question about anything, go right into your Jim Carrey or Robin Williams shtick. You want to come back with a snappy answer to every silly love question a babe throws at you. Fast Eddie and Sal are masters of the comical comeback, so pay attention.

One more thing on the topic of humor. Why do you think I have you studying Cary Grant movies? Didn’t he have the greatest romantic comedy writers of the 20th Century doing his scripts? (By the way, that advice happens to be in the Dating Dictionary. Hello again?)

Finally, yes, I’ve written volumes on the subject of relationships. But if you want more, while you’re sitting doing nothing at your pool this summer, why don’t come up with a list of what I’ve missed, dress it up nice, tell me where you want it to fit in, and if it makes my books better, I’ll cut you in for 3%.

Guy, I appreciate what you’re saying about me and my principles, and I think it’s great that you’re helping your friends out -- it’s vitally important if we’re going to cut the divorce rate in America. But frankly, Mooch, you have a long way to go yourself. You’re only at the 50-yard line. Because many of the things you asked for help with are covered in my book and my weekly columns since January 2000. It’s all out there, buddy. Just keep coming back; keep reading and I’ll take good care of you.

Remember, guys: if you want to land and keep Miss Right, you have a lot of work to do.

Do You Think Alec Baldwin ever has Trouble Getting Dates?

Hey Doc,

I stumbled across your website when I was surfing the web on the lookout for dating advice. I’m not looking for any dating advice – I’m interested in tips for middle-aged guys back on the singles scene for the first time in 20 or 30 years. I’ve noticed that there are other love doctors out there who talk about what to do when you’re on a date with a woman, but none of them seem to address how to actually get dates, and that’s really what I’m interested in. You probably deal with younger guys most of the time, but I thought I’d try you anyway.

I’m fiftyish, have all my hair, am reasonably attractive and in okay shape. I was married for nearly 20 years and went through a divorce that wasn’t all that bitter, but frankly, Doc, I feel a bit bruised and very vulnerable out here in the world all by myself again after so much time in a relationship. I never cheated on my wife, but the fire went out of the marriage and we both decided to end it before it got nasty. I have one son, by the way, who is a teenager. He’s still living with his mother.

So here’s my current situation. I have a relatively isolated job, as a freelance writer of public relations materials for firms here in the suburbs of New York City, so I don’t really meet a whole lot of women. In fact, I don’t meet very many women at all. I have absolutely no clue where to go to meet them, either. I belong to the local YMCA where I ride the exercise bike and occasionally attend a Yoga class, but the women are mostly elderly and unattractive or show no interest in me whatsoever.

Which brings me to my next area of concern. I know it’s not realistic, but I’m drawn to women young enough to be my daughter and don’t have any interest in middle-aged women like myself, even if I could find them. Doc, let’s be honest -- who wants a 48-year-old divorcee with a saggy butt, emotional baggage, an ax to grind or a brood of obnoxious kids? I know I don’t. The problem is that the younger women, say age 35 or below, don’t even look in my direction, and when they do, they call me “Sir” or “Mister.” I’ve started joking that when girls call you “Sir” or “Mister,” you know you’re old – and in trouble. So you might say I don’t want the old ones and am afraid of the young ones. Worse, it probably wouldn’t work out with a young one anyway, right?

So, man, I don’t know what to do or where to go to get back into this thing. Help!

Vaughan - who hates to think that it’s already over

Hi Vaughan,

First off, whether a female is 18 or 80, the gig is still the same. If you’re a 55-year-old divorced doctor and you meet an elegant 50-year-old divorcee at the country club, you’re still going to have to say, “Caprice, what’s your home phone number?” By the same token, if you’re a 19-year-old and you’re three sheets to the wind at a college frat party, you’re still going to have to ask that sorority sister, “Hey, Caprice, what’s your home phone number?”

So the game is always the same, pal, and I cover it all. If you love women, I’m your coach.

Now, you can’t just be in “okay” shape to be competitive out there in the dating world. (“Okay” shape usually means that you really look like a cross between Alec Baldwin before a diet and the Pillsbury Doughboy.) “Okay” shape doesn’t cut it when you’re 50 and a member of AARP. You have to be in perfect shape when you’re as old as you are. Make sure you shave every day, use deodorant, shine your shoes, and have a premium membership to the health club (and you use it). You’ve got to look like you’ve stepped out of Esquire or GQ just to have a fighting chance.

By the way -- what do you mean you attend a yoga class “occasionally?” When you’re in any kind of exercise class, you have to go all the time – it’s called a routine. You don’t drop in and out of a class. Right there it shows me you have no discipline and no real interest in taking good care of your body.

You should feel vulnerable, dude. You lived with someone who beat on you like a drum for 20 years! But in your wife’s defense, you probably deserved it because you were a WIMP. And by the way, Vaughan, you didn’t have a “relationship” – you were just living with a cold body. P.S. You both didn’t decide to end it – SHE decided to end it, okay, big fella? (Do you faithfully visit your son and talk to him on the phone a couple of times a week? You better. Don’t forget – you may be a swinging bachelor again, but you’re still his dad.)

So, females show no interest in you, Vaughan? Welcome to the world of being over 50 -- and three-quarters of the way over the hill! Your interest in younger women clearly demonstrates why your wife loved you so darned much. Guy, you can’t even get a good-looking 50-year-old to go out, and you want her daughter? Don’t you think maybe there’s a little more to it? Okay, then, I’ll tell you what you do: go buy yourself a 145-foot-yacht and dock it in Monaco. Then you’ll get that 25-year-old with the killer body. And, like Sal “the Fish” Love would say, “Don’t forget the drugs!”

But Vaughan, I have to set you straight on something. There are tons of great 48-year-olds out there who look 38 and whose bodies are 28. When people get divorced, it means there are more women on the loose, and since there are more women than men in the world the odds are in your favor, especially if you’re living near New York (according to the latest man/woman ratio statistics, anyway). So guys, keep in mind that a fine woman is out there for you, in spite of the fact that the gravitational pull of the earth’s center has been giving her wrinkles for the last 15 years.

All the stuff you’re moaning about – obnoxious brats, sagging asses, axes to grind and the rest of it – are unfortunately part of the deal when you hit a certain age. You should have picked the right one when you were in your twenties, though it’s evident to me that you wouldn’t have known what to do with her.

But we’re not going to give up the ship because like I said before, we like women. But having said that, my friend, I can’t tell you how much work you have to do.

Want to know why the young chicks aren’t looking in your direction? Because you don’t look like a 50-year-old model who looks 35, that’s why. Maybe you’re one of those geezers who looks 64, did you ever think of that? How’s your posture? Are you still walking erect? What you should be saying to those young honeys who call you “sir” is, “Are you available for adoption?” (To you Psych majors, it only works in biker bars!)

The only thing you’ll have to worry about with the young numbers, Vaughan, is the fact that you’ll never have one. But if you did happen to convince one to go out with you, I’m sure that by the time her tummy was full of caviar and lobster and Dom Perignon it would work out alright, and she’d be telling you that she had a big day at work tomorrow. (Which, by the way, is why she’s yawning and complaining that she’s tired.)

So, buddy, you’re back in the twelfth grade – at square one. I can tell from a guy’s letters what he knows or doesn’t know. Most guys come to me with a little bit of something on the ball, but you don’t know anything.

Here’s the doctor’s prescription. First you’re going to study the Dating Dictionary for four straight weekends at the library wired on coffee and with the cell phone turned off. Then you’re going to join Toastmasters. When you’re not at your job or sleeping or sweating at the gym, you’re going to be at Toastmasters. You’re going to do this for six months. And the reason you’re going to do it for so long is because you’re so far in the hole.

You’re going to introduce yourself as a love doctor. When someone in the audience asks what you mean by that, you say that you study women. You have a great job, but studying the opposite sex is your hobby. And that you give guys advice; you don’t charge anything, and now you want to give speeches on it. You’re going to give talks on topics like “Closing the Deal” and “How to Handle the Woman’s Counteroffer.” As you talk about these things, you’re going to find yourself getting better and better at my techniques.

By then you’ll be speaking in the next town over from yours, and then the next town over from that. Half your audience will be women. One day you’re going to notice a nice-looking 49-year-old who just had plastic surgery on her fanny staring at you. And that’s how it’s all going to start.

Remember, guys: when you go out for a fight, you gotta go out packin’.

Would Julia Roberts care if you Looked at Another Woman?

Hey Doc,

I’ve been dating Ben for three years and he follows your “System.” I’ve been reading your material too in order to become a better woman for the both of us.

I haven’t found in your material anything related to the subject of Internet smut. I recently discovered Ben’s Internet browser to be full of photos, links, and videos of the porn variety. I was disturbed by this – especially the frequency (nightly) and volume, and considering that our romantic moments have dwindled, I consider this whole situation indicative of a double standard. I’m a rather attractive woman ready to crawl all over Ben at any time and he is more and more often “too tired” to be romantic or has to go to bed early to get up for work in the morning. Incidentally, Ben and I don’t live together.

I fessed up to Ben about finding this stuff and asked him to stop it. I see it as disrespectful and unnecessary and bordering on sick because some of the links are clearly teens. He got defensive, of course, stating that I was too rigid in my morals and that men are hardwired to be visual and that it is all harmless. He said he would stop, but I know that he hasn’t.

Could you please address this issue in your weekly advice column? I am not sure if this is a deal-breaker for me, but it is certainly causing my Interest Level in Ben to drop. The more I read about the subject of smut, the more I’m wondering if I have an addict on my hands. I don’t need a “project” to work on – I want a man. How does one shake this garbage out of a guy’s head?

Doc, Ben wouldn’t want me drooling over the Chippendales dancers – so why the double standard?

I know you don’t generally answer women’s letters, but I truly hope you answer mine. If you do, I sincerely thank you in advance.

Damara - who doesn’t think he should have it both ways

Hi Damara,

Hold on a second here, my sister. If your Ben were truly following my “System,” you wouldn’t be writing this letter in the first place. But I’m glad you’re reading me. So right off the bat we know that you’re one smart cookie. Ben’s a lucky guy. It sounds like he doesn’t realize it, or that he’s just plain dumb. And thanks for the plug.

Actually, I have addressed the issue you’re upset about. You’ll recall from reading my book and columns that I don’t talk about sex. Ever. And there’s a reason for it – too many parents trust me to give their kids sound dating advice, for one thing, and for another, I’m not going to be like all the other love doctors out there who dwell on the seamier side of love rather than truly trying to coach men.

Now let’s be rational here. There are a few different ways to view Ben’s preoccupation. Here’s one side of it. I’ve got a married cousin who sends me pictures of Beautiful Women by e-mail once or twice a month. When I stop over at his house, I like to pull his wife’s chains. “Your husband’s a voyeur,” I joke. “He keeps sending me photos of naked women.” Now my cousin’s spouse happens to be an easygoing sort (luckily for him) and we all have a laugh over it. In other words, for those two it’s not all that important in the greater scheme of things. That’s one extreme of it. At the other extreme are the folks who say that if you even glance at such material you’re going straight to Hell in a hand basket. Everybody else in America is on middle ground on this issue.

What I know for sure is this. The general rule for guys is, when you’re with your woman, you don’t look at other women. Secondly, if you have this junk on your computer, don’t keep it where she can have access to it. So Ben messed up. Like Reverend Love says, “This whole matter should have been kept private – between Ben and himself and his confessor.”

Damara, as far as having Ben for a husband is concerned, you have to do some real hard thinking on it. If he’s looking at this stuff on a nightly basis when you’re sitting there all decked out in your Victoria’s Secret outfit, with your long legs and pouty, bee-stung lips, you have to wonder what’s going through the guy’s mind. Like the Reality Factor says, “Why is he trading what’s there for what’s not?” (To you Psych majors, plus she’s alive!)

In a sense, you went against loyalty by looking into your boyfriend’s computer. On the other hand, he went against loyalty too because he was “with” other women, a bunch of other women, Beautiful Women, and a lot younger ones than you. Given the amount of time Ben spends with his fantasies, it’s not good for him. As the old Chinese proverb goes, “Too much Neverland bad for Michael Jackson, Grasshopper.” Ben should have your photos up on his computer. He should be buying you nice clothes, taking you out to the park or the zoo, snapping your picture there and then putting them up on his computer -- not all those other babes. If I were a female, that’s the kind of guy I would want.

I certainly understand your anger and concern over Ben’s double standard. But as my cousin Fast Eddie Love would say, “Guys like new stuff.” Apparently Ben likes lots of new stuff, and he likes it every day. (By the way, is he losing weight?) Now let’s reverse the scenario. If I had a girlfriend and she was sitting around all night long salivating over pictures of bodybuilders, I wouldn’t be feeling too great about it. Because let’s face it: why would I want to see her ogling muscle-bound Macho Boys when I’m six feet eight and weigh 28 pounds?

Ben may argue that what he’s up to is all harmless shenanigans, but not at the rate he indulges. I can tell you that for sure, and I’m not even a real doctor. As far as Ben being marriage material, I’d say it is a deal-breaker for you, Damara. I wouldn’t want my sister marrying this guy.

Still, it’s hard to say whether this cybersex predilection of Ben’s means he’s truly hooked. There are just as many people on the other side of the coin who say that looking at the stuff is not addictive. (Of course they’re lobbyists for the porn industry, so take it with a grain of salt.) But we’re not here to debate this; it’s not what I do as a dating coach. Like I said before, when a guy’s in love with a woman, he shouldn’t be lusting after other women.

Damara, I’ve got more bad news for you. You can’t shake the garbage out of your boyfriend’s head. He has to do it all by himself. He’s got to wake up and say to himself, “By spending countless hours looking at these naked bodies, I’m going backwards in my life. I should be going forward.”

One more thing. The reason I’m answering your letter is because I want to help men. That’s always my first and foremost aim.

Remember, guys: if you like to look at naked women, keep the computer at least 50 miles out of your true love’s reach.

Would John Stamos ever use a Matchmaker?

Hey Doc,

I don’t know if you’re aware of the new trend of men using professional matchmakers to find their mate, but I wanted your opinion on this growing phenomenon.

There was a big article on these (female) operators in a major magazine recently, and I began to wonder if maybe I should sign on and see what they could do for me. I actually fit the profile of the type of man they service – I’m Ivy League-educated, wealthy, and much too busy with my career to actually go out and hunt down dates. I’m afraid of using the Internet to find dates, because lots of those women are crazy, and amazingly enough, I haven’t had much success there anyway. Maybe women don’t care for enormously successful men.

So Doc, here’s what these matchmakers do, generally speaking. They charge exorbitant amounts of money, around 20 grand for the “initiation” fee, plus another grand for a yearly membership to get you rolling (and they expect a marriage “bonus” if it comes to that), with no guarantee of success, I might add.

But from what I’ve read, it seems that they do a good job for a guy. They work on their “intuition” to set you up on dates with the right woman and they insist on total control (in other words, you don’t have a say in who you date, you can’t even see pictures, and you have to accept the matchmaker’s choice). They run a background check on you, visit your home, and have an “image consultant” inspect your wardrobe and make you over if necessary. They strictly screen out the gold diggers and naggers from their pool of available women, who are all upscale types. In other words, they pretty much do everything for you.

They also have an interesting philosophy. They tell you that you should already be married or re-married (in the event you’re divorced), and they believe that people should stay within their “tribes” for a mate. It’s a very traditional approach and almost old-world. I suppose at this stage of my life I find that somewhat appealing.

To be honest with you, I haven’t had the best luck with women in my life, Doc, and at 40 years old I often wonder why I haven’t been able to find the right one. There is something very enticing about the idea of putting myself into a matchmaker’s hands after all the futility of trying to do it by myself.

What do you think? Should I go for it? Do you see any downside aside from the lightening of my bank account?

Cummings - who doesn’t want to be a desperado

Hi Cummings,

Yes, I do know about these people. As a lifelong practitioner in the areas of dating and love, I make it a point to stay up on everything that’s going on out there. In fact, one of my good friends in Los Angeles laid out $5,000 for the service, in which the matchmaker guaranteed him a certain amount of dates. But my buddy didn’t do too well. When the contract was up, he came away empty-handed. But let me emphasize that this was only the experience of one guy – I’m not out to rip the entire practice.

Now let’s talk about those wacky cyberspace women. Sure, lots of gals cruising the Internet are crazy. But guess where they come from? The planet Earth -- where you happen to be standing right now. So don’t put down the Internet, like Bill O’Reilly does. Being a weirdo is not an Internet problem – it’s just a problem that some women have. The point is that you have to find a good woman, period, and there are many great ones out there. Like my cousin Brother Love says, “You gotta separate the wheat from the chaff.”

I have another surprise for you. Women do care for enormously successful men. But you Masters of the Universe have to be able to back your success up with other things – like Confidence, Self-Control, and Challenge. Without those strength qualities, I don’t care how many oil wells you own in Texas or how many skyscrapers you’ve built in New York City -- she’s going to make you miserable. Remember this: when Johnny Carson died, his wife (number four, by the way) was hanging out in another city.

Now guy, if a high-priced matchmaker can get you hitched to a good one, it’s worth every penny she takes from you — in fact, she’s underpaid. But remember my caveat – IF SHE PRODUCES. And remember this, too: success is not getting and marrying a girl. Anybody can do that; even Mini Me. Success is keeping her in high Interest-Level heaven. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter what the matchmaker comes up with.

Of course these matchmakers do a good job of getting you dates, Cummings! Because the guy – the guy like you -- doesn’t know his butt from his BlackBerry about women and he has to keep coming back for more. After the breakup or divorce, he’s crawling back to Ms. Marriage Broker to find him another girl. It’s called built-in repeat business. If you’re going to drop all your hard-earned dough on this thing, you better know what you’re doing going in. Check out the equipment our boys are carrying in Iraq today – they have to know how to use the gadgets before they actually use them, right? Because like General Love would say, “Dating is war!”

So, she’s going to fix you up with the “right woman.” But just who is the right woman in reality? She’s a Flexible Giver. That’s what you’re supposed to ask the matchmaker for, not some fantasy girl. But you’re not going to know enough to do this because you haven’t memorized the Dating Dictionary. Accepting the matchmaker’s choice for you is okay as far as it goes. It’s like a guarantee that she’ll get you to the 50-yard line. But she’s not necessarily looking for a good girl with a Flexible attitude. So, buyer, beware.

By the way, are you going to be privy to what your new blind date brings down per year? She’ll know what you make, right? Well, don’t you want to know her job record over the past five years? You better find out whether she’s been on “hellfare” or working at the local topless joint before you go down on your knees with your five-carat diamond. Blissful blindness works only up to a certain point. Again, let the buyer beware.

The makeover and image consultant is wise. Most guys don’t know how to dress and their apartments look like hell, so that’s a good idea. But the question is, will you stay made-over and spit-shined? If so, fantastic. But if you go back to being the same old Cummings, what’s the point?

If your matchmaker can truly weed out the gold diggers and naggers, you ought to give her a hundred grand rather than just 20K. But what she can’t do for you is guarantee one critical element: CHEMISTRY. Can a matchmaker truly guarantee you that certain spark that floats your boat? And, more importantly, the WOMAN’S? To you Psych majors, only if the woman’s Interest Level is 51% does it have the potential to rise. And remember too that it’s only her Interest Level that really counts.

Telling you that you should be married or re-married is a half-truth. If you’re not truly psychologically ready to deal with a woman, the matchmaker could tell you that you should bathe in canola oil every night and it would amount to the same thing. As for sticking with the tribe, it’s generally true that it’s better if you have lots of things in common from a social standpoint. The problem is that it doesn’t always work out anyway. Actors and entertainers have lots in common, don’t they? Check out their divorce rate. Every single day Catholics break up with Catholics they grew up around the corner from. So what’s the solution? You’re going to have to find a Flexible Giver to overcome the odds, like I said before. (And yes, an old world philosophy is appealing. So go for it, Cummings. You’ve got the money and you’re going nowhere in a hurry anyway at 40.)

Pal, I can tell you haven’t had the best luck with women from your letter. You’re being redundant. You better get “The System” and read it a few times. You’ve got a lot of work to do, Cummings. Because you’ve already met the right one, but you didn’t even know it. What’s more, you couldn’t have kept her anyway. But don’t take it personally. When you put yourself in the matchmaker’s hands, tell her you want somebody ugly and short. I guarantee you’re going to be successful and you’ll get your money’s worth.

So what do I think you should do? Gee, buddy, I’m about ready to look for a 10-story building to jump off. Are you sure you’ve read at least one of my columns?

Money isn’t the issue here. The issue is this: are you going to do the right things to make her stay if you do get set up with someone incredible?

Remember, guys: if you want to go “dating” for a potential lifelong partner, you’d better do your homework first.

Did McCauley Culkin ever have Trouble getting Girls?

Hey Doc,

I give advice too, mostly to my friends, but that is not the point of why I’m writing to you.

I’m writing to you because I have trouble with girls. I’m 12 years old and I need to get a girlfriend. I mean, I’m on the basketball team at school, so I think I should have one. I need a date to my school dance. I’d like to get someone good-looking and attractive and a lot of fun. I’ve noticed that most of the people you help are older than 12. Do you think you could help me? Please give me some good advice.

There’s this one girl, Adrianna, I like a lot, but whenever I’m around her I just make a total fool of myself because I don’t know what to say to her. I sort of just stand there and get red in the face and stare at her. Yet every time I’m around her I just get a warm feeling in my stomach. Does that mean I’m in love with her? Do you think that I should just forget about all the other girls at my school and concentrate on Adrianna?

I would like to ask Adrianna to my school dance because she has not yet been asked. I mean, how do I say I like you to a girl? Do you just come out and say it, even if she’s around her friends? If that’s what it takes, I don’t think I can do it. Maybe I’m just a coward. What confuses me is that I’m not afraid when I’m on the basketball court against guys a foot taller than me, yet I’m really scared when I’m around this girl.

Everyone at my school says Adrianna has never had a boyfriend, but I saw some guy hugging her. Do you think that means she loves him? His name is Ryan and I don’t like him. He thinks that just because he plays quarterback for the football team that he’s really hot stuff and he’s going to end up being a big star or something. I feel the same way about myself, but he’s able to make Adrianna laugh like crazy and I don’t know how to do that. This makes me feel a little bad about myself; do you know what I mean? Like I don’t have something that Ryan has.

I don’t ever want to make a fool of myself again. Should I ask one of Adrianna’s friends if she does have a boyfriend? I’m begging you for some help.

Brady - who doesn’t have anybody to turn to

Hi Brady,

If you give advice to your friends, why aren’t you taking your own? If you’re a love doctor already, you have all the answers. Go and look in the mirror and you’ll have everything you ever need. Just do a little talking to yourself. But I’m going to help you anyway, because it’s not always easy to solve your own problems. Your questions are all over the map, but we’re going to attack every one. And thank you for writing.

Now first of all, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Let me tell you something. There are 50-year-old guys who use my “System” because they can’t solve girls. Those gals might be a bit older than the ones you like, but most men have trouble with females – you’ll learn that pathetic fact soon enough in your life. Sadly, I would say that 90% of men have difficulty, and that’s why I’m here. Guys, if you’ve ever been confused or rejected, I’m your love doctor.

So, you say you need to get yourself a girlfriend. Pal, that’s what everybody says. Even men old enough to be your grandfather complain about not having the right one.

Now, are you saying that if you weren’t playing ball you shouldn’t have a girlfriend? You’ve got to do it on the strength of your personality, Brady, not because you can hit a few buckets. And that happens to be your problem, right there – you’re too needy. When it comes to girls, you can’t be desperate – you’ve got to let them know that you can take ’em or leave ’em. It’s the difference between George Clooney and Billy Bob Thornton. George could care less and he has to beat them off with sticks, and Billy Bob can’t live without them, and that’s why he’s a regular in divorce court.

So you want one who’s good-looking and fun, huh? Sort of like Hillary Duff or the Olson twin who isn’t starving herself to death? It’s nice to know that you’re shooting so high, but you’ve got to practice first. (Actually, Brady, you’re the second 12-year-old that I’ve helped. The other kid ended up a couple of years later with his high school homecoming queen, so I have no doubt you’re going to come out of my coaching as a total and complete success.) All you have to do is listen and set your ego aside, and my advice will be nothing short of awesome for you. That’s why my track record is so great. Like Brother Love says, “There ain’t another dating guru around who can hold a candle to Doctor Love.”

So what you say to Adrianna is this: “You want to go to Starbucks for tea?” Nice and simple. And you never want to stare, kid. It makes girls uncomfortable. You want to look at her like a young gentleman would, and if she smiles at you, you smile back politely and go up to her and say “Hi.” Remember, only bad boys stare, and you’re a good boy.

As far as that warm feeling in your stomach goes, that’s what you’re supposed to get. That’s what love is – a nice, warm sugar cookie in your belly. But don’t get too carried away with the sweets. Because you’re not ready to walk down the aisle with Adrianna, and you’re not even in love with her – you’re in “like” with her. But it’s close.

Rather than concentrate on Adrianna, do just the opposite -- practice on all the other girls in your school. You’re rushing into things. You’re not ready to ask your angel to the dance. See all that equipment our American boys over in Iraq have? They have to know how the stuff works before they can actually use it, capeesh? And you’ve got to know how a girl’s mind works. That means you have to read all my columns and practice on the girls you don’t care about before you make any big moves.

Brady, the only time you ever tell a girl you like her is after you’ve been married for at least 35 to 40 years. Again, you don’t want to rush it. You’ve got to spread yourself out nice and slowly and spoon-feed girls you like just a little bit at a time, otherwise they get bored real easily, and when they get bored it lowers Interest Level. That’s the graveyard of love -- crashed Interest Level.

What you have to do when you’re ready and Confident is steer Adrianna away from her friends and say “What’s your home phone number?” Or at the end of a game when you’ve made lots of baskets like Michael Jordan or Dirk Nowitzki and your team won, then you walk up to her and work your magic.

Now, this next principle is extremely important, and even guys much older than you have trouble with it, so it’s best to learn the lesson early. You shouldn’t be talking to anybody about a girl you’re interested in. Everybody’s already telling Adrianna how much you like her, so you keep your mouth shut. Like it says in the Dating Dictionary, you’ve got to be cool -- like James Bond.

Adrianna hugging Ryan means nothing. He’s probably just her cousin anyway, so cool down. Instead of getting bent out of shape over this guy, you should emulate him, because Adrianna’s not hugging you. (And you should have the same feelings about your hoop dreams as he does about his football, but be a little more humble.) When you see him, smile…when you see her, smile…keep walking and make like you’re Jim Carrey for all the other girls. When you get them to laugh, Adrianna will notice and she’s going to walk over to you one day and say “Hi, Brady. Please make me laugh too.”

But this is a long-term relationship, and by the time you’re 15 or 16, you’re going to have a good shot at getting this girl, so you just have to bide your time. You shouldn’t feel bad about yourself. You’re a nice guy, and you’re just as good as Ryan, got it? The only thing he’s got that you don’t is a few hugs. You have to be prepared, and the only way to do that is by memorizing my columns.

Don’t ever beg a girl for love, Brady. Get off your knees. Otherwise, you might just as well send Adrianna a letter saying I love you and turn her off once and for all before you even get started. Despite what Oprah might say, confessing your undying devotion will only sink your ship. Adrianna will see that you’re able to nail a 15-foot jump shot on the court, but when it comes to girls you shoot air balls. Don’t talk to her friends and remember the most important thing – get all A’s in school and make ’em laugh.

Remember, guys: you can’t be a Marine unless you’ve been through boot camp.

Did Rod and Rachel Split Up Because He "Just wasn't into Her?"

Hey Doc,

I’ve become somewhat familiar with your principles from reading your column. I’m a single guy in my thirties and work as a chef in an upscale restaurant here in Chicago where I have occasion to overhear the waitresses talking about their problems with men. Well, lately they’ve all been discussing this book called He’s Just Not That Into You with such reverence you’d think it was the Bible.

All their talking piqued my interest to the point where I went to the bookstore myself one night to check it out. Doc, I was amazed by the stuff that I found in there -- and this book was co-written by a guy, no less! It was like the whole concept of dating and relationships was turned on its head.

For instance, the authors believe that men run the dating world, that we have all the power, that we make all the decisions, and so on. What do you make of this? The book tries to create the impression that we concoct all the excuses to break off with women and hold all the aces when it comes to the balance of power. My experience with women has been very much the opposite, so I found their theories very confusing.

The book also gives women the impression that a guy who’s interested in them should be on the phone to them pretty much immediately, like within a day or two. If he’s not calling you, it says, he’s not at all “into you.” What’s the reality here? If you go straight after a girl, doesn’t it show that you’re too available – or desperate? What the writers failed to realize was that the ladies in their book were totally into the guys because the guys weren’t throwing themselves at them! Does that make sense according to your philosophy, or am I missing something here?

As I continued to read through this bestseller, I kept finding things that disturbed me. Don’t women actually dump guys the majority of the time instead of vice-versa? Given that frightening statistic, isn’t it us guys who need help in relationships? This book perpetrates the notion that it’s very much the other way around. According to the authors, if a guy doesn’t basically throw himself at a girl’s feet within hours of meeting her, he should be on the garbage heap.

Doc, I’m concerned that all the women who shell out good money for this book will really be buying a pack of lies. I don’t see it helping the American male whatsoever, do you? In fact, I see the book as only creating more friction in the war between the sexes.

I don’t know if you’ll print this letter, and I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book, but I’m really curious to hear your evaluation of it. It’s my opinion that more guys and girls should be listening to you, since you’ve got it right.

Jacques - who’s not into what he read

Hi Jacques,

You’re right about this book being as hot as the Bible -- it’s been in the top 10 of the bestseller list long enough, too. I did read it, and despite its fancy print and 165-page length, I’m telling you to hold onto your money. Because I could state the authors’ point in just one sentence: “Girls, if he treats you good, keep him!” You don’t have to go out and drop $19.95 for that, and you’d be better off putting it toward buying “The System” anyway. I guarantee you much more success with the ladies if you do.

The (male) co-writer of that book is nothing but a traitor. Ever hear of brainwashing? The poor dude’s been brainwashed, and brainwashing is why we have Oprah.

My world is exactly the opposite of the authors of that book. There are a thousand love doctors out there, and 95% of them work for women. Look at how many “brides” magazines you have. You can hardly count them all! What does that tell you? Who’s getting all the help here? By comparison, the covers of men’s magazines look like pictures of slaughterhouses, with all the dead animals. You’d think all we do is hunt and fish and talk about sports.

So, men have all the power in dating, huh? Jeez, I think they’re right. Let’s see…I notice Caprice at a wedding, I have to work up the courage to walk up to her, I have to introduce myself without having her head for the hills or blow me off, I have to get her name, I have to get her to ask me my name, I have to make her laugh, I have to get her to touch my arm, and then, as the closer, I have to ask the toughest of all questions: “Caprice, what’s your home phone number?” Hey -- since when does the guy doing all the work have any power? Not where I come from.

Yeah, men are in the dominant position, all right. That’s why there are so many magazines like Cosmopolitan giving women advice -- like how to control a man, how to get what you want from a man, and how to make a man whimper. (Of course when THEY do it, it’s “self-improvement.” When YOU do it, you’re playing a head game.) As my cousid “Fast Eddie” Love would say, “So much for a fair fight!”

The great thing about my techniques is that I break down -- to the second -- when you should call a girl. To you Psych majors, jumping on the phone to a babe three seconds after you meet her is the number-one telephone blunder in the history of mankind. Of course it shows you’re way too available or just plain desperate. Like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “It makes you look like you just got sprung out of Leavenworth, man.” Or worse, that you’re so needy you can’t control yourself at all. Now, how attractive do you think that kind of behavior is to any clinically sane female?

Because the women in He’s Just Not That Into You got hooked on the guys who didn’t fall all over them, unbeknownst to themselves they were verifying my principle of Challenge. But only if you studied my Dating Dictionary would you recognize that essential truth. So you’re right on target here, pal.

You want to know whether women dump guys most of the time. Jacques, if women were Indians, we guys would look like General Custer’s Seventh Cavalry after the Battle of the Little Bighorn – it would be a bloody massacre. You’re right – there is a war between the sexes going on, and women are armed with RPG-7s and we have nothing but bows and arrows. And the girls are getting tanks next! Ask Rod Stewart whether he had a chance in hell when his “10” fashion-model wife decided she needed to “move on” because she was “too young to settle down.”

The problem with this war between the sexes is that it messes with a woman’s head. And you know what effect that has on her? Her anger is going to come out in her actions -- she’s going to turn around and play with your head. And guys are so mixed up as it is now, they can’t take any more punishment!

So in the end, this “no excuses truth to understanding guys” book is just more brainwashing. The powers that be want to keep women and men separated.

I’m proud to print your letter, guy. It reinforces some very important points. You’ll notice in that book that the concept of Interest Level is never mentioned. And, especially, the authors never once bring up the word Challenge.

So keep it light and funny and cool when you’re getting to know a woman, Jacques, and never give away your dignity and Self-Control just because someone else thinks or says you should. There’s no faster way of driving a woman away from you than throwing yourself on her like a JCPenney suit.

Remember, guys: the mark of a false love doctor is that he’ll never use the word CHALLENGE – and if he does, he’s a thief.

Is Will Smith the Real Date Doctor?

Hey Doc,

Recently I took in the film Hitch starring Will Smith, and while I found it enjoyable enough to sit through – mostly because of the bombshell actress Eva Mendes, who plays his love interest, Sara – I found myself scratching my head when it was over. In fact, I thought to myself, “Did I just see another Hollywood fairy tale?”

Doc, I have so many questions about what Hitch did in the movie that I hardly know where to start. So I guess I’ll just start.

First of all, do “surprise” presents work on women? When Hitch sent those walkie-talkies to Sara, I got a queasy feeling in my gut. If anything, a move like that might make a woman feel sort of trapped, wouldn’t it? But then he said something like “You can sweep any woman off her feet if you have the right broom.”

Regarding kissing, is it true that the first kiss tells all for a woman? What about that whole rigmarole about the woman “fiddling” with her keys at the end of the night if she really wants to kiss you? Finally, how about that thing where the guy should move 90% in and let her move in the last 10%? I don’t know, Doc, but it seemed a little hokey to me.

Something else that struck me was that the heiress fell for and married Albert. It sort of gave me hope that I could maybe score a big-time model like Gisele Bundchen or a wealthy babe like Paris Hilton. But on the other hand, I don’t want to make a fool of myself. What’s your take, Doc? Can total losers like most of us guys really hit the jackpot?

When Hitch moved into the area of love doctors, I didn’t know what to think. Doc, would you ever turn down money from your clients? I don’t know if you make as much money as Hitch does, but I have to assume you guys take on all comers. Jesus, Doc, I hope women don’t hate you as much as they hated Hitch! If they do, I hope for your sake you’re making truckloads of money!

Maybe most surprising of all was that in the end, after being in control of his emotions, Hitch ended up completely losing it and throwing himself at Sara’s feet. How about it, Doc? Should you ever reveal to a girl that she really hurt you as well as all your weaknesses? Should you ever break down, leap on the roof of her car and confess undying love like he did? Whenever I’ve done that stuff, the girl’s made me feel like even more of an idiot and blown me off. But maybe I just didn’t say the right things. Is it true that we only get one shot with a girl?

There were a couple of other things, too. Like does a woman’s best friend have to approve of you? Finally – and don’t laugh – should guys really get their backs waxed? Isn’t that a little too “femme?”

I’m sorry to make this letter so long, but like I said, I was curious to hear what you had to say.

Burton - who doesn’t want to follow the wrong dating coach

Hi Burton,

First of all, I dug the movie more than you did. In certain scenes Hitch was great, especially when that Wall Street sleaze-bucket wanted to take advantage of a woman and Hitch put his head on the table and moaned “I’m not about that!” For me, that was the high point of the film. In other words, the date doctor was all about the long term and being respectful towards women, which is the way it should be. (And by the way, Will Smith really impressed me. He’s a top-flight actor. Romantic comedy is all he should do, because that’s what makes him the best.)

Now, I want you guys to give presents to your women. But the Reality Factor says that guys give them way too fast, they give too many, and the gifts are too expensive. Giving things to your wife is great, but not when she’s nagging. And the implication in Hitch is that gifts raise Interest Level -- that was the worst part, because they don’t. Like my cousin Brother Love would say, “Love might be for rent, but it’s not for sale!”

What most women would have done with those walkie-talkies Hitch sent gift-wrapped to Sara would be to call Fed Ex immediately and ship the package right back out, and he’d have it the next morning! What Hitch said wasn’t true – you can’t sweep any woman off her feet with the right broom.

On the other hand, it is true that the first kiss does tell it all for a woman. But the way Hitch put it was a half-truth. He gave you good advice and lousy advice and unless you’ve memorized the Dating Dictionary, you won’t know which is which.

For instance, that rigmarole about fiddling with her keys. At least some of the time the woman is stalling by not heading straight into her house -- because she’s trying to prime the pump and tell this idiot to give her a big smack on the lips! In any type of stalling technique, that would be the principle at work. By the same token, the “90/10” approach could go either way. If you looked at this situation from the standpoint of Challenge, you’d say to yourself, “I’m going to get real close to her, but I’m not going to kiss her.” What you’d actually be thinking is, “She has to kiss me because I stop at the 90-yard line and she’s moving forward out of the end zone.” But on the whole, I like Hitch’s 90/10 kiss theory.

Regarding Fat Albert the CPA snagging the heiress, it can happen. You can score the likes of a Nicky Hilton or a Tyra Banks. Like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “All you have to do is be a bodyguard or chauffeur for some wealthy family, study ‘The System,’ and with time the heiress will go gaga for you.” But 99% of the time, no, it doesn’t happen. Because celebrities hang with celebrities, the rich with the rich, and so forth. You have to worm your way into the inner circle for that to work.

As good-looking as the heiress in the movie was, there were lots of hunky guys interested in her. So the real credibility problem I had was that Al was FAT. All you read and hear about today is the dangers of obesity. The first thing that boy should do is lose some weight! Then what happened in the film would have been more believable.

Burton, when you use the word “loser” here, it’s a bit loaded. Let’s say there are 100 keys to handling women. And let’s say most guys know how to use 66% or two-thirds of them, but that most of these fellas don’t know that one-third of their ammo is Challenge. If a guy comes to me knowing a little bit about women -- even, say, 20 to 25 things out of the 100 -- I can build on that with time. And under the right circumstances, he can win that prize “10”. Like I said, the problem is that he has to run in their crowd. If you knew my techniques and Trump invited you over to his party, well, you’d have a shot.

But if a guy’s not Confident and he has no Self-Control, then he is a loser. And there are certain guys you’re just not going to be able to help, no matter what, because they won’t take coaching.

So, you want to know what’s in my bank account, huh? I do phone coaching, and if I wanted to, I could run the bill up for 10 hours. But I don’t. That’s not me. I’m a straight shooter. “That’s all I can give you,” I tell a guy, and I cut it. When it’s over it’s over. I don’t believe in bleeding a man to death. That’s what divorce lawyers are for -- it’s to their advantage to stretch the whole process out. And that’s what I’m here to help you guys avoid at all costs – divorce, and the need for those sharks in the expensive suits.

Unfortunately, pal, there are some women who hate my guts – they’re called Feministas, Mercenaries, Gold-diggers, and women who can’t carry their own weight. It’s my job to help you not to fall into their clutches, too.

When Hitch lost it over Sara, his Interest Level was up too high, in the 90s. It shouldn’t have been. He should have said to himself: “I’m not going to call her. I’m not going to say anything wildly emotional or press her, because she told me she doesn’t want to see me. If it’s meant to be, after she cools off she’ll call me for some reason and we’ll get back together.” When a girl’s all mad at you is not the time to try and deal with her. And to add to the mess, Hitch begs, and you guys who’ve read my book know how I feel about begging.

Does telling a woman you’re wounded raise her Interest Level? What do you think? Remember, negatives play to the heart, but they don’t keep it. Being a blubbering weakling only works on Oprah. Now if Hitch had leaped on Sara’s car as a joke, if he could have had fun with it, made a cartoon out of it and got her to laugh, he might have pulled it off. But she knew he was dying inside. He did it from a begging place, not from humorous place.

Guys, if girls blow you off for doing stuff like that, then you were out already – you were already blown off. And yes, you only get one shot with a girl per lifetime.

Finally, it can only help if a girl’s best friend approves of you. And by all means have your back waxed. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “Anything that makes you look better or cleaner or taller or thinner or richer or brightens your teeth – go for it!” It’s called self-improvement -- not “femme.”

Burton, you wrote a good critique of Hitch, but you’ve got more studying to do.

Remember, guys: you must use “The System” as your basis for judging any information out there regarding dating and love, and if you don’t, may the good Lord protect you.

Did "The Donald" Test Melania before Tying the Knot?

Hey Doc,

First of all, let me just say that I’m a convert to your way of thinking and have been for about three years now. I always had marginal success with women, but never really understood them. Only after learning from the master – you – did I realize how little of a clue most men have. I now get a kick out of hearing all the things that my friends do wrong. It’s also fun to hear about the guys who date my girlfriend’s friends, and even more fun to hear about the guys who hit on my girlfriend when I’m not around.

Of course, with your coaching I’ve hooked a girl – Sharon – that no one thought even existed. She’s between an “8” and a “9,” loves to talk about sports, is an athlete like myself, and she completely “gets it” when it comes to appreciating a good guy who treats her right.

Anyway, on to my question for the master. I’ve been dating Sharon for about a year and a half now. She has passed all of your tests, says she loves me all the time, but I still haven’t dropped the “L” bomb – “I love you, too” – on her yet. Maybe someday I’ll do it, if she’s lucky and keeps treating me right. I have treated her correctly by listening to her, giving her affection, being a Challenge at times, etc.

Over the past six months she has been throwing out hints about wanting to go down the one-way aisle to marriage. To be honest, she deserves it. She’s done everything right…so far. I have indicated to her that we might be hitched by the end of 2006, based on our mutual goal of moving to another city. Which means I’ll be getting down on one knee this coming fall.

But what I want to know is this: Do you have any suggestions for one last creative test I might be able to apply – mostly for fun – but also as a last-second check, so to speak, to make sure my judgment is on target on this girl?

The way I see it, a guy can never be too sure about whom he’s marrying, right, Doc? You do research on a car before you buy it, right? I hope you see my point here. Anyway, thanks for any suggestion you might be able to give me.

Kyle - who’ll sleep better at night once he’s 100% sure

Hi Kyle,

Isn’t it great when you turn your back and all your so-called buddies are hitting on your old lady? Some wonderful friends you’ve got there, aren’t they? Like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “Just make sure you don’t close both eyes when you go to sleep at night!”

But I can understand why these skin hounds are all over Sharon, my man. If she can converse intelligently about Shaq and Tom Brady and Tiger Woods, she’s got to be phenomenal! And the smart thing that you do – that I’ve trained you to do – is that you don’t blow a cork when other guys come on to Sharon, like Macho Boy would. Congratulations on keeping your cool, pal. Keeping your cool is the one of the fundamental requirements for keeping your woman.

So, you’ve been dating this babe for one and half years now. This is very, very good. It means you’re taking your time. It means you’re not in a rush to make a mistake, like Billy Bob Thornton, who’s been married five times and counting (and he’s not even 50!). It means that with the aid of “The System” you’ve been evaluating your situation through Doc Love’s eyes. Most guys don’t know what the correct tests to give a woman are. Heck, most guys don’t even know that you have to test her! Good for you, guy.

As far as dropping the “L” bomb goes, you can tell Sharon how much you adore her when you’ve been married maybe 28 or 29 years – that’s of course if she hasn’t butchered her hair, put on 40 pounds, and sits around watching Oprah!

When Sharon started in with the marriage hints, you should have asked her, “Why do you want to get married?” If she said, “Well, I want to be with you,” you then should have asked, “Well, why do you want to be with me?” The point is to press the issue! Rub it in her face a little, see? Make her feel the heat. Have some fun with it.

It’s essential to not only listen to women, but to question them about what they’re actually saying. Then, when she answers your questions, ask her more questions. I guarantee you; you’ll be the first guy in 6,000 years to listen so closely to a female!

And remember, Kyle, it’s not Sharon who “deserves” it – it’s YOU who deserve it! Because you’ve done everything right (almost). Because you met a good one and you’ve been able to keep her. Most guys can’t do that.

The one area where I disagree with what you did was when you gave Sharon a “definite maybe” about marriage. If I were you, I would have kept her in suspense. Now you’ve gone and semi-committed yourself. You went halfway to nowhere. I understand what you were doing, but it was wishy-washy. The words “might” and “Confidence” don’t go together. To boot, you gave away your game plan. Like General Love would say, “Why the hell would you want to divulge your battle strategy?”

But not to worry. You’re not going down on one knee, dude. You’re going to wait for her to ask you to get married. Come on, guy – the man doesn’t ask the woman to get married.

Now, you came to the right man for a love test, Kyle. Here’s what you do. Tell Sharon you want to sit down and talk about money. Tell her you need to find out how each of you looks at it. You’re going to determine whether she wants to sink your jack into gold bullion, or she wants it in CDs at the credit union, or she wants to put it away for your retirement.

For instance, say to her “Honey, how much money do you think we should save out of every paycheck?” If she answers “I think we should buy some of the best diamonds from DeBeers so I can look fine whenever we step out on the town,” then you know you’ve got a problem. Remember, you Psych majors, the last thing you want is a Gastineau girl!

Here’s another question you might try on her: “How many vacations a year do you think we should take, and what do you think we should do on them?” If her suggestion is “I think we should go to Russia and take pictures of all the cathedrals,” or “I need an African safari every year,” and you’re thinking maybe you should take the five grand and put it into savings bonds, then the discrepancy in your visions is obvious.

What you want to see is whether Sharon understands that we’re living in an economic society where every dollar counts. You want to see whether she’s going to blow your earnings or get all stressed out over money. So here’s one more beauty to put to her: “Darling, how do you feel about keeping six months’ worth of our salaries stashed in the bank in the event we both happen to get fired from our jobs on the same day?”

The second biggest reason people leave relationships is due to fighting over money -- the number one reason is because of resentment. So, seeing eye to eye over the green stuff is going to be your litmus test. You’re going to see how Sharon handles it – and if you’re lucky, she’ll add some valuable insights on the subject. I call it the money test – let’s see if she passes it.

Remember, guys: if she insists on being careful about where your hard-earned money goes, then you know you’ve got a keeper.

Did Heidi Klum save Preconceived Notions about Seal?

Hey Doc,

I’ve read your Dating Dictionary, become acquainted with all your principles, and been an avid follower of your columns for more than a year now. The least that I can say is that you’ve changed my life! You have completely turned me around from being a wussy, pushover, over-complimenting boyfriend to a man with a backbone. You have taught me to truly be more like a man and have the same confidence with women that I have in every other part of my life, as well as shown me what women are actually attracted to. But in my journey through your work, I don’t think you have ever really covered the following case, which happens to be mine.

It seems like all the love doctors out there always teach you how to deal with women you have JUST met or how to deal with them AFTER you’ve gotten a date. But how about the women you’ve known for a while – not the women you’ve necessarily been friends with or hung out with, but the ones you’ve not applied Doc Love’s principles towards?

Here’s my situation: I’ve worked with Aisha for just over two years. We see each other daily but sometimes don’t even chat if we’re in a quick meeting. I have never complimented her nor been a wuss around her, but it is likely that she already has a preconceived notion of who I am and who I’m likely to date. I’ve just recently become attracted to her but don’t know if it is possible to make the transition from “working acquaintance” to “boyfriend.”

I already have Aisha’s home phone number and e-mail through our job, but how can I begin interacting with her so she becomes attracted to me, and how can I change her idea of who I am? Now it’s not that I have turned her off in any way, it’s more that she probably would never think I would be interested in her in the first place, and I already know from casual conversations around the office that we have slightly different tastes. From her end of things, my interest in her would be completely unexpected, to say the least!

I hope you can help me, Doc! Any tips on how to deal with this dilemma will be greatly appreciated.

Mohammad - a true believer in Doc Love

Hi Mohammad,

First of all, thanks for the compliments. It’s always nice to know that I’ve brought out the best in a fellow. I’m happy that I’ve made you more manly, and like you said, a guy can be Donald Trump or Larry King in other areas of his life, but when it comes to women, if he’s not hitting, or if he can’t figure out why they’re always dumping him, then he doesn’t really know what’s going on. Like my cousin Fast Eddie Love says, “Men who really understand women never get rejected, because they always leave first.”

The reason all the other love doctors try and teach you how to deal with gals you’ve just met is because that happens to be the case 98% of the time. But the good part of your particular situation is that if a woman – Aisha, in your case -- has been around you for a long time and does have feelings for you, you get lot of credit built up in your account. On your first date with her you’re basically really on your third date. Why? Because you’ve been working Challenge -- unbeknownst to yourself -- by hanging back, being a mystery, even though you really paid no attention to her because you just weren’t interested at the time.

And by the way, what do you see in Aisha now that you didn’t see before, Mo? This is very curious. Where are you coming from, man? Have you figured out what it is you’re really up to here?

Now, as to your fears that Aisha might be nursing preconceived notions about you, remember that it’s still just guesswork on her part. But whoa, guy, hold on here. Going from “working acquaintance to boyfriend” is a big leap. Like Sal “The Fish” Love says, “It’s like you’re in a high school stage play and now all of a sudden you want to be shooting a movie with Angelina Jolie!” So what you’re going to do instead is go from colleague to clown. Because like my Uncle Jethro Love likes to put it, “If you ain’t actin’ the clown, you’re gonna be the fool!”

So you’re going to make this girl laugh every time she sees you, and you’re going to do it over a two to three month period. I want this girl trying to get next to you because she just can’t resist your sparkling humor. I want her touching your arm and gently bumping into you. But the most important thing to remember is this: you’ve got to look for buying signals. You’ve got to check whether Aisha’s eyes light up like bulbs on a Christmas tree when she sees you as time goes on.

Eventually you’re going to have to ask Aisha for her home phone number, buddy. But since you work with her and are forced to see each other every day, let’s see how many times you can make this honey giggle first.

Now remember, you don’t touch Aisha’s phone number or e-mail through the job – that’s strictly off-limits. Otherwise you’re a stalker. And another thing – if it doesn’t work out because she has a bad attitude, you’re going to have to see her over and over, day after day, and she’ll be giving you dirty looks because you dropped her. So be aware of what you’re getting yourself into here. You’ve heard the warning a million times before: “Be careful of crapping where you eat.”

If you were to ask me, Doc Love, if I could distill all my writings – books, CDs, columns (I’ve never once missed a Wednesday in all the years I’ve been writing it!) – down to two words, which sounds impossible, they would be CHALLENGE and HUMOR. If you guys could remember those words, you’d hold the two main keys to women. And every time you say or do anything when it comes to the opposite sex, those two words better be operating, otherwise you’re going to be lowering Interest Level.

I don’t know why you keep saying Aisha wouldn’t suspect that you’re interested in her. Instead, what we want is for her to be guessing, “I wonder if he likes me or not?” Because don’t forget that it’s the woman’s Interest Level we have to pay attention to – not yours. Yours doesn’t matter worth a damn. Are you sure you read my book? Maybe you need to read it a few more times.

Regarding those “casual conversations,” gosh, I hope you’re not talking to the other people around the office too much. I smell a rat here – and that rat is a BLOCKER. A blocker will do anything to mess you up. In fact, you might be talking to a whole office full of potential blockers here, dude. Why take the chance flapping your lip? It’s fabulous if you’re sucking in all kinds of information about Aisha. But I hope you’re not giving any out about yourself, unless it’s very general, as in “I like Bill O’Reilly and I like to breathe!”

So, Mo, it’s the crucial moment when you ask this babe for her home phone number that’s going to tell the story – whether she’s interested or not interested, if she’s got a boyfriend, if she’s engaged, if she thinks you’re Superman or the devil. Spending too much time playing cop in all the wrong areas doesn’t get you anywhere, and that’s what you’re doing here. You’re on the wrong road, brother. And as the Chinese proverb goes, “Grasshopper, there’s no use in traveling on the wrong road -- especially if you’re in a hurry, like most men.”

Remember, guys: if you’re a Challenge and you can make her laugh, she’ll rob banks for you.

Is it Ever Okay to Apply Pressure

Hey Doc,

I flirted around with Janine on the job for a few months, but I kept my distance because she was involved in a long-term relationship with another guy. She had been with this guy for over six years. It was okay because I knew she was involved and so I didn’t make a big deal out of things.

Janine and I would laugh and joke around and it got to the point where we both actually looked forward to coming to work to spend time together. She had very high Interest Level in me. She would take every opportunity to “accidentally” touch me, bump into me, and rub my arm during conversations. While all of this was going on, her problems at home with her boyfriend had gotten worse. After a few months, she told her boyfriend that he should move out and that she didn’t think things would work out between them. Well, he did move out and then I asked her out. She was kind of hesitant about it at first, but I’m afraid I made the mistake of making her afraid she would lose me forever if she didn’t go out with me right away.

We finally went out and had an incredibly great time. Over the next two months we dated steadily and we had a fantastic time on every date. Then she told me out of the blue that she’s talking to her ex again and wants time to “figure things out.” Even as she feels she needs time to figure things out, she still initiates physical contact with me at work and we can still laugh and have a good time -- but only at work. 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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