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November 18, 2004

Play It Again, Sam

http://www.jewishjournal.com/singles/article/play_it_again_sam_20041119

We are in kickoff month for the '05 divorced model year.

Yes, all those splits during this year are now on the

market, in search of (pause for the sigh) soul mates.

This is the perfect time to look into the latest and greatest, and many new faces will appear on the Internet. Don't believe all the hype, my friends. Despite what they are saying in the "brochures," most are sporting the exact same profiles.

As a divorced man, I've watched this scene many times. And being the public servant that I am, I've decided to lend my guiding hand to those re-entering dating and those contemplating one of the '05 models.

My guidance comes with years of experience following industry trends. Prior to my own divorce, my previous dating experience was during the Carter administration. I was shocked to learn that the dating rituals of my youth were no longer relevant to the new models and styles.

But you'll do better, because you have me.

Here are some time-tested tips to aid you in your search.

1. Watch out for the Instant Beshert. Be careful of anyone who on the first coffee meeting or meal declares you the person they have been looking for their entire lives. Twice this has happened to me. In both instances, they were wrong. Once, a woman told me as soon as she saw me enter the lobby, (pause for the sigh) "she knew."

"Knew what?" I asked, "that I was paying for dinner?" Basic rule No 1: no emotional entry until after the entrée.

2. Who is emotionally available? After years on this topic, I've boiled it down to only three categories of people: 1) those who will never be available; 2) those who are available, but not to you; and 3) those who are available to you. Try spending your time with No. 3.

3. Don't forget to pick. I mean, don't forget it's your choice, too. Mere interest in you is not a sufficient reason to be with someone.

4. Psych yourself up for online dating. A huge number of responses to your online personal isn't always a good thing. Every single person who pens you a note is convinced they are the only person writing to you. Note: The entire process has all the dignity of hiring day laborers at Home Depot with eager applicants pushing their way toward your truck door.

5. Create a winning profile. Be positive without being syrupy. Show some gravitas without sounding like Eeyore. For God's sake, spell check and, if need be, convene a focus group on this topic. A winning profile is authentic and not laden with clichés. The old adage applies, "You can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar," but as someone once reminded me, "Who the hell wants to attract flies?"

6. A good question to ask on a first date: "When you go to a football game, and you see the team in a huddle, do you ever wonder if they are in there talking about you?"

7. Conduct a post-conversation analysis. After you hang up, reflect on what percentage of the call was about: your past, your present, the other person's past or their present. Then ask how you felt about that. That's your first indicator of reciprocity in the relationship.

8. Feed them. As a foodie and an accomplished cook, there is nothing more nurturing than feeding someone you care about or care to get to know. Dining works.

9. Who pays what? I don't mind if a woman at some point offers to pay, but I feel it obligates me to put out. But if I don't like her, I just won't do it well. I suggest instead a simple rule of "the host pays." It's clean, it's understood and there is no awkwardness.

10. When to have sex. A female friend, Marilyn, told me she tells all her online dates upfront that she won't have sex with them until the sixth date. Then, she puts out on the third. Marilyn claims the performance she is able to get out of these guys is awesome -- like a miniature schnauzer at mealtime. Marilyn highly recommends this approach.

11. Women: Be careful of men who claim they are into "the outdoors." This is often a code word for the fact that they are homeless. Many homeless people who get into dating mask their status this way.

12. Men: If you must break up, do it early in the day. If a guy doesn't break up with his woman by 11 a.m., he runs the risk of not being emotionally ready to date that night.

13. Leave the trail the way you found it. You do not have a right to negatively alter the emotional, psychological or self-esteem path of the people you meet. Treat everyone with dignity as if they were going to be your only reference for the next person you'll meet.

14. People who are interested will pursue you. And, conversely, if they don't pursue you, they are not interested. Don't worry. Everyone is just living his or her priorities. You will not run out of datable people in this town. There is always the '06 model year.

Good luck. I raise my half-filled glass to you.

Sam Shmikler is a writer living in Los Angeles. He can be reached at sam@shmikler.com. A version of this article appeared on www.jmerica.com

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