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Published November 9, 1996 at 4:00 a.m.

Dear Love Counselor,

My mother always said that I should just "be myself' and people will like me. This doesn't seem to work on dates. I get so self-conscious that I can't be myself, if that makes any sense. I just seem to drive men away. What do you suggest?

–A.J., S. Burlington

Dear A.J.,

Your mama also said, "you better shop around." And she meant tor a personality as well as a man. It's impossible to be who you are if you don't know who that is. There's actually a simple test for self-discovery, and any Ph.D in clinical psychology can administer it. In the meantime, I recommend that you examine your more obvious traits — breath and dress. And then, put your well-groomed self in the best possible light.

Dark venues, like movie theaters and smoky pubs, will make you more alluring and mysterious. Long walks and short conversations will make you appear more earthy and philosophical. The most common first-date mistake is going out to dinner. It's far too complicated and ceremonious, you run the risk of running at the mouth, running out of things to say, and then finding out you have spinach in your teeth. Keep flatware out of the negotiations. And be sure to leave him wondering — the imagination is a powerful, and sometimes seductive, thing.

With love,


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