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THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LOVE

Gender-Specific Advice From the Dating Trenches

For one day a year, we turn into gushing romantics, revealing our truest hearts with abandon. But then, some of our hearts are a bit off-center. . .

February 14, 2001|ROY RIVENBURG and MARIA ELENA FERNANDEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Advice columns are so one-sided. You either get a woman's point of view or a man's. But never both. Well, maybe if RuPaul had a column. Until then, you'll have to settle for our "He said, She said" Valentine's Day guide to romance:

What's the best way to approach a member of the opposite sex?

He said: On the highway, women are impressed with really loud car stereos and "Honk if You're Horny" bumper stickers. In social settings, shyness can be alluring. So, instead of direct eye contact, fix your gaze lower, about chest level. If you meet in church, use a biblical pickup line, such as this obscure Old Testament verse: "Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mt. Gilead."

She said: With weapons, a six-pack and no bra.

What should you talk about on your first date?

He said: Don't spill your guts too early, lest you scare the woman off. Keep the conversation light by focusing on safe topics, such as abortion, gun control and the size of her dowry.

She said: Him. What else? It's good practice for the years ahead.

I read in "The Rules" that a woman should try to maintain an aura of mystery. How do you accomplish that?

He said: If by "mystery" you mean wearing sunglasses with that Victoria's Secret negligee, that's perfectly acceptable.

She said: You're always a mystery. A man will never understand you.

How do you know if you're really in love?

He said: You have a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach. No, wait. That's just indigestion. Pop a Rolaids and get back to watching the game.

She said: It's when you both cannot live without him.

What's the best gift for your Valentine?

He said: Don't get her something you want, like tickets to the Lakers. Get her tickets to a female mud wrestling match.

She said: A mirror. It keeps him in touch with the one he loves most.

How do you respond when your significant other says I love you for the first time?

He said: Look deep into her eyes, speak clearly and tell her, "No hablo Ingles."

She said: Hire a private detective to find out what he really wants.

What is the best way to resolve conflicts?

He said: Give him back the remote.

She said: Delve into his childhood. It's always wise to stick to the present.

At what point should you reveal details about past relationships?

He said: Wait for a moment when things are going really well and your partner is secure enough in the relationship that she won't feel threatened by revelations from the past. For example, at the height of physical intimacy, the bond is usually strong enough that it's safe to shout the name of one or more past girlfriends.

She said: During his eulogy. Before that, you were at an all-girls school in a remote village in Nepal, then went on to work with Mother Teresa, and, finally, you fell into a lengthy coma just before meeting him. At no point did you ever come into contact with a man. Ever.

What are the signs of a good communicator?

He said: She speaks only during halftime.

She said: Does he use verbs in between grunts? Does he know the correct response to: "Do these pants make me look fat?" Is "Here's my Platinum AmEx. Get yourself a little something," part of his lexicon?

What do you do if your man does not satisfy you sexually?

He said: Yeah, right.

She said: Use your imagination. Imagine he's actually good. If that's too much of a stretch, think of Antonio Banderas. (Surely Catherine Zeta-Jones does.)

What is the best way to deal with your partner's emotions?

He said: Earplugs, plus an occasional nod of the head and an "uh-huh."

She said: If he is actually able to share an emotion, praise the Lord. Otherwise, hit the stores.

What is the main warning sign of a bad relationship?

He said: Finding a boiled bunny on the stove often indicates the relationship has taken a turn for the worse.

She said: When at least one of you is a man.

What's the best way to break up with someone?

He said: It should always be handled with sensitivity. For example, avoid listing the woman's faults, which are typically numerous. Instead, defuse potential confrontations and hurt feelings by enlisting the cooperation of a friend and faking your own death. If you later run into your ex, insist that she is dreaming and that you truly are deceased.

She said: Tell him you love him. Nothing charges a man's turbo more than those three little words. Try it and then see Spot run.

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