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    Dating - Trust Your Instincts

    Excerpted from
    Jane Austen's Guide to Dating
    By Lauren Henderson

    In Jane Austen's world it was difficult to meet new people, but nowadays we have a much wider range and many more social opportunities. Make the most of these encounters by being warm and friendly to people you like, whether or not you feel a romantic attraction to them. The more you try, the easier it will be. Practice! Look at Catherine in Northanger Abbey, who is always open, sincere, and ready to enjoy herself. "Catherine was all eager delight . . . She was come [to Bath] to be happy, and she felt happy already." People respond to that better than anything else. Be happy. Show people you like them. Be open to new opportunities and make the most of them.

    When you meet a man you like, talk to him and show an interest. Give him your attention and show him that you're taking pleasure in his company. If you're at a bar or a party, your conversation may well be interrupted, and your tete-a-tete may get broken up. If he comes back to talk to you again, don't be afraid of showing him that YOU like him. Be brave. Don't throw yourself into flirting with other men to make him jealous; he may think that one of them is your boyfriend, and not come back to find you. Let him ask for your number and suggest going out sometime. Men love to do the chasing, and if you initiate the exchange of phone numbers, not only are you denying the man that opportunity, but you may be chasing someone who really isn't interested enough. If he wants to ask you out ... he will. Let him. But show him that you're happy when he does.

    If you give your number to someone and he rings you, respond appropriately. If you're happy to hear from him, show it. Be warm and friendly. If the conversation is going well, don't cut it short. If

    he asks to meet you soon, and you like him, why not go? My ex boyfriend in Italy took me to meet his family the day after we met at a party! He knew he liked me, he was going to visit his mother the next afternoon, and he asked me if I wanted to come along and see San Gimignano, where she lived. 1 was a little taken aback, but he was so open and easygoing that I decided to agree. His mother was lovely to me, and it was clear from the way she greeted me that he didn't make a habit of bringing girls home so swiftly. We moved in together after a couple of months and he proposed at the same time. I felt I was too young to get married, and told him I just wasn't ready. But his enthusiastic interest in me, which he showed as soon as we met, made me feel very confident and secure, and we had three and a half very happy years together.

    By all means, show a man you find him attractive physically. But again, pace yourself. Don't jump into bed with him straightaway; take some time to get to know him first. Take his arm when you're out, touch him to emphasize points you're making, let him kiss you good night at the end of the evening, allow the sexual attraction to build. Try not to find yourself alone with him in either one of your apartments late at night on the first few dates, to avoid irresistible temptation. The sex you eventually have will be all the better for a few weeks of anticipation. If you have sex with him too soon, you run the risk that this is the only way he'll ever think of you . . . sexually. And after all, you're looking for a relationship. If you just wanted to get laid, you would scarcely be reading Jane Austen's Guide to Dating. Let him demonstrate to you over the course of several dates that he is a trustworthy person who is interested in all aspects of your personality, not just out for a quick hookup.

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