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    The Golden Rule of Flirting

    Excerpted from
    Fine Art of Flirting
    By Joyce Jillson

    Flirting is a mental game. And how you feel about flirting is really the prime asset any successful flirt can have. That's why great flirts observe the Golden Rule of Flirting.

    Flirting doesn't require great logic, only diligence. Which is why Descartes wasn't a flirt, but Marilyn Monroe was. If Descartes had been a flirt, instead of writing, "I think, therefore I am," he'd have written, "I flirt, therefore I date."

    The Golden Rule of Flirting has evolved from one pivotal fact-that the fine art of flirting is thwarted time and time again by one basic human emotion. Hurt.

    Hurt from the past. Imagined hurts in the future. Even hearing, reading about, seeing, and making assumptions about hurt that others have sustained. All these things keep us from moving ahead with our own flirting excursions. Most of us relish these negative associations. We want to hear a blow-by-blow account of Cynthia's breakup or Alan's divorce. The more sensational, the more interested we are. But negative memories inhibit future relationships. At least do yourself the favor of balancing these stories out.

    Try incorporating this precept into your flirtatious activities.

    Do unto potential flirting partners as you would have them do unto you-no matter what you think they've already done unto you.

    If you don't incorporate the Golden Rule of Flirting into your life, you are like a person with chronic back problems who neglects his exercises. You may be cruising along just fine. Then wham. Your lower back or your love life gets thrown out of alignment, and suddenly there's no way you can exercise . . . anything.

    Remember new flirting partners will act toward you-eventually-as you act toward them. You can't get out of that pattern.

    An example: Traci has her eye on the tall, dark man in the three-piece suit standing in the comer, waiting to use the phone. She has initiated eye contact. He hasn't returned her gaze. Traci incorrectly interprets this as lack of interest. Maybe he is concentrating on something else, is nearsighted, has a toothache and is trying to contact an after-hours dentist . . . anything. But Traci takes this as a total, complete rejection. (Right away she is hurting her flirting chances. Good flirts don't get discouraged by one or two rejections. They may let up, but they don't back off.)

    Now instead of feeling flirtatious, Traci is angry. This anger keeps other men from approaching her (at least the sensitive ones), for she has activated her internal security system. No one will get through. Her demeanor says that something is wrong. Not a very attractive pose.

    Flirting At the Salad Bar

    Since salad bars are the new flirtatious gathering spots, here is a digest in salad-bar hopping.

    The most important things to remember are: Don't overload your plate; don't use the coarsely ground pepper, as it will end up wedged between your teeth and look like an ugly cavity; and don't put any cherry tomatoes on your salad. They usually end up splattered on your clothing. Save cherry tomatoes for when you are home, nude, or both.

    Other tips for salad-bar hoppers:

    Rule #1: Keep your salad plate looking bland, that way no one will be offended by what you take.

    Rule #2: The second-helping syndrome. If you fill up your plate too soon-you'll loose a good reason for going back to the salad bar.

    Rule #3: In line, get ahead of the person you'd like to flirt with. Then while he is trying to stab an ornery vegetable-you scoop it up and put it onto his plate.

    Rule #4: In selecting your greens, be aware that you can tell a lot about someone by their preferred salad makings. Example: Find a woman with only iceberg lettuce, and you've found someone who's as "cold" as the lettuce. Boston lettuce signifies a rather fussy person. Endive is the salad green of the sexual critic; while red-leaf lettuce means that the person cares more about appearances than substance. The best choice is a bit of everything, although the salad should not be piled like a bale of hay, but sprinkled over the plate.

    Then there is the person who goes down the salad bar backwards. First the onions; then the tomatoes, artichokes, and cucumbers; then the green beans and olives; and finally the lettuce. This would be sexy except that they have usually depleted the supply of the specialties, angering just about everyone else in the line.

    Backwards-salad-bar-hoppers are apt to cheat while married, though they are usually faithful while you are dating. These people are not a romantic best-bet.

    Rule #5: It is not flirtatious to discuss the hygiene standards of the restaurant while waiting for the person ahead of you to select their mushrooms. Let the look of the guacamole drive this point home for you.

    Rule #6: The closer your plate of salad fixings matches the one of your desired flirting partner, the sooner this person will warm up to you.

    Rule #7: Flirts know that beets can turn your tongue red, mint jelly can turn it green; and both of these colors can turn a prospective flirting partner off.

    Rule #8: Never get crudités. Chomping on them is far too noisy. What are your chances of someone falling for you because of the distinctive sound you made when you ground down your zucchini?

    Flirting at Parties

    If you go to a party and realize you don't know anyone, you can either decide to leave or you can regard it as a marvelous opportunity to test your flirting and friendship skills. After all, most of these people are like you; they went to this party to meet new people. So by going out of your way to flirt, you are actually making the party more of a success for them. Here's how to start.

    1. Survey the group. This is not the time to flirt, but to plan. Get a drink or a sandwich and sit down. Watch those who seem to be the king or queen pins. Look around and you'll see other people who seem lost. Note those people with dates, particularly those dates who seem to be listening a lot and not joining the conversation.

    2. Assume that everyone is socially nervous. Therefore, they may not be at their most courteous. Why? Anxiety breeds nervous reactions and fear, two things that bring out the worst in people. So, as you introduce yourself to people, tell them your connection to the party. "I'm a friend of Peter and Jane, and they mention you all the time." Do anything you can to put them at ease, so they will present the best side of themselves to you.

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