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I was a firm believer of the “match-made-in-heaven” theory. After watching a cornucopia of fairy-tale inspired movies, I’ve rejected that theory. You aren’t magically bestowed with a Babylon candle that will suddenly take you to the ruins of a fallen star. You can’t just randomly fall in love with that star and end up getting married.

I used to believe in love stories and all of that jazz. I was a sucker for “Sleepless in Seattle” — the story of two lovers exchanging phone calls after a radio talk show. They didn’t end up meeting until the end of the movie. They fall in love. Life is great. But what has happened to the concept of dating?

Women tend to be overly sensitive about minor details. We literally have mental checklists of the “perfect man” that will someday amaze us with his charm, knack for words and irresistible personality.

At some point in our lives, we’ve probably ridiculed Kate Winslet for having such a loyal lover in her life in the movie “Titanic.” I mean, come on, the dude gave up his life for her and didn’t let his girlfriend freeze her ass off in the negative zero ocean water when the Titanic sunk. Don’t tell me you’ve never dreamt of having that sort of man in your life. You know — that one guy who will sweep you off your feet — the man who has that charisma and enthusiasm for life; that one guy who will bake cookies with you and not be ashamed to show you to the world. He’ll count stars for eternity and a day and carve your names into wood. Oh, how imagination is such a great thing.

If you’re in need of a guy who has that lovey-dovey Nicholas Sparks thing going for him, forget it — it’s probably not going to happen. Although my statement seems quite pessimistic and may offend those who believe in fairy tales, I have my reasons.

Chances are, there’s probably one out of a batch of 100 men who will take the time to put in a little effort and add character to interesting dates – even if it means buying a star for a couple hundred dollars from an Internet site and naming it after you. Yes, I’ve heard people going the extra mile for that. It’s probably very reminiscent of a cheesy 1950s kind of thing. But it is definitely not a 2009 thing. Men would probably get their asses kicked or be laughed at for doing that in today’s generation.

I’ve listed a cheat sheet for us women that I have comprised over the years.

Tip #1: Don’t set unrealistic expectations. This is probably the most common yet most missed tip that women seem to overlook. Don’t put the guy on a pedestal and hope that he will magically make things all better. It takes effort on both sides to make it truly work.

Tip #2: Don’t go for a guy who is extremely stingy. For example, this is the guy that orders the most expensive item off the plate and expects you to pay for it. Also, make sure he doesn’t bug you for gas money. If he is willing to put in the effort to spend time with you, money shouldn’t even be an issue.

Tip #3: It helps to date a guy who has good hygiene. You definitely don’t want to smell last night’s dinner. Yuck.

Tip #4: Pace yourself. There’s no need to make him your boyfriend. Go out on several dates and play it safe before making a commitment with someone. Learn to know the kind of person he is, what he wants in life and what it is you want from a potential relationship or dating experience.

Tip #5: Make sure the guy you are dating is not a.) Clingy b.) Obsessive-compulsive c.) A creeper.

Tip #6: Make your date exciting. Do something out of the ordinary. Have a budget? Or thinking of neat ways to spruce up your date while staying original? One word: Michael’s. Michael’s craft stores have everything you need from chiffon, ornaments, jewelry, paint — you name it. Make something that is memorable for the both of you to cherish. Often at times, the best lesson in life is to keep it simple. I can’t stress that enough.

Tip #7: Make sure you pop a mint after eating garlic bread. You don’t want your date to run away from you.

Tip #8: Taking turns on planning dates is very important. You should both coordinate and take turns planning activities and events. That way, one of you won’t get fed up spending Saturday nights watching chick flicks or WWF for the second week in a row. It really takes the stress off of the other person when you both make the commitment and initiative to compromise.

Tip #9: Talk about issues or problems ahead of time. If something is bugging you about your date, don’t hesitate to hold it in. This will relieve the awkwardness. It’s better to resolve minor problems ahead of time rather than wait for a volcano to erupt later. It’s also a mature way of handling things and voicing your honest opinions about what you would like to improve upon or see in a potential relationship or dating experience.

Tip #10: Be yourself! Make sure you don’t stress out about impressing the other person. Don’t go crazy trying to pull a Lady Gaga-type outfit on the first date. You may end up scaring your date away. Be simple, but make sure you don’t lose your originality.

With that said, there are many lessons to be learned while hunting for the perfect date. Sometimes it takes a bit of patience and old-fashioned waiting to find that charmer. Good luck readers!

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