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Can You Name the 3 Rs of Dating?

Back in the dating pool? Tips to help you along

If you've jumped (or been thrown!) back into the dating pool lately, you might want to know about the Three Rs of Dating: Rejecting, Recycling and Retreading.

Couple drinking coffee together while laughing, The 3 Rs of Dating (Jamie Grill/Tetra Images/Corbis)

Don't rule out old acquaintances as potential mates. — Jamie Grill/Tetra Images/Corbis

As you'll see, any one of these can make you wince, ache or change course. (One of them even led to the altar!) Here's how I define each R:

Rejecting

It's a sad fact of the dating life that at some point you may have to tell someone, "This just isn't working for me." As brutal as that statement is to say, it's even tougher to hear. I've been on the originating or receiving end of the following rejections: "I need space." "I need time." "I thought I was over my ex." "It's not you, it's me." "Actually, it is you."

On a date with a dour-looking man, for example, I worked hard to converse. It wasn't fun, but when he asked me out again, I accepted. Why? Because most people are nervous early on, and everyone deserves a second chance.

Turns out I hadn't been too quick to judge: Date No. 2 was more of the same. Expecting not to hear from him ever again, I was surprised when the phone rang three days later. It was Mr. Dull-As-Dishwater. "I don't want to see you again," he blurted out. "I don't think we have much chemistry."

Much chemistry? It was clear to me we had none. Still, it hurt to hear him say it — and left me wondering why I hadn't beaten him to the punch. Moral of the story? It pays to be direct — or blunt, as conditions demand.

One time I agreed to a blind dinner date, only to find the man raging about his ex-wife before the entrees arrived. First he called her a "bitch." Then he called her something much worse. It was all I could do to choke down my food. So to those five verbal rejection lines above, let's add a sixth: "I don't need your anger." In fact that's just what I said when the check came. I left money for my meal. Then I left Mad Man sitting at the table.

Recycling

The second R of dating involves considering candidates who were formerly taboo. After my divorce, for example, my neighbor Sandy suggested I call her first husband, Dan. I hesitated.

"Go for it," Sandy urged me. "You like him — you think he's cool."

Guilty as charged. Dan, a social worker with a crunchy-granola personality, had been all wrong for chichi Sandy, now happily remarried to a wealthy businessman.

Eventually, I phoned Dan. Before I could cough up the reason for my call, thankfully, he announced that he was getting married. "You'd love my fiancée," Dan assured me. "Maybe the three of us should go out." Right. Or maybe not.

Next page: Finding love in old acquaintances. »

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