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6 Things to 'Bring' on a Date

A list of must-haves as you enter the dating world

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4. A desire to learn
On early postmarital dates, I learned about Tuscany from a seasoned traveler and got a new chicken recipe from an experienced cook. I used this information, but not with either man. Everyone — keepers or not — has something to teach us. With a man I loved, I discovered I liked camping. I discovered two nights was enough. I discovered, too, when I found out there was another woman in his life, that cheating was intolerable to me. Dating expands and enriches us. We can acquire practical information and a deeper knowledge of ourselves.

5. A willingness to share
I don't mean baring your soul about your awful childhood or relationships. In fact, don't. But being open about yourself and finding out about the other person, his passions, pet peeves and work, among other things, helps melt the ice and gets things rolling. You give. You get back. On my first date with the man I married, we exchanged bits and pieces about our work. His strength in business, he said in an unassuming yet confident tone, was seeing where he wanted to end up and not getting stuck along the way. I loved that he did not rattle easily. I prayed he might want to end up with me.

6. A sense of humor
Last, but to my mind most important, this item requires having perspective and incorporating items 1 through 5. When I resumed dating after my divorce, I had a career, flatware for 12 and bunions. As I watched men I did not know pick our wine and their teeth, I thought of my Aunt Lil's Jell-O molds, with fruit cocktail suspended at the top. Her molds were always lopsided. Why, I never knew, but whenever she brought one to a family party, I tilted my head and quietly laughed behind Aunt Lil's back. Tilt and laugh! Tilt and laugh! That was how I learned to view dating. There is no other way.

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Relationships expert Dr. Pepper Schwartz leads a quiz on how to tell if you are getting enough affection from your partner.

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