What Not to Say

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Less Is More?

The trick is to stop yourself from saying too much -- without stopping yourself from being yourself. The key distinction: This isn't about playing all icy and mysterious to keep him interested. It's simply about sticking out the early days without sticking labels on things.

"Guys mostly go with the flow, and if they feel you have a defined agenda, romance can go out the window," says Newman.

Remember, this goes both ways. "I hate it when a guy you've been seeing only a short while calls and say 'Hey, it's me,'" says Lori, 35, a TV writer in L.A. "Whether I recognize the voice is beside the point; it's a completely presumptuous thing to do. That kind of forced familiarity is a turn-off. Plus, who said I wasn't still dating other 'me's?'"

Even more loaded than "me" is the word "we." Saying "we" is such a common -- and large -- pitfall that Cindy Chupack, producer of Sex and the City and author of The Between Boyfriends Book: A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays (St. Martin's Press, 2003), coined a term for it: "premature we-jaculation." Two little letters, so much significance! Of course, I'm not talking about, "We have a reservation at 8." I'm talking about, "We love Norah Jones, too!" or "Are we busy on Friday?" That kind of intimacy can intimidate someone who's still getting used to the idea of thinking of him- or herself as part of a unit.

"We" can be weighty even when it's only implied. "The first time I met his parents was on his mom's birthday. The three of us met for dinner, and when she opened his card, it was signed, 'Love, Chad and Kara,'" recalls the 25-year-old sports promoter. "It freaked me out -- I was afraid that he was ahead of me in the closeness department."

Continued on page 3:  Where Do You Stand?


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