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Dating Dangers: Love's a Minefield

Dating advice from the experts about how to find Mr. or Ms. Right.

Danger: Getting Cynical

Sure, dating can be frustrating, even disillusioning. But don't let it get you down. If you're feeling negative, you'll scare off the good ones. Get out, meet people, and be open to new people and new experiences. You'll meet someone. After all, dating is a process of elimination -- you just haven't met the right one yet.

"I think some people are much more rigid or sure about what they want," says Schwartz. "They don't want to make the same stupid mistakes. But feeling jaded, that's a self-invented problem. There are many good people out there. If you have a 50-item list of criteria, if you're too specific about what you want, too rigid, you're going to find yourself alone forever."

Her dating advice: Look beyond the bald head and other imperfections. "Have an open, optimistic mind. You've got to have enthusiasm, imagination. I know a 50-year-old woman who thought she wanted an intellectual. But she met a cowboy and is having a great time! When people say they're cynical, jaded, they're really scared of having to change a little bit."

Danger: Is It Date Rape?

Here's the really serious stuff -- a woman is vulnerable to rape in her own home, or even if she voluntarily goes to someone else's home. Even if she consents to some activity, that does not imply consent for all sexual activity. When a woman says, "No" or "Stop" that means STOP. Even if alcohol or drugs are involved, even if she doesn't put up a fight -- even if she's a former girlfriend -- it's rape if she says, "No."

You can't be too careful; date-rape drugs such as GHB, Rohypnol, or Ketamine can render a victim unconscious and with limited memory. Using these drugs is a federal crime that carries a possible 20-year sentence.

A few rules:

  1. Don't accept open drinks, whether they're alcoholic or not, from someone you don't trust.
  2. At parties, accept only drinks that come in closed containers. Never leave your drink unattended or turn your back on your table.
  3. Do not drink from punch bowls, pitchers, or tubs.

Another idea: Carry a DrinkSafe date rape drug test package of drink testing strips or coasters in your purse or pocket.

Danger: Equal-Opportunity STDs

Here's another reality check: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are incredibly common in the U.S. -- even if your social circle is affluent and educated. The most common STDs are: Chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), and HIV/AIDS.

To reduce risk, use a condom every time you have sex. Ask your partner if he or she has ever had an STD -- even if the question feels awkward. Limit your number of sexual partners. Don't have sex with someone who has sores on his or her genitals. Don't receive oral sex from somebody with a cold sore. Ask your partner to be tested. Try alternate forms of sexual intimacy.

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