With a name like Love, how could you not be a hopelessromantic? As a child, Jennifer Love Hewitt -- born a week after Valentine's Day-- says she refused to believe that the day wasn't created just for her. But asan adult who's been both lucky and unlucky in love, most of it on the frontpage of the tabloids, the star and co-producer of the CBS series GhostWhisperer says she's traded in her rose-colored glasses for a moreclear-eyed look at modern romance. It's a view she shares in her new book, The Day I Shot Cupid:Hello, My Name Is Jennifer Love Hewitt and I'm a Love-aholic. Hewitt saysshe envisioned the book as a "mate and a friend in the dating process, the goodangel on your shoulder."
Cupid covers everything from being comfortable going outto eat solo, to recovering from a breakup, to what guys really think of ourbutts (you'd be pleasantly surprised), to "vagazzling your vajayjay." (Yes, shereally did it.) What it's not, Hewitt says, is The Rules for the2010s.
"I read The Rules and all those other dating books andloved them, and I took little bits from each," she says. "But to remember 15rules of what to say and what not to say, how to do it and how not to do it,that doesn't work. Once you're in a relationship, you can't wake up every daywith a checklist of 15 things you have to do to make a man happy. Why are wethe ones walking around with the checklists? They're allowed to read interestingbooks, and we read How to Make Yourself Better So a Man Will LoveYou."
So although Cupid offers plenty of romantic and sexual advice (ourfavorite: "Your body is a temple, not a 7-Eleven: You decide when it's open andwho gets to come in"), at its heart, says Hewitt, it has one message: "You're great. You're fine. Believethat the universe has something better for you and it will come to you. We'reall going to get the chance to have the great love of our life. I reallybelieve that. But you won't do it by spending time trying to change yourselfinto someone you're not."
Get the Party Started
Hewitt entered the limelight young, catapulting to fame asBailey's girlfriend, Sarah, on Fox's Party of Five series when she wasjust 16. Then she cemented her place in the teen-idol constellation two yearslater in the film I Know What You Did Last Summer. By 2000, when she wasjust 21, Hewitt was playing Audrey Hepburn in a TV biography and had become themost popular actor on television, according to the often-cited "Q ratings" ofcelebrity popularity.
So through relationships with John Mayer and kayaker Brad Ludden, an engagement andbreakup with Scottish actor Ross McCall, and her current romance with GhostWhisperer co-star Jamie Kennedy, Hewitt has learned the sometimes harshlessons of love in the public eye. It hasn't been easy, she says.
"I used to think it should be like a romantic comedy. You'd meet yourperfect mate, fall in love, and that would be the end of it," she recalls. "NowI think it's about finding the person you can put up with most. The shoe thatgives the least blister. It's a letting-go process. You have to go through thesteps of grief, giving up the illusion that you'd fall off your high heel one dayand a guy would pick you up, and that would be it. But then you learn to findyour inner strength and confidence and to understand where your boundariesare.
On the Importance of Boundaries
Boundaries are huge for Hewitt. "You have to make deals withyourself: I'm not going to have this guy in my life if he isn't good for me. Nomatter how good-looking he is or how great he seems, no matter how well thefirst date goes, I have to be ruthless about my boundaries."
Boundaries help you pay attention to warning signs women toooften overlook in the name of love, says Hewitt.
"First, making excuses for his anger. Anger doesn't get better.That's never a good sign," Hewitt cautions.
"Next, not listening to what a man says. Men are really goodabout telling you the truth with a smile on their face within the first coupleof weeks. They'll tell you who they are. But when you're sitting down with yourhopes and dreams in front of you, you'll hear what you want to hear. If youlisten, instead of mentally dressing him up in the suit he's going to wear toyour best friend's wedding, it'll save you months and years of time."
And at first, while you're listening -- really listening -- do a little lessof the talking, says Hewitt. "You might think, 'I'm going to be brave andamazing and lay it all out there.' But don't do it! Keep the mouth zippered forthe first few dates. Answer questions and give a little bit of yourself, butnot too much right off the bat."
Love Unplugged: The Pitfalls of Online Romance
Speaking of giving too much information: Jennifer Love Hewittmay be a modern woman, but she's not a huge fan of what the latest technologyis doing to romance. "It's cool to rely on modern means to get things rolling.But if we don't stop the electronic lovin' before it's gone too far, theywon't," she writes. Of sexting, she simply says, "Ew! Say no to textrelationships. Take his BlackBerry away and see what he's really made of."
Amen, Sister, says psychotherapist and relationship expert TinaTessina, PhD, LMFT. "Texting can become your entire relationship. Is that whatyou really want?" she asks. Tessina, author of The Unofficial Guide toDating Again and The 10 Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make Before40, says that, for some couples, the option to text, Facebook, and Skypeeach other has its advantages -- but you have to be a couple first.
Instead of all the gadgetry, focus on the face-to-facerelationship. "You can't force it, but it's a red flag if he won't see you inperson," Tessina says. "Be really careful not to let the relationship becomeall instant messaging and Facebook and email. It's a pretend relationshipunless there's real face-to-face stuff going on -- and not just bootycalls!"
Another downside of the online age: It can make you paranoid.Tessina says there's nothing wrong with Googling the guy you've just starteddating to get the inside scoop. (Is he telling the truth about that hotmultimedia company he founded?) But you need to practice discipline in usingall the technology tools at your fingertips.
"It used to be you'd go home from a date and, if you wereexcited to see the guy again, you had to resist calling him too soon," Hewittsays. "Now it's not just 'I won't call.' It's 'I won't text, I won't check hisFacebook status or send him a Facebook message, I won't check his Twitterfeed.' It's too much. Seriously, technology has messed dating up royally."
Knowing When to Leave a Relationship
Perhaps the worst mistake women make, Hewitt says, is gettingcaught up in a fantasy. "Reality is so important. It's not as much fun anddoesn't feel nearly as good, but fantasy isn't going to take you anyplacereal."
Tessina says Hewitt's advice is on the mark. "We're really goodat talking ourselves into wanting what we have instead of waiting for what wedeserve," she says. "One good way to get out of that: Get this person aroundyour friends. They won't have the investment you have, so they can see moreclearly, and they'll tell you if he doesn't seem right to them somehow."
Hewitt admits that she herself has often made the love-lifemistake of not knowing when to get out. "When it's not right, you feel it. Youknow it. Not enough people -- women in particular -- trust their gut. The onlyperson you hurt by staying in a relationship that's over is you," she says."That's when you really have to say, 'Life is short. Do I want to spend itunhappy, or do I want to spend it full and happy, even if that means looking atthe riches in my life not as the man next to me, but my girlfriends, my home,my health?'"
This is not to say that Jennifer Love Hewitt doesn't stillbelieve in romance. You can hear the smile in her voice when she talks aboutone of her most memorable dates. "I think the best dates are the ones that goall over the place. One time I went and ended up cleaning the Plaza Hotel atthree in the morning. Really! It sounded like a fun, goofy, romantic comedything to do. We went in and I was like, 'Hi, can I vacuum?' We had a greatconversation while we were doing something silly. So if you're ever at thePlaza Hotel, check out how clean the ballrooms are!"
Jennifer Love Hewitt: "Love Your Body"
A couple of years ago, Hewitt famously clashed with bloggersafter pictures of her wearing a bikini on vacation prompted them to denounceher as being "fat." "To all girls with butts, boobs, hips, and a waist, put ona bikini -- put it on and stay strong," she wrote at the time. Ten weeks later,she popped up on the cover of Us Weekly nearly 20 pounds thinner,generating even more chatter.
The "ideal" Hollywood body-image is damaging, Hewitt says."It's hard enough to be a woman and find your inner confidence when, every timeyou look at the TV or a magazine or the movie screen, you see these perfectpeople who seem like they can eat anything. But I'm in the business, and I knowthese people don't eat. And they're in the gym just as much as I am."
So celebrities who claim that they eat whatever they want orthat they took off 50 pounds of pregnancy weight in four weeks by breastfeeding and chasing their toddler are lying?
"Yes! It's a constant beauty competition in this town. Peopleare working their butts off, literally," Hewitt says.
"Sure, there are some, the Angelina Jolies and Penélope Cruzes,who are just drop-dead. But know that when you look at most of these people andthey look so amazing, they're working on it all the time. And it takes twohours of hair and makeup and airbrushing and retouching. We're in the businessof glamour and being the world's eye candy. But that's just what it is:candy."
If that candy inspires you to go to the gym and work a littleharder, all well and good. But if it makes you doubt yourself, the effects canbe brutal. "You've got to love yourself before it's too late. We have toremember that women usually worry about what they look like for other women,not for men," she says.
"If you have confidence in yourself, it doesn't matter ifyou're Gisele Bündchen. We have to stop thinking we're not good enough. If youwalk into the room thinking, 'You would be so dumb not to leave with thistonight,' you're going home with the guy."
Jennifer Love Hewitt's Dating Dos and Don'ts
So what are the best bits of wisdom Jennifer Love Hewitt hasgathered through years of good dates and bad dates, dumping and being dumped,falling in love and losing at love, and starting again?
1. Always buy a new top or dress before a date. It will makeyou feel like a million bucks.
2. Go on that first date looking like who you are. If you wantto play a part later, you can have fun and even vamp it up. But if you're goingto ask him to be real with you, start off by showing him your real self.
3. Don't be too open on the first few dates about your hopesfor the future. (Never say, "I can see us spending the rest of our livestogether.") By saying too much too soon, you could sabotage a potentialrelationship before it starts.
4. Listen to what a guy tells you about himself. If he says hedoesn't want a serious commitment, believe him. Too many women dress a guy upin the suit they want him to wear and then say, "Why didn't you tell me this?"He's thinking, "But I did."
5. If the relationship was good, you would still be in it. Butit wasn't, so you're not. But your time together mattered: You can take whatyou've learned to your next relationship.
Learning From Ghost Whisperer
Working on Ghost Whisperer, with its tales of death andwords left unsaid, has taught Hewitt to focus less on the superficial and makethe most of moments and people, she says. "I get caught up in feeling like I'mhere forever. But it's a very grown-up, responsible thing to try to end yourconversations and your days with the people most important to you knowing youhaven't left anything unfinished or unsaid. That's one thing I definitelylearned from my boyfriend -- he's one of those people who does that. He reallylives life knowing it's short, but it is full of so much excitement andadventure if you're just willing to grab it."
Hewitt and Kennedy, along with their co-stars (who includeCamryn Manheim and David Conrad), will be grabbing a lot more adventure inupcoming episodes of Ghost Whisperer. About her character antiquesdealer and medium Melinda Gordon she says, "I have to admit that even I'm a bitconfused. Ever since my husband died and came back in another man's body, I'vebeen perplexed," she laughs. "I've been used to being in a show where Melindaunderstands things people don't. Now my character's son has come into thepicture, and he understands things that I don't. There's definitely a lot ofdanger, and there will be a lot of emotional unraveling on Melinda's part. Howdoes she protect her kid from something she doesn't know and doesn'tunderstand? It's going to be scary!"