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If the Anti-Flirt activists of the early 20th century had gotten their way, cheeky advances and drive-by flirting would today be things of the past. During the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, an abundance of articles offering familiar advice on amorous overtures suddenly materialize en masse. But there was a time when one of the holiday's most popular topics—flirting—was under attack in America.


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In a new study, psychologists determined men tend to look at their partners in a more negative light after meeting a single, attractive woman.

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Years old: 22
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My sexual preference: I love gentleman
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The first year of widowhood, I got sympathy. By year four, the messages were very clear. So in January I ed up for Jdate, the site ostensibly for Jewish singles, for three months. It was excruciating. It was humiliating.

I turned out to be a wallflower on the web. I only went on two dates—both with the same guy.

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I should have known I was in trouble when the age category I was ased to was 65 to dead. But even then, the site was very optimistic. I decided before I started that I would not lie about my age, use an old photograph, pretend to be athletic or adventurous, or claim I was looking for true love. I am a mostly retired journalist who still loves a good story.

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I never covered hard news, but I am an expert on the Washington obsession with hair. I am a blonde for life. I grew up on Long Island but repented in Greenwich Village. I am a reader, a writer, an involved grandmother, a volunteer and a partisan political junkie.

Research finds that we’re surprisingly bad at recognizing flirtation.

No Republicans need apply. They are glad that I am trying to be more patient. I just want a great Saturday night date. My ideal first date would be dinner, no phones allowed.

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I talk a lot but I promise my date would get a speaking part. As soon as my profile went up, I had seven matches. The men ranged in age from 59 to Most of the men in my age group were seeking younger women. Much younger women. Should I have asked for much younger men? My son, Jeremy, just turned Did I want to go out with one of his fraternity brothers?

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My potential dates were all fitness fanatics. They said they loved to hike, bike, swim, ski, golf and otherwise engage in sweat-producing activities on an almost daily basis. The last time I hiked was probably in an outlet mall.

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After a few messages back and forth, he suggested we meet for dinner or coffee. I explained I was leaving town for a long weekend but would contact him when I returned. He replied that he had been contacted by two other women during my brief absence and had set up two coffee dates that week. That was the end of Michael One. Was I surprised that Michael One was searching for a date mere months after his beloved wife died?

Not really.

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Shortly after my husband, Benjamin, died, a close friend—another recent widow—and I were having dinner in Bethesda. A man we both knew who had recently lost his wife came over to embrace us. Then he turned to his table where his new girlfriend was waiting.

Michael Two was from New York. Give a stranger my address? No way. That was the end of Michael Two. Did they want me to travel to meet them? Send them money for a plane ticket to meet me? My daughter, Meredith, told me that I was being too picky.

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That I should have an open mind. So, on my third week of not dating I decided to be proactive. My age was not a problem, he wrote. He did not think we were a good match. Goodbye, Michael Three. Michael Four required that I love his cats. He was also adamant about not meeting a woman who was depressed or who had ever been in psychotherapy. He gave me his cellphone. I called but he never answered. I like to think that the cats were purring too loudly for him to hear the ring. I actually had a lively online dialogue with Michael Five.

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He was back on Jdate after a breakup with someone he met on the site. We were scheduling our first coffee date when I offhandedly insulted his religion—the New England Patriots. I said that Patriots coach Bill Belichick always looks angry.

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That I had long suspected Tom Brady was partially bionic. Plus, Patriots owner Robert Kraft had been caught in a Florida massage parlor investigation. Charges were later dropped.

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But I thought Kraft was a sleazy guy. Michael Five was not amused.

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For a coach, winning is more important than smiling, he said. Kraft is beloved by Patriots fans. He is a major philanthropist. Michael Five directed me to the Kraft philanthropy website. He was certain that Kraft had been singled out by lecherous cops in Florida.

Men and women are programmed differently when it comes to reacting to temptation, according to study

I apologized several times for not understanding the seriousness of my spurious attacks on the Patriots. Michael Five expressed his outrage several times. After several more messages, we agreed that coffee was out of the question. She advised me to up on multiple sites. She went out with 10 men before she found her soulmate, she reported. Sally sympathized with Michael Five. It is always about someone else. A friend of a friend who found true love. A cousin who thought she found true love until her granddaughter recognized the picture of her online admirer as that of an Australian movie star.

What happens when two people meet online, fall in love, and then one develops a chronic illness?

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If you ly cared for a spouse with a devastating illness, you may not be willing or able to do it again. I learned of several who found great relationships with people who understood and accepted their situations. Back on JdateI discovered that dating when you are over 70 can make you feel young again—but not necessarily in a good way.

All of the insecurities I felt at 16 came rushing back. Before my first trial date, I changed my outfit three times.

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I met Michael Six for coffee at a Panera about 5 miles from my apartment. Michael Six was a nice guy, a man close to my age, and a New York transplant with an accent that sounded like home to me. He was balding in a good way—no comb-over.

Flirting with disaster

What if Michael Six wanted to have sex? I sent off a quick to Michael Six clarifying that I was only interested in friendship, not romance. He replied that was fine with him. I thought we would be eating there.