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by Abigail Van Buren

Modern Rules for Dating Apply to Women as Well

DEAR ABBY: As a man who has been dating for years, I'd like to respond to the "Rules for Dating" that you printed from "20-Something in L.A." and her girlfriends:

If "20-Something" and her friends think they're getting shabby treatment from men, maybe it's because they're treating men rather shabbily. Men aren't obligated to treat women like princesses, buy them dinner or take them to a movie. It's a gift a man chooses to give a woman, and she shouldn't take it for granted. -- TOM IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR TOM: That column on "dating rules" generated a barrage of responses (some not fit for a family newspaper) from both men and women of every age group. Today we'll hear from the male readers. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I agree it's a good idea to call days ahead and plan a date, and then call the day before to confirm it, but the woman shouldn't cancel at the last minute. Just because a guy is not an Adonis, Fabio or Donald Trump doesn't mean he's worthless. Once you get to know him, the ugly frog just might turn out to be Prince Charming after all. -- WISEGUY TURNED WISE IN ST. LOUIS

DEAR ABBY: Try not to be rude or cold when turning down a date. Remember, a man puts his self-respect on the line every time he approaches a lady. He's nervous -- just as you would be if you were approaching an attractive man for the first time. -- 30-YEAR-OLD ROMANTIC IN KANSAS CITY

DEAR ABBY: These are the '90s. Many women have excellent careers. Often a woman earns even more than a man does. You can't expect the guy to always be the one to pay. If the girl has not offered to pay for something in the first three dates, we regard that as a sign she is just "marking time" until someone she really likes comes along. -- TWO ANONYMOUS GUYS IN L.A.

DEAR ABBY: If you're asked, "What would you like to do?" the man is not being indecisive -- just courteous. Give honest suggestions. "Whatever you want to do is fine with me" gets old -- quick.

If you're going to dinner -- EAT. If you're not hungry, say so beforehand. What exactly are you trying to show your date by leaving nearly all of a $20-and-up dinner on your plate?

If you go dancing with your date and another man asks you to dance, decline -- even if the other man is better looking.

Men are not mind-readers. Speak up or they won't know. If you like them -- and want to continue dating, etc. -- SAY SO. Three words men really hate to hear: "Couldn't you tell ...?"

If you're going out simply because you don't want to go to dinner, a movie, a wedding, a party, etc. alone, do him a favor: Leave him alone. He's a person, not an escort service. -- OTHER SIDE OF L.A.

DEAR ABBY: Be happy with who you are and what you have. Don't expect a man to make you feel good about yourself. Accept the fact that not everybody is born looking like Cindy Crawford.

Don't play games -- be honest and up-front with us. We like that and deserve at least that much. -- MALE READER IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR ABBY: The one-size-fits-all set of dating rules would be a problem for many people. Some men feel insulted when a woman offers to share expenses, while others appreciate it. Some women feel insulted when asked to share expenses, while others wouldn't dream of having men pay their way.

Rather than a fixed set of rules, I suggest a novel approach: TALK ABOUT IT! Communication is essential. Discussing dating etiquette provides a quick insight into the other person's values about money and relationships. It also provides an early test of how easily the two of you can discuss and resolve a difficult issue. -- PSYCHOLOGIST IN BERKELEY

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklets I and II, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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