Compromise But Don’t Settle

I have a couple of friends who’ve been on the dating merry-go-round recently and it’s not easy.  One is a woman and she really, really wanted to meet someone so she responded to the overwhelming number of e-mails she received and went on ten to twelve dates per week until she found one.  The other is a perfectly nice, decent guy and he kept sending out message after message after message trying to meet someone.

She didn’t give up when the sheer number of men she had to wade through was almost overwhelming.  (Because a lot of the guys just weren’t what she was looking for.)  And he didn’t give up when his first messages were met with radio silence.  (Because he’s a good guy, but he was pretty generic in his presentation and approach and that isn’t going to get you much of a response in the online dating world.)

They’re both now happily in relationships.  One is even engaged.


I wonder.

Are they really both in the relationships they should be?  Or did they just get to the point where what they had was better than anything else they saw and settle for “good enough?”

Where is the line between realizing that someone isn’t perfect and settling for less than you really should?

I can tell when someone is madly in love.  You probably can, too.  I have a friend on FB right now making the most adorable comments and posts about her current boyfriend.  Those posts just scream love.  This is a woman who will either marry that guy or be with him long-term and is happy for that to happen. I’ve been friends with her on there for six years so I can SEE that she feels differently about this guy than she has any other guy in the last six years.  Another friend of mine was acting similarly a few years back and, sure enough, she just married the guy she was so over the top about.

Now, I realize that personalities differ and one person may never be the over-sharing, effusive, “I LOVE THIS PERSON” type.  I get that.  But when someone really is head over heels, there are signs.  Even little ones.  Like a smile here or a shared touch there.  There’s a sort of insular affection between two people who feel really strongly for one another.

And, with at least one of my two friends, I’m just not seeing that.

Which may be okay.  Maybe when you get to a certain age you stop trying for that type of love.  You just want someone you can go out with on Friday night and have brunch with on Sunday.  (Although I will say both of the women who were head-over-heels?  One is probably 42 right now, the other was 38 when she met her now husband.)  Maybe companionship is enough.

And that’s fine.

One of my friends and I talked a bit about this idea that no one is perfect and you have to accept that the person you’re with isn’t going to be everything you want.  And I agree.  I’ve fallen for guys over the years that weren’t everything I wanted and I was happy to let a few things slide for what they did have that I wanted.

(Hell, one guy I really liked didn’t even know how to play pool!  Hard to comprehend, I know, but he had enough going for him otherwise that I was able to look past that…haha.)

But as much as I agree with the concept, I think that there’s a point where you’re no longer accepting that no one is perfect and are instead giving up because it’s just too hard to find a great relationship.

I always figure to each his own, right?  If my friends wake up happy with where they are and who they’re with who am I to tell them otherwise?  I just…I hate to see people taking less than they could have because I also think it has a domino effect.  Two people settle for one another that means that the two people they would’ve been much happier with are now out there without them and maybe those people settle for less and so on and so on and so on….

So I guess where I’m going with this is if you are in a relationship that isn’t everything you could possibly want (which is most of us), at least make sure that it isn’t because you’ve just kind of given up and settled.

Communication Tip: Ask A Question

One of my closest friends is someone I started out just barely knowing and we came to know each other through e-mails for the most part.  And early on I realized this friend was very good at one aspect of communicating that I’d never really thought about before, namely, asking questions.

Almost every e-mail this friend sent me included a question I needed to answer.  It meant that I almost always responded, because I was raised to be polite and you answer questions when people ask them.

Think about most real life conversations you have:

“Hey, Joe.  How are you?”

“Good, Sue.  How are you?”

“Good.  What are you up to?”

We do this naturally in face-to-face conversation–prompting the other person to participate by asking them a question.

But I find that people often fail at this in online communication.

And it can kill your chances if you’re in an online dating situation.

See, here’s a terrible secret of online dating–people will respond to you even if they aren’t particularly interested.  You may just be in the “well, he/she’s not so bad I need to shut it down” category.  But the person isn’t sitting there hoping and praying that you’ll write them back.  (More true for the men than the ladies since men initiate most of the contact so generally if a guy’s done that he had some attraction to the woman before he wrote her.)

Well, if you’re in this, “eh” category, you don’t want to give the other person any chance to walk away until you can meet them.  You need to keep the conversation going.  And the way to do that is to (a) ask questions so the person feels compelled to respond to you and (b) don’t say anything so offensive or over the top that you drive them away.

I had a match fall down on this just this week.  He wrote and asked a few questions, I wrote back and answered and asked two questions, he answered the two questions.  And…I read his answers.  Neither of which made me feel especially motivated to continue the conversation.  Now, if we were in person, I would’ve followed up because awkward silences are painful.

But online?  Not so much.  It’s been a busy week and he was in that “eh” category and even if I’d continued the conversation I suspected it wasn’t going to be that interesting.

I want there to be a back and forth flow with a guy I’m interested in.  A give and take.  (Think about this for a second–it’s not just in e-mails where this matters, right?  There are other vital parts of a relationship that require working together to create a mutually enjoyable experience…If someone can’t do that at a basic level that doesn’t bode well for more sensitive areas of the relationship.)

So.  Ask questions every time you respond.  Play on the other person’s sense of politeness until you can meet in real life and captivate them with your charm and wit or sheer physical attractiveness.  (And if you’re really bad at written communication, get to that point as soon as you can.  Short responses that don’t build a conversation will do you no favors in the world of online dating.)

Guys – Let’s Talk Dating Profile Photos

Long time no post!  My apologies.  I’ve been doing something or other that’s kept me busy, although if I really had to stop and think about it I might have to admit I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time watching episodes of Chopped.  But, putting that aside…

It’s time to talk dating profile photos.  Because I’m looking at a set of them this morning and I just want to shake my head.  Guys, guys, guys.  Come on!  Think about the purpose of your main profile photo.

It’s to get a woman to click on your profile and see all the great, cool things you say about yourself.  (And, please, tell me you’re saying great, cool things and not the same ol’, same ol’ “I like to ski and mountain bike and watch sports” that seems to be the default profile in Colorado.)

So, what am I seeing that pulled me out of my Chopped-induced absence?

  • No photo at all.

Hate to break it to y’all, but ya gotta put up a photo.  Girls aren’t quite as shallow as men, but I can assure you that an empty photo box has absolutely no appeal.  So unless you luck out and get one of those women who clicks on every profile hoping for a hidden gem, you lose.

  • Photo of guy in full-on helmet/skiing gear going through powder

This is a specific one I’m looking at this morning, but the general issue is one where I can’t see the guy’s face, eyes, or body shape.  Look, it’s awesome that you can shred some whatever on the ski slopes. (I don’t ski, so does nothing for me…)  But, dude.  Why am I going to click through to see more about you?  You could be hella hot (I’ll assume not since you didn’t lead with the photo that shows that…), but I will never know.

  • Photo that is cut off in some weird way

Look.  I get it.  Not everyone doing online dating is tech savvy, but come on.  You upload a photo.  They ask you to crop it.  You do.  If what you see on the screen when you preview is the top part of your baseball cap.  Or, worse yet, your crotch.  (I’m looking at you Eric.)  Then fix it!  Or choose a different photo.  Your main profile photo is the most important photo you put up there.  Get it right.

  • Photo of two dudes

Am I getting a package deal here?  You two looking for the woman to complete your perfect bromance?  No?  Then, don’t make your main profile photo a picture of you and another dude.  Actually, of you and anyone else.  This is about you and me getting together, right?  Then show me you.  (Because, you know, that friend of yours is kinda hot and I’m thinking I’m more interested in him right now than I am you…)

  • The mug shot

I’m sure it’s not really a mug shot.  I’m not seeing height lines behind the guy’s picture and he isn’t holding up one of those numbered signs.  But, man, that photo looks a bit serial killer.  Plain white wall.  Staring straight ahead.  No smile.  Intense eyes.  Yikes!  You have a photo, so you’re ahead of the first guy on the list.  And looks like you had a friend to take it for you.  Good, good.  But come on.  Sit down at your dining room table and chat with your buddy while he takes a couple of photos for you.  They’ll look real and natural.  Not…scary.

  • The professional headshot

It’s great that your company had someone come in and take headshots of everyone.  And it’s a nice photo.  Suit and tie, looking pretty dapper.  But this is dating not professional networking.  I give a pass on this one.  It’s not a deal-breaker.  But I note it.  And I keep an eye out for other signs that the guy I’m communicating with doesn’t understand the difference between dating and making a business deal.  Or can’t turn off the work mindset.

So, there you have it.  My mini rant of the day. I meant to post a couple months back when a buddy of mine started online dating again and was having some difficulties, but ya know.  I got distracted trying to figure out how you can make a dish using kimchi, pomegranate molasses, yak meat, and coconut macaroons.

(I did write a book last year that walks through all this stuff, ya know.  If this was post was an earth-shattering insight for you, might want to check it out: Online Dating For Men: The Basics.  Although, that’s not why I wrote the post.  I just wanted to rant a bit.  As usual.)

Boys, Boys, Boys…

Picture me saying that in a slightly exasperated, you’ve disappointed your mother sort of way.

A friend of mine has been valiantly trying online dating this year.  She did well and found a boyfriend for a while, but it didn’t work out so she’s currently in the midst of round two.  And the stories she can tell…

Like the guy who used her e-mail address to friend her on Facebook before they’d even gone on one date.  (Don’t do that.)

Or the guy who asked her to text him each morning when she woke up even though they hadn’t met yet.  (What the???)

Or the one who texted her non-stop at all hours of the day.  (As she said, I have a job, don’t you?)

(You can see why I don’t give out my number if I can avoid it until I’ve met a guy in person and determined he isn’t insane.)

She’s also experiencing the usual, standard ones that every girl runs into.  Like the guy who put on forty pounds and then posts only old photos of himself and talks in his profile about how much he likes to jog and hike even though it’s clearly been a while since he did anything active. (Uh, women aren’t blind, buddy…)

And I say boys, but these are grown-ass men we’re talking about.  Somewhere in the thirty or forty-year-old range.

Don’t do that shit.

If you’re a guy and you read any of that and recognized yourself in those comments then you may want to check out my book Don’t Be A Douchebag.  It’s currently on sale for 99 cents.  Buy it, read it, and save us all a little bit of pain and suffering, because finding a good match is hard enough without some of the shit guys pull (knowingly or unknowingly).

Oh, and if you’re a woman who recognized some of that behavior, you might want to read Online Dating Is HELL which basically just rants about the same things I tell men not to do in Douchebag.  It, too, is on sale for 99 cents right now.

(Of course, if you’re new to online dating, don’t read those books.  Keep your starry-eyed optimism as long as you can.)

Online Dating Basics: Men vs. Women

Wow, I am a really bad blogger because it’s been a couple months since I posted last.  But I have an excuse.  I was writing two new books.  Online Dating for Women: The Basics and Online Dating for Men: The Basics.

They started out as one book but then I realized that men’s and women’s (and we’re talking straight men and women here) experiences online dating are so different that it was just annoying to try to write about them in the same book.

In what ways you might ask?

Well, how about photos?  OkCupid does these great studies of their users every once in a while and came up with completely different recommendations for profile photos for men vs. women.  Women are supposed to smile into the camera, men are supposed to brood away from it.  Who knew?

(Although, I do wonder a bit about the advice for the men.  Maybe men looking for casual and fun are supposed to look like distant assholes.  But if you want something more serious, then I think looking nice and approachable works, too.)

Then there’s communication.  I think we all know that even in this day and age men are responsible most of the time for initiating a new conversation and that women can join a site, do next to nothing, and get messages.  A man who did the same would find himself very lonely.

Even the red flags I thought of were different between men and women.  Men had to watch out for the drama-filled types and women had to watch out for the “all women are bitches” types.

It’s kind of crazy when you start thinking about it.  Which I hadn’t, because the first time I tried online dating must’ve been about fifteen years ago.  But I had a friend try it for the first time this year and her comments reminded me of all the little things you need to think about that first time around.  Like choice of site, user name, what photos to choose, what to say, who to respond to, how to respond, when to agree to meet in person…There are a lot of moving parts to the whole thing.

So I wrote a book about it.  As you do.  Currently up at Amazon (including for free borrowing through Kindle Unlimited.)  It’ll go up everywhere else in a couple more months.  Probably in time for Valentine’s.  Always a fun holiday for the unwillingly single.

Dating: Sometimes It Has Nothing To Do With You

I think most of us when we approach someone we like and get turned down assume that there must be something wrong with us.  Maybe we shouldn’t have made that joke.  Or maybe our profile photo is awful.  Or they noticed our [insert physical insecurity here].

But often that’s not the case.

I closed down a match today because the guy said he can’t live without his cat.  That’s admirable.  He has another living being in his life that he cares a great deal for.  But, since I (a) am allergic to cats and (b) can’t really stand them at all, he wasn’t the guy for me.  It was nothing personal.

Unfortunately, you can’t say that on most dating sites.  You just ignore the communication or shut down the match without providing any feedback.  So, this guy is probably thinking it had to do with his age or his hairline or his taste in movies.  It didn’t.  He just wasn’t the right fit for me.

For anyone out there dating, I think it’s important to keep that in mind and not take it personal.

I had a friend just break up with a guy she’d been dating for a few months because their ideas of the appropriate amount of time to spend together were just too far apart to work.  She wanted one weekend day to herself, he thought showing up after work on Friday and not leaving until Monday morning was the way to go.  He’ll make a great husband for someone, just not my friend.

I almost shut down another match because he looks very much like someone I went to high school with.  I’m hoping he isn’t, but it was a real enough possibility that I wondered for a minute whether to keep that one going.  That had nothing to do with the guy (assuming he isn’t the guy I went to high school with).  He could’ve been perfect and if I’d decided he was who I thought he might be, I would’ve shut it down anyway.

All you need to know when someone stops communicating or doesn’t call back for that next date or otherwise doesn’t return your interest is that they weren’t the one for you.  Move on to the next person.  Because somewhere out there is the one for you.  You just have to keep going until you find them and you can’t let yourself get discouraged just because you found the wrong matches first.

(And, no, I would not recommend changing things about yourself to try to find someone.  If you want to change, fine.  If you do it out of insecurity about how others perceive you, that is not a good thing.  It will bite you in the ass someday.)

(Having said that, if you’re getting lots of rejection do have someone take a look at your profile photos.  It may just be an issue of how you’re presenting yourself.  Try to put your best foot forward.)

Wanta Love Me? Better Love My Dog

A friend e-mailed me yesterday and told me to check out Dear Abby’s column for the day.  It was full of advice from men to women on what not to do online dating.  I’ve chosen not to write about it, because my reaction was much like my reaction to the eHarmony blog post about profile pictures.  (As in, “Wow, assholes.”)

Although, I will say that I am now highly tempted to take a selfie in my bathroom mirror and post it on my dating profile to weed out all the guys who have been online dating so long that they’ve become judgmental jerks who accuse women of having no friends if they choose to take a selfie of themselves in the bathroom mirror rather than call a friend over to take a photo for them.

(Guess what?  Not all of us document every single social outing and not all of us feel that it’s so important to have the perfect profile photo that we would actually waste time spent with our friends having them photograph us.)

Pretty sure a nice guy trying online dating for the first time wouldn’t think like that and I’m happy to skip the guys who’ve been doing it for a decade.  (There are probably reasons why they have yet to find someone…)


One of the comments on there did prompt me to write this post.  Basically, the guy said he didn’t care if a woman loved her dog because he was dating her not the dog, so leave the dog out of it.

I beg to disagree.  I have a puppy that I love and adore and she is very much a part of my life and very much a part of dating me.


Well, let’s see…

Before I had the puppy I might sleep until 9:30 or so each morning.  Now?  She has me up at 5:45 most days, 6 at the latest.

Before I had the puppy I might not have any issue going out straight after work and staying out until two or three or four in the morning.  Now?  If I think I’m going to be gone for more than a couple of hours, I drop the pup off at daycare.  (Seriously.)  That means that a night out on the town that goes past 8:30 PM requires me to board her.  I don’t do it often.

Before I had the puppy I was willing to pick up and go anywhere with no notice.  Random road trip to Canada just because?  Sure, why not.  Last minute trip to the Olympics because a friend had an extra ticket?  Count me in.  Go live in Eastern Europe for a couple of months?  Okay.  Now?  If I can’t drive there, it’s a hard sell.  And even if I can, I have to think about the benefits to me versus the hardship on her.  Generally, if it’s going to be more than a few nights, she has to come with me and then that really limits what I can do once I’m there.

I treat having a dog a bit like I would having a human child.

I chose to take on my puppy.  I accepted responsibility for her and I take it seriously, which means any guy I date would have to do so as well.  It will affect everything from how long our first date is to whose place we stay at if it gets to that point to what we do together in terms of travel and meals and social events.

So, to that guy who posted about not caring about a woman’s dog because he’s not dating the dog he’s dating her?  I say “NEXT.  Move along, pal.  You are not the man for me and your advice is complete and utter crap for anyone like me.”

I want a guy who sees my dog and either has one of his own and thinks, “Yes, perfect fit.”  Or sees us and thinks, “I want to be a part of that.”

Pretty sure it works the same way with women that have kids.  If they have split custody, then, yeah, you can just date them, casually, on the weekends they don’t have their kids.  But if they’re a single mom raising a kid all alone, then you are dating them and their child.  That IS part of the deal.

Look, here’s the bottom-line truth about all of this: Most people looking to date aren’t looking to date you.  And you aren’t actually looking to date most of them.  They want casual, you want serious.  You want beer and french fries, they want champagne and steak.  You’re very image conscious, they think showers are over-rated.  Whatever it is, most people out there are not the ones for you, and there’s no point in trying to make them the ones for you.

I don’t like facial hair on men.  Am I going to tell every guy to shave off his facial hair before posting a profile photo?  Absolutely not, because I want to be able to eliminate guys who routinely have facial hair from my list of possibles.  What good does it do me if the guy doesn’t have facial hair in his photos, but shows up with a beard on our first date?

Instead of telling people to change to fit your view of what they should be, accept the fact that not everyone is what you want and move on to find someone who is the one for you.


Who Knew EHarmony Now Employs Complete Assholes?

A friend of mine recently joined eHarmony and she passed along this link:

Terrible Profile Photos and the Women Who Take Them

I’m not disagreeing with the advice in the post.  I completely agree that glamour shots and cat lady photos are not the way to go.  Nor is the party shot, group photo, or photo with some random dude.  Eye contact, good lighting, and a smile do in fact work the best for women on dating sites.

But, man, is the person who wrote that post coming off as an ass.  There’s a difference between being funny/sarcastic and just sounding like a jerk who doesn’t like women much.  Well, kudos to whoever wrote this because he crossed into jerk territory.  Nice contrast to the grandpa-like founder in all their commercials.

If you’d like a non-jerk set of suggestions for your profile photos, check out OKCupid’s posts instead:

Don’t Be Ugly By Accident or Your Looks and Your Inbox or The Mathematics of Beauty

Similar advice, but without the douchey attitude.

Okay, stepping off of my little soap box now.  But, seriously, if you’re a guy and dating, don’t sound like that anywhere the women you’re trying to contact can see.  And if you’re a dating website that wants new female members, you might wanta avoid that tone, too.  Just sayin’.

Why I Unfriend People on Facebook

I’ll admit it, I’m an unfriender.  While everyone else is connecting to their third cousin’s friend from Sunday school, I’m busy culling my list of FB friends.  I wasn’t always like that.  When I first joined the site I pretty much accepted a friend request from anyone I’d ever met–even one of my professors.

But then time passed and I watched how things worked and decided that I didn’t really care about how many friends I had on FB.  I cared more that my friends on FB were friends I wanted.  (Much like middle school…)  Now, interestingly enough, some of the people I didn’t think would last have and some of the ones I never thought I’d unfriend have gone by the wayside.

So, what are my top reasons for unfriending someone on FB?

1. They never post.  Anything.  Ever.  The only time the person shows up in my newsfeed is when some random person I don’t know tags them in a post with pictures of other people I don’t know, usually their children.  I think it’s great that FB can be used to keep someone up to date on what’s happening with their friends’ kids, but I don’t care about those nameless children, so if there’s not some other reason to stay friends with the person, I”m eventually going to unfriend them.

2. They post all the time about things I don’t care about.  I appreciate that people have political and social views that they want to share with others, but after the twentieth post in a week about, well, any political topic, I’m done.  Sometimes I’ll just hide the person from my newsfeed for a while to see if it blows over, but generally it doesn’t.

3. They post passive-aggressive drama posts often and I’m allowed to unfriend them.  (I have one that I can’t.)  You know what I’m talking about: “I hate when mean people are mean.” or “Well, at least I now know who my true friends are.”  If you can’t keep your drama between you and the people you have drama with, then we don’t need to be friends.

4. I can’t remember who they are.  Or, more likely, I remember that they’re that person I met that one time at that party and have never exchanged another message with.  I don’t like their posts.  They don’t like mine.  We are as much strangers on FB as we are off of it.

5. They’re on FB all the time but we never interact.  I see new posts by them, but none ever inspire me to comment or like them.  They never comment on my posts or like them either.  I know this person.  We went to college together or worked together for years, but I don’t know why I’m still in touch with them.

6. I’m not positive I actually know who this person is.  They have the name of someone I used to know and they sent me a friend request, but they’ve never posted anything that actually confirms they are who they say they are.

7.  It’s complicated and I finally figured out the way to uncomplicate the situation is to unfriend them.

8. They post mocking or  hateful posts often and I’m allowed to unfriend them.  (I have one I can’t.  Interestingly enough, not the same person as in 3.)  I don’t have much patience for people who hate other groups of people or who feel superior enough to mock a whole group of individuals.  I’m not above the occasional insult myself, but I try to limit my negativity to people I actually know.

9. They’re going through some serious personal drama that they’re talking about on FB and I don’t know them well enough to provide emotional support and I feel like a vulture continuing to watch the train wreck which is their life right now.

10. They are more appropriately a LinkedIn-type contact.  This includes former co-workers I don’t socialize with as well as former professors and classmates I never socialized with.  They don’t need to see my posts about my dog or the latest song lyric I liked.  They just need to know where to find me and what I’m up to professionally.

There are a few other one offs, but that covers the majority.  I have to say, it certainly makes being on FB a much more enjoyable experience than when I had all those other folks on there.

Online Dating and Safe Sex

As I’ve mentioned, a few of my friends recently ventured into the world of online dating.  As a seasoned pro I gave them advice.  What photos they might want to post, the disappointments they might face, exercising a little caution before meeting a complete stranger they found on the internet live and in person.

I thought I’d covered it all.

Seems I needed to play mom to a teenager and have a little chat about safe sex.

My one friend spent about a month getting ready for online dating.  She debated which websites to use, which photos to post, thought about what kind of guy she wanted….and yet she forgot to prepare for what would happen if she was successful.


Because  let’s face it, unless you have strong religious, social, or moral beliefs that lead you to abstain from sex, once you’re dating someone you’re going to have sex with them.

So prepare for it.

If you’re a guy, buy condoms you’re willing to use.  And get an STD test so you can provide it to your partner if she asks for it.

If you’re a woman and not already on a form of contraceptive, get on one.  And in enough time for it to matter.  (You can’t start the pill on Monday and have sex on Tuesday).  And women should still get some condoms because the pill or a diaphragm or an IUD aren’t going to protect you from nastiness.  And get tested, of course.


Condoms do no one any good if they’re sitting in the drawer by your bed while you’re having sex.

And if you can’t bring up the subject with the person you’re about to have sex with then you probably shouldn’t be sleeping with that person.  And if they don’t bring it up with you, ask yourself how many other times they’ve been in that situation and just gone ahead without having the conversation.  And what that might mean to your sexual health.

It’s not fun.  It’s not sexy.  But neither is getting an STD.

I still have these horror images from 8th grade sex ed class (this is back in the AIDS lecture days) when the teacher drew a little picture of two people in bed and then started showing the math of how many people they were really in bed with when you take into account the other people each of them had slept with and the other people each of those people had slept with and the other people each of those people had slept with and….Yeah.

Aside from STDs, you also don’t want to get pregnant with someone you barely know’s kid.  I know a girl who just had a very cute little baby girl with a guy she really can’t stand because of one night of not being careful.  Her life from here on out is not going to be easy.

And relying on “I’m getting older, so I can’t be fertile enough to get pregnant that easily” is STUPID.

If you’re in your mid-30’s and trying to conceive you have about a 60% chance of getting pregnant in a year of trying.  And since the odds go down with every month you try (since the couples who don’t get pregnant right away are more likely to have fertility issues), let’s ballpark this and say that in the first three months of a new relationship when you’re bonking like bunnies you probably have an 80% chance of getting pregnant.

Those aren’t odds I’d want to play with.

You sleep with someone once without protection, okay, fine.  We make mistakes.  (Might get pregnant or an STD even that once, but fine.)

You keep sleeping with someone without protection?  Come on now.

So, if you’re venturing out into the dating world, along with new clothes and a new haircut, get some condoms.  At a minimum.  And use them.