Ask The Advice Goddess 23

I'm just curious about whether it is traditional to give a girl flowers on the first date, or whether this is too committal, and should wait until future dates. What's your opinion? -- John GruberThe right time to give a girl flowers is anytime your little hands can carry them. If you've got your hands full, stick a rose or two between your teeth. That said, in flower-giving, timing and proportion are everything. When you do "say it with flowers," make sure you're sending the right message.The first date bouquet: Bringing a woman an informal bouquet of flowers like tulips is a friendly and generous gesture that says, "here's a little something to brighten up your home." A dozen red roses is too formal to give to a woman you barely know, and may suggest "look up the number of your local anti-stalking task force."Choose personality-appropriate flowers: A woman whose clothes say "every day is a funeral for me," who spends her free afternoons buried in Sylvia Plath, probably has aesthetic differences with a hand-painted basket of pink and yellow daisies. For such aspiring tragic souls, opt for single flowers in deep colors, and avoid floral litter such as additions of baby's breath and fern fronds at all cost.Just-picked wildflowers: "My last crust of bread is your last crust of bread."Just-picked flowers from somebody's garden: Unless you make it clear that these flowers are from your own garden, your date may assume that you have stolen them, and are not to be trusted around her best friend or anyone else's.Dead flowers: "You'll be sorry you dumped me."And "call the anti-stalking task force."Venus' Fly Trap: This tells a woman that you probably picked your nose a lot in eighth grade while rereading Spiderman comic books and may continue to exhibit similar unappealing qualities. (Ignore the previous statement if you're dating the Sylvia Plath type, who will probably fall in love with you for understanding her if you give her one of these).Common floral miscommunications: Enormous floral topiaries in clay urns are not only hard-to-place in the typical one-bedroom apartment or small house, they tend to suggest "I attended a mafia funeral just before our date, and I didn't think these would be missed ... is that gunfire I hear?"When you're just starting to date someone, don't come bearing a bouquet that makes Secretariat's horseshoe of roses look like a cut-rate corsage. Doing so indicates that you probably haven't had sex in quite some time, and probably for very good reason. No woman wants to feel that you want her because she is your last remaining ray of hope ... even if it "is" true.***I am a woman in my early forties. I have been dating a younger man for about a year. I recently ended the relationship because I felt that I was the only one in it. This man is totally out of touch with his feelings, and although he has a huge amount of baggage, he is unable to acknowledge his communication problems. In fact, he is so uncomfortable discussing them that I finally just gave up trying. We have been "phone buddies" for the last two months, and it is obvious that he loves me and does not want the relationship to end. What should I do? I am still very much in love with this man. How do I get through to him? Is this really worth it? He wants to be in a relationship -- (he is recently divorced) -- but has so many fears that I don't know if it's worth it to reconcile. -- Dory, San FranciscoAs much as you long to have a healthy give-and-take with this guy, you'd have better luck getting a response from a life form if you leased space on NASA's communications satellite and transmitted messages to the Roswell aliens.Because two people love each other is not necessarily valid reason for them to be together. As you noted, this guy has more unclaimed baggage than most airlines, but is still unlikely to show up in a therapists office anytime soon (unless he is abducted by your friends, the space men, and taken there by force). And even if he wanted desperately to change, unless the lifeline on your palm extends halfway up your arm, you couldn't count on living long enough to reap the benefits of his efforts.You sound like a reasonably healthy woman. Instead of playing relationship with this guy, devote your time to looking for your emotional equal -- a man who already possesses the courage and ability to express himself. Leave the whereabouts of Mr. Emotional Constipation's long lost feelings to the folks at "Unsolved Mysteries."

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