She might not know you, but she knows all about your reputation. No wonder she's refusing to go out with you.
Despite the fact that we live in the age of electronic communications, the old grapevine is still a very important method of communication in social circles. If you have a bad name in the dating game, tongues are sure to be wagging about you.
Here are 13 things that could mark you as a dating disaster - however good-looking you might be. Bad news really does travel fast.
Being abusive. If news of your abusive behaviour, whether emotional or physical, does the rounds, you can wave goodbye to your dating days. No-one will willingly get involved in a relationship with someone who is likely to beat them up or who tells them constantly how awful they are. If you have a history of maltreating your partners, be sure that eventually it will come back to haunt you. Bad news travels fast. Get help for your problem. Is your relationship abusive?
Two-timing. Being dishonest by seeing more than one person at a time and making promises to both or all of them will not endear you to potential new partners. Also if you're married, you should accept that your dating days are over. No-one likes being taken for a ride and being made to look silly. Word spreads swiftly about Jenna being engaged to both Bob and William. And Bob and William are usually the last ones to find out, but when they do, they are unlikely to go away quietly.
Doing a duck. Just not pitching for a date, not answering any phone calls, or moving out without giving any prior warning are all fairly cowardly ways of ending a relationship. It also means that Brian will spend the next few years looking over his shoulder to check whether Belinda has perhaps found him. Doing a duck makes everyone sympathise with the one that's left in the lurch. Brian could see his circle of friends being dented severely – as well as the number of people who will go out with him.
Kiss and tell. While few people can resist a good gossiping session, there are also things people don't really want to know. If you kiss and then go and tell the southern hemisphere about it, can you blame anyone who is hesitant about getting involved with you? And generally, details of your sex life should stay private, not just out of respect for your partner, but also out of respect for yourself. If you sleep with Kevin and by lunchtime the next day people in the next town know about it, don't be surprised if your dancing card remains empty for many months to come.
Spreading STIs. Having a sexually transmitted infection (STI) happens disturbingly easily. Even today, when there is so much information available on safe sex and free condoms everywhere. If you have an STI, for heaven's sake, get it treated. Don't pass it on to someone else – it could kill them. If word spreads that you have spread an infection knowingly and didn't respect your partner enough to get it treated before having sex with him/her, make peace with watching TV for the next few months or years. You aren't going anywhere. You don't deserve another date. Read more about STIs
Making false promises. If you promise your partner the moon and the stars and you cannot even come up with a Mars Bar, news of this will spread fast. Point is, you shouldn't be making promises on which you cannot deliver. If a partner is disappointed in you, be sure that he or she will share this information with friends and family. All you need is one person to get on the phone and spread the word.
Using someone. Exploitation – a user's guide. If you could be the author of this book, think twice about what you're doing. Have you noticed that when someone doesn't work, because the 9 - 5 story isn't quite their style, they seldom mind living off someone else who is doing the daily slog? Whether you use someone by getting them to support you, or giving you things you don't really deserve, or doing things for you that you should be doing for yourself, or helping you get into a particular social circle, it's just not a nice thing to do. There is almost no line between using and abusing. And the person who is being used usually gets discarded when they have served their purpose. Rest assured that this will spread through the grapevine. Is your partner a manipulator?
Freeloading. Being a freeloader is not a social asset. Sooner or later your dates and your friends are going to notice that yours is always the wallet that remains tightly shut when it comes to footing the bill. Or you're always eating at other peoples' houses, but never invite them back. If you're being stingy, don't expect to have a wonderful love life. Stories about how tight-fisted you are, are probably already doing the rounds and potential partners will probably choose not to go down this road.
Being overly possessive. There is not a single person on earth who enjoys having their every move watched day in and day out. If you are overly possessive in relationships, easily threatened by other people, explosively jealous and terribly insecure, you do not make good relationship material. If you've exploded at parties, because your partner talked to another man or woman, be sure that people have noticed. Extreme jealousy and insecurity are not attractive traits.
Lying about your past. If you were arrested ten years ago for drug-related offences, or you've been fired from three jobs, or your previous girlfriend or boyfriend took out an interdict against you, know that it will come out. Somebody you know has an aunt or a cousin who now lives where you come from and it's only a matter of time before the beans are spilled. If you've been less than honest about your past, you're sitting on a time bomb. And the big question in a prospective partner's mind will be: "What else is he/she hiding?" So come clean about your family history, your career, as well as your relationship history.
Being a stalker. This is a big one. Once you've been identified in the social circles as a bit of an obsessive weirdo who follows a current or ex-partner about, people are not going to be queueing up to ask you out. If you're the kind of person to stalk someone's flat or workplace, or who sends 20 unwanted SMSs a day or phones constantly at odd hours of the night or day, can you blame people if they avoid you at all costs? Horror stories about your doings are probably being spread far and wide. And you probably deserve it. Get help.
Drink or drugs binge. Picture the scene: you are at a housewarming party and you've been hitting the free booze like there's no tomorrow. The last you remember before passing out is throwing up on the host's shoes after shouting obscenities at the other guests. How popular a date do you think you're going to be among those present and all their friends? The same goes for a drugs binge. Chances are you don't need a date, you need rehab. Visit our Substance abuse Centre
Being on the rebound. You've been dumped by your partner and now everything that moves looks like a possibility on the dating front. In fact, you've been so busy, you're considering installing a turnstile at your bedroom door. But seriously, no-one feels like getting involved with someone who would have no more than a 24-hour interest in them. Or who is still fixated on an ex-partner. Tales of inconsiderate and greedy sexual exploits do the rounds faster than news of a lottery win. So what are the signs of a one-night stand?
(Susan Erasmus, updated August 2010)
(Picture: mysterious guy from Shutterstock)