Ask the Love Coach

• Ask yourself exactly what your flirtation is supposed to be saying to the other person. Are you promising just a bit of harmless and nonsexual fun, a night of steamy passion, a sizzling affair that lasts until you both get bored, or a possible lifetime together? Be careful what you're communicating.

• Ask yourself if you are being truthful to the other person. Are you giving subtle hints that you might be willing to offer something you really aren't willing to give? You certainly don't want to find yourself in the uncomfortable position of having your actions "write checks that can't be cashed."

For HtS Eyes Only

How many of you men out there have worked hard to put on your best show for a ■woman, just so you could get her to have sex with you— only to avoid her after yOu'd achieved your goal? How did you feel when all was said and done? Did you feel like a better person, or like a louse? The guys I've talked to about this said their most common lingering feeling was that the/d "gotten something over' on the woman. And a few have admitted the often unstated, though obvious extension of this; They feared that who they really were wasn't good enough to get and keep her attention and affection. When you feel this way, you'll more than likely tend to continue a pattern of deceit, which ends in unsatisfactory relationships.

Perhaps you have the idea that the only way you'll make any headway is by offering the object of your desire what you think he or she wants. This may be as miniscule as a telephone call, as intimate as a sexual liaison, or as all-encompassing as an eventual trip to the altar. Keep in mind, though, that there's just no way you can determine the needs of someone you've just met. You can, however, be sure of what you are willing to give, and limit even your most subtle "promises" accordingly. You don't want to emit those confusing mixed signals we've all had to figure out at one time or another.

• Don't flirt with somebody who is obviously with someone else. Sometimes this is hard to discern. We've all seen the married flirt who doesn't wear a ring and makes the rounds at parties, hitting on every attractive person in the room. But usually you can tell who's with whom. If you have any doubt whatsoever, ask. If you're intimidated by such a direct approach, just play it safe and don't flirt with someone whose status you don't know.

• If you're with somebody, don't flirt with anyone else. 'Nuff said.

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