And where would you rather be? Mars or Venus? Regardless of one's sexuality, wouldn't hanging out with lovely Venusians be preferable to killing time with a bunch of Martians? In Roman mythology, Venus, for whom the planet is named, is the goddess of love, Cupid's mom. If we mere mortals could actually get to Venus (the planet, not the goddess), I suspect tickets would sell out faster than opening night of an Adele/Taylor Swift/Rihanna triple-bill concert tour.
Here on planet Earth, where we're stuck for the time being, we all could probably use some divine intervention from Venus (the goddess, not the planet) to help us negotiate the rocky road of romance with Martians, especially when two of them (a pair of Martians) are intertwined, and there's no calming, nurturing Venusian influence.
I'm not saying I'd rather be a man who loves women (though it may have worked for Burt Reynolds in 1983, it's one desire I've never harbored), but Martian-on-Martian romance can be such a challenge. You already have to contend with a largely disapproving Earthling society while negotiating the code of conduct in a relationship where there are no traditional roles or clearly defined boundaries. The least you could do is find a decent Martian to hitch your rocket to.
Alas, on Mars as it is on Earth, Mr. Right is so elusive, hard to get, though, if he truly is Mr. Right, not so impossible to hold. Mr. Wrong, however, is a trickier dude, a he wolf, mad, bad and pretty dangerous to know. Whatever planet you're from, here's some friendly advice, a few more warning signs, to help you weed out the bad Martians from the decent ones in both the gay and the straight dating pools.
1. Never underestimate your instincts. "Where there's smoke there's fire," my mother used to say, and how right she was. If your normally clear head is overcast with doubt, if your gut tells you he might be a fraud, he probably is. Proceed with caution -- kiss with one eye open -- or not at all.
2. Don't let all of the action unfold on your turf. Not just so that when it's over, you won't be the one left with most of the memories, living with them every day. Sometimes it's better to travel, if only just to see how the other half lives. If he extends no invitation to his domain, you've already been warned. He probably has something to hide, even if it's just a crummy apartment with a mattress on the floor instead of a proper king-size bed.
3. Maybe it's because I grew up listening to a country song by David Allen Coe called "You Never Even Called Me by My Name." Or perhaps Destiny's Child's "Say My Name" continues to resonate with me more than a decade after it was a No. 1 hit. I've always felt that one's name is the surest route to one's heart, which is probably why my mine goes bang and then skips a beat every time I hear Cheryl Cole's "Call My Name" and Florence + the Machine's "Say My Name."
If he's not going to call you (and truthfully, I prefer texts), he should at least have the decency to call you by your name. His neglecting to say your name when he's talking to you ("Hello, Jeremy" has a much nicer ring than a simple "Hello") doesn't mean he's forgotten it (unless you met him the night before), just that he's not into you enough to acknowledge what might be the most personal thing about you. No matter what a girlfriend of mine once said -- during an argument, she insisted that I stop beginning and ending sentences by saying her name -- the well-placed dropping of someone's name (preferably the one belonging to the one you're with), in and out of bed, can be either the greatest aphrodisiac or the most tender term of endearment.
4. It's in his kiss (as Cher once sang). And he should be laying them on you, unprompted. Kisses don't lie (as Evelyn "Champagne" King once sang). If you're instigating every one of them, and he's merely kissing you back, find something better for your lips to do. Buy a bag of lollipops, or lemons. They're less sour than a tentative kiss, and they'll leave your breath lemon fresh for when a decent kisser -- one who wants to kiss you first -- comes along.
5. Are you starting to notice that he pops Xanax like aspirin? Isn't that stuff like the anti-Viagra? If you're going to be dull and low-energy out of bed, the least you could do is perk up between the sheets.
6. Is he a weak conversationalist who always takes the best seat in restaurants, the one where he's facing the entrance -- and the action -- so that all you have to look at is his face and the wall? Frankly, I'd rather stare out a window at the far more interesting passersby.
7. If he seldom lays his cards on the table but never forgets to put his smart phone there, find another place to sit. Why spend a round of drinks trying to gaze into the eyes of a guy who can't take his off his phone?
8. Beware if you find yourself overthinking every text message so that he doesn't get the wrong idea, or that you don't bruise his fragile ego. (Oh, beware those fragile egos!) Text communication between two people who belong together should flow naturally and easily. Save the angst for when you're talking on the phone, or face to face, or not at all.
9. If he takes too many hours (as in more than one) to respond to your text messages when you know his smart phone is practically attached to his palm, stop sending them.
10. What do you do with a guy who bottles up everything inside except for anger? (Hint: Where's the nearest exit?) We've all dated at least one angry young man, the one who has trouble expressing himself unless it's through rage (hopefully, without fists flying, Chris Brown-style). Who wants to spend life walking around on eggshells? Love hurts, but it shouldn't f**k up your feet, too.
11. Does he show up for a romantic dates in a posh setting looking like he just crawled out of a clothes hamper? I'm all for dressing down, but there's a time and place for cheap t-shirts and tattered jeans. If he can get all dressed up for work, can't he at least put on a decent pair of shoes for a nice dinner with you?
12. Picture this: He invites you to go away for the weekend after less than two months of dating and then a few days before take off, he sends you a text message telling you that he's excited about the upcoming holiday, and then suggesting that you "don't rush into things" and "see what develops." It's like proposing marriage before asking to just go steady. Who does that? If you must go, be sure to book your own room in a hotel that's preferably far away from where he'll be staying, alone.
13. It's bad enough that he insists on being friends on Facebook. After you reluctantly accept his invitation, he never publicly acknowledges you by posting on your timeline or even "liking" anything you put there. I know: How 2012 of me. But trust me, there's probably no greater sign that you aren't destined to be "friends" forever. One final warning: When you finally come to your senses and dump him, expect to be unfriended and blocked within the hour.
3 More Great Songs About the Wrong Guy
"Mr. Wrong" Sade
"The Wrong Man" Anita Baker
"He's a Liar" Bee Gees