'The Modern Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations,' by Jane Buckingham

• Don't break up for dumb reasons. So he leaves wet towels on the floor. So he's two inches shorter than you. Come on!!!! You're looking for a partner, not a custom-made robot. No one is perfect, my love, not even you.

• Hold on to your best assets. Look, I'm not a prude, and I'm not telling you to play games. Just wait until you decide whether this relationship is really a keeper. You'll cause yourself less grief and give yourself a better chance to let the relationship develop in the right way.

• Trust the experts. Go get yourself a subscription to Cosmopolitan magazine. Look, there's a reason two million women read it every month. They've got great tips, info, and advice. Trust me, your man will appreciate it.

• If you want to change your body or your lifestyle, look to the Web for an endless cornucopia of support, from diet and exercise plans to message boards populated by eager experts with too much time on their hands. And -- cattiness aside -- when you need a boost, or just a shoulder to cry on, isn't someone with too much time on her hands a good thing?

Finally, remember, life is a journey, and it is yours to enjoy. We all want a partner, but there are many people I know who I think might have been better off alone. Take care of yourself, and your needs, and the rest will follow.

Online Dating

You feel like a total freak. Even -- okay, especially -- online.

Don't be afraid to let your freak flag fly! There's a niche dating site for every type of person. Unlike general sites such as Match.com that cast as wide a net as possible, niche online dating forums are self-selecting, based on interests, ethnic makeup, or dating preferences. Examples include MulletPassions.com, LargePassions.com, GolfMates.com, DeafSinglesConnection.com, SingleParentLove.com, and BikerKiss.com. Got a quirk, hobby, or passion? Find a like-minded man through one of these sites. The biggies -- Match.com, eHarmony.com, Chemistry.com, Nerve.com -- have the benefit of thousands of users to choose from. Narrow down the seemingly endless options by searching by location, age, or interests -- even by height or weight (not that you'd ever be so shallow). Be sure to take some time to hone your profile.

If you're not a writer, recruit a friend to help you fine-tune your ad. Make the profile memorable by mentioning the things that make you unique: reveal a guilty pleasure or an embarrassing moment from childhood. These things can often serve as talking points when a man sends you a message. Pictures are important. Your profile is far more likely to be looked at if it comes with a photograph.

Resist the temptation to get your graphic designer friend to airbrush the hell out of it. You always want to represent yourself at the moment you are placing the ad, even if you secretly want to lose weight or change your hair color. A clear photograph of a friendly, smiling person is always going to do well.

You're trying to be hip when communicating online, but between the strange symbols and mixed messages, this new language is far more confusing than just waiting for the phone to ring. You just got a ;) and you're not quite sure how to take it.

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