Love Doctors give non-alcoholic ideas

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Imagine this scene. You're out having fun with a few friends, checking out members of the opposite sex. One of them sidles up and offers a greeting.

Do you a.) Offer to buy a drink, b.) Ask if this is a frequent hang-out, c.) Ignore your designated driver and go out after having a few drinks so the two of you can be alone, or d.) start a brilliant conversation and play it by ear?

If you answered anything but "d," you may be making a serious mistake.

But don't ask me why. Ask the Love Doctors.

"You can't use alcohol as a crutch just to meet somebody," said Stewart Kandel, a medical doctor and co-author of "The Love Doctors' Manual: Get Dates Without Drinking (for girls and guys)," released in September.

"When you're drunk, you become 'loud,'" Kandel said. "You talk loud, you walk loud and just become annoying."

His brother, Peter Kandel, is also a medical doctor and the co-author. "I knew a lot of people who needed a drink to loosen up," he said as he talked about the inspiration for the book. But with years of experience, and after conducting hundreds of interviews, the Love Doctors can tell that in most cases, picking up people in a bar does not lead to a successful, long-term relationship.

For years, Stewart and Peter Kandel had observed their own relationships as well as those of their friends. After recognizing some basic flaws and suggesting some initial advice to a friend, things worked out great. They saw then that they may be onto something.

"We're pretty friendly guys, and so we would just stop people in the street and see how they met," Stewart Kandel said. "After a while we came up with a system."

Let's just get a few things out of the way right here. First of all, the Love Doctors are not against using alcohol. "There's nothing wrong with having a few drinks every now and then," Peter Kandel said. "It's just not the right way to meet somebody new."

Secondly, their advice isn't very easy. You're not going to get the answers to your dating woes just by reading a book. You have to - get this - put some effort into it.

"We give little assignments on how to start and continue a conversation," Peter Kandel said. The book will even instruct at the beginning of a chapter that if you didn't do your homework, you have to stop reading and go do your work.

The book is split into two sections - one for men, one for women. Both sexes are urged to read both sections. "Each section is very different from the other," Stewart Kandel advised. "You really need to read both in order to understand the psyche of the other sex."

The chapters have obvious titles like, "Appearance," "Loves me, loves me not," "Closing time," "Where the boys are," and "Close encounters." Each chapter deals with what tactics people can use to get to the ultimate goal of finding people they like.

But baby steps. Remember to take baby steps.

Right from the beginning, readers are encouraged to approach members of the opposite sex just to get in the habit of saying something, anything, to a complete stranger. Once comfortable at that level of conversation, the next step is to follow through with a comment and then question about what is obvious about the person. "That's a nice jacket. Where did you buy it," is a perfect example.

Baby steps. It's all about baby steps.

As for the brothers and their next step, they've already got an idea.

"Okay, we've told people how to initiate a relationship," Stewart Kandel said. "Maybe the next book will be about maintaining relationships."

Given the depth the Love Doctors go into in their first book, it may be a while before the follow-up comes out. "It took us years to work on this book," Stewart Kandel said. "Give us a little while."

In the meantime, the Kandels are making their way around local television stations in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Connecticut, Virginia, Boston and New Jersey.

The book is available through Barnes & Noble, and through other retailers.

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