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Women conduct romance by committee with friends

It would behoove all you men to thoroughly understand one thing: We women normally conduct our romances by committee.

That is to say that if you tickle one of us with a special notion, you've tickled all of us. On the other hand, if you tick off one of us, the entire committee is ticked off. One man, unbeknownst to him, is often dating two or more women. Every date followed by the situations that ensue are brought before the committee and properly discussed.

I had dated a guy several times. This in itself is newsworthy. I'm usually a once or twice dater. Extraordinarily, I had been out with this guy a few times. Common courtesy dictates that a man should touch base within a couple of days after a date. It doesn't mean you're in a relationship. It just signifies manners. This time he didn't call.

Now, I have strong self-esteem so I never think it's anything I did wrong. I immediately cast the blame in the guy's direction. Ten days after the date - which, by the way, had taken a good bit of effort on my part - and a trip out of town for him, he e-mailed. I called Karen.

"I got an e-mail from him." I read it to her.

"What are you going to do?"

"Uh. We have already agreed that I'm not going to reply. Remember?"

"Yeah, but ..." She paused for a second. "Well, you're right. Don't. What are you going to do if he e-mails again?"

"Then, I'll call you and we'll discuss the next step."

All over America, this happens every day. Rarely does a woman make a decision - after the first date, that is - without the combined consent of her trusted committee. A guy, on the other hand, never even mentions to another guy that he has a date. But I have noticed that if a man ever runs into romantic trouble and a woman has snagged his heart, he will go to the appropriate sources for advice. He'll call another woman.

That's because we have outstanding experience in romantic strategies. In the war of love, we're five-star generals.

I unfortunately dated someone who was a disaster, the kind you cringe over every time it crosses your mind. One night, he pulled an outrageous scene. The committee was quick to vote for execution while I was still reeling from the shock and couldn't think clearly.

I obeyed. See, you have to have a dependable committee, one you know will always have your best interests at heart so that even when you're brain numb, they will make the right decision for you. On this particular occasion, the committee was relentless in their judgment.

"Stay away from him," said each one in emphatic tones. I'm a team player so what my team says goes. So, he went.

A few months later, when he innovatively tried to make in-roads back, the committee sympathetically gave him points for creativity but their judgment remained written in stone: No second chances for this one. I concurred.

Now I'm quite capable of deciding with whom I go out the first time. No need for committee on that. But after the first date, the committee convenes and from then on, we're all dating him. Though he thinks he's only dating one gal, he actually romancing a whole group of us. And we're not just any kind of gals. We're Southern girls. We're the toughest ones because we have inordinately high expectations.

It isn't that we're incompetent in running our romances. On the contrary. We've watched as corporations, politics and nonprofits were successfully run by committees, many formed by the opposite sex. The Declaration of Independence was written by an all-male committee and the National Football League and Major League Baseball established by others.

We learned to rule by committee by male example. I suspect, though, they never expected it to be used against them.

Ronda Rich is a best-selling Southern author. Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com.