Two nationally syndicated columnists give advice to middle-aged ladies, each of whom has discovered that she is   interested in a gentleman-friend and would like to pursue her feelings past friendship to love:

First, Miss Manners:

“You can certainly visit and invite the gentleman at a friendly pace, but his availability will only tell you whether he wishes to continue that friendship. To progress, you need to send a few ambiguous signals. Whether he responds in kind will give you your answer, while still allowing you deniability should he not do so.

“For example, you stare at him too long and soulfully, and then look away as if you had hardly known what you were doing. You sit too close to him, and then idly get up and sit somewhere else. You brush up against him as if you had not noticed that you did.

“Oh, stop pretending to be shocked at Miss Manners’ knowing such things. Before the world turned as crude as it is now, flirting was a common and innocent practice.”

Now, Ask Amy:

“Welcome to the New World, where explicit sex talk doesn’t just go along with sex — but should precede it…..

“Any man you are sexually intimate with should wear a condom. In your case, condom use is not to prevent pregnancy, but to prevent transmission of STDs….

“If you decide to have an exclusive sexual relationship, you can move away from condom use if you are both tested for STDs and are found to be healthy. You and any steady guy you are with should have a very specific talk about your sexual histories. If you find this conversation difficult to initiate, ask your doctor for advice when you get your checkup. Then you and your guy can go and get HIV tests together. (Getting an HIV test together is the modern equivalent of exchanging class rings.)”

Which courtship strategy strikes you as the more romantic? Which the more grounded in self-respect? I know which one I’d choose.