Is She or Isn't She?

It's an enigma as enduring as Mona Lisa's small, knowing smile: Sometimes meek women turn wild in bed; sometimes they just lie there, waiting to inherit the earth. Sometimes the chestnut filly with the riding crop turns out to be all packaging; sometimes she's as thrilling as the signs indicated she'd be.

It made me wonder: Is it possible to reliably predict what a woman is like in bed? The love scientists say yes--sort of.

"It's very hard to gauge," explains Helen Fisher, Ph.D., an anthropologist at Rutgers University and author of Why We Love, a new book about the nature and chemistry of romantic love. A woman's high heels, short skirt, and follow-me walk mean little. "Those are signs of intention. But they are not signs that this person is actually good in bed and is compatible with you."

So, besides that old cliche about how she dances, what signs can a man go by? Start with these.

She Suggests Thai for Dinner

Beware the "I-don't-know, what-do-you-want-to-do?" camp of passive babes. A woman who knows and says what she wants, even when answering a mundane question, is more likely to be assertive in bed. Good lovers take responsibility for their pleasure. They remove a lot of the guesswork.

"Human tastes in bed are just as varied as tastes in food," Fisher says. "A person may like Japanese food but hate pizza. Some women want their nipples chewed on; others need you to be more delicate." Today's women aren't shy. "In the past, women didn't get to sleep with enough men to know what they liked," Fisher says. "But now, women are becoming more experienced and more demanding."

She Eats It Up

Take note of how she handles her food. "Watch how she uses her fork. Does she enjoy things? Is she sensuous? Is she poky and grabby?" says Candida Royalle, a producer of femme-friendly adult films and a veteran adult-film star. "If someone eats slowly, it's likely that they like to make love for a long time. I'm one of the slowest eaters I know."

She Screams . . . for Coffee Ice Cream

You may find the perfect lover by comparing tastes in ice cream, says Alan Hirsch, M.D., a neurologist and director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Researchers call this "ice-cream hedonics." Dr. Hirsch conducted a study of 720 people, ages 24 to 59, in which he correlated personality tests, their favorite ice-cream flavors, their partners' favorite ice creams, and relationship status.

Coffee-ice-cream lovers--found to be dramatic, seductive, flirtatious--are most romantically compatible with strawberry fans. Vanilla gals (emotionally expressive and fond of PDA) melt best with rocky-road.