Getting Serious with Jesse Metcalfe

updated 08/07/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

After hanging up his garden shears on Wisteria Lane, former Desperate Housewives hunk Jesse Metcalfe is back on the market as a high school lothario whose girlfriends team up for revenge on his title character in John Tucker Must Die. So is Metcalfe, 27, really a heartbreaker?

... Metcalfe admits he's juggled romances. "It's stressful," he says. "The major drawback is you don't put the energy into one person that's necessary to see if there's anything meaningful there." Since February he's been keeping it simple with one girlfriend, British singer Nadine Coyle, 21.

"I definitely went through my geeky phase," he says of his prep-school days in New London, Conn. "Bad skin, long hair, bad clothes. I wasn't the popular guy." After high school? "I got more confident, got a lot smoother with the ladies. Things kind of fell into place," he says. His John Tucker costar Ashanti agrees: "He's very, very cute. And very sexy."

Metcalfe says finding so much work in such female-driven projects as Housewives and John Tucker is a "little isolating, but I enjoy it." Except the scene in Tucker where he had to wear a frilly thong: "I wouldn't say they're comfortable," he says. "The fitting was more embarrassing than shooting the scene!" Where's the thong now? "Probably on eBay." (It's not—yet.)

When it comes to dating, he advises, "Never show your hand. Play it cool. Don't be overeager. And on the first date, the guy always pays." Even if she offers? "Big brownie points—but don't let her."

Still, he says, "my perspective has changed" when it comes to dating. "I don't go out as much. When I do, I don't drink as much. I'm thinking about the future more, not always living in the moment."

For more of Jesse's dating tips go to

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