**Do not read if you’re a fragile male who will have an uncontrollable urge to mansplain why I am wrong about my decades of experience on this subject.**

Dear Heterosexual Men,

It is baffling how many of you seem to understand nothing about women despite apparently coexisting on the same planet for decades. While it is understandable that 13-year-old-you was a bit dense about what women wanted, by 43 you certainly should have picked up on a few clues, especially after repeatedly getting dumped and divorced by females.

Just like children learn not to touch hot stoves, one should not continuously make the same mistakes if they don’t want their interpersonal relationships to constantly blow up in their faces.

I want to help you out here. I want to believe that many of you are good guys who genuinely desire female companionship outside of bed, but that somehow you are communicatively stunted. Or maybe I’m enabling you like us females have been socially conditioned to do since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, I’m attracted to you males for some unknown, foolish reason, and I want to believe that some of you are more highly evolved (or at least ready to learn) than the rest, and maybe I’ll somehow meet you one day. (Trust me, I wish I were attracted to females. It would save me half the headaches I experience with a sex who possesses low emotional intelligence.)

For the record, I actually liked some of you men, or saw a nugget of potential in you. But liking someone and seeing potential does not make a relationship, and honestly, I’m getting to the point in my life where I don’t have the desire to spend my precious time or energy waiting for you to reach enlightenment. While some may interpret this as bitchy, I’d like to argue that this is me maximizing the quality of my life before I’m dead.

So here it goes. A few helpful tips men might find useful when attempting to interact with females. (Not all females want the same things, so take it all with a grain of salt.)

***Stop Touching the Fire***

If I already told you what made me mad and what I do or don’t want, please don’t waste my time by repeating the same dumb thing. I’m not in the business of training single-celled amoebas. My younger self may have stuck around patiently waiting for you to learn this very simple, basic truth. However, this evolved version of me doesn’t hang out with toddlers. I’ve worked hard to improve myself. I expect the same from a man.

You may think that we women get too surly at a certain age, and you might think you’re the first male to think of the brilliant idea to go fishing for younger females. You can go for younger women (I was that woman before), and they’ll be more compliant and flashy to hang out with, sure. But just remember this: she’ll eventually catch on to your crap. So if you get lazy and stop putting your best foot forward, and if you don’t evolve as she continues to evolve, she’s going to cost you alimony and half of your retirement and in the end you’ll have to pay someone to change your diapers. Also, younger women generally want to reproduce at some point. If you’re not interested in more children, you might be wasting her time (or getting yourself another mouth to feed, regardless of what you claim you want).

I once sat in a family law office with my late husband over his custody dispute with an ex. The lawyer told us that a judge once told him, “Mother Teresa doesn’t have children with Hitler.” You can point your fingers all you want at the woman, but you’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that you traded her erratic behavior for your desperation, and that’s how social interactions work. You didn’t get Mother Teresa pregnant to begin with, so now you get to raise a child with Gollum. (And vice versa with women, but I’m giving advice to you men today. Ladies are another day.)

Therefore, men, please think carefully about who you choose to pursue. If you don’t work on yourself, you may be forced to pick the low-lying fruit that will cause life-long food poisoning. I might suggest here that it is better to do the work on yourself and level up in your social value so you don’t have to settle for something less.

***It’s All About Your Effort***

I’m sorry, but texting me to see if I want to Netflix and Chill, or play chess and chill, or just chill (and we all know what you mean by chill) isn’t going to impress me. Look, let’s dive deep into the subject of what men are good for, shall we? That may help you understand where we are coming from. We know you may or may not be good at the chill part, but we also know we don’t really need you for that anymore, just like we know IVF has replaced your role in procreation. Science and innovation is slowly making you obsolete in that department.

Thus, you’re going to have to bring something more than your chill to us.

Different women are going to need you for different things. Maybe a woman wants to have a family with you. Maybe she needs a provider. I’ve seen many, many women who put up with men because of the roofs over their heads. Who knows. But if you’re not really that great of a catch and there is a woman next to you, you may want to consider what is keeping her there if it isn’t your dazzling personality. It probably doesn’t matter to you if you’re that man, but it might. One day it will.

For me, I don’t need a man to take care of me. I can pay for anything I want fixed around here. I’m widowed, so nobody dumped me and I don’t have relationship baggage. I have children, and I don’t intend to mess up their lives by introducing a mediocre male to our ecosystem. I don’t really want more kids, but there is a 5% chance I would consider it if I met an amazing man who didn’t have any children and felt strongly about it. By next year that’ll be a 1% chance.

So just to recap: I don’t need your money, caretaking, or your sperm. I don’t need a ring or to be named on your life insurance. I don’t need your house.

In theory this should make my pursuit of a partner easier, but no. No, no, no. I’ll explain in a bit.

What I am interested in: a person who I can trust, someone to watch movies with, have conversations with, play chess with, laugh with, try new things with, eat dinner with, share ideas and experiences with, someone I can learn from…all things that require having a personality.

If you have none of this to bring to the table, then don’t text me. Don’t message me. Don’t call me.

This is why finding a partner at this point in my life is so challenging. It was easier for men to promise a woman marriage, babies, a home, family vacations, and all of the cliché partnership milestones. But in this stage of life, they are being expected to have a personality independent from their domestic potential, possess maturity and communication skills, have learned from their past mistakes, and must be able to show proof that they are working on a clear understanding of who they are and what they need to improve. In other words, they have to put effort and intentionality into the game.

Also, on the theme of effort, women generally expect men to cut their nails, work out, maintain basic hygiene, have gainful employment, manners, financial solvency, and express occasional thoughtful gestures, which may include flowers, but might be as simple as responding to our text messages in a timely manner.

And please: no pictures of your body parts. We’d rather see a receipt of your last therapy session.

An ideal male will continue these practices past the honeymoon phase of knowing the female. While she may tolerate your beer belly and the fact that you forgot her birthday again, she won’t respect you for it. Ever.

Finally, a man should have actual hobbies so we don’t become their only hobby, but those hobbies shouldn’t monopolize their time so much that they never have time for us. Does that make sense? If you don’t have time to regularly see us, maybe you should stay in a relationship with your work or hobbies or whatever else that is more of a priority. There is such a thing as you not having time for another human being. You should be very clear and upfront about those possible conflicts.

***We Want to Feel Safe***

Females live in a world where we are constantly fearing for our safety. If you are just meeting us, your immediate idea of Netflix and Chill potentially puts us in physical danger. When you remember to text us back and use complete sentences to communicate your thoughts and address our fears, you make us feel emotionally safe with you. When you leave us guessing what you are thinking or where your intentions are, we don’t feel safe. Women don’t like unsafe scenarios. Again, they may tolerate it in some cases, but they’ll never respect it.

In a recent random text message of the Netflix and Chill variety, I tried to point out to the clueless male that he might want to engage in some playful banter first and maybe indulge in some rapport building activities (in this pandemic world, maybe an online game of chess?) before assuming I’m interested in his chill. This not only makes me feel unsafe (major female violation), but it makes me feel like you put in absolutely no effort. I’m not impressed by half-assery.

On that note, what also makes us feel safe is when you take care of yourself, which goes for mental health and physical health. We feel safe when you are truthful with us and transparent. We feel safe when you stick to your words, keep promises, and show up when you say you will. We feel safe when you’re not getting drunk or high. We feel safe when you are reliable and show authentic interest in who we are. When you are supportive and respectful of our endeavors in life, we feel safe. Nothing makes a woman feel more warm and cozy than a man she never has to worry about.

Things that make us feel unsafe: indifference, jealousy, silence, narcissism, other females, feeling like an afterthought, diseases, pregnancy, COVID-19, dishonesty (which includes lying by omission), laziness.

But the very worst mistake a man can make?

Never learning his lesson.

I may have not wanted anything to do with you last year, but if you’re back with modifications because you’ve done some work on yourself, I’m willing to consider. But if you’re the same 1.0 version? Go back to middle school where you belong.

I once asked a man what he learned from his divorce. He shrugged and said, “nothing.”

Nothing? Really?

Nothing.

My life is too short for your lack of effort. But I also see that you have potential, so if you’re looking for a mature partnership that is not based on finances, procreation, or codependency, there will surely be a quality woman waiting to meet you. However, you need to put in the work. It would really suck to mess up potential companionship with a grown ass lady who would be loyal to you and possibly keep you fed all over your middle school blunders.

You know, I would love to find this kind of evolved male, but my happiness doesn’t hinge on it. I’ve been busy building a life full of happiness and joy that doesn’t require a partner, because honestly, there is way more to life than having a partner. Also, I don’t have an unlimited number of years left to find this unicorn. If your partner isn’t the icing on your cake, then you’ve chosen to settle with a steaming pile of manure. I refuse to waste my time with something that can attract flies. Yet, I have not lost faith that maybe, just maybe, there might be a thoughtful man left on earth who can make me laugh.

With love,

Teresa