A love letter to Single, Straight Men (7 ways to respect the women you date)

Dear SSM (Single, Straight Men),

This isn’t a traditional love letter, but believe me it comes from a place of love. I know there’s always been a lot of perceived pressure on you to be an archetypical “man” who is tough and emotionless. It must not be easy to exist in a society that sees vulnerability as effeminate and a sign of weakness. I know you may make at least 21 cents more than us and you might have access to more career opportunities, but I mean it when I say: It must not be easy to be you.

The reality is, toxic masculinity, gender inequality, and our old school patriarchy make it difficult for all of us. Like you, we have preconceived notions of what it means to be a woman. Many of us have been conditioned not to be sexy, and not to be vocal about our point of view. But that’s not what it means to be a woman today: We’re confident, independent and strong ladies, and we want you to learn how to support that.

We both know there is a growing disconnect between us and this division keeps getting wider. I know articulating one’s emotions and engaging in an honest dialogue isn’t easy. But in Trump’s America, we all need to put our best selves forward. So, I decided to speak with 50 women from all different ages and backgrounds, to find out what they want from men. And I thought you might like to know.

Here are 7 things that will help get us on the same page:

We appreciate honesty and directness.

Confrontation doesn’t have to be dramatic or awkward. Be upfront and communicate in a constructive, kind way. Tell us if something is bothering you, or you’re not vibing with us or even if you met someone else. It’s ok if you don’t see this going anywhere. The truth is, there won’t be a spark with everyone. That’s what makes it special. We’d rather you tell us than waste our time, or yours. We promise we will give you the same respect and courtesy. Though you may have been raised to think otherwise, we find men who are comfortable being vulnerable to be intelligent and sexy.

Don’t just occupy our time or space to fill your own needs.

Don’t string us along or pretend you’re looking for something more if you just want to get laid. Women have hormones too and we get it, society makes it more acceptable for you to be horny, but that doesn’t give you a free pass to jerk us around. If you’re only looking for sex, tell us. Maybe that’s all we want too. But if you’re not sure if we want to be intimate, listen to our body language and ask us where our head is at. If we seem uncomfortable physically, take a second to think about the alternatives: maybe we’re not ready or sometimes we’re just not in the mood. Either way, this should be okay with you.

Get to know us for who we really are.

Be curious about our lives, our hopes and dreams. Ask us deep questions and engage us in meaningful dialogue. Ask us about our career goals, upsets and life struggles. Ask us how our day went, say goodnight or good morning, and let us be part of your world. Let’s show our true colors and share our lives with each other: its problems, happy moments, tears, smiles, pizzas and photographs. Let’s be our true selves together.

Show up for us and yourself.

Be a man of your word. Follow through on the plans you make with us and the things you say you’ll do. Respond to our text messages in a timely manner, and have compassion when we feel like you’re not giving us enough attention. That doesn’t make us needy, it just means that we care about you. Support us in our endeavors, our struggles and our accomplishments. Show us we can count on you to be there through it all. We will be there for you too.

You don’t have to have it all figured out.

We don’t expect you to be perfect or have all the answers. You don’t have to be the 100% best version of you to date us. We both have insecurities and we’re still figuring ourselves out too. Throw away the notion that men have to support a family, be a shoulder to lean on, and the breadwinner. Let’s take this slow and focus on getting to know each other better for now. Plus, we can be a rock too, and we want a relationship in which we both grow together. A relationship is a partnership and we want you to know you can lean on us too. We’re stronger than you think!

You’re allowed to have a life outside of us.

We respect your personal space. We like that you have hobbies, friends and a career. We have a full life, too. So if you need time apart, that’s cool, just say so. We also want time apart to do our own thing. We like independence in a relationship just as much as you do. But don’t disappear because you’re busy, be upfront and communicate that you just need some time apart.

Don’t disappear when things get serious or awkward.

Be responsive even when you’ve had a bad day or you feel like shit. We know what that feels like too, and we’re not judging you. Be open minded to the possibility that we can help — maybe we can distract you, offer a different lens to see the day through, or simply provide a much needed laugh, smile or kiss. And if you do need time to yourself, that’s okay, just tell us. Tough times suck, but it’s worse to cop out, or run away without an explanation. Instead, try to see it from our perspective. I know we have different ways of understanding, interpreting, and seeing the world, so let’s agree to have compassion for each other’s point of view. Listen to our opinion and acknowledge our feelings before you respond or act, and we will do the same for you. Respect means having empathy even if you don’t agree with our perspective.

In 2018, we want to date men who make us feel valued, validated and safe. We want to surround ourselves with gentlemen who are open to our point of view, who are in touch with their emotions and not afraid to share them. Whether the truth brings us closer together or leads to us going our separate ways, both scenarios are better for the universal us. We’re all adults here, and ghosting, benching or breadcrumbing each other is just not acceptable behavior anymore. So, let’s work together to coexist better in this world. This is a two way street and both of us need to put in the effort. Let’s make a pact to not let each other down: from here on out, let’s tell each other how we feel and genuinely listen to one another; let’s support each other in our journeys, let’s respect each other and have empathy and compassion for one another.

We mean it when we say: we’re rooting for you. We want to lift you up to, and we want partners who want to lift us up too.

Love,

SSW (Straight, Single Women)

P.S. You got this!