I’m often told that I’m hard on people because of my tough love approach. Especially when regurgitating my unpopular opinions on the female/male dynamic. I openly admit, I may come across as abrasive, but if I were a man, there’d be barely, if any, qualms with my directness. Why does the truth sting so much coming from a woman?

But, as the old adage goes, when you love someone, you try to warn them.

I’m here to warn you.

A parable, if you will.

I once lived with a man — a friend. Former friend now. In keeping with his privacy — for what it’s worth — we’ll call him Newark. Though we had a years-long flirtation that led to a dalliance of sorts, this particular arrangement was neither romantic nor sexual. Nary the least bit lascivious in nature. We had terribly different standards of living and were not without our issues; but he, in essence, put a roof over my head and didn’t ask me for anything in return. I would get peeved when he wouldn’t at least take some of my money for bills. It was the least I could do as we were not amorously involved, and he was doing me a favor. When I asked why, he said that he knew I wasn’t working at the time, and I could use that money to aid in saving for my future transition. I made sure the house stayed clean. Because I’m OCD. Seriously. Like, clinically. I wouldn’t, however, take out the trash, because that’s never a woman’s job with an able-bodied man around. But the house would always look its best.

I recount all of the above to make a point. Sis, if your relationships don’t, at minimum, start and progress with a man offering you something useful (real support surfaces in myriad ways) in return for your emotional fortification, hardships, time and energy — whether he’s a friend, lover, homie lover friend — he’s useless. And a complete waste of your time and energy altogether. Depending on the juncture of the alliance, wasting your breath or unlimited monthly texts on him is also unacceptable.

I make it a habit not to surround myself longevity-wise with ANY men who don’t benefit me in a way I deem valuable. If you’re in a bind, a man should be able to quell your distress. Men should protect you from actual physical danger; defend you, especially when other men disrespect you or pose a threat; finance you out of a jam (even if only temporarily, depending on your relationship); have a vasectomy when you did all the heavy-lifting of carrying the children, putting your actual life on the line to birth them and possibly dealing with post-partum depression; or do something that will make your life easier. By your standards. Period.

My rule of thumb is. . .if he can’t save you money, or offer you some, don’t fuck him or fuck with him. YOU, dear sister, are entirely too precious for anything less. Your pussy is far too valuable for such nonsense. So is your makeup. Hello! $50 foundation. So is the force behind your first impression game. Because exactly no one is looking forward to you showing up in pajamas.

I learned as a teenager not to bother with any men who beeped the horn for me to come outside when arriving to pick me up for dates. Papa Joe taught me that, and the lesson extended far beyond what probably seems, to millennials, a harmless act. I left a date once because the guy refused to open my car door. Because seriously, what would that have cost him but a few extra steps? I take most everything men say with a grain of salt, unless it’s backed up by action that I have witnessed. While some might consider this pessimism and exercising a “negative” attitude, it’s a smart move and has spared me more heartache and life force than I dare recount.

I have an uncle whom I love dearly, but is (was?) a serial cheater. He’s been married thrice, and probably shouldn’t have been married once. The second time, he ended up marrying the woman he cheated on his first wife with. A man who marries you after cheating with you and actually stays faithful for the duration of your commitment, is the exception, not the rule. And guess what? My uncle was not the exception. He cheated on the woman he had cheated with, then married. . .with another woman. Then, a third woman decided to marry him. While they were married, he once showed up to my house with a woman that I will love and adore for life— but was not his wife. Practically needless to say, he and his most recent w