By: Jenny Foughner

Some of you may have, as I did, attended a liberal arts college, which means that some of you are probably cringing at the implications of this very anti-progressive title. All gender politics aside, I think that, when it comes to dating, sometimes, men need to be men and women need to be women. I don’t mean to suggest that we revert to a patriarchy in which women are naught but glittery hood ornaments, but I do think that the majority of complaints I hear from females center around men who are not standing up and being “men”; in other words, men who let their immaturity dictate how they act in a way that Don Draper, Cary Grant or Jack Donaghy never, ever would. So. If you can forgive me this slightly more-18th-than-21st-century premise, then I invite you to learn the five incredibly simple steps you can take towards manning up in ways that will wow your lady like no other.

Tell her how you feel

Aside from their ability to conceal spontaneous erections, men can be told apart from boys by how willingly they share their feelings, whether good, bad or indifferent. Boys try to be funny, say stupid things and avoid at all costs conversations in which they must admit something about themselves. Men, on the other hand, articulate their feelings when necessary. It’s that simple. I’m not saying you have to gush and faint and carry on like a nutter; rather, I’m telling you that if you are so afraid of your own emotions that you can’t think logically about something you’re feeling and then put it into words on a semi-regular basis, then you’d better figure out what to do about it, because no real woman is going to put up with those types of shenanigans for very long.

Here’s a simple recipe for success: if you think you have a feeling, say it out loud. If you’re nervous to tell this feeling to the person about whom you’re having it, then tell it to a friend and ask that friend how it sounds. If the feeling is bad, then practice saying it nicely and be prepared to discuss it (briefly, logically and calmly). If the feeling is good, then by all means, say it loud and say it often, because whomever you’re feeling it about really, REALLY wants to hear it. Consider it your emotional bar mitzvah, because at the moment you translate feelings into spoken words, you, my child, will have become a man.

Plan a date to remember

You’ve probably heard me say a thousand times (or at least three) that the key to a successful date is planning. Guess what? I’mma say it again. Planning, planning and planning are the three steps to achieving an epically awesome date, whether you’re having a floor picnic or jetting off to Dubai for the weekend (after all, foresight is, among just a few other things, what distinguishes humans from the rest of the animal world). Use this to your advantage! Even if you only whisk your ladyfriend off for an evening of wining and dining once every six months, the simple fact that you took the time to decide what to do ahead of time will make her feel like a trillion pesos (they tell me the exchange rate is getting better). It’ll also make you look like a Man with a capital Mmmmmmmm.

Take charge in the boudoir

Since we’ve shared so many little secrets over the past few months, I feel comfortable admitting to you that I was a cheerleader in a past life. To this day, the cheer that sticks with me most is the one wherein we spelled ‘aggressive’ (an impressive feat for vacuous teens in short skirts) and encouraged our team to be exactly that throughout the match or game or whatever it was we were enthusiastically yelling about. I am now compelled to do the very same thing right here in this blogbox: Be. Aggressive. B-e-a-g-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e. In bed. (Or on the couch, counter, table, floor, etc. and so on.) I know how much you enjoy laying there and letting her do the work, but I also know that even take-charge gals don’t want to be the aggressors all of the time. In fact, most women I know would prefer to be taken on a journey of hot sexual satisfaction by a knowledgeable guide rather than plan the trip themselves.

The key to starring in this rip-roaring ride known as Indiana Jones and the Cave of Wonders is simple: take charge .Make a move. If you’re in a committed relationship, then what the knob are you doing not going after the bootay every chance you get? That’s the POINT of monogamy, after all. If you’re with someone you’ve just met, then it’s slightly trickier, but after a few dates – and as long you don’t have unreasonably high sexpectations – it is completely acceptable to make an effort to take your physical relationship to the next level. If you don’t, whoever you’re halfheartedly trying to seduce will remain clueless as to your true intentions and have exasperated conversations with her friends about how upsetting it is that you don’t want her That Way. The horror. Think about that, and then think about how much you want to see her naked. The choice (to me, anyway) seems simple.

Pursue your passion

Listen. I know we all get whiney sometimes (I’m an only child, and I’ll let you decide for yourselves what that means). But if you’re toiling away at a thankless job having decided that the light at the end of the tunnel burned out, then you’re doing yourself no favors in life or in your relationship; dead-end professional pursuits crush not only souls, but also affection. It is, of course, completely acceptable to feel sorry for yourself every now and again, but if the pity parties are becoming a regular occurrence, then you’re clearly in need of a serious Manning Up. Your woman doesn’t want to be in a relationship with a wiener, no matter how much she enjoys playing with yours.

When the going gets tough, the tough stay at it. This means that you shouldn’t worry that your partner is going to leave you if you suddenly find yourself in the midst of an existential crisis, but if she stays with you, then you absolutely have a responsibility to take meaningful action in order to get yourself out of crisis mode. Your other choice, of course, is to end up with a terrible job and no girlfriend; in other words, a pretty sad, not-at-all-manly place to be.

Introduce her to your friends

If you’ve been “seeing,” “hanging out with” or “hooking up with” someone for an extended period of time, eventually you’ll have to decide whether she’s meet-the-friends material or stop-hanging-with-so-often material. Why do you have to make this distinction, you ask? Because that’s just how things go. They have a trajectory, and eventually, no matter how much your inner Peter Pan dislikes the idea, your casual relationship has to grow up into either a slightly less casual relationship or no relationship at all. Sometimes this transition takes weeks, and sometimes years, but eventually it happens to all of us.

Now, I’d never go so far as to suggest that you introduce her to your family at this point – you don’t want to get too serious too fast, after all – but your friends are like a family gateway drug; not only are they the people with whom you spend most of your non-work, non-sex time, but they know you as well as anyone in this world, and they’ll know immediately whether or not this girl is right for you. See? It’s a win all around. And if you’re worried about breaking up and having to deal with awkwardness, then consider the fact that these were your friends first, and then stop being a baby and worrying about things that will never happen.