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According to certain people on the Internets, men just don’t know how to approach women anymore. Because feminism apparently gives these men mixed messages. Or maybe it’s the fear of street-harassment whistles. Or Planned Parenthood. Or Beyoncé’s “7/11” video. Either way, (some) men are apparently confused as hell, because “Hey, it’s probably not the best idea to make a woman feel unsafe when you approach her” is, apparently, a very confusing concept.

And now, instead of actually dating, marrying and being fruitful and s—t with actual human women, some of these men are forced to spend all day on Twitter, lamenting the lost opportunities and retweeting memes about Spanx.

Fortunately, I’m here today to clear up some of this confusion. 

1.  Don’t scare the f—k out of her.

This is key. It is, apparently, very difficult to get a positive romantic reaction from the object of your affection if, from your approach, she can’t tell if you intend to steal her iPhone or not. Potential things that can scare the f—k out of her include (but are not limited to) “screaming at her from a car,” “literally hollering at her while she’s just standing or waiting somewhere,” and “barking like an actual dog.” And no, dogs aren’t scary. But humans barking like dogs on city streets is scary as f—k.

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2. If she looks like she doesn’t want to be approached … don’t assume she really wants to act out Beyoncé lyrics with you.

I know, I know, I know. Sometimes earphones or a conversation she’s having with another person or a look of “I really don’t want to speak to anyone right now” or actual tears in a woman’s eyes can be confusing. It’s clearly a mixed message because she’s saying, “Don’t talk to me,” but you’re seeing, “She totally wants me to Monica Lewinsky all on her gown.”

But, going forward, you should probably err on the side of caution and assume that body language saying “Please don’t talk to me right now” doesn’t actually mean “I wanna ride you with my surfbort. Surfbort. Surfbort.” It’s safer for everyone that way.

3. Leave your grandmama’s basement.

Numerous studies, both empirical and academic, have found that it’s near impossible to approach, date, court, sleep with and even actually see any women if your entire day is spent in your grandmama’s basement, tweeting about how difficult it is to approach, date, court and sleep with any actual women.

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It’s just like that ancient proverb: One cannot catch a fish on Pornhub. Because Pornhub has no water. Hence, no fish.

4. Don’t be a telemarketer.

You know how, if a telemarketer happens to catch you on the phone and asks if you want to buy eight canoes for the very low price of $499.99, and you say, “No. Why on earth would I need eight canoes?” And they’re like, “Well, how about eight canoes for $199.99?” And you’re like, “Where the hell would I even put all these canoes? I live in a studio apartment.” And they’re like, “OK. Just today, I’ll give you three canoes for 25 cents,” and then you finally hang up the phone, still confused about this randomly specific bulk-canoe-marketing scheme?

Well, that’s kinda what happens when you approach a woman, she says, “I have a boyfriend,” and you follow up with, “Does your boyfriend let you have friends?” Your thirst is the eight canoes here. And you don’t want to be eight homeless canoes.

5. Use simple words.

“Hi” often works. As does “Hello.” And “Hey.” Basically, if it could have worked as the title of a Lionel Richie song, it’s probably OK to use.

6. Ask her to tell you her big-chop story.

This has been proved to be a highly effective strategy to get urban and professional black women to engage you. Just, however, be prepared to listen for the next 45 to 135 minutes. You should probably bring a stool.

Also on Very Smart Brothas:

The Light-Skinned Revolution Is Here, and It’s Been Televised. It’s Called Empire

Ask Agatha: Bullying, How to Trick a Man Into Marriage and Spoon Booty

Exactly How Fired Would Jack Kelly Have Been if He Wrote About the Holocaust Instead of Slavery?

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Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com.