I love to cook, I love to cook for friends, family, significant others and even coworkers. I have a natural affinity for food and people, and when the two come together, I’m in a state of bliss.  And since I take food very seriously, ladies please listen to me when I say this: STOP COOKING FOR MEN (especially unworthy men) SO SOON! (note all caps and exclamation point).

I know it’s tough. Our whole lives we’ve heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and while I agree to an extent–because I can almost guarantee there are many other ways, and I’m not talking sexual ways either–it can be just as dangerous to cook for a man too soon as it would be to take off your clothes too soon. Unless, of course,  you want simple, meaningless sex, but I am not ok with meaningless meals.

There is something special about a woman who knows how to cook and also enjoys preparing food. It’s impressive and it can absolutely bring people closer together, especially considering some women feel cooking for others is degrading or old school. So the girl who loves to cook does stand out as an all-star in the eyes of many men, but some women need to be more strategic about how and when all of this pot slinging and high heels in the kitchen is happening.  Now a few probably wont agree or like what is being said, and that’s understandable because it’s not easy being deprogrammed, but to the woman who wants to feel appreciated for the long term and not be left alone sitting on her kitchen floor gazing at her grocery receipt wondering why bacon-wrapped steak, roasted baby red potatoes, sautéed spinach and homemade cheesecake didn’t keep him around–listen up.

In this rough, tumultuous dating game there are a lot of factors, and sad to say, and there has to be a little strategy and game playing that takes place.  Men usually know what a woman is looking for, and as soon as they feel she is trying to get him “hog-tied” and to the altar by dangling a hot plate in front of his face, he will eat the food, take the cute Tupperware she packed him for lunch the next day and be out the door and on to his next date. And who is that date?  Not you. It’s the girl who will meet him for a drink, order food for herself and send him home wanting more. Why? It’s simple, she doesn’t need him and that drives him crazy because he sees her as a challenge.

Now, many men think they are hot commodities, and this idea is bolstered by news reports, movies, articles and celebrities deeming themselves as relationships experts. Some men nowadays seem to think that they are completely irresistible to every single woman who catches a whiff of their Axe body spray (and don’t even start on the ones who feel having a degree and a job is like holding one of the coveted Willy Wonka golden tickets), and when you’re too eager to cook for a man, especially a rotten man who feels entitled to your delicious culinary skills, it’s a recipe for disaster.

He smells it, he knows it and he thinks he has you caught up in his web and before you know it you’re picking up his dry cleaning and walking his dog. But don’t let him get you tangled up, show him that you’re smarter than that, and being smarter doesn’t mean being evil and abrasive or letting him starve, it just means that you’re not trying to overcompensate or win him over with your skills so early on in the relationship.

Let him work for it and after a few months you can show him that when you cook for someone it’s from a serious place of love, and more importantly, a love for yourself because you think your cooking is delectable and spiritual and only lucky people get to taste it. But before then?  Eating out, letting him cook, eating simply prepared foods or ordering in will suffice.  By the time you start making beautiful treats he will be so grateful that it will never go unnoticed, because there was a sequence of events that took place before you graced him with all your talents.

Once you begin doing things a certain way in the beginning of a relationship it is often times expected and usually taken for granted, which can be hurtful and frustrating. For example, if I spend the day cooking a nice meal, the least my honey can do is wash dishes or buy a nice bottle of wine, and lets face it, preparing grandiose feasts on the regular can quickly lose its novelty and cause you to feel burned out and pissed off when you aren’t getting what you want and nobody wants an ungrateful, expectant man…nobody.

While there isn’t a script or official rulebook for dating, everyone will have their own thoughts or opinions, but for someone like me who stays up late at night reading food magazines and daydreaming about the new knife I can’t wait to try out, making a meal on the first date is way too personal in my cookbook.

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