I’m always getting really interesting emails from girls all over the world and I love reading all of them, but this email in particular really got to me and I thought it was important that I share the question and my response.

Q: I saw your post on Instagram about the older gentleman you went out to dinner with who offered you lots of professional advice. My mentor is an older man and he says that all men will want sex from me (or pretty girls in general) in exchange for professional favors and that I should do it in order to get what I want in life. I’ve told him that don’t want to be that kind of girl. What would you advise?

Sweetie, listen. That man is NOT your mentor. Or at least he shouldn’t be. Mentors are supposed to be people who guide you and shape you into a better person—both personally and professionally. It’s not their job to pressure you into compromising your morals or into putting yourself in situations you are uncomfortable with. Perhaps that is the path he took or what he thinks is the best option in life, in which case I’d strongly suggest you find someone else to seek advice from.

He says that all men will want sex from you and that seizing those opportunities are the key to success. He’s right and dead ass wrong at the same time. I, in some ways, agree that most men you meet will want to have sex with you. But I think it’s important to understand the difference between a man who just wants to have sex with you and one who would have sex with you. And though it may be hard to tell the difference sometimes, there IS, in fact, a difference. Humans are sexual beings and there’s nothing wrong with being sexually attracted to people that you come in contact with–no matter what capacity you meet them in. But I don’t think it’s fair to men—or to yourself—to just assume that they will see no other value in you. Not all men put their sexual desires above all else. There are plenty of men who—despite their attraction to you—will place higher value on your friendship, your professional network/contacts, or just who you are as a person. Men who wouldn’t compromise the benefits of all of those things for a quick roll around in the sheets with you. THOSE are the men you should be building relationships with. Not the ones your “mentor” advocates for.

As for his suggestion that you sleep with these men in order to get ahead? LORD, DON’T MAKE ME CURSE! It is not our purpose as women to bend and fold to every request of men simply because they are men or out of fear of being a failure without their help. I have never been approached by anyone in a professional setting and asked for sex or felt that was the expectation. (Although I know for a fact it happens.) Even the Swiss guy I went to dinner with didn’t make any sexual advances towards me. Yes, he expressed that he thought I was a beautiful woman and I’m sure that if I’d offered he would have perhaps taken me up on my offer, but that was not his sole or even primary agenda. I’d like to think that speaks of both his character and mine. While there will be plenty of men who will try you just because they weren’t raised right, there are also plenty of men who have good sense. Perhaps your “mentor” is used to interacting with women who aren’t confident in their own abilities and therefore are desperate to get on by “getting down.” (Although my guess is he’s a male chauvinist pig.) You don’t have to be that woman if that’s not what you want. Seek help. Seek advice. But NEVER make a man think he is your only option and that you can’t be successful without his handouts. Because you can! Any man—or woman—who tells you that what’s between your legs is more beneficial to your success than what’s between your ears is not worth keeping around. The key to success is surrounding yourself with like minded individuals, people who will push you to be better & pick you up when you fall—not encourage you to roll around in dirt—and a LOT of hard work. Your success is not defined by how many men you allow to use you for their amusement (there are plenty of broke, unsuccessful woman who can attest to that), but rather by how hard you work at achieving your goals. You don’t have to “sleep-up”, just SHOW UP and SHOW OUT! Now go get ’em girl!