Interview With Erika Napoletano: The Gal Behind Redhead Writing

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Editor’s note: This interview took place in April 2014.

Erika Napoletano, the personality behind Redhead Writing and brand consultant, author and speaker as well as comedian in training likes saying the word fuck. A lot.

Many may not call that very ladylike in modern day dating, but I’m a champion of anyone who is blatantly honest about who and what they are, and apparently so are many other people out there who follow her around for a daily dose of what she calls her Latest Bitch Slap, or a website whose tagline reads, “Good shit that helps you get shit done.” Fuck yeah, girl.

As a fellow firecracker (I didn’t get the moniker Mouth from the South for no reason), when she transplanted to Chicago from Colorado and posted on her Facebook wall about using a dating coach, I knew I had to corner Erika Napoletano to pick her brain on dating and men for the Secret Lives of Chicago Singles.


On Dating in Chicago:

“The difference between Denver and Chicago is night and day. The number of professional men here are astronomically higher, and there’s less of what I refer to as the ‘Peter Pan syndrome’, where everyone’s a startup, bike riding, rock climbing, kind of guy. I’ve also never felt like I didn’t know how the bill was being handled at the end of the night as I have in the past. I have found that one of the biggest differences here is men in the suburbs looking for women in Chicago. Like one guy from Naperville contacted me and I was like, “Well, couldn’t I just put you on a plate and soak you up with a biscuit? But you are in Naperville honey… that is a long distance relationship, and I just don’t want to take the Metra.” (Neither do we.)


On Dating in Your 40’s verses 30’s and 20’s:

“In my 40’s I’ve shifted from looking for a date to looking for a partner. And the emotionally maturity of men is different. When you get into your 40’s, you’ve got men with mileage under their belt and they have opinions about things that are not just, ‘Fuck that and fuck yeah.’ They know what they want from a family. But the biggest difference is probably me. I’m not the same girl that I was, and losing my previous boyfriend shattered me and realigned my priorities. Now, I don’t put up with shit, and I’m not afraid to let someone know who I am. Your goal isn’t to get men to fall in love with you but it’s to get the second date with them if you want to and then after that, the third. I also don’t chase anymore.”


On Online Dating:

“I first started in 2002 and became engaged to a man that I met on and it ended as it should have. After the passing of my boyfriend, I went on dating hiatus in 2010; I needed to heal. Right when I came out of that experience is when I moved to Chicago and decided to start over. One of the first things I did when I got here was start a profile on Match. I haven’t had any bad dates, I’ve just had… interesting dates. I’m actually seeing a few right now and one is actually a free-range organic male – AKA not online dating. It’s been fun.”


On Dating Multiple Men:

The only reason that I can date multiple men and why it works is because it’s not physical yet. I’m sure every girl says it, but I’m not that kind of gal. I don’t feel comfortable having a physical relationship until I know someone. I mean, we’ve all gone out and slipped on someone’s dick, but…”


On Online Dating Pet Peeves:

“I don’t know many men who would walk up to a girl and say, ‘I love red-heads, you are so sexy’ unless you were shit-house drunk, and don’t reach out to me if you haven’t read my profile. Or, the guy that reaches out to me who’s just way too old. Honey, I know I have daddy issues, but they are not that severe. I’ve worked through them and I don’t need a replacement. The absolute worse are the men who object when you don’t email them back. Hello, this is why you’re! Or what I recall the repeat offenders – if I haven’t gotten back to you, take a hint. You’re the annoying guy at the bar that the bouncer asks to leave. And if you can’t string a sentence together, um, I’m a writer – we’re not going to get along.”


On Men Not Being able to Write a Proper Email:

“Like, you’re not E.E. Cummings. When did you hit the ‘fuck it!’ button?”


On Selfies:

“You’re friends with girls – ask them to take a picture of you with your phone! I don’t want to see your phone in the mirror.”


On The Word Fuck:

“I don’t tell people what I do before we meet face-to-face because I want them to meet the person before they meet the persona. I do require people to have a healthy appreciation of the f-bomb, though.”


On the Dick Pic:

“A. Who are you attracting?! B. If you wouldn’t do it walking in a bar, I don’t want to see your dick.”


On Why Dating is Fucked Up:

“I think that a lot has happened over the past twenty years to fuck up dating and I think the feminist movement is partially to blame. There are many things that movement did for gender roles, but when it comes to dating, men are just confused.  Do they pay, do they not pay? Do they open the door? Will they insult her independence?”


On Being Independent:

“There’s a difference between being capable and knowing you can do it, and telling a man that you don’t need them. I used to do the opposite, but you have to make them feel needed.”


On When to Have Sex:

“When you’ve defined the relationship.”


On Deal Breakers:

“Generally, military guys. I’ve been a military wife and I didn’t like it. They’re just too conservative. Also someone who speaks ill of their ex or won’t stop talking about them. Definite deal breaker.”


On Her Golden Girls Pick:

“Betty White – she’s just plain spoken with a heart of gold. You never have to know what she’s thinking. She’s also got a little bit of goof to her.”


Final Dating Words of Wisdom:

“Judge the men you date by how you feel when you’re not around them. A guy who is not interested is a guy who doesn’t care once you walk out the front door.”

For more Erika Napoletano, check out her awesome TedxBoulder talk, Rethinking Unpopular. Or follow her @RedHeadWriting for a daily dose of WTF?


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