Susan Winter is an author and relationship expert. She has a piece here on the Huffington Post titled, "9 Months, 98 Men, Here's What I've Learned."
The short version is that Ms. Winter says upfront that she hates dating, but prefers relationships to grow "organically." But to satisfying the noodging of her friends and family, she decided to say "yes" to any man who asked her out on a date, and in doing so went on 98 dates in nine months.
I'm not going to analyze everything she wrote. Some of it was very smart, some head-scratching. Basically, she found dating as unappealing as she thought she would, with women being "forced to buy new clothes and makeup" and men always dangling "toys" in front of the woman to impress them.
It's unclear from her article whether these were all first dates, or if anything led to follow-ups and more substantive relationships, if only briefly. I suspect not, though, because a) I think she'd have said so, and b) if they had, then that meant some dates had gone at least reasonably well, and from what she writes it seems like zero did. From all she describes, it was a pretty horrible experience.
In the end, she noted about her effort, "And after having tried my hand at 98 men, I can honestly say that I'm exhausted at the attempt."
Though not wanting to break down everything she wrote, I did, however, feel the interest to do something I rarely do, and that's send her a comment.
What I wrote was --
"Ms. Winter, not to agree or disagree, but if you went to the theater 98 times in nine months, honestly I suspect most anyone would be 'exhausted at the attempt.' If you simply got a car wash 98 times in nine months, you'd be exhausted at the attempt. (Though at least you'd have an awfully clean car...) Dating may or may not be problematic. But 98 dates in nine months seems less like dating and more like Demolition Derby. Or dunking for apples."
She wrote a thoughtful reply back, though largely reiterated the thesis of her article.
As I said, she had some reasonable observations. But when someone has removed the filter from their life, it comes across like they're more looking for an excuse. It's like saying, "I don't like wine, but fine, I'll try it to make you happy" -- and then buy the cheapest brand you can find, get it by the gallon, and just start pouring it down your gut. Did you drink wine? Sure. Did you give it a fair shot? C'mon, hardly.
And when you write that a woman is "forced" to buy new clothes before dating, again that's looking for excuses and someone to blame. Most men (to generalize) are clueless when it comes to clothes and couldn't care less what the woman is wearing, as long as its as little as possible and easily removed. Besides, if these are all first dates, no man knows what you wore any time before. And it seems unlikely that many would care. Yes, there are times when a woman might feel pressure to buy new clothes -- but from what I've long been told by women, the pressure more often than not comes from feeling she has to compete with other women.
(I remember being at work several years back, and one day the department's fashion plate came storming into my office. She threw her arms out and cried in angst, "Bob! You've been wearing the same pants for the past month!" -- and then turned and stormed off. It was pretty funny, I have to admit. But to be clear and in self-defense, it wasn't same pants. I just happened to have three pairs of khaki Dockers. I liked khaki Dockers. I still do. Speaking only personally -- though I don't think I'm the rare, uncommon exception -- why in the world would I have cared one whit if a woman had worn the same outfit before on a date?! Like many guys, I was just happy she'd said she would go out with me.)
Anyway, at the conclusion of her 98 dates in nine months (which for those without an abacus, works out to about one date every 2-1/2 days!), Ms. Winter wraps up her experience by writing in her final paragraph --
"So, while I've satisfied my friends and family with giving dating a fair shot,"
(Sorry, I have to interrupt that last paragraph. No, you didn't give dating a fair shot. You didn't leave any room or breathing space for a fair shot. If you're saying yes to everyone who asks you out, there's close to no elbow space to develop anything into a relationship because you have another day coming along at eight o'clock.)
Anyway, back to her conclusion. She finishes by writing --
"I still prefer the old-school method of connection where I'm just doing my thing and happen to meet someone special. Whether walking my dog or at the gym, I'm where I want to be while living the life I love. And we meet. Naturally. Organically. The spark we find serves as our connection. We merge."
"We merge"?? Seriously? Again, as I said, she makes a lot very valid points in her view of dating. But just as similarly has some skewed perceptions. And I think when you start playing mumbo-jumbo word games like this, then the likelihood of skewing increases geometrically. If you happen to meet someone and go out...it's a date. And if you think instead that you're "merging" with someone, sorry, no, you actually just went on...a date.
But all that would ruin her thesis and talking point. So, you make up words and concepts to explain it away. Dating can be hellish and okay. There is only one thing that is close to certain -- if you go on 98 dates in nine months, it will indeed by exhausting.
7/15/2014 07:45:53 am
I'm amazed that she just didn't give it up, early on, and call up someone that she knew instead, to clear her head. She must have done it hoping for an article in the Huffington Post. Her friends couldn't have wanted her to overload unpleasantly, like that.
7/15/2014 07:55:42 am
Who knows? She's written some books, and has had TV appearance, but this effort just seemed so deeply misguided. All the more odd because many of the things she writes are reasonable. But the focus and process is SO off-base.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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