OPINION: Letter to the Editor: March 29, 2013

Guest Contributor

Published: Friday, March 29th, 2013

Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had

Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out — here’s what you really need to know that nobody is telling you.

For years (decades, really) we have been bombarded with advice on professional advancement, breaking through that glass ceiling and achieving work-life balance. We can figure that out — we are Princeton women. If anyone can overcome professional obstacles, it will be our brilliant, resourceful, very well-educated selves.

Read the rest of the letter at http://dailyprincetonian.com/2013/03/29/32755/


832 thoughts on “OPINION: Letter to the Editor: March 29, 2013

  1. In terms of controversy, this article is a tadpole. If the Princetonian elects to cave to any internet pressures on this, in any way whatsoever, then the Princetonian should elect to close its publication thereafter.

    • Ms. Patton advice is so retro it’s actually modern. The priority young women put on career advancement vs. family is scary. She makes valid points that the opportunities for men and women are different as they mature. While the other societies (Arab, Indian, African etc) have flourishing demographics, we are shortsightedly cheering up for the “career woman”.

      If she was a simple mom telling her state school daughter to marry a colleague rather than a GED construction worker, her opinion would have been left at just that, a personal opinion. I find it worrisome we have so much anger towards people like Ms. Patton, that we become a bully society trying to take away her right to express an opinion.

  2. Found this via twitter, then I had to find the article…

    I’m an intelligent man, an autodidact, in fact, and being older and having just remarried to a much younger, (and much more intelligent) woman, I get to be the father I always wanted to be. My ex didn’t want children. There are multiple ways to look at this. I can totally see where the author is coming from. Just as I can see why so many other women are denouncing her for sexism & condescension, etc.

    From an male perspective you have to reconcile yourself to the fact that in the West, the bright women are brittle. But as an intelligent man, you have a choice, as Patton notes, of either marrying a bright woman, or marry a pretty dumb one. The problem with that is, that as a bright guy, you need a woman who can keep up, (and keep you on your toes), otherwise it is all too easy to get lazy, and baffle your spouse with bullshit. That is a great temptation for many and never leads anywhere good. As a man you need to respect, and perhaps even, to fear your wife. Though again psychology teaches us that both parties will be happier if the women is prettier.

    The longer view is from a fascinating article by a Professor of psychology, titled, “What’s good about men”: http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm

    From which this is lifted:

    “The Most Underappreciated Fact
    The first big, basic difference has to do with what I consider to be the most underappreciated fact about gender. Consider this question: What percent of our ancestors were women?

    It’s not a trick question, and it’s not 50%. True, about half the people who ever lived were women, but that’s not the question. We’re asking about all the people who ever lived who have a descendant living today. Or, put another way, yes, every baby has both a mother and a father, but some of those parents had multiple children.”

    He then goes on to say that in the history of the species, 80% of all women have given birth to only 40% of the men. Or as I like to think of them, “life’s winners” From which all men are descended.

    From a species perspective, those bright women who chose not to have kids, are writing themselves, and possibly their maternal line, out the gene pool. Which is OK, as the rest of the women will pick up the slack. From that perspective fertile women have always been more valuable than men. We are perishable, and approx 60% of all men who have ever lived, never made it. Never had kids, and thus have vanished from history, and the gene pool, almost without trace.

    Though I did like the advice I once saw for younger boys and girls:

    For girls, all boys are basically the same.
    For boys, all girls are different.

    Where Patton rings most true for me is when it chimes with Katie Bolick in the Atlantic, “all the single ladies” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/all-the-single-ladies/308654/

    “What my mother could envision was a future in which I made my own choices. I don’t think either of us could have predicted what happens when you multiply that sense of agency by an entire generation.

    But what transpired next lay well beyond the powers of everybody’s imagination: as women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind. We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up—and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.”

    It’s funny, but it’s also a little sad. But as the song goes, “it’s different for girls” smart men usually have choices.

    Disclosure: I’m European, and an interested and often baffled observer of the American battle of the sexes. It’s fascinating. Though I would never marry an American. My first wife was Chinese, I divorced her. My new wife is Eastern European and much much more like my mother’s generation. As a intelligent man, it may have taken me seven years, but I learnt my lessons well.

    I wish you all luck, and hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for.

    • alot of needy people out there- wow the push to get married is a big one- the push to find someone is big – some prefer to be left the f alone and are quite happy- enough with this stupid agenda.

      • its not an agenda, its the truth.
        the good book says ask and you shall receive, young people from her alma mater asked her for her wisdom regarding marriage in the future and she being a good alumnus answered not just for her own favored alumnus daughters, but all college women. when i was a college age many years ago, i had no guidance whatsoever regarding the dating pool and social world. maybe i was a dweeb or maybe i was too focused on school because education was considered top priority in my family. above and beyond love. that’s kind of not acceptable.

        • or maybe having parents who married much later in life, they knew something younger people didn’t know. my parents are 40 years older than me and i am their oldest child. to me, it was always ok to wait till at least their age to get married. i don’t want to be married to a jerk who doesn’t respect women. and let’s face it, men don’t have the respect for women that they should. there is still sexual harassment these days even if sexual discrimination has lessened. and women are guilty of sexually harassing other women. if the word ‘whore’ is a regular term in your vocabulary, then you my dear users of the word are not marriage material.

    • Oh good, you married someone like your mother. Talking about the Oedipal complex. Regarding this article, I feel sorry for her. She is obviously lonely. I got into Princeton but went to MIT instead. I married someone who is patient, kind, a devoted father. He is smart, but not an Ivy-leaguer. I am glad I did not go to Princeton. I am certain that there are many wonderful people there. However, i would have been stifled by such old and dated thoughts about society.

      • My mother is the women I know best, and she’s of a different generation, one of the original feminist wave, she has a bit of chain link fence at home from her time at Greenham common peace camp:


        She’s amazing resilient, capable and resourceful. The first time I got married, I did the “love” thing. This time I thought about the kind of woman I wanted and went looking for her.

        So yes, in as much as I looked at the younger generation in the West, and decided against them, I went looking looking for somebody with the same character and resilience as my mother. If that makes me Oedipus, then so be it.

        What I expressly did not want was a “modern” woman.

  3. Finally, someone is talking about something that needs to be discussed openly and candidly. Too many young people are missing out on the opportunity to have a family because of the pursuit/demands of a career. This is unfortunate for women because the biological clock is a reality and the more time spent in pursuit of a career, the less time there is to mate and procreate.

    Despite what many of us have been led to believe, there is never a perfect time to marry and have a family. If you wait for the perfect opportunity, it may never materialize. I have encouraged my children to marry and have a family before it is too late. I have seen many of my friends miss the chance to become parents because they were too busy or did not have time. Time passes quickly and, before we know it, we are too old.

    While I agree with Susan Patton that college is the perfect time to meet a mate, I do not agree with her presumption that all smart people attend Princeton or Ivy League schools. Her view is somewhat limited by arrogance and righteousness. Let’s be honest, because circumstances vary among people, not all smart people are able to enroll in college. There are smart, interesting people everywhere. We cannot allow our prejudices to cloud our vision.

    In my view, college is something that is used to occupy young people and delay entry into the workforce. There are too many people enrolled in college and mounting debts they may never be able to repay. Most entry level jobs can be performed right out of high school and do not require an advanced degree. Today’s abysmal economy cannot absorb the young people graduating from college and our youth are woefully underemployed, but that is an entirely different subject.

    Who is to say that college is the only place to meet a mate? I met my husband at the pool where I worked in the summer. What is wrong with meeting someone at church? What about a wedding or the cousin of a friend? There is more to a relationship than IQ points and, a person is best served to mate with someone with similar interests, a loving personality and a good sense of humor. Let’s not forget physical attraction; it is an important part of the equation.

    My parents were married for fifty-five years: they grew up on the same street, had the same friends and were of the same religion. Their marriage produced three intelligent, educated and successful children all of whom are married with children. My parents valued us and worked hard to provide a stable, happy home. There was not a great deal of money, but we had a family upon whom we could rely for love and support. In my mind, that is the key ingredient for a happy life.

    As a married mother of three children, one of whom is a Princeton graduate, I think all women should pay attention to their biological clock and the choice of a mate. Like Susan, I am part of the generation that was encouraged to focus on a career and abandon the traditional model of woman as wife and mother. I pursued the American female dream of the late-1970’s and confess that I found the role of mother infinitely more satisfying.

    To me, there is nothing better than the sweet smell of a baby’s breathe or the warmth of a child’s arms cradling your neck. It is a natural, mutually-symbiotic bond between mother and child and should be nurtured and protected. A very wise pediatrician once told me to stay home with my children and, if I had to work, try to bring help into the home. He cited the outbreaks of communicable diseases due to institutionalized day care. I took his advice and do not regret my decision to become a stay-at-home mom.

    I agree with Susan Patton, to an extent, but would go a step further and encourage women to marry and have children. If I have one regret, it is that I did not have more. If you can, stay home with your children as long as possible. Let your children grow up with the security and confidence of knowing that someone is always there to provide love and support and the ability to enjoy the comforts of their home.

    • biological clock blah blah blah biological clock blah blah blah
      whiny needy whiny needy
      i need someone to make me happy blah blah
      i cant be alone with my own thoughts and hobbies blah blah blah
      biological clock blah blah

  4. Ms. Patton speaks the truth. I went to college and grad school during the 1980s and 1990s when the cultural message to women was to achieve all that you can and marriage and family can wait. The problem with that strategy are the demographic changes in the dating pool that occur from age 20 to age 30. Marriageable men (an actual social science term, men with college degrees and jobs and without major pathology) get married in their 20s and exit the dating pool. So when career-path women turn their focus to dating, the dating pool is nearly empty except for the men who do not want to marry or whom no one would want to marry. I have a sister and 4 girl friends over age 40 who have no viable dating prospects. After devoting themselves to their careers earlier in life, their careers are now cold comfort. They long for a life companion who is not pond scum.

    • Everyone out there has dating possibilities. However, If you insist on painting yourself as elitist, ignoble, and arrogant (as Ms. Patton seems prone to do) you may not be right for any man who actually wants a pleasant person to spend the rest of his life with. I suppose it would be convenient to label such men as un-Marriageable (with attendant major pathologies), or as “men who do not want to marry or whom no one would want to marry”, or even just as “pond scum.”

      Just because someone (male or female) has collected and stacked their acronyms high and wide doesn’t mean they’re honest, agreeable, or loveable, no matter how much effort they’ve poured into trying to conflate their alma mater and their career achievements with their worth as a potential spouse.

      You make your choices, you take your chances, and you acknowledge your mistakes. However, no matter how you twist it, it is not some nebulous, un-marriageable man’s fault.

      • @Patton and Slaughter and Krugman, Oh My! – I agree with you: The problem that *some* women have in getting men after getting that huge degree and that huge job isn’t just that their too old or that the men are scared of them. It also has to do with how much they think that education and career success increases their worth.

        This creates arrogance: Believing that they *deserve* better people because they are more educated.

        But everyone must go back to the real question: What makes a person good. Think of all the people you have ever met throughout your life who made you happy; think of all those people in whose presence you felt better about yourself. Think of all those people who made you feel safe, confident, worthy. These people could be members of your own family or they could be friends or even a stranger you met one day. Now ask yourself: what role did education play in their ability to make you feel good about yourself – probably not much.

        Just a thought!

      • If trying to have a good balance life-family-career seems to you “elitist, ignoble, and arrogant” (as Ms Patton seems to you) that I’ll take these traits gladly.
        It’s true, when someone has collected heavy-weight degrees they are less likely to take the b.s. from their life partner, hence the idea of arrogance.

        The ways we are, or we are perceived, are random labels (words) society came up with. However, one thing is certain: an educated person will have more respect for an educated person than a poorly educated one.

    • no. the cultural message was get that man! nab that man! why are you alone are you gay? nab that man! man man men man sex man sex sex man man man- oh by the way can i copy your assignment?

  5. As a mother with a son at Princeton, I find several troubling aspects about Ms. Patton’s comments. First, I don’t like the notion that my son or any students at Princeton should be regarded as trophies, to be chased in hot pursuit out of an elitist perception of their collective intelligence. I don’t like that my son and his male classmates seem to have been reduced to whatever their and their female classmates’ IQs may be, regardless of how the average IQ at Princeton may compare to the average IQ of the rest of the world. I also feel that whether male or female, the most important thing that my son and all his fellow students can do as a part of their journeys at Princeton is to figure out first what are the kinds of pursuits and accomplishments in life that will bring them inner fulfillment and happiness irrespective of a spouse or partner. Of course if two Princeton students fall in love and want to continue life’s journey together, fine, but Ivy league graduates are not immune from unhappiness, and I believe that while intellectual compatibility is one of many important components in a partnership, inner peace, emotional growth, and happiness as an individual person first are much more key to one’s ultimate fulfillment in every aspect of life, which may or may not include a marriage or other partnership.

    • As a wise person once said: “I don’t make the news, I just report it.”

      You may not like the fact that your sons are prizes, but they are. They are, assuming they graduate and continue on the path that being admitted to Princeton generally begins, by definition highly successful members of our society. As are, I hasten to add, their female classmates. Ms. Patton’s whole point is that maybe if they realize that now instead of much later, they might – if they are so inclined – think about seeing if one of the prizes walking around in front of them is worth holding on to now rather than scrabbling about for one later.

      • that’s what you need, inflate the ego of the already yuppie elitist male even more- you’re a prize big boy! look at those gals over there drooling over you, lucky you harvard/princeton (insert name of college that is only used as a dating pool by women and not an institution of learning and furthering ones knowledge or learning a skill) man you have your pick of the litter!

        • to quote the social network “every woman wants a harvard man…” *smug smirk* let’s unload these scholarly women in droves, infront of the elistist male social clubs of princeton, like the prized pigs that they are- no offense to pigs of course.

        • A false modesty is the sign of a weak and cowardly mind. It isn’t good to behave as if you were better than you are – but it is no better to behave as if you were worse.

            • ps. lots of elitist douches like to use that quote- so so cliche. thanks for being transparent, but sorry you win no prize this time, please play again.

              • I didn’t go to an elite school, at any level. That’s probably why I didn’t realize that was a “quote,” let alone a cliche – I just typed it as a response to what you said. (I.E., I just made it up.) I met my wife at the cow college we both went to – and when she agreed to marry me, she thought I’d be a poor scientist all my days. (As did I.) Fortunately for both of us, she didn’t decide that she should play the field for ten years before settling down. This year we’ll celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary.

                Be that as it may, apparently we elitists are all connected at some fundamental level, since you seem convinced I am recycling some kind of repressive propaganda. So if you could point out some previous usages of the “quote” above, I would appreciate it.

                (Bonus points if you manage to do it using proper English.)

                • oooooo proper english- you are a man of scholarly excellence- your retort reeks of it- oh wait, that’s you filling up these pages with holier than thou bs. your turn… bonus points if you can do it without sounding like a complete and patronizing a$$hole.

      • “As are, I hasten to add, their female classmates”

        Are you sure? I thought Princeton’s female students were given four years to land a husband. That’s what they went to Princeton for. Right Ms Patton? Who wants the PhD when you can get the Mrs in four years.

        So Princeton men are “prizes” walking around? Here I was, thinking that they were humans, just like me. Glad you cleared that up for me.

        • As distasteful as you seem to find admitting it, the statistical likelihood is that a person of either sex admitted to Princeton is going to be a “prize” in this context. (As noted above, I didn’t go to an elite school, let alone Princeton. I have no ax to grind.) All Ms. Patton is saying is that maybe they should think about that rather than assume that it’s just inherently ridiculous to believe they might possibly find a potential life mate while surrounded by said prizes.

          • mc wishes he could have gone to the elites to get his, mrs. degree. now he just supports those that do with a$$ kissing rhetoric

            • I have a few regrets in life, but none of them involve where I did or didn’t go to school. I have a reasonable education, I have a very pleasant job, I make more money than I need. I’m good.

              That doesn’t mean I don’t understand the concept of relative worth.

          • “All that that ms patton is saying…” you call your massacre of the English language proper? Then again, the thief is usually the first to point at anyone but themselves and cry, “thief!” It’s pointless to rip apart the rest of the claptrap paragraph you wrote.

            • When critiquing the grammar of others, it’s probably best not to obviously edit a grammatically correct sentence to make it incorrect.

              Although as you obviously know, the joy and satisfaction of refuting not what the other person said, but what you wanted them to say, is without measure.

              • You decided to be the grammar police, big boy… if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen; your sad attempts at sounding erudite have fallen flat, as have your attempts at mastering the English language. Don’t think your limited wordplay can get past everyone buddy- i see you trying to sound upperclass, but it’s just not quite there yet. try again.

                  • @Marc Cabot: Withdraw with pleasure. You gave him loads of opportunities to show what an unattractive (and stupid) idiot he is. And it provided much hilarity to this heated discussion. A clown is a clown is a clown. Thanks for the laughs (and I don’t mean at your expense). 🙂

    • There is no DeWitt student attending Princeton. You write: “I don’t like that my son and his male classmates seem to have been reduced to whatever their and their female classmates’ IQs may be”— what an ignorant interpretation of the opinion piece.

  6. 1. I see where Susan is coming from. I agree to some extent, with a lot of what she’s saying. I myself am probably more committed to my family and future husband than my future career. People think that’s weird, but whatever.
    2. As a recent Yale grad who is with a guy who I met in high school, I gotta say that yeah, I’m smarter than him, but it doesn’t frustrate me? Like it’s fine that he glazes over when I talk about cell biology or that he doesn’t know how to use semicolons properly. Maybe it will frustrate me in the future, but he does have a lot of other good points, and I don’t think his intelligence is the end all be all.
    3. The problem is not with not being able to find an intellectual equal, the problem is with finding a man who is willing to give up a bit of his manly breadwinning ego in order to be with a woman of an Ivy League pedigree, or whatever. You can avoid this problem by finding a man who is still more intelligent than you/is your intellectual equal, or maybe you can find a nice man who may not be your intellectual equal, but loves you for who you are anyway.

    • The notion that plumbers have difficult time adjusting to an Ivy League wives is silly as long as the plumber knows she is marrying him for his plumbing skills among others. Dignity of labor is far more basic denominator than academic incompatibility. Someone need to write a book about How to Marry Down for a Woman. Sadly, women are all about up & up and there will be a price.

      • Not all women are social climbers. As far as my mother’s family was concerned, she married “down” (and she came form a generation and social class in which that was quite shocking). And some women aren’t interested in marriage at all.

      • I know lots of Ivy League women but don’t know any married to plumbers. My sister, however, an Ivy Leaguer, was married to a guy who didn’t graduate from college (he passed away after 20 years of their marriage; that marriage had severe ups and downs).

          • Geez, hate to spell it out for you, dude (or dudette). 1. Ivy League women don’t like plumbers because of their lack of status, even though plumbers can be very financially successful. This supports Susan Patton’s argument. 2. In my sister’s case, her background was very different from her husband’s. This difference eventually, after many happy years, caused strains in the marriage.

        • Anyone here hired a plumber lately? Their fees are pretty high and they seem to make a decent living. Of course, they aren’t Wall Street Traders but many know how to run a business.

    • “Like, it’s fine that he… …doesn’t know how to use semicolons properly?”

      Dump him honey. He’s not worthy of you.

  7. Pingback: pricing out | thebitterbabe

  8. So, I guess I’m not worthy of any Princeton woman because I went to a state school?

    I guess only men educated at elite, selective, expensive, private universities are worthy of women from those universities?

    Funny, my fiance went to Northwestern and we met well after college. I guess she just had to settle.


    • I agree – Ivy League universities care nothing about an applicant’s ability to pay their exorbitant tuition rates – they only admit the best and brightest.. j/k
      I enjoyed law school at Boalt Hall – several of us enjoyed asking the private school a-holes why they “settled” for a public law school.

      • Ivy League universities only admit the best and brightest; they have the most generous financial packages of all schools. Princeton even has a “no loan” policy, meaning that their students can come from a not-so-wealthy family and graduate without debts. To be so good as to be admitted there, often it means you have to come from a privileged family…

  9. This article is a shame and reveals Ms. Patton’s classist attitude towards anyone who did not attend an Ivy League. Intelligence cannot be measured by the school you attend or how much money you have. Recent studies have shown the brightest college applicants who are from poor backgrounds do not even bother applying to Ivy Leagues, nor do Ivy Leagues try to recruit them. What really matters in a relationship is finding someone you are compatible with, not making sure each of you went to a top tier school.

  10. I’m a student at the University of Pennsylvania.

    I think this is great advice. My mother has relayed these same sentiments for years…Companionship is important. It’s an intrinsic quality of being human. Don’t let social activism or dare I say feminism override innate desires. I think many women receive this kind of advice, but that it’s considered taboo to speak of in public.

  11. The anecdotes on both sides are fantastic. Isn’t it wonderful to begin with a particular point of view or hypothesis and then just mine the data to confirm it?

  12. In a lot of ways, she’s right. I know the cool thing to do right now is to bash this woman as backwards or antiquated – but she’s right (ok, not in all the particulars – but in theory). This isn’t about a limited pool of equals being relegated to Princeton’s campus or any other named place in so much as the perceived (or real) rising educational or professional (intellectual?) value of a woman is more likely to limit the pool of likely life partners than it would a man.
    Anyway, just my opinion but I think that in the most basic of ideas, she’s pretty much spot on.

  13. I have a two daughters, neither of whom is at Princeton, and I will share this with them. This is timeless advice, and its scarcity value is shameful.

  14. My advice to the women of Princeton – Never marry a man or woman with a Mother like Susan Patton. Imagine the horror of spending holidays with her!!!

  15. But if you wait to marry after you leave Princeton, you have a shot at a Harvard man. And isn’t it worth the risk?

  16. I am disappointed but not surprised by the blatant intellectual and social elitism in Ms. Patton’s letter. It does not matter what you call it, elitism is bigotry, and people do not need to be smarter than you to be good, valuable spouses. Shame on her.

    • Your gripe should be with Victorians not with Patton. She is giving pragmatic, practical advice as any parent would. Throwing words like bigotry, elitism etc makes you sound agenda driven.

      • Oh, and she doesn’t have agenda? She is being sexist and elitist. There are a lot of very brilliant people who could not afford to go to Princeton (and a lot of non-Ivy League schools that have ranked better programs than Princeton). Saying you can only find your intellectual equal on the Princeton campus is actually saying, “Very few/no one from the middle or lower class could possibly be as intelligent we are in the upper class.”

        • i disagree with you. i don’t think this is just about princeton, i think it is about all college women on all college campuses. men who do not go to college are riding women’s coattails and are undeserving of us.

      • Patton has one good point – if you’re rich enough to go to Princeton and pay $250K to spend four years around rich people, you can increase your chances of staying rich by marrying one of your rich classmates. Going to Princeton, as you clearly demonstrate, is no guarantee of intellectual ability.

  17. This is AWFUL, how crazy and elitist is it for a mother to want her daughters to marry smart men. Next thing you know she will be telling her daughters to also marry industrious, honest, and law-abiding men. Hate “teh patriarchy!”

      • The comment relates to the sentiment of the article and the sentiment of the reactions to the article.

        “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things”

        • Patton only gives birth to men that look like robert redford- by her own admission her boys are hot items and men never age, like women, they just get more distinguished- which gives them the honor of marrying yonger women, because pot bellies and wrinkles are marks of a distinguished man! you betcha!

  18. There was a movie made in the early 1950’s expressing Ms. Patton’s sentiments–the movie’s called “How to Marry a Millionaire.”

  19. “[Y]ou will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you”

    This is narcissism. It implies that just because the girls go to Princeton that they are entitled to a man of a certain quality– one who presumably is the type of person that would also go to Princeton. The author makes no distinction between any of these women in terms of what they might bring to the table in a relationship. Nor does the author make any distinction between any of the men. How can the author conclude that such women or men are worthy? This is status masquerading as character. When the focus of dating is to be with a person of comparable status, dating will fail. How can you expect any relationship to succeed when you view your significant other as a status object?

    • At the risk of sounding judgmental: THAT is a good criticism…

      At the core of the message is a simplification, and probably an oversimplification. But its purpose is to complement (or compete with?) other simple messaging.

      It’s not necessarily true that considering and including “status” among other qualities means that status is the focus of dating.

    • as a college educated woman i concur with miss patton. if you feel you are better than others then you should hang around with your betters. if someone is not good enough for you, then they aren’t good enough. obviously, she was not given the level of respect she felt she deserved or something was missing in the marriage, he wasn’t doing something for her that she felt he should be. if he was being a jerk, then he wasn’t honoring or cherishing her. so he broke his vows. i doubt she married a retard, by way of comparison, however, it is highly likely, knowing the nature of men, that she married a jerk or idiot. the world is full of those. finding a good, worthwhile man, no matter your class, is a challenge.

      i think this woman is basically saying she will only date men who are her equal. and there is nothing wrong with that. she has a right to decide and choose for herself who that is. if you are not her equal then go find someone who is your equal. stop sniping at her because she won’t sleep with you for being unworthy of her.

  20. I’m always amazed at how the upper and upper-middle class children and adults speak as though they’ve accomplished so much and find themselves at the top of the economic pyramid becauase of ethics, talent, and sheer hard work. “Being born on third base and acting like you hit a triple” and all that. Most Princetonians have done nothing but follow the path laid before them, just as those darned males that aren’t deserving of a Princeton woman have done. A little humility would be appreciated now and then. You’re comfort is built off the back of the working poor (the money that afforded your choices was made through a manner that had little to do with ethical behavior, rest assured). Little more than luck of the draw from being born to the right parents. To have such “problems” is a luxury, and the analyses about the “correctness” of the editorial is nauseating.

    • As an outsider looking in, I am generally disappointed by the level of discourse on this subject produced by the purporteed intellectual elite. Immaturity of some in the real-life department is staggering – no wonder why they are not married at 38. And their Princeton background has absolutely nothing to do with the fact they are single – from the looks of it, they need a few years of solid therapy to even contemplate entering a serious relationship.

      • I assume you are referring to me since I’m the only one who said her age was 38. Sorry to disappoint you, but I turned down a four-year Economics major degree at Princeton for a three-year PPE degree at Oxford – simply because I like England better. So I’m not a Princetonian. I’m simply someone who identifies with what Susan Patton wrote.

        It’s ironic how you are dissing the intellectual discourse of the “purporteed [sic] elite” while coming across as one-half of a completely insufferable Smug-Married-Couple. Superiority complex much? Doesn’t matter what you’re so superior about, it still smacks of arrogance.

        And thank you, but I do not need therapy to enter a serious relationship, I just need to find the right guy. And by that I mean someone who’s compatible intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Just because thsi article is about the first dimension of a relationship doesn’t mean those who agree with Susan Patton don’t place equal importance on the other three dimensions. Indeed, I did find the right guy when I was at university, but because I did not have advice like what Susan Patton is kindly dishing out here, I assumed I’d find another right guy later in life – which turned out not to be the case… so far.

        Like I said elsewhere, you’re lucky you found your Right Guy. Now, try not to be so smug about it because, in the context of this discussion in particular, it comes across as arrogant bigotry. The irony stupefies.

        • Oxford grad. Only slightly tense (and not bitter). Seeking dashing, well endowed, successful, post-graduate gentleman who produces in mid-seven figures, uses AM Lagonda as a koi pond, and doesn’t mind always sitting down to use the loo. If Princeton alumnus, must be willing to supplicate towards Oxford twice a day, at prayer time. Must be able to recite all four dimensions, as a Gregorian latin chant. Ironically stupefied Rob Lowe types need not apply.

        • Well, I did not really mean you in person, because I would not remember which personality here was of what age. 38 was just a generic reference.
          But by very virtue of assigning my reply to yourself for whatever reason, you proved my point brilliantly :). You also take simple typos too seriously :).
          ‘The right guy’ is the same like ‘a prince on a white horse’. If the ‘right guy’ in the university did not work out, perhaps, he was not right at all. There are tons of men out there who are probably much better than the guy you used to have. That’s why therapy would help – stop dwelling on what/who you had, start delivering on what/who you can and will have.
          ‘Smug married couple’ 🙂 seriously? I used to think just like you, when I was single. I thought married women think I am inferior to them. Not true – if anything, we wish you good luck. I certainly do.

          • @26-year-old PhD: Nope. I still maintain I don’t need therapy. I might have brought up my university beau as the right guy whom I still share a deep mutual chemistry with. But I’m not holding my breath for him to be single. I’m actually dating someone whom I’ve yet to decide whether we click on all fronts – not just intellectually. And no, he didn’t graduate from a top school like I did. But he did do his MBA in France when he knew not one word of French. That’s intellectually attractive to me right there.

            Why on earth would I assume married women think I’m inferior to them? I know many of my married friends who are having difficulties and who envy my single life. On the other side of the coin, I have married women who have fabulous relationships – case in point, my dear younger sister – who don’t go around rubbing their fortune in the faces of their single friends.

            I concluded that you were a one-half of a Smug-Married-Couple from another comment – perhaps misread by myself – that you made which is now lost in this ridiculous discussion that originated from an insightful article by a well-meaning lady! Since you weren’t targetting me in particular, I sincerely retract my assumption that you are smugly married and thinking you were referring to me by mentioning my age.

            I’m not sure what point of yours I illustrated so brilliantly, but I think we can agree to disagree since you seem like a decent person after all. 🙂

        • Omg. You’re my senior. Oxford lawyer here.

          I totally concur with you. It’s like, the dominant mentality is to get the top tier city jobs and somehow relationships can take a back seat because they will somehow work out. I mean, I’m glad that I independently thought of Mrs P’s theory whilst I was still there. But if it helps at all, even amongst the Oxford cohort, I couldn’t really find anyone compatible (I don’t mean intellectually compatible here – I more or less assume they are).

          tigerlily, if you’ve got any advice to your alumnus, analogous to what Mrs P has told the girls at hers, I’d be really curious to know.

          • @Another Oxford Girl: I guess I would say: If you do find someone compatible when you’re at university, go for it and don’t assume you’ll find another similarly compatible person later on in life because the probability of that happening – especially on the intellectual front – falls dramatically after you leave university.

            Also, when you’re an undergrad, you’re still a blank cheque because you haven’t got a CV yet. So men you meet, in university or outside, will be impressed by your intelligence but won’t be scared off. Once you graduate, and your brand new CV says “Oxford lawyer”, not too many men will be able to be secure enough in their own ability to want to be with you. And as your career takes off and you’re CV gets stronger and stronger, well, that pool of secure men grow smaller and smaller exponentially year-after-year thereafter.

            So take advantage of your time at university to find a special someone when the playing field is level and everybody is as equal as everyone else, because once you graduate, inequality sets in. And sadly for women, the higher up you are on that scale, you’re probably only going to be able to find a partner even higher – unless you’re lucky enough to find a less-paper-qualified man who’s secure enough to deal with a high-flyer like you.

            Bottom line: Don’t prioritise your education/career ahead of finding a life partner. Prioritise them with equal importance.

            Out of curiosity: Are you married? I sincerely hope you are! Companionship is a great thing. 🙂

            • Actually wait, once you enter Oxford, you might already be limiting your pool of potential partners even though you don’t have a CV yet. Simply because a girl attending a top university is already intimidating to insecure guys.

      • Please don’t use such broad brushstrokes. There are poorly adjusted people on both sides. (And at least two of us healthy-seeming single women who agree that Mrs. Patton gave good advice.)

  21. Unfortunately most of this is true except women can pick from the younger men and in the long run they will be glad they did. When I went to college ’76-’80 my friends told me the same thing and I refused to believe them. I went to college for an education only and not to meet a life partner. Wake up call. There are never the amount of young single men or women period as you will meet in college no matter what school you go to. If you go to a highly selective school like Princeton there will never be as many single and highly intelligent people to choose from in one spot again.
    This is the type of thing everyone knows in their heart but is embarrassed to talk about. I went to a state school and wished I had met someone at college because after college it’s more difficult to meet people like you to date. I can’t imagine how hard it is to find someone you can relate to if you went to Princeton or a similar school. My son will be going to Princeton this fall and I told him I hope he meets someone there since there will be girls he could relate to intellectually. He has a difficult time in high school as only a handful are really interested in academics. He has many friends girls and boys but when it comes to dating someone he could relate to it becomes more difficult.
    Glad you stated something other people are afraid to say. It sounds like it may be snobbish but it’s not. College is the best place to meet your mate.

  22. This letter strongly implies that you would not be happy marrying a younger man, a man that’s any less intelligent than you are, and that you would not be happy without being married. Which is all fine and dandy. …For you. Your letter is full of great advice… for you. Don’t get on a fucking soapbox and talk about how the path to your own happiness is THE path to happiness.

    • let me blow your mind tyler

      the path to happiness is to not have sex until you are married.
      tyler, if you are disrespectful to your wife, you can count on an expensive divorce where you lose half of your wealth to a woman you failed to love honor and cherish.

      ladies, line up…..here is another dumb guy to get your clutches into

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