Thursday, May 7, 2009

Don’t Shoot The Messenger Part I: For The Women

Ok, this one’s gonna be personal. It’s a serious one, liable to result in all sorts of hate mail to the Sunday at Noon Blog coming from Anonymous-es everywhere. But I proceed nonetheless because - please know, ladies - this comes from a good place. It comes from the keen understanding that there is a need for someone to say it like it is and get the knowledge out there - because knowledge is power. And don’t worry, my female following, the next blog - “Don’t Shoot the Messenger Part II” - is directed squarely at the men. So here goes.

New York is a city where you can get the best of everything. Travel to pretty much any other city in the world and their best theater seems like your high school summer stock production in comparison to even New York’s off-off Broadway shows. We have the top hospitals here, the top law firms, we shop at the world’s best luxury stores, enjoy the benefit of having the leading stylists and salons in the world. We expect the best service at restaurants and anything less is not tolerated lightly. The point is: we’re spoiled. We expect the best because we can get it.

New York men are no different. They are looking for the girl who’s got it all because they can get it. She’s here in NYC, in spades. Like you, she’s really bright, went to great schools, she’s good at what she does, she’s fun, she has a great sense of humor, she’s sassy, and she is all around a great girl – and on top of all that, she’s gorgeous. You can’t stare at the blond, 5’9” Barbie doll look alike in this city and think smugly, she’s probably a cocktail waitress. Nope. She went to Yale and she’s a vice president at a private equity firm. This girl understands that to get the guy she wants she needs to make it to the gym and cut back on the grande mocha frappucinos.

So, ladies, in a city which sets the bar high, if you need to lose, say 20lbs, you are 20lbs away from getting the guys you want. A few jean sizes away from improving your dating life a hundredfold.

Now, if you are saying to yourself indignantly “I wouldn’t want to be with the guy who isn’t going to date me simply because I need to lose 20 lbs”, you’re wrong. You do. He’s the guy you are going for and he’s not interested. Rather, he is thinking after he meets you “great girl, I’m just not attracted…she’s just a little bigger than I am interested in.” Friendly reminder: the title of this blog is “Don’t Shoot The Messenger.”

Please know, I speak to single men every day about what they are looking for in a partner and I know what I’m talking about. I didn’t create the rules, ladies. But I know them and I am sharing them with you. And if you deny that these are the rules of engagement, you will continue to operate at a disadvantage and not get what you want. This is the reality of New York or the “Big City” we live in. Looks and being in shape carry a high value. If you’re thinking to yourself “it shouldn’t be that way” maybe you’re right. There shouldn’t be poverty or war either but, unfortunately, I tend to believe there always will be.

And no, you can’t chalk it up to the men being shallow. They are men. If they don’t want to sleep with you, it doesn’t matter how much you know about art, opera or sports or that you love X-Men and Family Guy, have traveled all over the world, speak several languages, play tennis or go to weekly wine tastings. If you are outside the realm of slim, these things are wonderful but irrelevant if the guys can’t get past that “do I want to see her naked” threshold. There are some universal truths and this is one of them …

And to be fair to the men, these men are not looking for size zeros or women who could be body doubles for Dancing with the Stars pros (ok, a few might be but that’s not who I’m talking about here). Nor are most men looking to be with the girl who looks like she hasn’t eaten in weeks and desperately needs to be fed. But they are looking for women who are objectively slim. If you’re describing yourself as “average build” in your online profile, the cold hard truth is you’re likely not an average build by New York standards. And even if you are, the vast majority of men are so extraordinarily attuned to the weight issue that I have been told by several men that if you are putting “average build” they will instantly move on to the next profile.

As one male friend bluntly put it: “If I show up on a blind date and the girl is not slim, it’s immediately over for me.” I know it might sound hard to believe, ladies, but this friend is not an [fill in the explicative]. He’s truly a good guy and he’s looking for something real. He’s just articulating what most other guys are in fact thinking.* Anyone familiar with on-line dating knows the lay of the land – most of the profiles written by the men that are in decent shape are very specific that they want a women in good shape and fit.** In fact, they’re adamant about it to a point you can tell they have encountered too many women who have simply not been honest about their body type (ah yes, the problem with on-line dating. And the men post pictures from when they had hair).

Ok, still thinking that these men of whom I write are shallow? Let’s think about many women’s criteria for a minute. Most women that I interview want to meet a guy who, among other things, is successful and has a good job. They want to meet someone who is financially secure and who is going to be able to provide for the family she hopes to have someday (yes, even if she does well herself). So, if you met a guy who explained on your first date that he was living with his parents, had a dead end job and had a ton of credit card debt would you be so keen on going on a second date with him? Doubtful. Even if this guy had a heart of gold. Does this make you a materialistic, shallow woman looking for a sugar daddy? We all know the answer to that one … (guys, if you’re reading this, it’s “no”).

What eludes most women who stick by the “someone should just love me exactly as I am” mentality is that they in fact have serious competition in this city. There are thousands more single women here than there are men.*** And these women are wonderful and offer the whole package (too bad many of the men in NY are not adept at appreciating them). As I stated at the beginning of this blog, knowledge is power. Feeling powerful and in charge tastes far better than flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream ever could (though, that does sound pretty darn good…).

Summer is around the corner and it’s almost bathing suit time. Make yourself and your fitness a priority the next few weeks and boy you’re gonna draw all the eligible suitors you can handle!

Ok, next the men …

*Unfortunately, it doesn’t help to reason, “well I’m ok with the guy who needs to lose a few pounds too” as he is also holding out for the slim girl. Because he can.

**Men want to be with women who are well put together, live a healthy lifestyle and take pride in their appearance. As my same jerk/non-jerk friend articulated, sure, when men are just looking to have sex, they will hook up with women who don’t meet their physical criteria. But when they’re considering who’s going to be their lifelong partner, it’s a totally different ballgame.

*** Can’t say whether it’s 10 single women to every singe guy, but New York is certainly a mecca for the ambitious, single women. Check out this relatively recent article from the New York Observer --


  1. As a size 14 (at 6 feet tall) woman in NYC - I will avoid comment on obvious. Frankly a think a lot of men should grow at least half a foot and grow some hair before they get too picky. My only observation is - "healthy lifestyle" does not necessarily equate to thin. You can be very healthy, eat all the right foods, exercise, and still not be thin. Inversely, you can be a total rail and be completely unhealthy. People shouldn't forget the two aren't necessarily related (true obesity is another discussion)

  2. As a size 14 (at 6 feet tall) woman in NYC - I will avoid comment on obvious. Frankly a think a lot of men should grow at least half a foot and grow some hair before they get too picky. My only observation is - "healthy lifestyle" does not necessarily equate to thin. You can be very healthy, eat all the right foods, exercise, and still not be thin. Inversely, you can be a total rail and be completely unhealthy. People shouldn't forget the two aren't necessarily related (true obesity is another discussion)

  3. Very well said Marni! As a guy, I can tell you that have captured extermely well the typical NYC-guy mentality. Thank you for your brave and insightful commentary!

    To comment on Kirilei's comment (not even sure if that is permitted), I agree in part and disagree in part. Clearly healthy is important. I can't envision, even for a minute, dating a woman who was a "rail . . . [but] unhealthy." However, men, particularly men who are trying to find "the one," want thin. Healthy but 15 pounds overweight is not going to cut it.

  4. Marni, another excellent post. As someone who lifts weights and is in reasonably good shape (a few extra pounds around the waist, but nothing too noticeable), I prize fitness and looking good. I have come across women who bask in self-pity, proclaim to the world that they are deeply insecure about their bodies, and then proceed to dine on the unhealthiest, fattiest foods known to man. These women never have boyfriends and rarely if ever get dates.

    I look forward to Part II.

    Signed: someone who went to high school with you and graduated on the same year... you look as beautiful as you always did then.

  5. Thanks for your comment, Kirilei. Don't worry, Part II will address some of your thoughts above. But for the moment, I think the men are happy to have their voice heard - so, I'll let them weigh in ...

  6. Anon who went to school with me, thanks for the candid response (and for the extremely kind note). Glad to know you are enjoying the blog. :)

  7. As someone who meets this "standard" you speak of, top of my class, chair in my sorority, waspy upbringing and good looks, runs 15 miles a week, at least, a MILLION friends, wit, and what most of you dropped Wall Streeters don't have anymore, a good job and financial stability, I completely understand your point of view.
    But you somewhat failed to make certain connection.
    I've dropped many a guy because he was just short of MY requirements, no shame. You know what the biggest flaw they had? I wasn't done playing. ME.
    New York is a playground. like a buffet, of hot new bars, restaurants, bands, and shows. Sure we have a few favorites, and if it was ok, we'd call them up for a midnight rendez-vous, but most of us left our hometown with the same square meals because sometimes you feel like sushi, sometimes tapas. No one wants leftover delivery, unless in a pinch. You can get that here. The raw bar is endless, and until you're full, or mature enough, you're going to ask for another plate.

    At the end of the day, I think a little self love should be learned. someone secure enough in themselves that even you feel good is someone you want to be around, anyway. in the long run. Until you have that, boys and girls, none of you are eligible. we all get ugly one day.

  8. Dear Female Anon - All good points made. The point you made re: the women's requirements will be addressed in Part II (oh the pressure!). You make other excellent points as well - e.g. your comments regarding reaching an age when you're done with the endless raw bar - topic for another blog!

    Thanks for the insights.

  9. This is all rather brutal, and probably spot on. I can't wait to read the post about the guys. Money and neighborhood and job are the three things that a woman checks off in her head when she meets a guy.

  10. Hi Marni,
    The example you gave of the women who is 5'9 and blond as described as "gorgeous". The truth of the matter a women of that height does not appeal to MOST men, even men who are taller than average or even tall (over 6 ft). As far as blond, any light skinned woman can dye her hair blond-and many do! BIG DEAL. Your clients are telling you this, and you are buying in to it. Men like to talk and brag, they say they like this and that. The next time one sings that song to you , ask him to show you pictures of ex- girlfriends or women who he slept with on a regular basis. You will probably find the majority of them to be a FAR cry from what Mr. Picky was describing as his standards for gorgeous. Most would be better looking than average, but not exceptional. Most men actually prefer the height/weight/body shape of Scarlett Johanson (5'4, 135 pounds and curvy) to any supermodel ANY given day.. and guess what she dyes her hair!

  11. Thanks for the comment! In reality, the guys are not saying they want 5'9" and blond (that's just an example I gave of what one can find here in the city). But they are saying "slim" - this IS a requirement they all share. And they (along with virtually every guy I speak to) are simply not interested in meeting someone who is not objectively thin.

    But you are 100% right about who Mr. Picky is really sleeping with and who he is actually going to end up with -- you have astutely anticipated some of what is going to appear in Don't Shoot the Messenger Part II - so stay tuned!

  12. Hi , Marni To follow up with you. I was referring even to women that they do date seriously and even marry. The fact is objectly thin is fine for even a picky man, and I like I said most prefer women average height or a drop taller. How they might define objectly thin(110-115 pounds) to their peers is usually different than what they truly find acceptable and attractive.. A misogynistic man for example might share to his female friend ( or even a date!) physical attributes he finds attractive in other women, but it will always be the opposite of what ever her physical attributes are. For example if she has brown hair and eyes and is 5'6, he will always make reference to other women with those qualities as being unattractive. This is for the sole purpose of making her feel bad about herself. If that same friend was blond/5'8/and 115 pounds, he would make reference to tall women being "lanky" 115 'too thin" etc. Like I said in my last comment , if you had a chance to actually see for yourself women that these men have actually dated and slept with on a regular basis-women that they told their guy friends were hot, you might find these women had the very same physical attributes that you have! the one's the claimed they found unattractive! Marni, I would take everything these men are telling you with a grain of salt, you never know the true motivations or what kind of character you are dealing with .

  13. As a female, I hate to admit it, but I loved this blog. It's honest no matter how harsh it might be. All I have to say and I think the next blog will probably get into is that people need to remember to be realistic about what they want out of a life partner and what they can actually attain. I have to say to myself and these guys looking for the thin, leggy, blondes... to take a good long look in the mirror and ask themselves... Am I tall, dark and handsome? Could I use a few hours at the gym to get rid of the remains of last night's drinks? I think the answer to these questions would lend some guidance on what you might actually just want and what you might actually be able to get. It's not very realistic to want a women who has a hard flat stomach who works really hard to get it, if you don't take the same care for yourself.

  14. To Anonymous, May 11, 2009 2:03PM:

    I completely agree with you. I'm at the gym 4 times a week and I've now decided to add cardio to get lean for summer.

    Even though I like beauty, I agree: no man can rightfully demand that a woman be a knockout when he doesn't even respect his own appearance.

    This past weekend, a married female friend told me that she imagines I want an attractive woman. When I asked her why, she said, "your muscles," and she went on to say, "you take care of yourself, so it's understandable you'd demand a woman who at least is in shape."

    I'd never thought of that as my efforts to be healthy are for my own benefit - but now I see why your line "it's not very realistic to want a woman who has a hard flat stomach who works really hard to get it, if you don't take the same care for yourself" makes absolute sense.


    Ex-Syosset Lifter (Class of '91. Hi Marni, I posted last week).

  15. Marni,

    You make some great points in this blog. I agree that men want the "slim" girl and as a single female, I am also looking for the guy that is "in good shape." I also agree with the point that in NYC we have access to everything we want and want that in a mate as well. However the real question is if we get ourselves in great shape, have the great job, personality, etc. why is it still so impossible to find our match???

  16. Thanks for the post which gave me a small chuckle... that really is the million dollar question! And I believe I have a few million dollar answers to be shared in the upcoming blogs. :)