Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Year End Review

This is it … that time of year … the time of year for unbelievable post-Christmas sales, for making New Year’s resolutions that end up having a shorter shelf life than ripe bananas, for organizing crazy fun New Year’s plans that never end up being that crazy or that fun and … for enduring the dreaded OR welcome Year End Review (it’s all in the perspective, right?).

Yes, in the ensuing weeks, lawyers, bankers, marketers, you name it, will be called in to the head honcho’s office for a frank but diplomatic assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. “Sit down so and so, it’s time to discuss your accomplishments this year, and while we’re at it, we should address a few areas that could use some work ...” Gen X yuppies everywhere will find out whether they will get promoted, what their bonuses will be and/or whether they will be vigorously searching their contacts trying to locate the number of that persistent headhunter whose calls were of mild interest a year or so back.

What does this have to do with dating, you might ask? Well, just picture it – what if you could receive a Year End Review not in your capacity as an associate or aspiring managing director but as a single guy or girl about town with an active dating life, but possibly unfulfilling love life. Wouldn’t it be great if we could line up all of our love interests from 2009 and get a similar no-nonsense assessment of our strengths and weaknesses as a date, as a boyfriend/girlfriend, as a potential life partner ... You know, something like: “Suzie, you exhibited excellent conversation skills, but lackluster table manners.” Or perhaps: “Richard, if you could just try to work on the foreplay skills, you’ll be promoted in no time.”

This type of tough love feedback would be worth its weight in gold. Even if you disagree with the person’s take away (we all know colleagues who leave their year end reviews arguing against the collective wisdom of the firm/company/bank because they don’t want to acknowledge that they might not be the perfect employee) you would at least know that someone else perceived you that way. And while it may not have mattered with this prior paramour, the next time around it might be someone you really like who harbors the fatal misperception.

Unfortunately, unlike in corporate America, singles in the dating world are highly reluctant to provide truly candid feedback to one another. This is understandable, as the fear of confrontation is a strong one and, anyway, most good natured people don’t want to offend others so they opt for platitudes (e.g. “It’s not you, it’s me”). Therefore, bewildered daters are often left wondering “Why? Why didn’t I get the return call/the third date/the coveted invite to spend New Year’s together?”

So then, just how does one get answers to ensure that at the end of 2010 you don’t find yourself in precisely the same place as you were at 12:30pm on December 29, 2009? For the fantastic men and women who choose to become my clients, I am in the unique position of being able to pass on a tremendous amount of relevant and constructive feedback from a variety of sources. Of course, outside of seeking the assistance of a professional, there’s also the option of going straight to the source and asking the girls/guys you’ve dated for their honest constructive criticism. If you’re still friends, you might invite the person you were dating for coffee and, while assuring him or her that you have not entered AA, ask your ex-love interest what advice he or she would give you for 2010.

If you’re not in a position to reach out to an “ex” perhaps you can ask a family member whose opinion you trust or two or three friends who know you very well to: (1) share with you their assessment of what you might be doing that is leading to disappointment in your love life and (2) offer one piece of advice (or more) they would give you regarding what to work on for the upcoming year. We all know that, given the opportunity, we would have ample constructive critique to offer those we love. Can there be any doubt that the feeling is reciprocal among those who love us? Most people do not fully appreciate how they might be coming across to others. What better way for you to find out than by asking? And as the saying goes, knowledge is power.

So, here are a few pointers that might help in the conduct of the “Year End Review”:

  • Ask your ex-love interest/friend/family member, etc. to provide equally positive feedback to accompany the critique (this makes it an easier pill to swallow and reminds you that, yes, this person is your friend).
  • Emphasize that you are looking for specific examples in the feedback you receive – not vague generalities.
  • Try to elicit ideas on how you can make positive changes for the future.
  • Take notes.
  • Consume a lot of alcohol before and after (just kidding on this one).

If you embark on this path of self-discovery and improvement, it’s important to let your "reviewer" know that no matter what he or she says you are not going to get angry or hold it against him or her. Hearing honest, raw, unfiltered, critique can be the equivalent of being ripped open with a dull object and slowly being picked apart by vultures. It freakin’ hurts. I know – I have been lucky enough to receive such an unapologetic critique and, in light of what I do, I am the one giving such critiques on a weekly basis (though I always try to do it with a delicate hand).

The above exercise calls to my mind that famous line in A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson announces to the tenacious Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!” I think it goes without saying that if you’re going to do this, you need to be able to handle the truth.

So, here’s a toast … to reviews, to the truth and to a knowledgeable, powerful, wonderful 2010.

Interested in receiving invaluable dating feedback, benefiting from image consulting, dating coaching, personalized introductions, events and more? Contact Marni at marni@sundayatnoon.com to learn more about becoming a client. Give yourself the gift of love in 2010.


  1. Once again another great post Marni. Have a joyous and happy new year.


  2. Interesting post and good advice. If only people could learn from the experence of others and take the advice of their well meaning friends and family. Only very few wise (or less independent, maybe good in this case) people ever really follow the advice of others... Certainly I never did and later could very well see how right they were. Most of my younger friends don't follow my advice. Ok, sometimes they do at work, but almost never in love. Especially in love the decisions are made based on emotions and people don't even engage their own brain, not to mention the others. It's funny that just yesterday I was trying to give advice to my friend and she kept insisting that her situation is special:). I don't disagree that everyone is special, yet there are similarities and outside person can pick them up. Unfortunately we rarely listen... There is a russian saying that reads something like smart people learn from mistakes of others, but stupid learn from their own. Unfortunately, in this sense I don't know many smart people, but still think we should continue and help each other:). Happy New Year!

  3. What is your opinion of sharing this certainly valuable insigt with ones current partner?

  4. This is one of your best blogs- I think you should repost it. Many people are too busy at the holidays to take the time to read it.
    Get your blogs together for "A Blog Book."