A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love is about why smart, successful independent women — the type of women men profess to want — have trouble finding steady relationships.
For years my single girlfriends and I have been told by the men we date: Because in it I found empathy for the women who hear these things and the men who say them. And an explanation for why seemingly good matches fall apart or never come to fruition. Article Continued Below Birch and I spoke about her book last week; the following interview has been edited for clarity and length. How did you decide that this was the question you wanted to interrogate?
But I looked around at who was struggling with dating, and they tended to be that type. If this type of woman is the dream girl, then why are they having so many problems? That was a big guiding question from the beginning.
And then Lora Park had research that came out in that showed psychological distance matters a lot. For example, there are a lot of pros to smart, independent career women. All things that we know produce good relationship partners. But when it came time to close that distance and men had to interact with these women face-to-face, they started to lose interest. How does that play out in real life? It can be a little bit difficult. Article Continued Below Why do men have trouble committing to women who seem to be the whole package, or as you call them: I wanted to reassure women that if they were having these problems, not to get a complex about it.
Just wait until they find an investment they really want to make or someone who is special. How have you seen this disconnect in your own dating life? I had an ex-boyfriend tell me that I was so sure of myself that I was going to scare guys. One thing comes before the other. Men are kind of stuck in that norm, where they have to provide.
They put that pressure on themselves. I started to see that a lot in my dating life. The guys who were settled were more interested in pursuing things and seeing where it would go; they had a relationship mindset.
Why does that sense of men wanting to be a provider still exist when so many couples expect that both partners will be working? There was recent Pew research that looked at what men and women thought the societal pressures were for men and women. The vast majority put being a provider and career success at the top for men.
Women are showing that we can be that equal provider. But there are still these ingrained gender roles. A lot of them will drop hints about: There were a lot of women in my book who ended up dating men who all their friends and family said: Does that person have a path to get where they want to go? Did you learn anything while working on this book that can help men and women understand each other better? And I did not find that.
I have several friends whose long-term partners or husbands said the same thing to them as they were dating. And lots of friends and family did say: That was my big advice on relating for women, to have that kind of empathy. They ask a lot of questions.