I Understand Susan Patton Telling Her Female Princeton Students to Find a Husband

Susan Patton recently published a letter to the editor in the Daily Princetonion encouraging the young women of Princeton to find a husband. She received a lot of flack about it and I’m here to defend her.

In a HuffPost op-ed, Susan talks about how critical it is to find the right partner for women who want to eventually get married (she also acknowledges that not all women want to get married). She mentions that one of the criteria for the right partner is “someone with shared educational and intellectual appreciation.” Susan went to Princeton, Susan married someone who was not in Princeton, Susan divorced. For women in Princeton, their biggest pool of potential mates with equivalent intellect is at their very own university.

This makes total sense to me (not that I attend Princeton and I’m sure much of Princeton’s females are more academic/intellectual than I am). It makes total sense to me because I often find it extremely difficult for a guy to hold my attention for long enough due to similar reasons. The conversation ends up leaving him silent with awe sooner or later. I would never date someone who is just like me (because gosh, it’d end up in firestorms!) but it’s one thing for a guy to silently mull over and absorb a new concept he just heard and a completely different thing for him to be left utterly speechless with a blank stare (yes, I can tell the difference between thinking and lack of thinking in your eyes). Let’s be equals, shall we? Just like I don’t want you to act superior to me, I don’t want to be superior to you.

This isn’t just an age thing either, as if I’m simply more compatible with someone older. I’ve had a handful of older guys (anywhere from two to even 10 years older) ask me out, flirt with me, etc. and I still find it challenging to appreciate what most of them have to bring to the table. Maybe once in a blue moon, I meet someone who I think is really great, but then circumstances dictate that it wouldn’t work out, at least not for the time being. So, having experienced how difficult finding a mate for myself is – and despite being adamant about not getting married until my late 20s (because a woman has to build a solid career and the credibility for the said career first, especially if she ever wants to get back to work after having a baby – but I guess this should be saved for another post) – I am already skimming the field for someone to be with for the rest of my life (also because I don’t believe in divorce). It seems that guys who I can truly grow to love are few and far in between. This isn’t just because I’m still young – many older women who I respect tell me that they were very selective and rarely dated during their dating years as well. Maybe I’ll find him within the next couple of years or maybe I’ll find him after a decade. Either way, I don’t want to overlook a potential, even if it means being in a few years long engagement.

All of this being said, I can only imagine how difficult it would be for Princeton women to find someone intellectually stimulating enough (or even just potentially intellectual enough) outside of Ivy League colleges. The Princeton women aren’t going to find their match by simply dating someone older. Their best chance at finding an equally intellectual partner is in Ivy League colleges. Susan Patton, I totally understand you.


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