Mission: Husband


In January, New Jersey-based business executive Neenah Picket, 43, rang in the New Year with a resolution: She would find a husband in 52 weeks with the help of six of her closest friends…and pretty much anyone who stops by her website, 52Weeks2FindHim.com. Now that much of the media hoopla around Neenah’s experiment has died down, I thought I’d check in and see if she’s found Him…or at the very least, if the trolls on her discussion board have stopped giving her unsolicited diet and exercise tips, calling her boring, and insulting her hairdo.

About 2Weeks2Find Him:

What happens when a woman invites the world to become her dating coach? Each 5week, we invite you to tune-in and join-in by helping with Neenah’s search, as she explores: the many methods of meeting eligible men, preparing for dates, and maintaining a healthy, romantic relationship.

Throughout the year, she will look to you, the web viewer, to provide direction, advice and support. Also, when you participate on her discussion board and with her online polls, you have a strong impact on how Neenah takes her next weekly step. The website will also give an account on how the viewers’ interventions are impacting her search…

At the end of 52 weeks, if [Neenah] hasn’t found her life partner, she will take a full year off from pursuing relationships. For this executive, go-getter, the idea of sitting still for a year is like a death sentence. But always being opened to trying something new, Neenah will even acquiesce to the stillness to see what this new change of pace will bring. She is actually hoping it doesn’t get to that point and is counting on the viewers’ to help her meet her mate in the given time! If you, or you know someone who would be a great fit for Neenah and you want to set up a date, check out her Him’s” page to Request a Date.

When I first visited the site in January, mean-spirited posts outnumbered encouraging ones on Neenah’s discussion board.  Men and women freely and tactlessly commented on Neenah’s hair, weight, and overall desireability. Apparently, this did not discourage Neenah.  In late April, she blogged:

Well as someone who is in the thick of things, I can say after 15 weeks it’s been the best adventure! This time last year I didn’t have a deadline, but I didn’t have any prospects either. My love life was practically nonexistent - actually that’s been my story for most of my 20-something adult life. I’m not a 25 year old or even a 35 year old worried about not being married. I’m actually not worried at all. I’m a mature, happy, successful woman who wants to find love - lasting love, and at this stage in the game, I have nothing to lose, so I might as well have fun in the process…I’ve learned so much about myself, and about men, and about having happy healthy relationships. All that while living my life to the fullest. This is what the 52 week journey has done for me so far.

Lest anyone think Neenah’s goal here is merely to find a husband, she explains:

I wrote a mission statement of how I was going to spend my 52 weeks. Here it is:

1) Put a sense of adventure back into dating

2) While looking, learn and grow

a. Discover and experience methods of finding him, especially new methods, to see which ones are most fruitful.

b. Understand who works for me
c. Learn how to evolve as a person

3) Prepare for marriage. Explore what it takes to have a good, healthy and lasting marriage

4) Embrace my singleness. If marriage is in my near future –and I hope it is, these are my last days of being a single woman,
so appreciate this time and live it to the fullest.

5) Don’t go it alone

a. get others to help you, hold you accountable

b. Discover and share how other singles can benefit from what I’ve learned.

c. Remember God is with you for every step. You can get his help or ignore him. But with every step know you are choosing one.

6) Enjoy the journey!

Checking in tonight, a month later, I found that the discussion boards are now moderated…and sorely lacking in discussion.  I also found the latest updates to Neenah’s blog:

May 16- The Invisible Girl

…When I’m around the larger group, I call myself the Invisible Girl. But unlike the superhero, I can not render myself uninvisible at will (maybe because I don’t have her curves).

Tonight there’s going to be a party. It’s a barn dance, actually. I don’t think there will be square dancing or anything, just top 40s music and regular dancing. It’s a fundraiser for the local National Guard.

You would think I’d be excited to be around so many single men, but as invisible girl, getting my hopes up around this group is pointless. Although I’ve gone on more than 20 gatherings with the larger group, I have never once been asked out by any of the men, not even flirted with. While other people are hooking up all around me, I’m telling some guy, who has already been introduced to me on numerous occasions, my name for the 3rd or 4th time, while he looks above my head for a girl he will actually make eye contact with.

Well, I haven’t seen my group of friends since I started my 52 week project. I wonder if this gathering will be different. Obviously they won’t be different, but maybe I will be. Maybe these 18 weeks have given me a vibe that makes more men attracted to me. After all, I’ve dated more men this year than I did in the last several years combined. I even have 2 dates scheduled for next week, which ends my 5 week dry spell - thank God.

So tonight we shall see if Invisible Girl has acquired new powers. If I could pick one, what would it be? Well tonight, it would definitely be Magnet Girl. What superpower would you select?

May 17 - The Wallflower Superhero

Well, no new superpowers emerged last night. I was indeed Invisible Girl, but I am partially to blame. I was a bit of a wallflower. Sometimes I anticipate disappointment and when a hint of it appears I allow it to take over. I searched Marvel Comics and I can’t find Wallflower Girl. I can’t imagine why, because her ability to destroy fun is pretty powerful. Have you ever felt like giving up, even when you weren’t necessarily failing?

I don’t even know where to start. I hesitate to comment on Neenah’s “progress”, because I can’t imagine doing anything so personal and revealing in quite so public a fashion, myself.   (I thought it best to limit detailed discussion of my dating disasters to a few select friends.)  But as uncomfortable as I am with Neenah’s experiment, I find myself wanting to offer her advice based on my own dating experiences! She’s a voyeur’s dream.

To express concern for Neenah seems patronizing –after all, she’s a grown-ass woman.  I really want to take her at her word that she’s fulfilled as a single woman, and that she’s not worried about not being married.  And yet…

I just hope she really is managing to have “fun in the process”, despite appearances.

“Forty-five percent of black women in America have never been married, compared with 23 percent of white women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey in 2006.” 

Admittedly, I’ve only skimmed Neenah’s site but I haven’t seen her citing the above oft-cited–usually in the form of a lament–statistic as part of her motivation.  In fact, Neenah doesn’t comment on color at all except to say that she’s “open to all ethnicities.”  Read CNN producer Dionne Hill’s reaction to being the embodiment of this statistic.  My favorite quote from her article: “If I remain in my current statistical category, a single black woman, it will be because I missed someone while gazing at the ancient obelisks of Egypt’s Karnak Temple, partying with expats in Hong Kong or simply spending time with family and friends in America.”



by Deesha Philyaw
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