I got the opportunity to interview the lovely Susan Winter!
As seen on OPRAH, bestselling author/relationship expert Susan Winter (Allowing Magnificence and Older Women/Younger Men) specializes in evolutionary forms of loving partnership and higher thinking. She writes, speaks and coaches on accessing our inherent perfection in life and love. Media credits include: THE OPRAH SHOW, THE TODAY SHOW, GOOD MORNING AMERICA, ABC/CBS/NBC EVENING NEWS, CNN, BBC, COSMO, HARPERS BAZAAR, PEOPLE, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, NEW YORK MAGAZINE, THE LONDON TIMES, and THE NEW YORK TIMES. In radio, Susan is a frequent guest on NPR, ABC, PLAYBOY RADIO (Sirius), and CBS News Radio. She’s also a contributing writer for THE HUFFINGTON POST, and THE GOOD MEN PROJECT. www.susanwinter.net
When did you write your first book, and what inspired you to become an author?
Older Women/Younger Men was published in 2000. I was a first time writer that had a message I really needed to share; that love can (and does) exist between an older woman and a younger man.
The inspiration for that book came from ten years of experiencing horrific discrimination by my community and society at large.
Though I realized my relationship with my much younger mate was ‘different,’ that didn’t mean it was ‘bad’ (and that I was bad). My boyfriend and I were the brunt of brutal gossip, false accusations, and aggressive behavior everywhere we went. It was a modern day witch-hunt. We both suffered terribly. The ongoing hatred we experienced eventually destroyed our ability to remain together as a couple. I vowed to never let that happen to anyone else.
Did you always want to be an author?
I never foresaw myself becoming a writer. The only reason I wrote a book was because it was the most powerful platform by which one could affect and transform social consciousness.
How did you know what your purpose was? Did you always want to coach/help people?
No. I found my purpose through this romantic event.
I always knew I’d express my purpose through communication. I’d come to NYC originally as an Opera singer. I transitioned to corporate communications, and later hosted my own national TV show on what is now CNBC.
The exactness of my purpose came to light when I was fighting for the rights of other couples’ love. It was bad enough that social discrimination had destroyed my relationship. What about the countless others who’d found love with a partner outside of their age range? That greater concern sparked my real voice and prompted the work I do today.
What does it feel like being a best selling author?
It’s rewarding for one reason only—that I’ve been able to reach people worldwide and eliminate vicious discrimination for all other age-gap couples. I’ve also been able to extend my conversation to Millennial dating, the hookup culture, and how I believe we may better approach dating and mating in today’s world.
What's your favorite written piece from all that you've written in your life?
I really poured my heart out in an article called “A Woman’s Worth.” It’s a piece that breaks the barriers of our worth being tied to youth and beauty. Another personal favorite is a chapter from my second book, Allowing Magnificence, entitled “The Point of No Return.” It shares the inner story of how the choices we make in our authentic awareness can separate us from our former life, as they awaken us to our expanded, new life.
How is it working with clients, what kind of problems do they face and how do you help them?
This is the part of my work that I find the most rewarding. I love seeing the mental transformation that occurs within my clients as they embrace their own power, and begin to trust themselves (and their choices).
The nature of their problems center around getting their love lives to be more functional and rewarding. Whether it’s amending how they approach dating, becoming closer to the mate they have, or getting back with an ex… my clients are seeking advice on a better approach to loving partnership.
How do you define personal success, and how does it feel to be on shows like The Oprah Show, Good Morning America, ABC/CBS/NBC etc.
The definition of personal successes is unique to each of us. For me, it’s knowing that I’m good at what I do, and that what I do is important. I’ve had a lifelong need to be one of the best in my field—regardless of whichever career I’ve embraced at the time.
It’s also rewarding to know that one’s opinion and philosophy are valued. I like being a voice of empowerment. So many times the root of human suffering lies in misdirected thought, and inaccurate perception. Anything I can do to eliminate confusion, chaos, and despair means that more people will find happiness and inner cohesion.
I love being on TV. It feels like a second home to me because I’ve spent so many years on stage and in front of a camera. Plus, being on the types of shows you’ve stated above holds the added benefit of reaching millions of people. The impact is huge, and the possibility of creating a real transformation is inherent within this medium.
And by the way, Oprah is amazing. She really is “the real deal.” She was the first interviewer that understood and valued what I was saying. It marked a massive shift in human consciousness when my message of greater inclusion and acceptance was transmitted worldwide on her show and had her personal stamp of approval. My job was done. I’d taken my negative experience to the finest positive outcome possible. That’s true alchemy.
How has your personal life influenced your work? Tell me a bit about your take on relationships and how societal norms don't matter as much as they seem (age, needing to get married, having kids?
All of my work has stemmed from my own journey. I didn’t have a roadmap. I had to figure it out on my own. Once I’d found solid footing, I couldn’t wait to share that with others who also sought guidance for a changing world.
Having gone through the transit I did with a much younger man, I was able to foresee how much of society is shifting and changing, as well. The relationships I’ve chosen to create are not “traditional.” Yet, they’re equally functional and rewarding.
By opening up the box to new romantic choices beyond the traditional, we all flourish. If you want a traditional relationship model, that’s awesome. You know how to proceed and you know the rules of the game.
If you want to create a relationship À la Carte, you’re now free to do that as well. This added option allows for greater authenticity. It enables an individual to include the aspects of a traditional relationship that are wanted, and eliminate the unwanted aspects of that format. This encourages more meaningful relationships as they’re based on honesty and truth.
You may not want the kind of life your neighbors want. You may not want the kind of relationship your parents would’ve wanted you to have. All of this is okay. Freedom to choose the love we want, the way we want it, and with whom we want it is our Divine right.
Our current state of “romantic disruption” is not unlike other forms of disruption we’re seeing in our modern world. Disruption is often the key to new ideas and the birth of new systems. We see this occurring in technology, communication, funding, and business models.
Embracing change requires establishing a solid infrastructure to withhold our forward movement. This is the basis of my work. I seek to make sense out of a changing world and provide options that may not have been formerly considered.
What advice would you give females who deal with traumatic breakups?
I know you’re in pain. I’ve been there. But you’ll survive and thrive the moment you connect the dots and realize it’s not about “them.” The only love you ever felt was YOUR love. It can only be thus.
It “appears” that your partner was the source of the love you felt. Not so. Your partner simply
Life continues to offer us challenges. That’s the nature of the design. But it’s purposeful. Life offers us challenges so that we can grow into the expanded version of ourselves. We can embrace Life’s challenges with greater authority and confidence once we trust ourselves to guide the way.
What past relationships experiences have you had that led you to the knowledge you have today?
In 2004, I decided to date “bad boys.” On purpose. The reasoactivated the love that exists within you. You own this love. That means you’re free to love whomever you want, whenever you want.
Why is self-love so important?
When we don’t like ourselves we’re subject to the whims of others as a form of seeking their approval. Whether it’s love, friendship, work, or family… we need to retain a solid basis of our own knowing, and our own worth.
Self-love is immensely important in romance. The feeling of love urges us to put our partner’s needs first. That’s a beautiful thing as long as it’s not to our own detriment. The person who lacks self-love will blow past their own boundaries in a way that’s harmful in order to gain acceptance and approval from their beloved.
How does your relationship with yourself affect your relationship with your partner, and what has your experience been with that?
The relationship you have with yourself defines the relationship you’ll have with another. If you’re insecure, you’ll constantly be chasing your partner for approval. If you feel badly about yourself you’ll find partners that mirror your inadequacy.
We cannot import what we do not have within.
I turned the corner in my own self-approval about 16 years ago. Fighting my way through all the nasty press (pre-Oprah) forced me to unite with myself. I realized no one could protect me, and no one would protect me. I had to protect the rights of others, so I needed to be strong. I had to be on my own side.
I’d lived without external approval for so many decades that I was forced to make a decision; I could keep seeking support from those who wouldn’t give it, or simply give it to myself.
I decided to make peace with who I was, and how I chose to live my life. Once I did that—to my great surprise everybody around me made peace with my choices as well. Suddenly and quite stunningly, all of my relationships changed for the better.
The external support I was seeking finally came, but only after I supported myself.
My romantic partnerships changed. I had no fear of speaking up and sharing my truth. I felt empowered to express my feelings, and to negotiate on points where I wanted a different outcome. I began to realize that I could create exact type of relationship I wanted through mental clarity and excellent communication. I trusted myself. And the more I trusted myself, the more others trusted me.
As we come into the knowing of ourselves, ALL things around us change in correspondence.
As we become unified with ourselves, the problems and issues we had with people begin to fade away.
I couldn’t help my girlfriends with their dating problems. I’d only been in long-term, monogamous relationships. I didn’t have a skill set to understand, evaluate, or offer advice on the kinds of guys my friends were dating.
I owe all of my current knowledge of games, con’s, tricks and psychological maneuvers to this time period’s research. Without having thrown myself into the arms of the bad boys and players I couldn’t begin to decode the games that are going on within the hookup culture.
How do you help people get over heartbreaks?
Though the pain of a breakup is emotional, the cure is mental.
I work with my clients in shifting their perspective. The most important aspect is to liberate their sense of victimization. By showing them the scenes of their “romantic movie” from a different viewpoint, my clients begin to feel their confidence and power returning.
As a relationship expert, I’d be doing great disservice to those I counsel if I didn’t also provide an “exit strategy.”
Breakups are an ongoing issue for which we all need an effective game plan. Knowing this, I recently released an audio booklet called Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache. I cover seven steps that systematically take the listener from confusion to confidence, from heartache to optimism, and activate the process of internal healing.
What do you think is the most important part of a loving relationship?
I’m a huge fan of appreciation. I firmly believe that expressing gratitude, kindness, and appreciation for our mate is the bedrock of a long lasting, passionate, growth filled partnership.
This doesn’t mean that you’re a submissive wimp or a weak pushover. Validating our mate is a powerful act. It’s generosity, by choice. Its impact is astounding. I call it the ‘Miracle-Gro Effect’ that keeps a relationship alive and flourishing.
How do you view the "gender norms" of relationships; do you think the male should always dominate a relationship?
No, I don’t believe a male should always dominate a relationship. That’s been a long-standing problem in many cultures that has only created inequality and the submission of women to a format that disempowers their inherent wisdom and contribution to the relationship.
Modern relationships are built on equality. Each couple defines their own participation, and negotiates what’s expected of each other. There’s more of a give-and-take mentality today.
This is a far superior model in that both individuals have a communal voice.
What is the most fulfilling part of giving relationship advice to so many people and getting positive feedback in response?
My favorite part of the consultation process is watching my clients grow, as they gain confidence and self-esteem. The point of all of my coaching is to teach other’s how to ‘teach themselves.”
A great mentor will give you the tools to find your own strength and power. That’s a real teacher. Enabling the person to know that they have the power within themselves to make the correct decisions… that’s the most fulfilling part of giving relationship advice.
Thank you so much Susan!