“Players are easy to spot. I know because I was one” RC interview with Laid Bare author Jesse Fink

“Players are easy to spot. I know because I was one” RC interview with Laid Bare author Jesse Fink

Laid Bare
Hachette | By Jesse Fink | Buy here

After ten years of marriage and a child together, sports journalist Jesse Fink is floored when his beloved wife Lara walks out on him and their marriage. What comes next? A bachelor pad in Sydney’s Darlinghurst (but of course) and women. Lots of women. Fink chronicles, with brutal honesty, his post-split journey, which swings from online dating sojourns to overseas hook-ups, brothels and short-lived love affairs. He writes about his quest for love. His attempts to become a better single dad. And his battles with chronic OCD. Some of this book is quite sad. Some of it will make you bristle. But it’s got a lot to say to dads who are suddenly single; to women in the dating trenches trying hard to sort the duds from the diamonds. Here’s my email chat with Jesse, and if you’ve read the book I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments.

Hi Jesse, thanks for talking to me. You write about how online dating turns some previously nice guys into cads browsing what amounts to a ‘vagina catalogue’. Do you really believe this is true of most men in the internet dating world?

I know a lot of guys who are in it for the right reasons and hear many success stories. And in Laid Bare I meet a girl online I fall in love with: Frankie. But even men with the best intentions are in danger of being corrupted by the supermarket-like nature of online dating. It gets back to that line from Douglas Coupland about option paralysis: when given so many choices you make none. It can be very easy to fall into the “player” life (no commitments, tons of casual sex) because of online dating. I did. The temptations are there. It takes a strong man to resist them. And for a period there I wasn’t that strong.

Could it be that it was more specific to your circumstances (ie, your divorce and your OCD)?

My experience is not unique. I’ve had a lot of letters from men and women since Laid Bare was released, all telling me that they escaped the pain of divorce, separation and the break-up of their families through casual sex. I’ve also met a number of people who’ve been struggling with OCD – an anxiety disorder – and they’ve chosen to ‘self-medicate’ in various ways, sex being one of them. So for me, I was looking to neutralise pain from two sources: emotional heartbreak and mental torment. I’m heartened that my decision to open up about my OCD has given other people the courage to reach out and talk about their own stories. OCD is a terrible thing to live with and unfortunately the media doesn’t help the public’s understanding of what OCD really involves for the person suffering from it. Obsessions can be completely debilitating. Anyone who says, “I’m so OCD” when they’re talking about cleaning the house needs a kick up the arse. It’s deeply offensive to anyone who knows what OCD is really about and how malevolent it is.

Bottom line: are women kidding themselves if they think they’re actually going to find someone decent online?

No, that decent guy is out there. But you’re kidding yourself if you think that the man who ticks every box on your checklist doesn’t have a whole bunch of options available to him and won’t be tempted exploring them, often at the same time. A female friend of mine recently said to me, after meeting her boyfriend on RSVP: “I wasn’t attracted to him initially. But he had a great manner about him. I kept feeling myself being pulled towards his personality and not his look. We have so much in common. As soon as I let go of what I thought was my ‘usual type’ (athletes, young guys, etc) and opened my mind I was rewarded with this amazing relationship.” So there you go. It can work.

What words of advice would you give women about online dating? How can we spot men who are just using it in this way?

The players are easy to spot. I know because I was one. Phrases such as “I’m finding it difficult to find the right girl for me” and “‘I’m seeking new experiences and new friends” should be red flags. The cheesy sincerity. The shirtless photos. The physical requirements they list for potential partners. If you stay on a dating site long enough the same faces will keep popping up and when a guy is handsome, smart, fit, independent, humorous, has a career and can’t find a girlfriend within a short timeframe after putting himself online there’s a very good reason. He’s a player. We all want to see the best in people and overlook warning signs when we feel attraction. You are going to make mistakes. That’s normal. But by the same token you can do a bit of research to minimise those mistakes and you should always trust your intuition.

As a reader I have to admit I was torn between thinking you were extremely shallow and feeling rather sorry for you. What’s been the response to the book (by men and women?)

I’ve received about 60 letters over the past few weeks from men and women around Australia; but mostly women. All incredibly supportive. In fact I got one about five minutes ago from a bloke who said he suffered from OCD and depression and was trying to keep his relationship together after a trial separation. He started by saying: “You are a brave man to open up and share those details of your life, something I know I can never do with my closest family and friends.” A single mother wrote and told me: “Thanks for putting some of my story into words. I hope it will help me move forward a bit smarter, if not quicker.” A single girl wrote to me this week and said: “It was so refreshing to read a book written about love and relationships by a man. I can’t tell you how many bullshit chick lit books there are out there, without any substance…” The book has obviously hit a nerve in some people.

What does your ex think of the book? Did you show it to her before it was published?

“Lara” hasn’t read it and I didn’t show it to her before it was published. However I took the precaution of having people close to her read it. They all said she came out of it well and that’s what I’d hoped. I wrote it with great affection for her. Only recently she told me she wanted a signed copy to take away with her on holidays. I hope she reads it and understands me a whole lot better and what I went through, not just during the separation and the divorce but even before we broke up.

Have you copped any serious flak from exes described in the book? Did they, and your ex-wife, agree with your portrayal of how things went down?

There was one woman in the book, “Phoebe”, who objected to the fact I’d slept with prostitutes and unloaded both barrels on me when she found out – even before the book was released. I’ve attempted to have a friendship with her but she’s not interested. “Frankie” has written several times to wish me luck, tell me “it’s going to be amazing” and most recently: “I want a copy so I can find out how much of a brothel creeper you were.” “Sunny” in San Francisco keeps badgering me for a copy and remains a good friend. “Marguerite” is supportive. I’ve patched up things with “Olivia”, who now lives in England and has a new boyfriend. So, no, the reactions from my exes have been positive.

There’s a real poignancy to how you write about the life and, in a sense, the plight of the single dad. How much were you writing this as a support for other single dads out there?

Very much so. As Peter Wilmoth wrote in the Herald Sun about Laid Bare: “The life of a newly single father has not been much explored in Australian literature. In many ways the separated man loses his old identity and needs to carve a new one. This man’s voice is not often heard, possibly because men aren’t good at talking about this, let alone writing about it.” That encapsulates what I was trying to do with Laid Bare. There was a need for it. I wanted other men out there who were going through the anguish of separation and divorce to know that they are never alone and we’re all human. We make mistakes. We fuck up. And eventually we learn and move on.

What would be your advice to newly single dads who are suddenly in that situation you were in?

Be patient. It’s a long road. Surround yourself with people who really know how separation and divorce feels. A lot of people don’t. There’s nothing like having someone to talk to who can empathise with the cycle of emotions you’re going through. Recovery takes a long time. There’s a journey of great pain but also great enlightenment ahead and the time will come when you’re going to look back on what you’re going through now and smile, even laugh. Chances are you’ll be in a much better place with a different life and new dreams for the future.

You’re obviously crazy about your daughter and she sounds like a wise little soul. Has she asked to read it when she’s older? Is there a part of you that cringes thinking she’ll read it and be a bit sickened by it (and your, ahem, rather disposable approach to women)?

She’s proud of me. I’m proud of her. It might sound corny, but we’re a team. We’ve been through a lot. I want her to know my story and why I was detached from her for a good part of her early life. One day she’ll be old enough to read it and process it. I have no problem with that. Ultimately my search was – and is – one for love. I can’t think of anything nobler, so why would I have a problem with her knowing about that? I want her to place love at a premium, take risks and live her life with some integrity, like I try to do. It’s the best lesson I can give her.

Has the book improved your love life? Are you still internet dating (has the book made that harder)?

I’m not online but I’m not short of offers; in fact I’ve had a lot of emails and friend requests from women who don’t seem to be put off by the story I put to paper or having laid myself as bare as I did. Honesty is a rare commodity, clearly. What’s improved my love life is me. Being happy, fit, centred, fulfilled. That makes me more attractive. Not the book.

Has writing it changed you and if so how? Are you still on a quest to find true love?

No one writes books for the money. It’s just something you do because you want to do it and have something to say. But Laid Bare is easily the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s opened up a whole bunch of opportunities for me. I’ve had interest from film producers in Australia and the United States. I’m talking about sex and relationships in magazines and on TV. I got a deal to write a new book, a rock music bio. That’ll be out the end of next year. I’m never going to stop wanting true love in my life or in having another “glimpse of eternity”. Why would anyone give up on that? It’s what living is all about.

Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).

44 Comments

  1. Rick 1 year ago

    I know Jesse Fink.

    I know all about the lies, the way he treats his ‘women’… His genuine ‘tally’ & his creepy, possessive behavior.

    This man is a fraud, a cheat, a liar & destitute for good reason….

    I hope you get all you deserve Fink – a whole lot of nothing.

  2. Gen 3 years ago

    I’m kinda wondering how Jesse had the time to write a book. He seems to spend more time writing dating profiles for his mates!

  3. Rob 3 years ago

    Nice one Alison/Genny. Karma will abound.

  4. Jen 4 years ago

    As someone who is involuntarily part of Laid Bare I can vouch for the lack of honesty that Fink writes with. The man is a walking monument to fiction and his website is a construction of fakery designed to boost very lame sales of his book.

  5. Christopher 4 years ago

    I am a ‘victim’ of this book and what I know is that there are some people who have been very hurt by being either misrepresented by Jessie’s writing or simply incorrectly portrayed. Everyone is entitled to privacy and this man should respect that instead of promoting himself with other peoples lives. He would not publish my comment on his site.

  6. Copout 4 years ago

    As one man referred to in this book, I know that my part at least is not true. I was not in the Police Force when the relationship that I was conned into was happening.

  7. Emma Brady 4 years ago

    You’re Fink aren’t you ‘Christine’. Back to falling in love in front of the mirror Chrissie.

    • Sarah 4 years ago

      Ooooooo the dirt is starting to show.

      Have we been watching a man with multiple female identities?

      Go Emma, this could get fascinating.

  8. Emma Brady 4 years ago

    OK girls (boys, your comments on Fink’s site show you should stick to soccer chat) I’ve been watching this site and a few others and I think I know what is going on. This is my take on Fink’s ‘biography’; it is a half-truth. There are some real events and some real people, and there is a fair bit drawn from the internet, particularly sleaze porn, which creates an indescribable hollow feeling of the shallow way women are depicted. God it’s juvenile.

    The book is supposed to be biographical yet the identities are hidden by pseudonyms, which doesn’t make sense when the object is of being laid bare. Fink says that none of his friends or lovers objected to his writing, yet he obscures them, so they all can’t be real. Therefore the book fails at it’s conception, and ironically neatly refelects the internet dating world of annonimity and falsehood, which further arouses suspicion about honesty and authenticity.

    No, this is laid bare with a cover up. There isn’t any skill in the writing as it is easy to shock. A skilled writer would have woven a path through the mire and aroused at least some intrigue and perception of a journey instead of the tedium of rehashed webporn. The complete absence of humour in what are so many farcical situations is another missed opportunity. I can’t help but contrast Fink with Marieke Hardy who has such a skill with being able to delight in shock and humour that I want her to never stop writing. With similar material Fink makes me squirm with unpleasantness and I wished that he had written less.

    I can confidentely say that Laid Bare belongs on the fiction shelf of your local library. Failing that, the discount bin at some hideous mega-book mall.

    • Suzette 4 years ago

      Go Emma!

  9. Sarah 4 years ago

    I know Sash I know, that character Gully left his own corrupted trail of women when following the path of internet dating set by his mate Fink. Just another 30 second wonder in the bedroom pretending to be in the market for love.

    • Nic 4 years ago

      Oh come on 30 seconds is a bit harsh. A minute was more like it. Boring as bat poo as well.

  10. lisa 4 years ago

    But Anthony loves him. that’s the main thing. So typical of an Aussie boy resenting having to pay for dinner without a getting a root at the other end. Creeps united. That’s the real love story at the end of this book.

  11. Jane 5 years ago

    Sash, a) I believe you mean cretins, not Cretans; b) as someone who has penned case studies on psychopaths and sociopaths, I can tell you the author possesses nothing even remotely resembling the traits of a sociopath; c) if you’ve only read a few chapters, your opinion is based on far too little information to be well-informed, yet remains ripe with judgment. It is your commentary, rather, which is the poorly written half-truth. Not to mention insulting. Seems you have an axe to grind. You are continuing to foster debate, however, so the author has at least succeeded in this objective.

    Sarah, “He writes that sexual desire for a person is from physical attraction.” True. He believes that sexual desire begins with physical attraction… and goes on to explain that what sustains that desire and breeds love are the more substantive factors, impossible to glean from an online dating profile: personality, intelligence, idiosyncrasies, sense of humor, chemistry, etc. It’s why online dating profiles include photos – no one is sorting through prospects based on personality first. No one. Everyone puts his/her best face forward in a profile for that very reason.

    Second, sexual desire and love are two very different things. Sexual desire alone, sex purely for the gratification of having sex, is of course largely rooted in physical attraction. This is not an affront to women. Women do the same thing. And this is not ignorance this is reality. “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”

    Lastly – “lacking in prose, structure and feeling?” Really? What book did you read?

  12. Linda 5 years ago

    At first I skimmed this book in a store and after hearing Jesse being interviewed I went and bought it. Certainly not for the faint hearted!

    I wouldn’t recommend it as I don’t see the examination of the authors five years as that, I saw ego and ridiculous hope from online fantasies. I mean, who in their right mind asks someone online to move in with them? (WTF?) There were just too many implausible events and personalities, something like all of Paul Kelly’s songs mixed into one tale.

    Linda

    PS. Is the Ron story of his wife and the policeman really true and is that policeman the same man with Gully’s wife?

    • Sarah 4 years ago

      They are two different coppers, each with their own internet dating’ history’.

  13. Sarah 5 years ago

    I don’t think that anyone could vouch for Laid Bare as being well written, the style is after all lacking in prose, structure and feeling. It is a story of interest and perhaps a salutory lesson of the the possible pitfalls of internet dating. Quite clearly Fink lacks empathy, but I have to take exception to something that really bothered me. He writes that sexual desire for a person is from physical attraction. How ignorant is this man! He lost me when he put that view onto the page, completely lost me and I think that many women would feel the same.
    Immaturity and ego abound with this man, something that I am sure will be elevated with all the attention that he has received since he launched Laid Bare.

    • Sash 5 years ago

      Sarah you have hit the nail on the head. A true narcissist. Its quite sad really. I read a few chapters and and havent picked it up again.

      • Alison 5 years ago

        Oh thank god! I was beginning to think I was losing my mind. I couldn’t believe at least some other women didn’t have a similar reaction to this book as I did!

        Sash, maybe you can’t say, but I’m kind of fascinated to know which of the characters you know? (Again, I don’t know Fink personally or any of the women he dated.) And, yes, I agree re the narcissism and also the emotional carnage these men leave behind. As I’ve said elsewhere here, while Fink alludes to that in the book I didn’t really see him showing any real empathy for the women he was fucking – and fucking up -and that’s a large part of what angered me about the book.

  14. Cal 5 years ago

    The truth is sometimes ugly Alison as someone who has given internet dating a fair effort. I would say Laid Bare’s assessments are fairly accurate. If you don’t like how Fink treats women I would say you should remember that all those women chose to be with Fink . Since it would seem that he was always honest ,responsibility for wanting to be with him would lie with the women doing the choosing. Therefore if they were treated like crap it was there own choice. If some women don’t like the outcomes they are getting with online dating, perhaps they should change how they make their decisions.

    I personally have given up on internet dating as a complete waste of time since I get very little response from women there as they are undoubtedly overwhelmed for choice and as an average man am not flash enough to make the grade. Here I am talking about common courtesy to respond to messages, so where is the chance for connection there when women don’t respond?

    Undoubtedly they are responding to someone, the “players” of the world and in many profiles I see women wanting to avoid exactly that. I find that fascinating and hilarious. Perhaps what they are objecting to is the reversal of the fictional paradigm that exists in there heads (All these men want me but 90% aren’t good enough so I won’t bother until something really great comes along then we will live happily ever after). Undoubtedly there are good men out there but it aint all teddy bears and lollipops, the sooner everyone realizes this the sooner we can all start making better decisions.

    • Alison 5 years ago

      “If you don’t like how Fink treats women I would say you should remember that all those women chose to be with Fink . Since it would seem that he was always honest ,responsibility for wanting to be with him would lie with the women doing the choosing.”

      Actually, no. That was one of my biggest problems with his behaviour. He makes it quite clear that he WASN’T honest with these women about what he was doing/looking for (or rather, not), that he viewed many of them mainly as an ego stroke/quick gratification and that he, in his own words, “didn’t consider the trail of emotional destruction he left in his wake.” I understand why, given his personal circumstances at the time, which could make even a good man behave very badly, but I still found it objectionable and often painful to read.

      • Cal 5 years ago

        Well I will have to get my copy back from a friend to check but as I remember it he was ultimately looking for love. I don’t remember anywhere where he made mention of being dishonest about what he was doing/ looking for. I would imagine he wouldn’t have needed to anyway. If they did not meet his expectation or standards for romantic love how is that any different to what many very average women also do on a regular basis very early in an interaction. At least he gave them the chance, as did the women, for that deeper connection to perhaps develop as it sometimes did in the book. I understand why you would find it objectionable and there would be many women and men who would share that viewpoint. That point of view is one that I do not think is taking into consideration the whole picture of what is going on between men and women in the search for love, sex and connection, just my point of view of course, but based on what I have seen and experienced not what I assume. As long as people are making decisions based on honesty and not assumptions that is the best that anyone can do for another.

        • lisa 4 years ago

          You’re Fink arn’t you Cal ? 🙂

  15. Alison 5 years ago

    I have to say that I find it interesting that these passionate defenses seem rather clearly written by Fink’s friends/acolytes. Anthony, mate, recognize you from social media relating to this book and you’re clearly one of Fink’s coffee shop/footy buddies. I would have guessed anyway by the ending of your post with 10/10. Just ever-so-slightly transparent.

    RY, with all due respect – and we can beg to differ here because, yes, I thought aspects of Fink’s behavior were not only superficial and misguided but also rather sexist (don’t have the time to give a lengthy treatise about why right now but I highly doubt I’m the only female reader who will come away with this sense), you also give yourself away as a likely friend of Fink’s with this: “At least you recognised after reading the book that his daughter is indeed a bright spark.”

    And, please, if she’s such a bright spark do you really think she’s not going to be keen to read Daddy’s book that’s getting all the attention now? You really think he’ll be able to keep it from her til she’s an adult? And do you also think it will be helpful for developing a healthy view of adult relationships for an adolescent to read all about her Dad fucking prostitutes and etc? 

    Look, I’m not saying I couldn’t relate to or empathize with a lot of Fink’s behavior, misguided as I thought much of it was. I once went on RSVP after a bad long-term breakup and I know how the combo can be a molotov cocktail for bad behavior. I didn’t actually hate the book as much as it may have sounded – Jesse is indeed an excellent writer – but I did have VERY conflicted feelings about some of its content and I did find a fair bit of it annoying, offensive and at times downright sickening as a women who’s done online dating. But, as I said, I felt a lot of sympathy for him and I’m sure many OCD sufferers will be very grateful to him for highlighting their plight.

    That said, I still think he lacked a large degree of self-awareness and, more gratingly, empathy for the women he was screwing and how his self serving actions affected them. And yes, I think he was pretty fucked up at the time. I believe he says as much himself!!

    Darlo lad, lovely to see your unbiased opinion and found it rather heartening.

    • Anthony 5 years ago

      My transparency, Alison, is in the fact that I – the only one so far – left my website (where I have written a review). Good work, Inspector Clouseau. Maybe you should identify yourself then. More importantly, it doesn’t change any of the facts in what I said i.e. my personal experiences. You asked for “other people who’ve read this book [to] chime in” so I did. I would have thought comments from people who actually know the author would be of benefit to this blog. And, all opinions are biased based on our experiences. Enjoy Danielle Steel.

      • Alison 5 years ago

        Anthony, there’s no need to be rude and insulting in implying that I only like trashy literature (Danielle Steel. Pffft. Hardly) just because I wasn’t entirely adoring about your mate’s book. Or, for that matter, because I called you out on the – evidently correct – fact that your opinion may just be ever-so-slightly biased.

        You are entitled to your opinion. As am I. Although in my opinion, mine was the more honest and balanced – you might note that I also commented on the aspects of the book I thought had genuine merit, alongside stating my issues with it. It wasn’t a friend’s gushing review but nor was it a thoughtless unfounded attack.

        As for identifying myself – I’m simply someone who read the book. I don’t know Fink personally, nor do I have any other agenda in commenting other than as a reader who purchased and read his book.

        • Anthony 5 years ago

          Whether I knew him or not, I still would have enjoyed this book on the merit of its content. I have been honest the entire time. It’s very close to the mark for many men, and that’s the point you seem to miss. I have had nine friends (who don’t know him) read it, five men, four women, and they enjoyed it. One female friend read it in one afternoon. Just because you don’t agree with his actions or ideas, doesn’t make him a fucked up breed or a disgusting father. The book isn’t perfect, he isn’t perfect (he admits as much) but neither are you or I.

          I’m glad you bought it and took something from it. But he’s not what you suggested he is in your first post. It’s incredibly brave to put something like that out into the world.

          • Alison 5 years ago

            Actually, I agree he is brave to put all that out there and all credit to him for that. Any intelligent author willing to put themselves on the line like that knows that discussion and debate will ensue – and not all of it will be positive.

            By ‘fucked up breed’ on RSVP I meant what the author himself acknowledges – that he was in a very dysfunctional headspace when he was internet dating.

            I did not call him a disgusting father – I am not in a position to judge his parenting skills – what I questioned was his wisdom/taste in dedicating such a book to his daughter. That’s not the same thing as slandering his ability as a parent or his love for his child.

            As for my missing the point that many men will relate to it, that’s apropos of nothing – no doubt they will. No doubt some women will too. I myself related to aspects of it. That doesn’t mean I liked all of it nor do I have to.

            If you want to go down the ‘well my friends said’ road, the one other women I know who’s read it had similar feelings to me. The one guy I know who (started) reading it said he couldn’t get past the first few chapters because it made him feel “dirty” and “repulsed” as a guy currently on RSVP.

            Some people will love this book. Others won’t. Fink himself acknowledges in the foreword that this is a controversial book and not everyone will like what he has to say.

          • Poppy 4 years ago

            Shallow drivel penned by a narcissist. Next.

        • lisa 4 years ago

          I’m with you Alison. The bully boys are closing in 😉

      • Sash 5 years ago

        Go RON!

    • RY 5 years ago

      Wow, Alison, just wow.
      Your way of addressing valid points contrary to your own is to wholesale dismiss them as being written by friends? What are you, 12?!
      I have absolutely no idea whether the daughter is in fact a bright spark or not. But from reading the book, I recognised her as being street-smart and wise beyond her young years. Clearly, you detected this, too. So what are we arguing about here?
      I still don’t understand what exactly you object to so much? Is that you feel the author can’t write? Or you don’t like the way he told the story? Or is that you don’t like him as a person? In other words, you’re just judgemental individual with a closed mind to anything else.
      If it makes you feel better to judge people harshly, then go ahead, Supreme Being, but please do all us all a favour and get some happy in your life.

      • Alison 5 years ago

        “In other words, you’re just judgemental individual with a closed mind to anything else.”

        Er, and that comment isn’t a “wholesale dismissal of viewpoints contrary to YOUR own”? With, I might add, a nasty side of judgmental thrown in that is far more personally attacking than anything I have written here. I have plenty of happy in my life, thanks. Nor am I a judgmental, closed-minded person, as I would think the fact I’ve pointed out repeatedly the bits of Fink’s book I did like as well as stating what I didn’t like. Of course it’s not about me not liking him as a person – I’ve never met the guy!

        If you’d bothered to actually read my comments you’d see that I’ve said I think he’s an excellent writer; I think he’s been brave in putting himself out there; I think he’s brought needed attention to the plight of OCD sufferers; and I think he’s made some valid (if scary) points about internet dating. I’d call that a balanced critique.

        I have also stated what I didn’t like about the book quite clearly and I can’t honestly be bothered debating it any further at this stage.

        Jesus Christ people. It’s ok to have differing opinions without needing to get nasty and personal toward someone you have never met and know nothing about!

        Over and out.

        • lisa 4 years ago

          I was worried about the daughter too. He lays a heavy trip on her. Who wants to be their Daddy’s saviour. Yuk.

  16. RY 5 years ago

    Hey Alison,
    I’m a woman and I’ve read the book! After reading your comments, I’m struggling to believe we both actually read the same book.
    Do you really believe Jesse Fink is a misogynist? Seriously? A man who was in a committed and monogamous relationship for 10 years? A man who fell for an artist sublime who twisted his heart and stomped on it? A man who was willing and ready to move in with his childhood sweetheart after silent decades without any hesitation? These may be the actions of a love-sick fool, but are not the actions of a misogynist.
    Yes, his life fell apart, and when that happens, most of us do weird shit we would not in a million years even have imagined. So, he went on a sex spree. He had loads of sex. With *willing participants*. How does that make him “fucked up”?
    I’d venture if your head was in the same place, you wouldn’t even recognise yourself. If all you ever knew – your happy life, your relationship, your dreams for the future – came to a screeching halt, who’s to say how any one of us would react?
    And lastly, I’m astounded at your readiness to judge the relationship between a father and child. At least you recognised after reading the book that his daughter is indeed a bright spark.
    Parents only ever want the best they can give their kids. This book will one day be the most precious gift a dad can give his child.
    He’s clearly not going to rub her face in it any time soon and say “Here, read this!”. But one day, as an adult, she will pick it up and gain incredible insight into one of her parents.
    How many of us can ever say we had that kind of insight into one of our own parents? How amazing would it be to know what made them tick; what made them do what they did; the things they did to demonstrate their love for us? If we knew some of this stuff, it would save many of us years on a therapist’s couch.
    Too many people go through life thinking their parents didn’t love them, or at least show them love in a way they expected, when instead they should be getting the fuck out of their own heads and acknowledging their parents were simply people going through their own shit.
    One day, his daughter will be one of the lucky few with this insight.
    Clearly people have differing opinions on the validity of this book. I found it utterly engrossing, revealing, and absurdly honest. I had no idea the world in which the author was travelling even existed.
    Besides, Jesse has a wicked way with words. I am in absolute awe of this book.

  17. Darlo lad 5 years ago

    “Wait a sec” I thought as I read this interview today. I too am recently single, his age, and just moved to Darlinghurst. Clicked and bought. Too early then to comment on the book itself. But, felt the need to speak up about the mens side of online dating, or at least my experience of it. I’ve met two wonderful women online so far, dated one for 6 months and another for 2 years. Moved in together and everything. Went all in, wanted it to work so badly. And never once did I start on this journey without wanting find myself in a long term relationship. Sure, any single man would be thrilled by the thought of a mutually rewarding guilt-free bonk, especially if you’ve just been gutted by a breakup. I’m assuming so would some women. After a breakup everyone goes off the rails a bit, hell this week I’ve caught myself listlessly browsing adult matchmaking websites and buying $35 cocktails. But the whole point of starting online dating is to get off it! I’ve yet to meet any man who refuses to settle on one woman until he’s slept with everyone on the net.
    Ladies the key is to get your radar up so you can read an online profile fast and early. Any man worth your time should be fine to put in some basic effort., like writing a decent email, and picking up the phone for a good long chat before you decide to meet. When I’m ready I’ll be back online, and if I could beg your indulgence, I’m tall, thin, well groomed and well paid, and friendly and loving. You won’t meet me in a bar, because who goes around talks to strangers. But you could definitely meet me online.

  18. Christine 5 years ago

    I’m not entirely sure any piece of literature can speak for as vast a demographic as ALL men. However, I do feel that men need voices like Mr. Fink’s. He may not be representative of all single fathers, but I would wager many men (and women) were thrown in to a similar state of despair and desperation, seeking external validation as Fink did when his wife left.

    Men are often caught off-guard emotionally, which Mr. Fink spoke to with sensitivity and insight. Despite the modern, progressive, liberal age of our society, within a family dynamic men are still often held in the position of bread winner, especially when children are young. Their focus is on career and most men are not groomed to be the sensitive, emotional, hard-wired for connection creatures that women are. We really like to think they are, but it usually takes a giant kick in the proverbial crotch to wake most husbands up. Yet, Fink has made it clear that men long for that connection as much as women do. And when they are shaken to reality by their women leaving, it’s stunning, shocking, completely paralyzing.

    We all understand what it is to be lost. To be completely without the compass we have taken for granted in a relationship, a job, a friend, a home. We seek when we are lost. And when we come back to ourselves, sometimes for the first time, we look back at the path which brought us home and can’t believe the journey we took to find ease again. Like a pendulum swinging excessively, sometimes we need to explore in ways we haven’t dreamed of, or express in ways we have long suppressed, in order to find our true North. Not to mention, Fink is very honest in his revelations of almost wanting to sedate himself, take his mind off his failed marriage by jumping headlong in to a woman’s shorts. Haven’t we all done that with food, wine, shopping, tv?

    Like many readers, I read Mr. Fink’s book and at times felt conflicted at the emotional vacancy in his interactions. I’m not judging his experiences, I’m feeling compassion for him because I’ve been where he was. Not nearly to the same degree, but there is nothing that another human has felt which we can’t all understand through our own experiences. You needn’t be a murderer to understand rage. You needn’t sleep with hundreds of lovers to know loneliness and the endless ache for love.

    I didn’t read Mr. Fink’s tale as a cautionary or entertaining one, I read it as one human’s desire to expose himself with vulnerability and grace. He looks at himself from all angles. He is his biggest persecutor. He stands in the dark with his shadow and draws it out for the world to see. That, takes enormous courage. Can you imagine publishing a book of your deepest, darkest, memories and feelings and letting out for the world to dissect? Mr. Fink has my deep respect for this. I don’t have to love everything he said or experienced to appreciate honesty; a virtue we all desire of each other and most importantly, ourselves.

    Perhaps, you might consider looking at this book as a gift to humanity in the sense that Fink is a man who has been wounded (like we all have), but chooses differently than most men. He exposes himself in order to help others. This is a beautiful step for men in general who have been taught over centuries to stuff down their pain and go numb.

    We are programmed to judge, it’s in our human nature, we do it all day long. But what I hear as the true underlying theme in this book is love, not romantic, but self-love. And as we all know, that comes with enormous self-reflection and painful acceptance. It is not a task for the weak-hearted. Fink delivered that very process to us in this book. He admits to liking women who care about themselves physically and emotionally, there are certain attributes he finds attractive. Well… that’s probably not that uncommon. We want our love to continue no matter what we do; gain weight, take up crack, become a dog humper, whatever. But truth is we all have our bottom line of what we find desirable, and likewise, what we will not live with. He stated his and that’s confronting, but the truth is, we’re no different. Personally, I can’t stand a cologne-drenched, eight-ball leather jacket wearing, gym jock of a man with a neck wider than this head. That’s just me. We all have something.

    All in all, this a snapshot in to one man’s life during a time of transition and heart ache, and it was expressed with more vulnerability than I have witnessed in most humans, male or female. Like or hate his experiences, see the importance of the message underneath it all.

  19. Anthony 5 years ago

    A fantastic interview that asks all the right questions of this talented writer.

    Many of the issues raised in LAID BARE resonated with me. I had a relationship that was not unlike the one with Frankie – on many levels. I also have what I call “OCD Lite”, a less tormenting version of Pure-O, where unwanted thoughts enter my mind but less frequently.

    I have spent the past 12 months looking for love online and am proud to say that I am one of the success stories. The key is to accept imperfection as beautiful.

    This book is seriously good. It made me nod my head in agreement, laugh out loud on numerous occasions, and I empathised with the rollercoaster of emotions Fink felt. All men – at least those who have the balls to put it all on the line – want to love and feel loved.

    I recommend LAID BARE to every man, and any woman who wants to know what it feels like to be inside a man’s head. You won’t put this book down. 10/10.

    • lisa 4 years ago

      I’m in a man’s head! let me out of here!!! feels like a toilet flush.

  20. Alison 5 years ago

    I really hope some other people who’ve read this book chime in because I’d love to hear what other women (and men!) made of it. I felt compelled to order it after reading the excerpt in the Sun Herald, though I think if I’d flicked through the first dozen pages (in which the author largely comes across as a superficial womanizing A-hole) I’d have saved myself the $30.

    I found Laid Bare compelling in a car crash sort of way and vacillated between disgust with Fink for his arrogance and misogyny (yes, yes, he claims to be looking for love but he certainly treats women like crap along the way) and genuine sympathy for him. His honestly re his OCD and the devastation caused by his ex wife leaving him are searing. (Even if part of me wondered how much this book was directed at “Lara” and letting her know he’d fucked 8 bazillion woman since they split.) It definitely made me realize OCD is a debilitating condition that is pretty invisible and misunderstood in society by in large.

    This book fulfilled many of my worst fears about internet dating because I fear the author makes some valid points. I’d love to hear from any guys if and how this resonates with their own experiences. I’d like to think that the author is a rare fucked up breed on sites like RSVP but unfortunately he’s probably not.

    I was also a little disgusted by the book being dedicated to Fink’s daughter, who’s clearly a bright spark who will read it sooner than later. Whatever he might say about teaching his daughter about looking for love he’ll also be teaching her that women are judged first and foremost on their physical attributes and that it’s ok for men to have a ‘use them and lose them’ attitude toward them and sex. Not to mention, his utterly unrealistic expectations about relationships…. On which note, I found his whole ‘glimpse of eternity’ view of love such bollocks it made me want to reach through the pages and slap some sense into him. If that kind of magical thinking is his idea of what love is all about, well, no wonder he keeps being disappointed!

    It seems to me that in this interview Fink is saying that all a decent guy, a ‘catch’ if you will, has to do to find a girlfriend is to ‘put himself online’ and wait for the eager offers to pour in, whereas a women might find a decent guy if she’s willing to settle for someone less attractive. Ugh. (This would almost seem to suggest that men just require an acceptable female-shaped form rather than genuine connection, chemistry and compatibility, which are rather harder things to find – for anyone.)

    I kept reading on hoping for a redemptive ending and lessons learnt but ultimately I didn’t feel the author had gained much self awareness at all, despite the neat wrapping up at the end. But who cares. He got a rock ‘n’ roll book deal. There’s talk of a movie. And he’s presumably getting laid more than ever.

    • Anthony 5 years ago

      I’ve read the book. And, I’ve been on RSVP and eHarmony over the past 12 months. You can make all the assumptions in the world about Fink’s perspective but I can assure you, women today are no different.

      I have dated 25 different women in six months.

      I had one urinate in the park in Newtown on our first date; another ask me to finger her on Darlinghurst Road; another who ordered each of all 12 cocktails on the menu, had dinner and expected me to pay on the first date, drive her home and not even a kiss goodnight; another who played me along for two months with shows, movies and sleep overs while she had another guy on the side in another State. Shall I go on?

      If you’ve missed the point here, it is that this is the dating scene in 2012. Not for all but it’s the norm. Only someone who hasn’t actively participated in online dating would make a claim that this isn’t the case. For the record, I’m not some player either.

      Like Fink says in the book, good men can turn into creeps.

      I have, however, found love and it was through an online dating site. So it does work, if you’re prepared to sort through the liars and time wasters, and spend a shitload of money on dates.

      To the point about Fink’s dedication of the book to his daughter: why wouldn’t he? Is it not blatantly obvious that the one true love he has in his life is the gorgeous, Evie? Dedicating a significant piece of work to the one you love is not uncommon. And to me, he comes across as a cultured father, one who wants his kid to see the human condition early to prepare her for life’s challenges. A lucky kid. The antithesis of the Volvo-driving dads in the suburbs who shelter their kids.

      Fink is not a misogynist either. He’s just honest. Truth doesn’t equal right but it does help to understand the social climate.

      And there’s nothing wrong with romantic love. A “glimpse of eternity” is a nice thought indeed. It’s another way of him saying, “for the rest of my life”.

    • lisa 4 years ago

      Aussie women will put up with anything. Especially in Sydney. Because the only choice is creep or homosexual. Most women will go for creep. Homos can’t get it up for pussy 🙂

    • lisa 4 years ago

      He’s super vain. I find that a turn off in a man or a writer.

      • Sarah 4 years ago

        Too true Lisa and too right Poppy.

        Hey has anyone noticed that Fink’s site has nothing but short blokey accolades for his book. Too contrived to be believable. Somewhat like the book eh?

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