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Why You're Not Married... Yet

by Tracy McMillan

You're a bitch

The deal is this: most men just want to marry someone who is nice to them. Nice includes sex, laughing and occasionally folding the laundry or doing something else he's too lazy to do for himself, just because you love him. Is this you? If my asking makes you mad, the answer is probably not. Being a bitch is about feeling superior to men (and the women who want them), rolling your eyes without knowing it and having a lot of tension around your mouth. You're angry. Now, you probably think you're super smart, or that you're setting boundaries, or that you like to debate a lot. But the truth is you're annoyed - most of all, at men. You're mad that they can hurt you, reject you and seem to want 23-year-old ninnies over powerful and fabulous women such as yourself. At least that's what you tell yourself. But my experience is men don't mind powerful or fabulous. What they mind is emotionally unstable, annoying, scary, bitter, cold and, above all, unloving.

So if you're a bitch and you want to marry someone, you're going to have to be different. You're going to have to be nice. A girl can be hot, sexy, powerful, smart, dynamic and interesting, but if she's not sweet, most (not all, most) guys will not really want to marry her. He might be into the sex, dig your sharp wit and respect your job, but unless you add sweetness to the mix, those are just exciting destinations. Like, say, Reykjavik. It might be fun to visit, but the climate is too fierce to really want to live there.

Check in with yourself right here. Does the idea of having to be sweet make you mad? If it does, then you have a problem. Being nice is not demeaning. It's what makes the world go around. And it's especially what makes a marriage work.

You're crazy

Crazy is about intensity. It's about being out of control emotionally; acting against your own best interests in your relationships; stoking lots of drama; being needy, easily hurt, jealous, insecure and other psychological states that men are not looking for in the mother of their children. It also includes eating disorders, crying after sex and anything you can picture Courtney Love doing.

Intensity is when a regular relationship feels boring to you. Movies, television and love songs insist that intensity equals love. It doesn't. It equals chaos. Think of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Do they really have to ask who's afraid? The answer is her husband, her co-workers, her mother and everyone else she knows.

The reason guys don't like seeing our craziness is that, intuitively, they know it's a sign of dependency. It means you have somehow put too much emphasis on this guy, this situation and how it turns out. And that scares them. Think of dependency as a person leaning against a table. If the table moves, you fall over. No healthy guy really wants you to be that kind of dependent on him. It feels too much like you might do something drastic if he ever leaves you, or even just wants to do something girls hate, like have coffee with his ex.

You being crazy makes men feel turned off and weird. The only guys who are going to desire a long-term partnership with a woman who makes them feel like that are the ones with the mums who are bananas. And, God bless 'em, they have enough to deal with already.

You're a slut

I know "slut" is a provocative word. And I don't mean that being promiscuous is a bad thing per se. But having sex with men you are not committed to, or who are not committed to you, can be problematic when it comes to getting married.

By casual sex I mean any sex outside a committed relationship. And as I am fond of saying, casual sex is like recreational heroin - it doesn't stay recreational for long. Sex, especially good sex, can be habit-forming. And because of that, it will get in the way of forming the kind of relationship that leads to marriage.

There are different types of casual sex: the kind you set out to have, the kind you settle for, and the kind you don't even know you're having because the guy hasn't told you that he's not really in a committed relationship with you.

You'd think we would all know this by now, but men do not fall in love through their penises. The majority of men can happily shag strangers and buddies alike and have no problems keeping those relationships right where they want them: over there, on simmer. The thing to know is that no amount of great sex is going to turn a dude into your man if he doesn't want to be.

For many, if not most, men, getting into a long-term relationship is a decision. It's like he makes a clear-eyed assessment of the potential of the relationship, and if he likes what he sees, he decides to allow himself to "fall" by letting go some. Then, as things develop, he lets go some more, then some more, then still more - until he is all the way in the relationship.

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether the relationship you're in is just slow to get off the ground or whether the guy is simply having casual sex with you. Here's the difference: you will know if a man is deciding to fall for you, because he will tell you so.

If a guy you are seeing regularly and having sex with regularly doesn't tell you he is falling for you in the first month or two, you can pretty much assume he isn't. And if you're still wondering - because we ladies do like to hold out some hope - there is a foolproof way to find out: if you have to ask if you're in a relationship with a guy, you aren't.

You hate yourself

Self-hatred is stealthy. It doesn't come out in a long, sparkly gown and sing a song about how much you don't like yourself. It glides through your mind, camouflaged like one of those genius frogs.

Self-hatred is the part that is telling you that your life will never work, you'll never be happy, that everyone else got the life manual so they know what's going on - and, by the way, you're fat. That is, unless it's telling you how much better you are than everyone else. Because sometimes self-hatred would rather project its ugliness onto other people.

Self-hatred is a destroyer. A big N-O to everything you want. One of its favourite ways to present itself is through the idea that nothing is good enough for you. This is when you reject people and things that could make you truly happy, in favour of people and things that will satisfy the self-hatred. Like deciding to skip a friend's birthday dinner in order to hang out with a guy who has a girlfriend but likes to practise bad boundaries with you.

If you want to know what you deeply believe about yourself, just look at the behaviours of the various men who've populated your life over the years. Do you see some patterns? Maybe you always deal with a guy who is critical, or controlling, or unfaithful. That's how you believe you should be treated. It's tough to accept, but looking at men this way ultimately empowers you. It's less about "Boy, was that guy a dick", and more about "OMFG, that's what I believe about myself?"

As long as your self-hating ego is running the show, you will be subject to its mean messages about who you are. You will also be subject to mean messages about who other people are - people such as the guys you;re trying to date. In any case, if you believe these messages, much of the time you will not be able to be a kind, loving person. Not to yourself or to anyone else. Obviously, this is going to have a serious effect on your relationships.

The bottom line is that your ability to be compassionate and kind to someone - even when that someone has just done something really stupid - comes from your ability to be compassionate and kind to yourself.

You're selfish

If you're single, chances are you think a lot about you. You think about your thighs, your outfits, your nasolabial folds. You think about your career or about becoming a yoga teacher. Sometimes you think about how marrying a wealthy guy would solve all your problems. Sometimes you secretly wonder if you even need a spouse. I mean, who really wants to deal with another person all the time? Other people suck, frankly. They get in the way of eating cereal for dinner or applying your hair-remover cream on Saturday afternoon. Perhaps if you could have a spouse who lived in the house next door, that would be perfect

Selfishness is when you approach men in terms of yourself - how they make you feel, how they make you look, what they'll bring to your life or what they won't. You might say: "Well, duh, is there any other way to think about men?" Believe it or not, there is.

Selfishness makes people act like children, who want what they want when they want it. This is why being selfish makes partnership impossible. Because you can't partner a child, you can only take care of one. (But if you're selfish, you love being taken care of.)

Pretty much all men have encountered a selfish woman at least once in their dating lives and got burnt. From that point forward, guys might be willing to put up with a selfish girl (and by put up with, I mean bonk her) as long as they think they won't have to deal with her for life. But they are naturally wary of marrying such a woman, not only because selfish people are nearly impossible to make happy - and guys do not want to live with someone who can't be happy - but also for a much more basic reason: because a selfish person makes a bad parent.

For this reason, selfishness will interfere more with your mating than your dating. A selfish girl can usually find a guy to be with her for a while, but he won't want to pull the trigger on the relationship.

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