According to Tracy McMillan, the reason I'm not married is that I'm a selfish, angry, shallow, lying, slut who deep down doesn't feel like she's good enough.
In actuality, most of this is true for women -- and men, for that matter -- some of the time. We are all selfish, shallow, and "slutty" (although I have a big problem with this word) at times. All of us lie. And God knows we all have moments where we feel like we're not good enough (harshly lit TJ Maxx dressing rooms are great for this).
But I don't believe I'm not married because of these things. I think these things are part of what make me human. Here's why I think I'm not married:
1. I'm not ready.
I'm still figuring myself out. I know enough to know that I have a tendency (as most women do) to lose myself in relationships. Instead of repeating this glorious and oh-so-effective pattern over and over, I'm committed to doing my own personal growth to move beyond it. I've gotten psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, done EFT, and currently get Network Spinal Analysis to actively work on my own spiritual growth and expand into the very best version of myself I can be. I do this primarily for myself (separate from wanting to be in a healthy relationship someday), but I also do it because I know that means I will then attract the best mate possible. As a wise friend says, "You attract what you are, not what you want." I want an amazing, passionate, self-aware, dynamic, understanding life partner -- so I'm working on being exactly that. Then I'll be ready.
2. I'm not willing to settle.
Tracy McMillan claims that most men just want a woman who is nice to them, and imply that it's appropriate to either stuff or somehow eliminate your anger if you're a woman, to keep your man happy. But I don't want a man that can't handle my anger sometimes. I'm a full-bodied, full-ranged person: sometimes I'm upset, sometimes I'm silly, sometimes I'm sad, sometimes I'm playful, sometimes I'm hurt, sometimes I'm radiant and sometimes I want to stuff my face with cupcakes and not be judged for it. I don't want someone who wants an edited version of myself. I want someone who embraces all the facets of me.
And I want the same thing in my man. I don't want a man who has cut off his balls or his anger so as not to threaten my ego, or because he's afraid I'll get angry back. I want someone who is his own person, and I want to be my own person right alongside him. I want someone with whom I successfully negotiate conflict, not who colludes with me in avoiding it at all costs. In other words I want a man, not a boy who doesn't know how to handle me when I'm pissy.
3. I haven't found the right partner.
I don't give a sh*t what kind of car a guy drives or how much money he makes. And maybe it's just the circles of women I run in, but I rarely encounter women who do. Honestly, I see this is as a hyped-up fallacy perpetuated by men who want something to blame when it doesn't work out with someone. "Oh, she left me because I didn't drive a Spyder." Seriously? Most women don't know a Spyder from a spider. When it comes to what women want in a man, it's less about craving wealth than craving a man who knows who he is and what he's about.
Does he have a career he's happy with, in which he's fulfilled? Is he doing something he believes in? Does he have a job that pays a decent wage such that he is in a position to support a family at some point? Or does he still smoke a bong every day and work at Applebee's because he doesn't yet know how or what he wants to contribute to the world? There's a difference.
I don't even care whether I meet a guy who's unemployed if he knows what he wants to do and is going after it. Hell, I'll help him go after it. I just want someone who is capable and mature enough to want to give his gifts to the world in the biggest way he can and get paid for it. And I don't think I'm alone in wanting that.
4. I don't want to rush into marriage.
Tracy McMillan's qualification, it appears, is that she's been married three times -- which also means she's been divorced either two or three times. She says she was "born knowing how to get married," but isn't it also true that she hasn't yet learned how to stay married? I'm not saying that as an accusation: I have a strong feeling she had very good reasons for getting divorced all the times she did.
My point is, I don't want that path. I want to be sure that I'm compatible with a man before I marry him -- you know, kick the tires, take him for a ride (it's particularly important to me to ride my men before committing to them). I want to see how he handles stress; I want him to see how I handle stress. I want us to travel together -- the kind where you're hungry and tired and possibly lost in a country where you don't speak the language and have to squat to use the bathroom, not long-weekend-sex-by-the-fireplace "travel."
I also want to be sure he and I are a good fit. Does he understand how I like to be loved (ask me questions that challenge me; notice how I look in something new)? Is he willing to listen -- really listen -- when my feelings are hurt, without getting defensive or lashing out? Can we communicate openly about sex? Does he give me the last cookie?
Most of these are things you can't ask on a date or force to happen. They just come up: when someone's parent dies; when one person sees how hot the other person's ex is; when you have to make a decision together about whether to move for one person's job; when there is only one Oreo left in the box. These are things that matter, and I'd rather not be committed 'til death do us part until I'm sure they all function.
I don't just want to get married -- I want a good marriage that lasts.
5. I actually do like being single right now.
Tracy's right: Being married involves sacrifice. Having children especially. I am currently appreciative of getting to sleep through the night and stay late at a bookstore if I want, instead of coming home because someone (or multiple someones) are expecting me. I love getting happy with some Yellowtail and girlfriends, or blowing off work to stay home with a bag of popcorn and a "Love Actually"/"Dirty Dancing"/"Say Anything" marathon.
This is a unique time in my life and I recognize that. I can stay up too late and drink too much and I don't have to answer to anyone. I can spend money on a tropical vacation with friends instead of putting it into a college fund. There are rewards and sacrifices to be made when you become part of a family unit, and I simultaneously look forward to that and also actively appreciate my life as it is now. I am excited to be a wife and a mother someday, and I genuinely like being single right now. Especially during Fleet Week.
6. I don't want to get married just for the sake of getting married.
I've seen too many bad relationships to say that being in one is better than not being in one. I've seen too many good relationships fail to have any false ideas about how just because something is good now, it will stay that way. And I've seen too many bad marriages to want to get married just because it's what you do after a certain age.
When I get married, it will be for the right reasons: because I've truly learned how to give and receive love and found someone who does the same. Because I've found a man who takes care of his friends, is intellectually curious, will rock out to Avril Lavigne with me on a roadtrip and looks good naked. Because I know deep down that this man wants me, not a generic wife, and that I want him, with all his quirks, insecurities, and idiosyncrasies. Mostly, it will be because I've found someone equally as committed to self-awareness and personal development as me, so that we can grow together -- gazing outward together and all that.
If I don't find that, I won't get married.
If I do, I might even be the one to propose.
Follow Melanie Curtin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MelanieBCurtin