Why You’re STILL Not Married

Tracy McMillan, a writer for TV’s Mad Men, has four new reasons why you’re still single.

She writes “Yes, I have “failed” at marriage — a lot. (Actually, I like to think of failure as “pre-success”.) But who better than a three-time divorcee to lead a discussion about the stupid stuff women do in relationships? At least you know I won’t go all sanctimonious on you. Because dude, whatever it is, I HAVE DONE IT. I’ve just decided to love myself anyway.”

You may remember her Huffington Post article last year, “Why You’re Not Married” that listed the six reasons why you’re single. Here’s a refresher:

1) You’re a Bitch (“Here’s what I mean by bitch. I mean you’re angry.”)

2) You’re Shallow (“When it comes to choosing a husband, only one thing really, truly matters: character. So it stands to reason that a man’s character should be at the top of the list of things you are looking for, right? But if you’re not married, I already know it isn’t. Because if you were looking for a man of character, you would have found one by now. Men of character are, by definition, willing to commit.”)

3) You’re a Slut (“Since nature can’t discriminate between marriage material and Charlie Sheen, you’re going to have to start being way more selective than you are right now.”)

4) You’re a Liar (“It usually goes something like this: you meet a guy who is cute and likes you, but he’s not really available for a relationship. You know if you tell him the truth — that you’re ready for marriage — he will stop calling. So you just tell him how perfect this is because you only want to have sex for fun! You love having fun sex! And you don’t want to get in a relationship at all! You swear!”)

5) You’re Selfish (“If you’re not married, chances are you think a lot about you. You think about your thighs, your outfits, your naso-labial folds.”)

6) You’re Not Good Enough (“Oh, I don’t think that. You do. I can tell because you’re not looking for a partner who is your equal. No, you want someone better than you are: better looking, better family, better job.”)

Is Ms. McMillan a bit harsh? Sure. Controversy sells. She got a book deal off of this article, with a title (Why You’re Not Married…Yet) that is remarkably like my second book (Why You’re Still Single). But I’m guessing it will sell as well as my second book (which is to say, not very much) because people don’t really want to hear those tough answers. They’d much rather hear “don’t waste the pretty” from Greg Behrendt in He’s Just Not That Into You, or that you can manifest your man from thin air in The Secret, or that The Problem With Women…Is Men, which squarely places blame on men for sucking.

My advice – and I’m guessing Ms. McMillan’s advice – is this: LOTS of men suck. Don’t date them. Now that you’re not dating awful men, be the best person you can be and you’ll find love.

Click here to read Tracy McMillan’s four all-new reasons why you’re (still) single on the Huffington Post. Lemme know what she got right…and what she got wrong.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    david

    actually, I just bought her book and she doesn’t really talk about sucky men too much — her advice is very aligned with yours — about changing yourself, your perspective, your “man goals”, give the “Maybe Guy” a shot…a lot about stop deluding yourself (You deserve to be with a 10, you are too intimidating / fabulous, too hot to handle, etc.)

    It’s really good — read in about 2 days….

  2. 2
    Lady K

    Sooo, yeah. I hated the original article and the second one even more so. As a fellow writer, I am a big fan of Ms. McMillan’s work. She’s clever, funny, snarky, and her writing makes for a great viral article. As a woman, I am completely irritated by the presumptions she’s making. I have a rebuttal article in mind entitled: Why You are Still Saying Yes to Marriage Proposals When You Should be Saying “No”. And the follow up one: “Ho, You Really Need to Sit Down and Shut Up”. Has it ever occurred to anyone with a critical eye towards single women in their 30’s and 40’s that some of them actually said no to “crazy.” Said “no” to marriage proposals from men who were clearly not right, not in their right minds, not emotional ready, ect. I did and have and will continue to as long as the situations don’t add up. No matter how shiny the package. This is something my dear sister Ms. McMillan clearly has a hard time doing. While some of my girlfriends are now closing up their “starter” marriages from our 20’s, and are happily divorcing, I thank god, I dodged those bullets.

    But there are no articles written to extol the virtues of saying “hell, no” to a marriage proposal. If only there were awards for that. If only there were awards for having leap frogged around potential crazy, dangerous, bi-polar men who don’t reveal this until 1 year into the marriage (pick one Miss McMillan) instead of misguided kudos for having three unsuccessful marriages. Perhaps instead contemplating so hard why women in their 30s and 40s are not married – some of us are actually pretty fucking ecstatic about clearing the gate without a bevy of ex-husbands and children – how about writing an article about how to land a marriage with a healthy guy that sticks.

  3. 3
    david

    Lady K — again, the book is different and she expands on the “points” original article in a way that makes more sense (Stop being shallow, get a life outside dating/men, find yourself, get centered), etc.

  4. 4
    kerren

    @ Lady K, I agree with you totally. There is a stereotype that when you are single, there is something wrong with you. Some of us have learned to be complete in ourselves-of course we are not perfect but we are good enough. This sometimes means you get proposals from guys who don’t fit the bill. Am not talking finance or looks now. Am talking about character. Do I say yes to an obvious social climber, the guy with the drinking problem or my male friend who swears we are soulmates even though there’s a different woman sleeping in his bed each night of the week.

  5. 5
    Stacy

    Reading her article was a waste of 5 minutes of my life. Every single married woman I know exhibits some of those characteristics that are presumably keeping women single (i.e. shallow, bitch, crazy, liar and even yes, slut). So me think it has got to be something else that keeps you single :)

    1. 5.1
      Gerri

      Lol, I like you’re comment.  It got me thinking, you’re right…thinking about all my friends, I’m the only one not married.  Then I thought how I wouldn’t have married any of their husbands because of one reason or other.  So I am shallow!  Because I didn’t look at their character.  But a few of my friends are shallow too because they didn’t look at their character either, they just really wanted to get married. So conclusion:  it’s possible to be shallow and get married, you don’t look very deep, just for specific things like, “I like his profession or I like that he likes me and wants to marry me or we’ve been together for x years.” etc.

  6. 6
    Ileana

    Your article is interesting, Ms. McMillan, but i already knew these things from Evan :D

  7. 7
    valleyforgelady

    Love the snarky edgy attitude! Cancel the pity parties, princess entitlements, guys are jerks attitude, and keep smiling! Grumpy women are no fun….for me or the men we wish to attract! I am the common domniator in all of my relationships. Time for me to change. My current stuff has not worked!

  8. 8
    Helen

    I wasn’t prepared to like her article (I don’t usually like articles that put people down, even in jest), but it had me in stitches. Especially this section from “You’re a Dude”:

    “… at the end of the day, you don’t need to know if a guy wants to donate his sperm to you. (The answer will probably be Oh, hell yes.) You want to know if he’s willing to send your egg to college. And if a guy doesn’t feel like taking you on a date, THE ANSWER IS NO.”

    Love the line about sending your egg to college…

  9. 9
    Zann

    I agree with what Lady K is saying, but I don’t think McMillan is contradicting any of that. She’s not saying that marriage is the ultimate goal, even if it’s with a loser. She’s saying know yourself, clean up your act and get healthy so you can start making better choices in men. She’s putting the responsibility where it belongs — on the individual seeking the relationship. We all know some guys are unstable socio- and psychopaths, so learn to spot them and steer clear.

    I already know why I’m single. I’m a bitch & I’m angry. Like most bitchy and angry women I know, I’ve got my reasons, based on some very solid, clear-eyed analysis of my history with men. But when all is said and done, I still want to be in a relationship with a man. Working on my anger, resentment, & bitchiness requires constant vigilance. It also means letting go and growing up. Sometimes it’s downright exhausting.

    McMillan admits she’s flawed, she’s a straight-shooter, and she’s funny. I especially enjoy her clarity on the whole friends-with-benefits nonsense. Quit being a liar. Quit telling the dude it’s fun and exactly what you want, when it’s not. Not at all. He’s being honest when he identifies it for what it is, which is no strings attached. So, why get all crazy-ass and wounded when it turns out being exactly that? Don’t agree to it in hopes of it evolving into something else. It just doesn’t. So, let him find someone else to do that shallow dance with.

  10. 10
    nathan

    I support the idea of taking a deep look at yourself, and making whatever changes you can to lessen self-absorbed traits. At the same time, it’s never just about you. Often timing is involved. Or the conditions aren’t quite right for a relationship to flourish. Or as a few pointed out, the other person turns out to be really wrong for you, and you choose to say “no thanks.”

    Self improvement projects can be a never ending struggle with self esteem. When you think it’s all about you, there’s always something that isn’t good enough that you can fixate on. It’s much wiser to do what you can with your attitude and beliefs, and then remember that a lot of it is still out of your hands.

  11. 11
    Jen

    Well stated, Lady K! I agree that McMillan has a fantastic sense of humor, snark and all. While she will make a lot of money selling her book (that’s her goal, right?) she certainly doesn’t go out of her self abdorbed way to cheer for the smart women who avoided bad marriages to begin with! There’s a lot to be said (which is never said) about women who make great life choices and end up single and happy, versus in a fucked up marriage.

    Can’t someone ever give a little cred to those of us who have played a fantastic game of frogger (nice analogy, Lady K!) and albeit still single at 41, not unhappy, divorced and with a broken family?!?

    Ps/ kudos to Evan for sharing a topic that pushes buttons and is interesting.

  12. 12
    Boss

    Well from my angle (cause this is me at 49) you are single ’cause you wanna be. Very simple, maybe selfish, delusional choice, not so simple reason. But very good guidance.

  13. 13
    Helen

    Despite being married, I had the same reaction many of you commenting here did. First, reading the title “why you’re still not married”, I felt annoyed. The title seems to imply several things with which I disagree: that being married is universally the preferred state, that something is wrong with people who aren’t married, and that someone out there is so smart that she knows EXACTLY why you are not married.

    nathan is right that whether you’re single or married is not all about you. A lot of it is sheer dumb luck: in timing, location, etc.

    Stacy is also right about how married women can have these undesirable traits. Speaking for myself, the last two on McMillan’s list, “You’re a Dude” and “You’re Godless”, are so true that they made me laugh. I don’t want to change my dude-like qualities (which, by the way, are really effective when blended with feminine qualities), but the lack of spirituality – not necessarily one religion – is definitely worth addressing.

  14. 14
    Karl R

    Lady K said: (#2)
    “Perhaps instead contemplating so hard why women in their 30s and 40s are not married – some of us are actually pretty fucking ecstatic about clearing the gate without a bevy of ex-husbands and children”

    Lady K (#2), kerren (#4) and Jen (#11),
    I’m amazed to see over 25% of the responses (all from women) express this sentiment. It’s rather different than the sentiment women expressed about people in their 40s on this thread:
    http://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/is-there-something-wrong-with-a-man-in-his-40s-who-has-never-been-married-before/

  15. 15
    Nathan

    Brilliant dig up Karl! So, according to the logic, if I don’t get married in the next three and a half years, I become damaged goods. (Laughs loudly at how assinine dating beliefs can be these days.)

  16. 16
    Helen

    Karl R, there’s no reason to assume that these ladies would share the same sentiment as the others who groused about men over 40. The 25% “statistic” is meaningless. It is just 3 women.

  17. 17
    J

    I have to disagree. I am still single but when I am not myself I am not happy. If I am bitch, someone might love me for being a bitch. Sometimes, I am shallows, and my last BF loved me for this. Be yourself! Someone will love you for it. And if I am single for the rest of my life oh well. When I am not focus on guys and just being myself, guys find me. Tracy’s marriages fail because she was not being herself, ever. Also she is trying only to sell books.

  18. 18
    Mia

    Articles like this– and traditional dating advice and even some commenters on this blog — would have us believe that only people who have their shit together, are confident, optimistic, know and love themselves, know the exact meaning and purpose of their lives, have no baggage, are successful, have no Vices, and allow men to pursue them are the ones who get married.

    That’s not remotely true. Relationships are so much about chance. Few people are so dysfunctional they they couldn’t find love–though we should all do out best to kick bad habits and be healthy people. Still, the most common mistake I see people of both genders make is not being proactive enough about finding someone, and this article fails to mention that.

    It’s not enough to online date, though that’s a key part of it. A Lot of good men don’t online date and are too scared to approach women at social events and in public places. What I’m figuring out is the need to be more social, smile more, and initiate conversations when I’m out, even if it’s just to the store or park. Look at it as an opportunity to make new acquaintances at the very least, and see what happens.

    Finally, I would only judge a never married late 30s woman for these reasons: A.) she is pathologically picky and discards men for petty reasons, a la Lori Gottleb and the characters in her book “Marry Him,” even when she’s too old and or average looking to get away with such crap; or b.) she repeatedly makes very basic dating mistakes that most people stop making around 25, such as sleeping with men on the 2nd or 3rd date, chasing men, or telling them what to do and trying to control them when she barely knows them.

  19. 19
    Paragon

    @ Jen

    “Well stated, Lady K! I agree that McMillan has a fantastic sense of humor, snark and all. While she will make a lot of money selling her book (that’s her goal, right?) she certainly doesn’t go out of her self abdorbed way to cheer for the smart women who avoided bad marriages to begin with! There’s a lot to be said (which is never said) about women who make great life choices and end up single and happy, versus in a fucked up marriage.”

    What is there to be said?

    Saying something one way or another, is making assumptions(which are either critical of ourselves, or of our marriage prospects).

    The difference, of course, is that self-critical assumptions are more useful, in that they lend more easily to a testable methodology(ie. it is easier to control for our own behaviors – than someone else’s).

    @ Stacy

    “Reading her article was a waste of 5 minutes of my life. Every single married woman I know exhibits some of those characteristics that are presumably keeping women single (i.e. shallow, bitch, crazy, liar and even yes, slut). So me think it has got to be something else that keeps you single”

    # 6

    @ Helen

    “Karl R, there’s no reason to assume that these ladies would share the same sentiment as the others who groused about men over 40.”

    No such assumption was made.

    “The 25% “statistic” is meaningless. It is just 3 women.”

    He was making an observation that female samples between analogous topics seem to be sensitive to the posing of sex, more than any other variable.

    If this is observing a predictable pattern, then it IS saying something meaningful.

  20. 20
    susan

    A brilliant article if you ask me. I can identify (somewhat blushingly) with much of what she says.
    I too chose an opportunity to say ”no” a few years ago. And it was a fantastic decision much supported by everyone around me (yeah thanks for waiting til after the event to tell me that people…)
    And I agree, the common demoninator in all my post-couple dating experiences is ME. I don’t think I’m the things on either the list, but maybe I am…a bit of a chicken. Might be time to get myself back out there….

  21. 21
    Leesa

    evan, i really like what you said about: “lots of men suck, don’t date them. be the best person you can be and you’ll find love.” i think that sums up why i’m single and 40. i was attracted to the wrong type of men, and i wasn’t the best person i could be in the relationships (probably because i knew they were bad men and i was trying to chew my arm off to get out of what was more of an addiction to them). i really have trouble listening to women about dating advice. and it’s strange, before i found evan’s website, when i spoke to men about relationships, none of them taught me what i’ve learnt from your book and website evan. i like how you tell us not what women want to hear, but what women need to hear to become better partners and better at choosing decent men.

  22. 22
    Sabrina

    If can only identify with maybe 1.5 of these, am I an anomaly? I’m 29, I didn’t start dating until 25, and have made a lot of mistakes in dating but also learned valuable lessons along the way.

    I DO want to be married. I just haven’t found the right man yet. That doesn’t make me a slut, liar, mess, or bitch.

  23. 23
    helene

    A few years back I was of the view that working on yourself and making yourself an amazing person ws a great way to increase your chances of finding a partner. Actually, I now think the complete opposite. The more self improvement I carry out, the bigger a gulf there is between me and the late40s/early 50s guys who ask me out – because as we know, guys in general don’t go in for self improvement and self awareness. They don’t seek or apply relationship advice. They don’t read self help books.
    I currently think that I would have a much better chance of finding a compatibile mate amongst the men who approach me if I a)gained some middle aged weight, b) stopped bothering much about my hair or dress sense 3) never went anywhwere very intersting on vacation 4) earned less money 5) had nothing much to say about art or films 6) aquired a posse of children from previous relationships who would take up a lot of my time, energy and resources and restrict my availability for dating 7) was picky and fussy about my food 8) brought up ongoing minor health issues on dates 9)talked about myself most of the time without apparently noticing that I was not displaying any interest in the other person.
    That way, me and my dates would be on the same page…
    The more I grow and develop, the less interest I have in the stodgy creatures I find in my dating pool…

  24. 24
    Trenia

    This article is why there is often tension between single and married women, because the reigning thought is single women are crazy, bitchy and too picky and the married women are happy, healthy, and well-adjusted. The only difference between single and married women is that the married ones managed to connect with a man who was willing to love them despite their brand of crazy. “Working on yourself” can be a life’s work, depending on how big of a mess you have to clean up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love and be loved during that process. But when women are single and don’t want to be, they look for reasons and explanations and just about everyone these days has an opinion on the topic. I don’t doubt that there are many single women who are doing all of the things on Ms. McMillan’s list, but so are many married women.

  25. 25
    Paragon

    @ Helene

    “Actually, I now think the complete opposite. The more self improvement I carry out, the bigger a gulf there is between me and the late40s/early 50s guys who ask me out.”

    So, you will only consider your equal(or better?)?

    You do realize, individuals do not determine their own rank and value in the dating market.

    If we are adamant that we are an 8, and the market treats us like a 5, then guess what we *actually* are?

    “I currently think that I would have a much better chance of finding a compatibile mate amongst the men who approach me if I a)gained some middle aged weight, b) stopped bothering much about my hair or dress sense 3) never went anywhwere very intersting on vacation 4) earned less money 5) had nothing much to say about art or films 6) aquired a posse of children from previous relationships who would take up a lot of my time, energy and resources and restrict my availability for dating 7) was picky and fussy about my food 8) brought up ongoing minor health issues on dates 9)talked about myself most of the time without apparently noticing that I was not displaying any interest in the other person.”

    Begs the question of why you bothered to improve yourself, if doing so only decreases the compatibility of your prospects?

    But, maybe you should give it a try, and let us know how it works for you.

  26. 26
    Mia

    Helene & Paragon –
    I’m guessing Helene is being sarcastic, but at any rate, why not just improve for your own sake without regard to what will or won’t attract men? I’ve gotten annoyed in the past hearing male comments questioning women who take the time to travel, take cooking classes, have interesting activities, run marathons, develop an interesting life, etc. – well, why WOULDN’T we? I do what I want and I don’t care if some guy I meet down the line finds it attractive or irrelevant or intimidating.

    I have really big dreams in my life that have nothing to do with romance and marriage, and I’ll continue to pursue them. I don’t think having these goals precludes me from having a relationship and am continuing to go on dates. But I haven’t had a boyfriend tell me he loves me in 6 years (there were 2 after that who didn’t), or any exclusive relationship in 2 1/2, or any guy except one who is 20 years older in his 40s (too old) who’s even asked me for a real relationship during that time, so at this point I am totally prepared for the possibility that it may not happen for years if EVER. But I’d be even more upset about something not happening for me if I wasn’t going out and fulfilling my dreams and interests. A relationship may or may not come along, why rearrange your life for something that doesn’t yet exist?

  27. 27
    Janice

    Seems to me that a lot of people aren’t buying into the social pressure to be married. That pressure would come especially from prevailing beliefs that there’s something wrong with a person if you don’t get married. A lot of people seem to be saying that it’s better never to marry than to be in a bad marriage. Also, it seems that lot of women have no interest in setttling just to be married, that they don’t see marriage as worth it. (No one ever suggests that guys settle, I’ve noticed.)

    I’d go along with all of this. I think that there’s something more wrong with someone who gets conventionally married three times than with someone who never gets married. I mean, by marriage number three haven’t you figured out that you aren’t a “forever” kind of person and that “one-and-only true love” feelings aren’t the basis for anything except whatever your relationship becomes in reality over time? You don’t even need to “work” on yourself to figure that one out.

    Getting married doesn’t mean you have any particular kind of love feeling or any particular kind of relationship abilities. It just means that you and some other person agreed for your own personal reasons to jump the broom.

    Not being married doesn’t mean you and another don’t share love feelings with others or one other or that you lack any particular kind of relationship abilities. It just means that for your own personal reasons you did not decide to jump the broom.

    Marriage is just a lifestyle choice. Not a barometer of mental health. It doesn’t work for everybody, and since it doesn’t, it isn’t a “healthy” choice for everyone. Despite prevailing beliefs, in reality all marriages are different. Taking this spectrum into account, people who marry aren’t fundamentally different from people who don’t; you can find the same diversity of behaviors, problems, etc. across the single population. Married people just have a piece of paper that binds them to another person in a legal way.

  28. 28
    nathan

    “The market” – what, is dating an economic venture now? Seriously, Paragon, dating isn’t an abstraction. All the studies and theories in the world can only be – at best – helpful guides. And often, such stuff is simply a hindrance. More beliefs to replace the beliefs you had before. We meet and date unique individuals, not statistics.

    Frankly, Helene is right. to some extent Many men don’t really do the kind of inwardly focused work needed to sustain a long term relationship. Especially the men in the age group she’s speaking of and older. It just wasn’t in the cultural water so to speak. Men expected to rely on women to be their emotional caretakers. And now a hell of a lot of them have fallen behind because times have changed, and more women aren’t putting up with it.

    At the same time, everyone should be careful of how highly they think of themselves. What bothered me about Helene’s comment is that it’s a list of extremes. The script I hear entirely too many women using to describe men who probably had a few of those negative traits, but ultimately weren’t that bad. Instead of saying “I haven’t found a good match,” it’s “these men are completely pathetic losers who couldn’t possibly be my equal.” This is one of the reasons too much focus on self improvement isn’t a good idea. It can destroy your sense of humility, which is something I think is lacking amongst many folks, regardless of gender, these days.

  29. 29
    Goldie

    @ #2:

    “Perhaps instead contemplating so hard why women in their 30s and 40s are not married — how about writing an article about how to land a marriage with a healthy guy that sticks.”

    That was exactly my thought as I was reading the article. Getting married in and of itself is incredibly easy. Getting married so that twenty years down the road, neither of you feels miserable and trapped — now that’s something I haven’t figured out, and would love to hear from someone that has.

    The “You Are Godless” part of Ms McMillan’s article, frankly, confused me. I dated atheists/agnostics/skeptics, and those guys all told me that they are leery of women who label themselves as spiritual on dating sites. When a woman says to these guys “I’m spiritual”, what they hear is “What’s your sign?” Or “I am owned by my twenty cats”. Again, there may be a way to be spiritual and sane at the same time, and if there is, I’d be curious to explore it.

  30. 30
    helene

    @Nathan & Mia

    I would still agree with Mia that self improvement and developing an interesting life are valuable for their own sake – I would just caution other readers against the idea that it will necessarly make it easier to find a mate. With self awareness and self develoment should come – as nathan says – humilty, but ALSO self esteem. These taken together should create what you could call “a grounded sense of self worth” – a sense of yourself as a unique individual with something to offer, your own unique talents, opinions and value as a person and as a woman. With a strong sense of self in this way, it really becomes truly quite difficult to contemplate forming a longterm love relationship with any of the unreconstructed “frayed around the edges” divorcees that I come across. In order to love a man, I have to respect him deeply, and it is quite difficult to respect men who are emotionally underdeveloped, lack creativity and passion for their lives and what they do, and do not seem to see that being in a relationship involves them offering me something that will enrich my life…
    I would not characterise these men as “completely pathetic losers” as they are generally men who are in employment, can drive a car, fix leaking taps, and produce some sort of a half decent cooked meal on occasion, but that’s about as far as it goes – and whilst this would be enough for some women, my point is that the more you work on your own development the less adequate these men seem as a longterm partner.
    Byt hey, as stated several times on a recent thread, at 47 whatever I do to improve myself I’m still a low -value mate in mens eyes purely by virtue of one unchangable factor (my age!) so I may as well do all the improving I like – no one’s going to want me anyway!!

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