Why You’re Not Married And Don’t Give A $#^*
They keep asking when you're going to "tie the knot." Never mind that you've launched a successful business or recently received a well-deserved promotion. Never mind that you have published a book. Never mind that you discovered a new species. Never mind that you volunteer tirelessly in your community and treat your friends like gold. None of that matters. You're a woman and as such, the ultimate achievement for you is to have someone put a ring on it.
After my divorce, I married myself. Photo by Paula Gould..
You've never dreamt of an aqua-blue ring box, and when you ran across Tracy McMillan's blog post listing the six reasons why so many women who want a husband are still unmarried, you rolled your eyes. When she got a book deal, you worried about the culture in which you live. Now that there's talk of a TV show, you feel compelled to make a rebuttal.
You've had your share of long-term relationships. Some ended painfully, but all of them taught you something important about yourself and about your expectations in a mate. You know that the reason you're not married doesn't mean there is anything wrong with men or with you. The truth is that you don't live your life with marriage as the pinnacle. These are the six reasons why.
1. You're a Bitch.
You provide for yourself and you don't expect anyone to help you. You work hard on your career and you budget to ensure that you can cover your costs. You don't think it's appropriate to accept a date with a person you don't know if you like just because "hey, it's a free dinner!" You value your time and you respect other people's time enough not to waste it by leading them on. You buy your own dinner and your own drinks.
You know what you want and you won't settle for less. When people do things you think are inappropriate, you let them know. When people call you petty, you stand your ground. You don't dumb yourself down or sweeten yourself up to coddle the fragile egos of other people, male or female. You live your life and your conscience is at peace. You are true to yourself.
2. You're Shallow.
You have expectations and boundaries and you won't compromise them just so you can slap on someone else's last name. Some people call you shallow for wanting the company of a man or woman who loves opera as much as you, or who is in the same industry as you, or who understands how much you value what you do, even if it doesn't pay as much as other careers, or someone who is -- god forbid! -- as attractive to you as you are to him or her. You know love is more than these things, but you accept that these are things that matter to you and you don't compromise them just so you can put on a white dress and pretend you're the center of the universe for one day.
3. You're a Slut.
You have sex with people you want to have sex with. You're not ashamed of your body or sexual needs and neither do you accept that being sexual turns you into the neurotransmitter equivalent of a heroin junkie. In fact, you're such a bitch (see 1), that you've read the scientific literature relating to the role of oxytocin in sex and you know that the argument presented by Tracy McMillan on the topic is a cheap scare tactic to destroy your right to do with your body as you see fit.
Yes, sometimes love hurts! Sometimes love is not returned. Sometimes love fades. You're aware of these things. That's why you'd never consider committing to anything unless you felt he or she was on the same page about the things that matter to you: because you know that it takes more than chemicals and hormones to build something that lasts. Having sex on the first date or waiting until the fourth date doesn't change the person you're with. Ultimately, if you fit together, you'll find yourselves walking through life together, even if your relationship was initially casual.
You know too that it might not last, which is why you don't take people for granted. You work hard on communication to ensure that you work through the problems that you can work through and to ensure that if you should ever arrive at a point where you can no longer walk side-by-side, that no one sticks around like a hostage. You want to be with someone who wants to be there. Period.
4. You're a Liar.
In order not to embarrass people, when they tell you that they're getting married, you smile and wish them well instead of questioning them about why in God's good earth they feel that running a three-legged race for the rest of their lives is a good idea.
You are realistic -- you know that a lifetime of commitment is a tall order. You've seen the divorce rate and understand the probability of failure. You've seen how passionless marriages can wither the soul. You've seen parents that stayed together for the kids. You grew up with those kids. You know that kids can tell and you've seen how it affects their adult relationships. Now that you're older, you've seen parents who are doing the same thing. You know no one is happy, not the kids and not the parents. You wonder how people can talk about "staying for the kids" as a noble thing. Soul starvation is never a noble thing.
But you don't mention any of this. You don’t feel guilty about lying and omitting. You believe in common courtesy. Unlike the people who can't stop asking when you'll "land" a man (like they're just a space on a Monopoly board), you don't shove your opinions down people's throats.
5. You're Selfish.
You think about yourself. You know that if you don't, no one else is going to do it for you. You don't feel the slightest bit guilty about this either. If you have children, you think about them, too. But you never stop thinking about you. You know that a sane, satisfied mother is much more emotionally available than a mother who secretly longs for some free time to maybe, just maybe, find herself. You've never lost yourself. It's hard to lose a person who doesn't play pretend just to get a plus one.
6. You're Not Good Enough.
You know you can be better. You read and you go to the theater and you work hard at your job and at the gym and you watch what you eat and you try to save costs wherever you can and you worry about how you can better improve the lots of other people. You help your friends. You donate to your congregation's choir. You donate to improve science education. You help at the local soup kitchen. You give your friends' daughters books about women who have done amazing things and have healthy relationships with real men and women, not wait around in towers or glass cases for illusory knights in shining armor to come save them.
You question what you see on television and magazines. You do your own research. You drive your friends crazy because you fact check even the forwards they send you and let them know the newest horror is just an urban myth, or has been taken out of context. You answer to you. You do things for yourself the best that you can. You know there is room for improvement. But most importantly, you know that no one but you can make your life better.
Because ultimately, life is not about marrying someone. It's about living it. It doesn't mean you don't want companionship. You do and you treasure all the people who are a part of your life: your friends, your family, your colleagues, your manicurist, the family at the farmer's market that sells you tomatoes that is working so hard to send their son to college. You do what you can to show them that you appreciate them.
You know that a real soul-feeding relationship isn't about tiptoeing around someone and catering to their needs and changing yourself. It's about finding someone who can keep up as you walk through life, someone who understands that love is a part of life, not the ultimate goal in it. As for marriage -- you know that it is neither love nor companionship. It can be. But much like the princess fantasies Tracy McMillan references in her piece, those "that built Disneyland," you know the reality is often far less rewarding for a woman than the Disney cartoons claim.
Just ask Catherine of Aragon.