• Tue, Mar 1 2011

Tracy McMillan Is Wrong: Our Takedown of HuffPo’s Controversial “Why You’re Not Married”

Therese Borchard

This is author Therese Borchard’s second post for Blisstree; she’ll be blogging for us on a weekly basis about all kinds of mental health, depression, and therapy issues. Find her debut post here. Have a question for Therese? Leave it in our comments section, below.

Maybe it’s because I just turned 40 over the weekend, or maybe it’s because I was asked to be a “relationship expert” for a dating website a few days ago (LOL), or that TV writer Tracy McMillan’s recent HuffPo piece “Why You’re Not Married” got under my skin, but I can’t stop thinking about how I ended up married with two kids when I was the one labeled in college “most likely to become an old maid” because 1. I preferred a tiny closet of a room for me and only me over a roomy quad with three other classmates, and 2. I hated men.

Furthermore, I’m confused as to why two of my closest friends who did everything right on the family track are still single in their 40s. McMillan would say it’s one or more of the following six reasons:

They are bitches.

Yup. They are angry and bitter and resentful and that’s why most men run the other way after one conversation with them. Not so. The two women in my life are among the most positive, compassionate, and giving people I know. In fact, their optimism and generosity make me wish everyone were single.

They are shallow.

They want tall, rich dudes who can allow them to quit their jobs and scrapbook all day long, not that there’s anything wrong with scrapbooking at 2 p.m. Granted, one of my single friends is 5’10″ and likes to wear the black heels in her closet with skirts, but if an amazing short guy proposed to her, I’m pretty sure she would say “I do” and break out the flats.

They are sluts.

Now, this one made me laugh out loud because one of my single friends used to be a national spokesperson on the topic of abstinence before marriage. A slut? Not exactly.

They are liars.

I see where McMillan is going with this point: That many times upon meeting a great guy, a single woman may lie to herself and have the right front lobe of her brain try to convince the left front lobe that she doesn’t want commitment or marriage – because he has said from the start that he’s just into casual sex and isn’t really interested in anything serious. Point taken. Maybe some singles are guilty of that. But based on the single friends in my life, they eventually wake up to the ugly truth and move on. They don’t live there indefinitely.

They are selfish.

This one is especially unfair. McMillan writes:

If you’re not married, chances are you think a lot about you. You think about your thighs, your outfits, your naso-labial folds. You think about your career, or if you don’t have one, you think about doing yoga teacher training. Sometimes you think about how marrying a wealthy guy — or at least a guy with a really, really good job — would solve all your problems.

Again, on the contrary, my single friends are among the most selfless contacts in my rolodex. They are the first to send me flowers when I’ve hit a rough patch, and are quick to volunteer to drive their moms to the doctor. Just because they may have more time to go to the gym and work on their thighs doesn’t necessarily mean they care more about their figures than sustaining a long-term relationship. If that’s the case, I guess everyone is extremely selfish until they get married.

They are not good enough.

Before you go add to the nearly 2,000 nastygrams on McMillan’s post, let me quote her on this point:

Here is what you need to know: You are enough right this minute. Period. Not understanding this is a major obstacle to getting married, since women who don’t know their own worth make terrible wives. Why? You can fake it for a while, but ultimately you won’t love your spouse any better than you love yourself. Smart men know this.

I would have been happier if she stopped with “You are enough right this minute.” Thank you, Anthony Robbins! I’ll start transforming my life right away!

Here’s the reason I feel like I need to stand up for single people: They have it hard enough already. In the last few years, especially, as a good friend and listener, I’ve been better able to view the world from the lens of a single person; they are fed one massive media message, which is if they aren’t hooked up with a mate or don’t have a family soon, something really must be wrong with them.

That’s just plain wrong.

CNN writer Jessica Ravitz wrote a brilliant response to McMillan’s piece, adding a seventh reason to McMillan’s six, which is that life happens:

Sure, you might be a bitch, a slut, a liar, shallow, selfish, or not good enough. Maybe, though, you happen to be 41 and single because life, real life with all its complications, has just worked out that way. So far.

Easy for me to say, because I’m married, but I couldn’t agree more.

Therese J. Borchard is Associate Editor of Psych Central, where she regularly contributes to the award-winning blog, World of Psychology. She also writes the daily blog, Beyond Blue, on Beliefnet, which is featured weekly on The Huffington Post and several other websites, and moderates the popular depression support group, Beyond Blue, on Beliefnet’s community site. Therese is the author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes and The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit. She resides in Annapolis, MD with her husband, Eric, and their two children.

You can follow Therese on Twitter at @thereseborchard or visit her website: thereseborchard.com.

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  • Lainey

    Blanket statements about people is usually problematic; to do it based on marital/relationship status is ridiculous. Sure there are reasons people are single but they’re not all the same reasons and they can’t be summed up in a few bullet points. Thank you Therese for sticking up for the single woman! PS I know a lot of bitchy married women…go figure!!

  • Deborah Gaffney

    I would disagree on all of the reasons Tracey McMillan listed as to why some woman are not married. To be a bitch, a slut, a liar, shallow, selfish, or not good enough seems to be a very limited and self depreciating view of womanhood. Each case has to be looked at on an individual basis. We learned in Psych 101 that there is no text book case. Even taking that into consideration, there are many woman who are married, and fit Tracey’s rather negative viewpoints.

    I have been married for 22 years. Marriage takes a lot of work. It is a relationship between two people who are committed to each other enough to communicate, and make efforts to listen and understand each other. I would suggest kearning to like/love/respect yourself and then you will know how to like/love/respect someone else. Patience and maturity are necessary ; if you’re not mature enough to love and accept love unconditionally, marriage could remain a longshot.

  • Brian

    At the risk of opening a can of worms, the answers given in the original article and this blog are not incorrect, they simply point out that the answer given does not exhaust all of the possibilities. There are men who will run from bitches, shallow people, sluts, liars, and those that don’t believe in their own worth. There are also men who will look past those things to see the person of value within these masks and defenses. There are women who don’t have any of these attributes who are single for many other reasons and still desire to end their singleness. There are men who cannot “see” these women as persons of value. There are also men who have no interest in a successful relationship and little chance of ever achieving one either. Not every possible connection results in an actual connection and that is just the way it is.

    • Michelle

      I agree fully with you. That probably makes two of us on this comment thread.

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  • Grace

    From ages 28 to about 34 I obsessed horribly over not being married and suddenly magically I stopped caring. Maybe it was therapy; maybe I just grew up and realized that titles of articles in magazines and commercials were not comments on my worth as a person. As a matter of fact, marital status, pants size, or floor cleanliness–like all external things–are empty shortcuts people use to judge their own worth instead of learning how to be worth their own respect. Now I’m 35 and I can’t figure out why I cared in the first place.

  • Rachel

    There’s a male equivalent list out there, right? Because society should be beyond making women conform to men’s expectations, especially in an equal partnership.