Single Lady Books: Why You’re Not Married Yet by Tracy McMillan

From Tracy McMillan’s website

Updated, July 23, 2012:

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.

  • Unlike some “dating experts,” Tracy McMillan is transparent about the fact that she was married a few times and divorced a few times.
  • I liked that she wrote from the perspective of a single mother of a boy, because I have no idea what that’s like, but I imagine that it would help you put things in perspective in the dating world.
  • There is so much spiritual stuff in the book. Advice about self-love and avoiding self-loathing and self-sabotage. Advice about women leaning into their feminine energy. Advice about being willing to welcome another person in your life. I was shocked. I literally had to glance at the cover a couple of times to make sure I was reading what I thought I was reading.
  • I learned not to judge writers based on the snippets of their writing and glimpses of their online presence before reading their whole manuscripts. I certainly don’t want that for my work, after all. Writers write for readers to read their work. So I’m thankful she wrote this and I’m glad I read it. If you pick it up, I’d be curious to hear what your thoughts were on the book.

 

From July 19, 2012

I have so many feelings about Tracy McMillan for a lady I’ve never met and didn’t think I even wanted to know.

What I’m learning from reading her book is that we might actually have a lot in common. And I don’t want to laugh, but she’s quite funny. And some of what she has to say is really helpful. Here’s an early overview of McMillan and her new book from SandraRose.com.

Why You’re Not Married opens with a quiz and a brief explanation of her three marriages in the 1980s, 90s and 2000s. She writes openly about her abandonment issues, spurred on by foster care. She writes convincingly about how raising her son has given her insight into how women can learn more about men so that if they want to get married, they can figure out how to be a better wife.

So that was the part that rubbed me the wrong way: I had the impression that she was offering advice to all single women everywhere about why they’re so unlovable. She’s actually targeting her advice, so that made me feel a little better.

“The bottom line is that marriage is just a long-term opportunity to practice loving someone even when you feel they don’t necessarily deserve it,” she writes. “And loving is always spiritual in nature — because people are flawed and it’s hard to love flaws.”

Noted. What follows are chapters that explain why a woman who wants to be married might still not be married. They include “You’re a bitch,” “You’re Shallow” and so-on. The bitchy chapter essentially says that men want to marry people who are nice to them and if you’re not nice, they won’t want to put a ring on it. Because “female anger terrifies men.” She says that being a bitch has become synonymous with being modern, but it’s really just when women are angry and they have tension around their mouths.  She also writes that “bitch energy” can be useful, but even if you’ve had a lot of therapy (check!) having boundaries really just means that you’re angry.

You know what her first tip is? My least favorite command in the universe. Smile!

I think she actually meant this and was not being sarcastic, by the way. Because sarcasm is the mark of an angry, single bitch. Allegedly.

My notes from the rest of this chapter include the suggestion that the best way to change bitch energy is to learn how to be sweet, because most guys want to marry a sweet person. And one way to be sweet and nice is to learn how to cook. Because cooking is nurturing.

OK, but what if you know how to cook and you smile and you’re still single? Well, apparently you have other problems that you’re in denial about. She outlines those later. I’m about halfway through the book.

I like the parts of the chapters that are subtitled “Spiritual Stuff that Will Help You Change.” That’s awesome. There’s some good advice in there. Like, some really good advice about learning forgiveness, letting go of anger and bitterness, learning how to reframe your story so that you’re not the victim and much more.

Then I got to the second chapter, entitled “You’re Shallow” and I had to take a break. I have never in life chosen to date a man based on what he had. I’ve gone so far in the opposite direction in my life that I ended up supporting men with less than I had to prove that I wasn’t shallow – to myself and others — even though I’m not rolling in the dough over here.

So I don’t know who these women are who have this problem, but according to McMillan, and Tyler Perry and every damn body else who targets women for dating advice, gold diggers are real, so I guess this is for them.

When I feel like I want more “get real, sister” advice, I’ll revisit the book and let you know how the rest of it turns out.

2 thoughts on “Single Lady Books: Why You’re Not Married Yet by Tracy McMillan

  1. so is it that you’re liking it more than expected, but still not really? or it isn’t exactly as advertised, and that’s a nice surprise, but parts of it are still yucky?

    • Those are good questions. I like it more than I expected, but I expected to hate it. And I’m weary and wary of dating advice books, so I’m trying to separate that weariness/wariness from the actual content of the book, which is sort of entertaining and has some good stuff in it for women who want to get married. I think the confusion, for me, stems from the idea that it’s geared toward women who want to be married but can’t figure out why they’re not. And my perspective is a little more open. I like the idea of lifelong companionship, but marriage as an institution has become such a fetish in our culture that I’m pretty skeptical of it. So anything posited as a way to get me down the aisle automatically gives me pause, since I don’t know if that’s where I’m trying to walk.

      I do think her advice can be applicable to people who are having trouble with intimacy in general. I think my reaction to the yuckier elements are that they are a little like Steve Harvey’s approach – it worked for him, and it works for her at parts – the whole, I’ve been there, I’ve been married and divorced, so I can help you learn how not to make the same mistakes. Actually, she blends Steve Harvey’s approach and Lori Gottlieb’s approach from “Marry Him: The Case for Settling.” And there’s the tinge of misogyny underneath it all. The…”You’re crazy, You don’t have hobbies, No wonder you’re single!” piece that makes it difficult to straight up like the good advice about learning to love yourself by not dating people you actually hate.

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