Tracy McMillan on Why You're Not Married... Yet
Can’t seem to find Mr. Right? Writer Tracy McMillan’s new book says, it’s not him, it’s you.
BY: Jennifer E. Jones
You’re very open about your own romantic misadventures and the things you’ve done wrong in previous relationships. Is that part of what inspired this book? Why did you choose to be so honest?
This book definitely draws on my own experiences in relationships, as well as those of hundreds of women I've talked to over the years. I look at these ten chapters as spiritual challenges that face every woman – no matter what stage of relationship she's in. Single, married, dating... everyone can relate to the stuff in this book.
A major premise of the book is that being honest is the first step toward changing anything in your life. I also want to be honest because I feel there's nothing to be ashamed of; mistakes are part of life, even repeated mistakes! I feel that as long as you're honest, you have the opportunity to grow. It's when you shut down, go into denial, and try to start hiding things from yourself and others, that's when you lock in certain behaviors and attitudes that keep you stuck. The truth, as they say, will set you free. And it does.
Looking over the people you know and interviewed for this book, what do you think is the most common category that women fall under at some point that sabotages their dating lives?
The most common thing women – people, really – do to sabotage their love lives is to lie to themselves. Lying can take lots of forms, too. There's denial where you just pretend that what you're seeing and feeling isn't happening. There's delusion where you, say for example, tell yourself a guy is just about to fall in love with you, when in actuality he told you he only wanted to be friends with benefits from the very beginning. There's rationalizing where you make excuses for your own or others' behaviors. And then there's knowing a relationship can't or won't work and staying in it anyway. All of those things will keep you from being ready and/or able to partner someone.
What can women who fall into the “crazy” group do to be calmer in relationships?
Crazy is all about intensity. Lots of people feel more alive when they're riding a roller-coaster relationship. But while this might be fun for a while, it can't possibly last. That's because intensity is the opposite of intimacy. It's hard to be close when you're filled with adrenaline all the time. People who find that they have a lot of drama in their relationships need to allow themselves to get "bored". At first, it will feel excruciating, and they may find themselves confronting a very real fear underneath all that drama: being truly close and therefore vulnerable to another human being.
One of your chapters talks about women being more like dudes. What advice can you offer women who are always “just one of the guys” and why is it not just about being girly?
Being a "dude" isn't necessarily about being one of the guys. It's more of an energy – masculine energy – that you might be inhabiting to the point where it's getting in the way of attracting and establishing a great relationship. I think of masculine and feminine energy like two sides to a battery. There’s a plus side and a minus side, and in order to make something turn on, you need to have opposites touching. It's the same in relationships. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that devalues the feminine. So lots of women don't think it's important to develop their feminine energy. By feminine, I'm not talking about, say, quilting, or being a stay-at-home mom. That's too simplistic. It's about understanding the power of receiving, the power of a spiritual connection, the power of attraction. Ideally, a person who is ready for a great relationship is balanced and has developed both energies within themselves.
There probably women who read your Huffington Post article and are reading this book now bemoaning, “Ug, according to this, I’m 'bitchy' and 'shallow'. Yeesh, at 35 (or 40 or older), is there any hope for me?” What would you tell the woman who feels like the odds are stacked against her towards finding a loving, supportive relationship?
First of all, I don't care about odds. I believe that every woman who wants to be a source of love on this planet will find someone to give that love to. He might not be exactly what she had in mind, but the heart sees differently. So look with the heart. I think the most important part of maintaining hope is really about faith. It's about a spiritual practice. In this case, you would practice choosing to know that there is love for you if you are ready to give in – instead of choosing to doubt. And the more and stronger you practice – against the odds, if you will – the more you "charge up" that inner battery. And as the inner light shines, I believe, anyway, you will have to fight the men off with a stick! Because the light doesn't care how old you are, or where you live, or any of that.
Photo Credit: Alison Dyer