There's no end to published material aimed at stoking women's fears and anxieties about love and marriage. Preachy self-help books about relationships are an impressive cottage industry chock full of troubling notions about women's sexuality, male desire, and tips about what you can do better to meet the man of your dreams. According to these books, men are perfect creatures — their only flaw is that they are generally vagina-hungry beasts (until they meet Mrs. Right of course).
Despite their supposed ape-like simplicity, we are told that men are also complicated enough to criticize every minutiae of your being, which is why their judgments should be the barometer for all female behavior. And all female behavior should lead to marriage, obviously.
The latest in books that say shitty things to women comes courtesy of Tracy McMillan, author of the viral article "Why You're Not Married" wasted no time in publishing a book on the same topic, Why You're Not Married . . . Yet: The Straight Talk You Need to Get the Relationship You Deserve, which continues her diatribe about your perpetual singledom. Bonus insights include gems like, "you're crazy," "you're godless," and my personal favorite, "you're a dude."
Similar to many other self-help types (like the various authors behind such classic tomes as He's Just Not That Into You, Marry Him: The Very Real Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, and Why Men Love Bitches), McMillan points a few things that are true: A lot of people are delaying marriage or long-term relationships, dating can be awful, rejection painful, and sifting through dates — like it's your job to find the "one" — the worst.
We all want to work on bettering ourselves, but few of these books offer solace; instead, the reader gets shaming advice and tough love about how she is a crazed, angry, clingy (or too independent, get your story straight), desperate bitch who has to try harder. But these authors and their books are wrong. They are outdated and their advice works only to make a reader hate herself more if she takes heed.
Nevertheless, people are delaying marriage (or not getting married at all) far more than they used to. Is it just because all women are crazy, angry, slutty liars? Doubtful. Here are 10 much more realistic reasons for why you are probably not married:
1. You are focused on your career.
And you are not going to apologize for it. Some people call this being a "bitch," because you are a lady and you have a job that you might be more focused on than smiling pretty and making sure you don't intimidate Mr. Right. Most of us just call this being alive in 2012 (you know the time the economy tanked and we had to work to eat).
2. You have standards.
You know you could have settled for Mr. "I just don't like your friends," or, "I just don't think women have ever done anything important," or, "so, about that Ron Paul," or even, "I only cheated on you once," but you realized you could do better. And frankly, being alone is just more manageable and makes you happier than being in a relationship that's the pits. So you didn't marry him, even though you probably could have.
3. You can't afford it.
According to the Brookings Institute marriage rates are down for people that don't have money. It's not even that women don't want to get married, as much as men don't feel ready to propose until they have the cash to support a family. There is no special Spanx you can buy that will bolster a man's self-esteem to convince him that you don't care he is broke. Many people are still tied to the idea that men have to out earn women, even though you have a job (remember that you are mega-focused on) and could probably support the both of you. Plus, the average cost of a wedding is 27, 000 dollars. Yes, you read that right.
4. You are waiting until all people can get married.
Yup, that's right, your personal life is a fucking statement about love in America. (Good job Obama and states that passed same-sex marriage legislation).
5. You don't need or want a symbolic public ceremony to celebrate something you already have.
You already know you and boo are ride or die, why spend the money on a wedding when you can do that Spanish immersion program you have been planning for the entire time you've known each other? You two are an adventurous lot, committed to each other and show it in more genuine ways than the most traditional and played out way ever known to civilization.
6. You've got a life and friends that you are happy with.
If a dude shows up that's cool, but you are not sweating it because every day is an awesome new adventure full of phone calls from loved ones, cupcakes, yoga classes and dance parties. You enjoy each minute, focus on the positive and when you are down (a symptom of life, not just single life) you have 500 friends to call, because you have spent time on all types of relationships, not just the kind that will lead to marriage. Friendship-the realest investment a lady can make.
7. Monogamy just doesn't work for you.
You tried it and it didn't work. It's better to know now then put unrealistic expectations on yourself and your partner only to have a crappy break-up where it is revealed you are an infidel. We don't have "respectable" models of these characters (because often cheaters are assholes), so we assume they are all sex crazed home wreckers, but some are genuinely just born this way.
8. You are sexually liberated.
See also: sexually adventurous, referred to as "slut" by people from the olden days, religious leaders, people that think vaginas are gross and Tracy McMillan. Right now, you just wanna get down, and that's not a lie, that's libido #realtalk.
9. You have "issues."
And you fully realize this and want to deal with them before you get into a serious relationship. Instead of being irresponsible and shoveling them under a rug to save face and look like Mrs. Right, you are dealing with your shit and getting ready to be in a serious long-term relationship. That does not happen overnight and you shouldn't rush yourself because of some invented standard age by which you should be married.
10. You legitimately just don't want to get married.
No, you are not lying to yourself; you actually just don't want to get married. You've been to lots of weddings, you appreciated some of the sentiments, you were happy for everyone, but you didn't walk out wishing it were you that got married. In fact, the idea of a wedding dress makes you break out into hives and you don't want a blood diamond, you think forever is bullshit and you have no interest in feeding into the romantic industrial complex. You have a hard time reconciling your politics with what you see as a deeply problematic institution. (Or, you're just an atheist.)
Samhita Mukhopadhyay is the Executive Editor of Feministing and author of Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining Your Love Life.