Last time, when I wrote about Tracy McMillan’s Why You’re Not Married, I discussed how I relate to Chapter 1. Recap: McMillan discusses in Chapter 1 one reason why single women aren’t getting married; it is because they are giving off a bitch vibe and what men want: men want a nice girl. Or a woman who gives off nice vibes the majority of the time. McMillan isn’t saying that a woman has to be 100% nice all the time. However, I believe McMillan is communicating that a man doesn’t want a woman bitching at him 24/7, the majority of the time, in a relationship, either.
That’s how I related. I am not a single girl anymore. I’ve been in a relationship in nine years (We hung out on May 27, 2005…and then, we decided to give it a go a week later…I wrote a break up letter to my semi-non committed “boyfriend”…), and while reading this book, I realized the past few years, I’ve acted like a bitch to Rupert because I was unhappy with the decisions I’ve made in my life.
I admitted that I was not a good girlfriend, unofficial fiancée, or partner in the last few years. That there were times were I should not have been a bitch for no reason…and that everything would have flowed between if I would have been fair about being nice to Rupert.
Now, I’ve finished reading Chapter 2 of McMillan’s Why You’re Not Married, and it still is reaching eye opening levels.
McMillan constructs Chapter 2 around shallow single women. Due to some single women being shallow, potential mates who are “husband” material could shy away from these single women who are shallow.
What are shallow single women or shallow women in general, as McMillan describes:
Well, here are some McMillan descriptions about shallow women:
“Shallow is when you are more concerned with how a man looks than how he is. It’s when you care more about what your friends will think of him than how you feel about him when you’re alone together. It’s when you can’t stop wishing that if he dressed a little better, looked a little cuter, had a slightly more interesting job, or possessed way more money, you might be willing to consider him for real” (22).
“Being shallow is about perfectionism. You won’t settle for something that’s good enough—it has to go to be ideal. You want every single need and desire you have to be satisfied, preferably right now, by finding, dating, and marrying the one person who has it all. Never mind that one has it all—certainly not you!
The problem with perfectionism is that it is so dehumanizing. It causes you to see people not as human beings but as things. Objects. Have you ever heard the saying “The perfect is the enemy of the good?” That’s what happens when you allow yourself to give in to your perfectionist tendencies.
Perfectionism causes you to objectify men. You’ve probably heard this term before, maybe in a women’s studies class or from a feminist person—just not applied to yourself. Here’s a definition of from Wikipedia: Objectification is an attitude that regards a person as a commodity or as an object for use.”
This is a very fancy way of saying, you’re using someone, the way you would use, say, a can opener, or the remote control of the TV. To objectify someone is to treat them as a tool, a means to an end. You decide what role he is going to fill in your life, then your perfectionism makes you decide which qualities—physical, professional, emotional, intellectual—you “need” him to have in order to fulfill that role. Then you set out with your checklist to find the guy who has it all.
What most people are looking for (unconsciously, of course) in a partner is a someone who is going to reflect back their favorite aspects of themselves, make their life better than it is now, and allow them to stay comfortable—in other words, someone who is going to be just like a blow-up doll, except with more interesting sex. Because real human beings do not just do what you tell them to and reflect back your best self. Except, perhaps, on your wedding day.
Eventually, everyone discovers that, no matter how much you have in common, your partner is not now, and never will be, you. [. . .] (22-23).
I know this is a lot to process what I quoted. But I inserted this long quote in because I don’t think I can do McMillan’s insightful expression justice by paraphrasing it.
More than any other insight that McMillan gives in this chapter, this hits home for me. It hits home for me big time. I learned a huge part of this lesson big time when I was attending graduate school. What strikes me really hard is the perfectionism she is talking about…
I’ve always deemed myself years ago as a “perfectionist procrastinator.” Basically, I was a perfectionist and procrastinator…both intertwining at various points in my life. Basically, a perfectionist procrastinator is someone who puts off shit to the list minute to execute it, but they think about it in their heads during the time they are supposed to execute it. Once they decide to execute it, they “believe” that how they constructed perfectly in their mind will execute well when they do it in the limited amount of time they have left, it comes out not good enough…and they beat themselves up for it because they did not plan it well in their heads for execution.
Okay, that sounds fucked up as shit, but does it make sense?
Basically, the perfectionist comes up short because it is an ideal situation. And that is what McMillan expresses. Perfectionists will fail every time because they are trying to make an ideal become reality. In reality, ideal is just that…it is something you want and believe you can make a reality, but the reality is that it usually isn’t ideal because the reality of it is…
Reality is about being imperfect. It is about making mistakes…and not getting what you want. Idealism and wanting are co-dependent abstract ideas…that intertwine with one another, too, when it comes to not wanting to face up to reality and accept reality. In the shallow situation, idealism, wanting, perfectionism, etc. all go together. I agree with McMillan. It can prevent someone from getting a mate or not having a satisfying relationship.
It can also cause existing problems in a union as well.
If you are a perfectionist and want everything to go perfect in your life, it will affect how you engage in new relationships, friendships, and how you relate to other people. How? Well, you are only focused on the superficial than then characteristics of a person. Now, some people will think…or it is all about how a person looks and what kind of job they have. McMillan extends this actually to the perfectionist idea. Shallow can also mean you expect a person to act a certain way and/or be a certain way, to you. And the long quote I write, McMillan even says that. That people usually want someone to be like them.
I definitely get that because in my younger years, I was that way. When people didn’t have the exact morals or values that I possess, I distance myself from them. In the past before I turned thirty and before I started having realizations after thirty, I realize that I expected people to be what I wanted them to be so I could get along with them. However, I’ve come to learn that people’s personalities are set and their behaviors are set as well if they aren’t maturing and learning from their mistakes and gaining insight from their mistakes. I also realize that people who are close minded (close mindedness is you are unwilling to really listen to a person (Some people will usually hear someone, but he/she actually doesn’t listen (focus on what he/she says and contemplates it…and it uses to improve their own lives if the advice or the insight can help him/her) are susceptible to change. People who are in denial about their behaviors are also resistant to change as well.
Trust me, I’ve been there, and I was one of those people as well. It is something I have to work on all the time so don’t think I get a jail out of free card just because I writing analytical insight. It does not mean I am all knowing and perfect. I still make mistakes, and I still pay for them like the rest of you.
However, I will say that I have improved on trying to be a perfectionist. I came to find out later it does not work. I end up basically hitting a steel wall that I could not BREAK. It won’t break. That I was punishing myself in attempting in being a perfectionist. And punishing myself for being a proscratinator. When I finally admitted that I was not perfect and I was a procrastinator and accepted those flaws, that’s when I was able to grow and really learn about myself…and able to set realistic expectations…and see results that paid off.
In order for anyone to finally connect with someone and find a complimentary partner, you have to start admitting to yourself…what is holding me back concerning behaviors and characters? What is keeping me from opening up and finding someone that will be my life partner?
I believe for women, especially, we’ve been taught to by all women before us how are supposed to behave to “bait” a good man. We are supposed to be a good girl, a perfect girl, a nice girl, a bad girl, a wild girl, a submissive girl, etc. Yet, all of those are images. And some of us actually come off as these girls…which leads other to see that we are shallow. Shallow does not only mean what you want to see superficially, but shallow also means a person’s behavior adds up to be one-dimensional. No one wants to be in a relationship or friendship with someone who sees only what you do on the surface and doesn’t try to dig deeper by focusing on what you do give off or put off. No one wants to be around someone who makes everything about them…and gives off the vibe all the time it is all about them.
McMillan also states that you attract what you are:
“And this is where another big spiritual idea storms onto the sage: that what you are is what you get. Sometimes this is called the law of attraction. It can mean a lot of things, but in this case it means that your match will always be, well, your match. So if what you are is shallow, then that’s what you’ll attract. No exceptions. Like always attract like. The Zen Buddhist says it like this: As above, so below. Or As within, so without. (43).
This is a very important insight. Looking back on my younger years, the guys I attracted in my twenties…I am starting to see they were shallow. They were intelligent…and I was intelligent…but the intelligence we shared was shallow. A person can be intelligent and quite shallow. I attracted guys that were intelligent because that’s all I cared about…a guy being intelligent. A put that on my list a high priority quality…it was probably a first priority quality on my list. That’s why I got screwed over…and that’s why they didn’t want to date me. One could say that…they were intimidate by me. Yet, I really believe, reflecting on it, that I was so focused on them being intelligent that I overlooked their negative qualities. And collectively, the way that they behave…and how they treated me, well, we just weren’t compatible at the time. And maybe never were.
And you get into trouble attracting folks who are like you…especially if you are shallow and don’t even know it…and what can be so devastating about it is that you don’t even know that you are being shallow.
You are thinking…how can a feminist be shallow? Feminism is about giving, etc.
Well, you have to accept that you are a human as well. You being a feminist is one aspect of who you are. It is not all of who you are. Once you realize that…you can come to terms with that this is a flaw you have, BUT you always have the option and choice of fixing it…being better about not being shallow.
Being shallow does not mean you are a bad person. And some people even know that they are shallow and don’t give a shit, BUT they also know the consequences. They aren’t going to have quality people in their lives…and potentially will get treated like shit. When they do have a good folks in their lives, they will treat them, overall, like crap, too.
If you want to maintain the friendships/relationships you have or forge new ones, you must admit to yourself that you are trying to be an ideal…and you need to grow up from it (McMillan also touches on how some single women are in teenager thinking mode…that you still are thinking about what other people will think about of you…or you are “way too concerned with what other people think” (46).
Shallow women (and this applies for men as well) do not get what they want. When you become undone, that’s when you get what you NEED. Trust me, I know something about that.